Evolution is an integral part of being a musician. Evolving yourself, your music, your image and your brand are all vital to staying sane and carrying on in the music business. Hunter Siegel got his break early in the EDM explosion, putting out records on the big dance labels and positioning himself on the line between bass, house and more commercial stuff. However, as music changed, so did he, donning his HUNTER pseudonym, which now puts out thumping techno. This past month, he celebrated five years of his No Neon imprint and events series and put out a new EP, I Might Forgive, I Don’t Forget that channels the sort of no-nonsense techno he is about.
Just as important is Siegel’s Canadian roots, notably living in Toronto. He has been on the ground as Toronto has transformed into one of the best electronic music cities in North America. We asked him for a guide to the city with the best places to eat, escape and go out, and he delivered.
See past City Guides here and listen to his EP now.
1. We all like a good drink, so where are the top spots to head to before a night out?
I actually don’t drink anymore and haven’t for a long time so I’m going to assume this to mean coffee and use it as a chance to plug my local! Manic Coffee Co is super good and has awesome food options too.
2. Where can you find the best clubs / late night venues in town?
I am obviously biased as it's where I throw my own events but even before I was doing things there I would have firmly said its Coda by far. It's regarded as a top club in the country and has been rated a top club in the world by tons of publications for a reason and it does not disappoint in that regard. Great sound, firm but fair security that have your safety in mind, minimal lighting but definitely the right amount, I can't really say enough good things about it. It is a must if you’re into dance music. If you’re looking to go super late there's a plethora of options also, Toronto is definitely a city that can keep up with the most seasoned party kid if you’re willing to get a little seedy in the process.
3. Brunches are a weekend staple, which spots stand out to you?
Aunties and Uncles. The location bias of it being steps from my house isn’t even relevant here as its a 45 minute wait to get a table at this place no matter when you go and it's absolutely popular for a reason. Russ makes a mean organic Grand Slam breakfast. I have been a regular there going on 10 years; get in line it's worth the wait.
4. Best dirty late-night street food option?
Toronto has some weird archaic law that prohibits street vendors that aren’t hotdogs (I know right wtf) so unless that is your jam street food is a no go. The best late night options are definitely in Chinatown. New Ho King is the most popular but my favorite has always been Swa-Tow. If you’re willing to go a little outside of the area Hong Shing is a late night banger and always full of characters.
5. Where can we shop for records and music memorabilia in Toronto?
It's getting harder and harder to find them but there's still pretty decent record shops in Toronto. Play De Record has always been a staple going back to the 90’s and its still going today. When I played vinyl that was one of my go-to’s along with a shop called Eastern Block (RIP). Another good one that’s got all kinds of music stuff is Sonic Boom, its probably the biggest and best in terms of selection.
6. Your Sunday escape plan when you need to get away from it all?
Honestly I’m a workaholic, every once in a while my girlfriend manages to convince me to take our dog to the dog park but that’s becoming more and more rare as I’m getting busier with gigs, producing, and running my own label. I probably should have more Sundays off but who’s got time to relax?!
7. Something everyone should do when visiting Toronto but probably hasn’t?
Eat Caribbean food!! Seriously, it's probably one of the best places to get it outside of the Caribbean!! My favorite spot in the city is called Mr. Jerk. It’s a hole in the wall, but man Pauly makes the best jerk pork on the planet. If you’re visiting the Kensington Market area, which is another must for a tourist Golden Patty is amazing and supplies patties and doubles to most of the other spots in the city.
8. A track that reminds you of your childhood in the city? (If not originally from this city, a song that reminds you of when you first moved here)
I have to cheat for this question and give two answers from artists in the same camp. Back when I was first introduced to drum and bass in the late 90’s the absolute king of the city was a collective named Vinyl Syndicate. They were really the first North American guys to get played by the UK DJ’s and I remember finding out that they were from Toronto and being in complete awe. They were the blueprint for all the younger producers, proof it was possible to be accepted by the very gate kept UK scene. “Let Me Know” was played by every single DnB DJ I can think of; takes me back to a different era every time I hear it.
Slip N Slide - Let Me Know
Honorable mention goes to the Dubplate Pressure remix! It definitely wasn’t as known or played but it was always my favorite when it came on at the dance!!
Sniper - Dubplate Pressure (Remix)
9. What are other great exports that come from Toronto?
Toronto is one of those places that has literally everything you can think of; a true melting pot. There’s: Little Italy, Little India, Koreatown, Chinatown, etc, etc, for almost every culture you could imagine. Anything you're looking for is here, that’s also reflected across subcultures in all facets. Do you like minimal dub techno? There’s probably a night and definitely some producers. Are you into LARP’ing? There’s for sure a meet-up, Toronto is awesome in that way but as a result there's not a lot that's FROM Toronto, it's more of a host.
10. A gift you can’t leave Toronto without taking home for friends?
Man it’s super Canadian of me to do this but take some real maple syrup home with you, eh. Its honestly not as good anywhere else, sorry if that's corny.