Scott C Montreal DJ

Photo by Naskademini

Scott C and the basement uplift

The Montreal DJ will launch a monthly called Misa Negra (black mass), a celebration of black music in all its forms.

Scott C has witnessed, testified for and contributed to the nightlife scene in Montreal for over two decades, as a DJ, producer and social commentator. 

Today, he can be said to have survived it. And having won a frightening battle with prostate cancer last year, he’s back at the pulpit with a new monthly, Misa Negra, at la Sotterenea, a new-ish venue in the basement of la Sala Rossa.

“I was laid up for almost seven weeks after my surgery and I was thinking about a lotta things. I had to get my money in order. My mom had hip surgery during the same period and we were talking every day but I couldn’t do anything to go down and help her,” Scott C recalls.

“So I kept thinking, ‘What am I gonna do when I get out of this?’ I’ve made it through the other side, and I got it in my head to get back out.”

Scott was an early advocate for the club monthly, and cites age and experience as factors lending to creating monthly magic over weekly havoc.

“Me and Andy (Williams) were doing the Goods for almost 15 years at la Sala Rossa. We were very lucky to be able to sort of create our own little corner of Montreal. Maybe the first couple of years were tough going but once we found our footing, the crowd came back years on end. It was a really simple formula,” he explains.

“It was an open format party, the kind I grew up on and started DJing on. And the varied nature of the format was reflected in the crowd that would come out. That’s something I’ve always liked about a great party: a mix of people from different places, backgrounds, ages. People are coming to be open to whatever happens at the joint and that’s the vibe I’ve always tried to get back to.”

It was tough to call it off but the duo stepped back before it “hit the ditch,” says Scott C. 

But having the spirit of rhythm strong in him, naturally he wasn’t stopping there.

“I always, in the back of my head, wanted to start something new. I’ve always DJed — I’ve been DJing for over 25 years. There’s something that still appeals to me about a night of fresh music, new music, old music, in the same breath, and the crowd that that attracts.”

Enter la Misa Negra — or black mass — a celebration of black music in all its forms.

“I had started a night at Local Legend when it opened (in 2017). Out of respect for (owner) Richie Hilary, who opened a new place on St-Laurent, I decided to do Misa Negra over there on Friday nights. I don’t know if that was a bit hasty. To think about doing something leftfield on the lower Main on a Friday night was a little dodgy. Plus it had just opened. I did it for two or three months and then they decided to do more the Friday night thing and brought in Godfather D. They offered me some other nights but I turned it down. I really wanted to wait for the right thing to come along instead of burying myself on a Tuesday night. And all respect to them, they found their groove!” Scott C says.

Thereafter came his battle with cancer and eventually the surgery that would purge him of it.

“While I was laid up, people were visiting me. My friend told me about the basement of Sala Rossa. I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And he told me he had gone to a party there and that they had opened it up and were doing stuff down there. And I’m like, ‘What basement?!?’

“So the first time I was able to get out of the house properly outside and walk and move around, where did I go? I went to see Kiva and Dan at Sala and they showed me the basement room. It’s called la Sotterenea — the underground. It’s basically about a 100-person capacity. One side of the room is a bar, a pool table and some couches. And the other side is an open hardwood dancefloor with a mirrored wall and hanging speakers. It’s tiny. It’s perfect,” he enthuses.

He’s booked a grip of guests through June. This month he’s joined by Drumspeak, and he already tested the waters with Lexis earlier this winter.

“I’m thankful to come out the other side of this thing,” Scott says gratefully. “There’s so much music. I don’t digest it the same way I used to, but it’s still a weekly thing. There’s so much I wanna share with people, both new and old. I want a place where I can invite like-minded DJs to come and share and build that vibe with me. There are some great monthlies in town, but I still feel like there’s room for the vibe that I like to call home. I’m happy to try to share that with people in the basement. My superpower is being able to link genres and give that back to people.”

And as for the mass, he’s not trying to spring religion on anyone, but the spirit of the thing is in symbolic moment the vet knows how to curate.

“I wanted the name to encapsulate the holiness of black music across the board,” he reasons. “The black mass, if you’ll forgive me, it’s church, man! I’m trying to just get a small group of people to come, observe, listen and digest something that’s gonna lift up their soul and expand their mind, simple and plain. I’m not Kanye, man! I don’t want to invoke any kind of spirituality or anything like that but it is gonna happen on a regular basis and if you’re there, you will get lifted.” ■

The March edition of Misa Negra with Scott C has been postponed and is tentatively scheduled to happen at la Sotterenea (4848 St-Laurent) in Montreal on Friday, April 17, 10 p.m.–3 a.m., $10

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