One year ago we opened Ace Hotel Toronto and called it what it was: a new destiny. We envisioned it as a home for us, for the city, for freethinkers who use sounds, dance and turntables to forge familial bonds through heavy bass and woozy synths. So we started with the people we knew, who introduced us to people they knew, inviting in a rotation of local clothing brands, record labels, beloved radio shows and artists to help us light up 51 Camden St.
It’s brought thought leaders, experimental nightlife and unorthodox ideas — the kind this city’s known for — through our doors. You could hear disco, deep house and Soundcloud Madonna edits on Friday; the best in African electronic music at Evangeline on Saturdays; then end the evening with the new faces of LA’s future beats scene soundtracking The Lobby.
We’re reflecting with joy on what these nights have meant to us and, we hope, to you. Toronto is a city so steeped in talent, so full of personalities and pockets hungry to share their music and create community out of it. Like other metropolises, this city carries its influences of pop culture, immigration and escapism into whatever venue it can find.
We’re honored to share this 17-person class of individuals who were the first to bring it into Ace Hotel Toronto along with an essential track from each.
*Featured image, from left to right, of: Freeza Chin, Minzi Roberta, Cameron Reed, Xavier Miller, Armand Digdoyo, Ana Luisa, Marcus Adade, Laura Schütte , Ajeya Gonzales and Phill Villeneuve by Neil Watson
PARTY: Curated by Arts & Crafts
ENTITY: Cameron Reed for Arts & Crafts Records
TRACK: “Papa Wemba” by Pierre Kwenders
Curated by Arts and Crafts, the legacy Toronto label and veritable revolving door for Canada’s rich musical talent. “Pierre Kwenders and his Toronto/Montreal-based Moonshine collective were among the first people I wanted to be a part of this DJ series,” says A&C’s Cameron Reed. “
PARTY: Can I Be Me?
ENTITY: Armand Digdoyo and Phill Villeneuve with Yohomo
TRACK: “One Touch” by Bambii
She incorporates her West Indian roots into everything she does and we have loved watching her DJ and producer journey. This song is what summer 2023 will sound like to us: it’s warm, it’s energic, it’s sexy, it’s a club, it’s a beach, unexpected and feel good.”
PARTY: Sounds Like it Looks
ENTITY: Xavier Miller with Adidem Asteriks
TRACK: “Designer Shit” by Dom Kennedy
The clothing label Adidem Asteriks ties together its lifestyle looks through sound. Xavier Miller, co-founder of the brand, believes it’s important for your audience to connect with the music you play and to feel the emotions it conveys in hopes that they’ll understand you better without even saying a word. His lifestyle and thoughts are represented in every bar of this song. So much so, he calls it the theme song to the story of his life.
ENTITY: Ana Luisa with Cuarenteca
TRACK: “Bubalu” by MJ Nebreda ft. Nick Leon
Cuarenteca brought us dance-ready global sounds. One song Ana Luisa played at Evangeline was “Bubalu” by MJ Nebreda ft. Nick Leon, a go-to track in every set, by two of her favourite producers currently active in the Latin electronic/club music scene, who inspire her with their approach to music-making.
PARTY: High Frequencies
ENTITY: Laura Schütte with Invisible City Records
TRACK: “Summer Jazz” by Accura
Invisible City is the label and record store sharing the hidden gems from everywhere.
The Invisible City series at Ace Hotel Toronto was also about fusion and genre fluidity, bringing together an adventurous selection of new and old from around the globe. With a focus on cross-genre music that doesn’t always fit into boxes, Invisible City celebrates eclecticism, diversity and discovery, whether it’s discovering something entirely new, unearthing overlooked songs of the past, or rediscovering old favourites. It’s about building community, enjoying music and having a good time.
PARTY: Telephone Explosion
ENTITY: Jon Schoten with Telephone Explosion Records
TRACK: “Babylon” Uh Huh
Telephone Explosion takes open format seriously. Jon Schoten, owner of the label, believes “Uh-Huh” showcases what the TER DJs offer up at the Evangeline bar.
ENTITY: Ajeya Gonzales with FOMO
TRACK: “What You Need (feat. Charlotte Day Wilson)” by KAYTRANADA
FOMO hosts a regular queer night at Evangeline, bringing their genre-bending attitude and community-centric parties. Released in 2019, the same year FOMO launched, this song by the queer Canadian artist and Montreal-based producer KAYTRANADA, and Toronto-based recording artist Charlotte Day Wilson, showcases an eclectic blend of genres like dance and R&B, which reflect the many sounds from within the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
PARTY: Room Service
ENTITY: Marcus Adade with MNFSTO Sounds
TRACK: “Organise” by Asake
Canada’s music incubator Manifesto and their MNFSTO SOUNDS make space for emerging artists making Afrobeat, hip-hop and R&B.
This is the same feeling that we are bringing to Ace Hotel with our weekly series, whereby the music creates a sonic voyage for our guests to immerse themselves in the spiritual vibrations.
PARTY: Ace Afrique
ENTITY: Razaq El Toro, Martinese, and Sonic Griot with Afrique Like Me
TRACK: “Smile (featuring Manoo)” by Shota
Afrique Like Me is the trio bringing African electronic music every night and everywhere.
PARTY: Random Access
ENTITY: Josephine Cruz and Freeza Chin with ISO Radio
TRACK: “Say You Love Me” by Keys N Krates
ENTITY: Karim Olen Ash
TRACK: “Make U Mine” by Toyin Agbetu
ENTITY: Minzi Roberta
TRACK: “Dreams” by Solange and “Closer” by Jamilah Barry
Dreamscape curated by Minzi Roberta is about sonic expression by emerging visionaries of the city.
Ace Hotel | September 22, 2023
Launched last year, FUNCTION is a Toronto-based platform for everything Ballroom: culture, stories, events and education. Recently, they brought Ballroom royalty through our doors for our collaborative “Class of ’23” sessions, an ongoing series centering sexual health, community and movement. We gathered monthly to talk about history, sex ed and the courageous creative expression of voguing, as led by four of Ballroom's most influential figures. Tears, cheers, breakthrough moments on the floor — the effects of FUNCTION remind us how alive and how staggeringly inextricable sweetness and pain can feel. Here, FUNCTION lays down five pillars of Ballroom.
Ace Hotel | August 28, 2023
Michael is the head honcho at Efficient Space, the Melbourne-based record label responsible for outfitting Ace Sydney with a treasure trove of a vinyl library and for archiving and re-releasing obscure, ahead-of-its-time Australian music. At Efficient Space, the mission isn’t burn fast but bright, but rather driven by the careful, occasionally tedious and always time-consuming work of preservation. “Most of the projects we’re uncovering maybe wouldn't happen if we didn’t instigate it, and that’s the motivation,” Michael says.
Ace Hotel | August 12, 2023
For the first time since 2019, New York City based Printed Matter’s beloved LA Art Book Fair has returned — gracing the opposite coast with its eclectic cohort of zine-makers, artists, collectives, and more. For those who crave full immersion in Printed Matter’s boundless galaxy of niche publications, rare books and work from international galleries, this summer’s offering is akin to an art-filled, literary state fair — where the grounds are the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Sonel Breslav, Director of Fairs and Editions for Printed Matter Inc. shares a cheat sheet of 5 Things to know about this year’s LAABF.