BERWICK - A West Kings District High School graduate is making his presence known in the East Coast music scene.
Mitchell Pineo, one half of Halifax-based DJ duo PINEO & LOEB, recently accepted his fourth East Coast Music Award (ECMA) at a gala in the city May 6. PINEO & LOEB, formed in 2013 with Jarred Loeb, won Electronic Recording of the Year for the duo’s first full-length album, LIFEBLOOD.
The 11-track album was created over the span of two years with the hope that the final mixes, featuring collaborations with artists representing a wide range of genres, would be timeless.
“We wanted to make something that we would love as much when we’re older as we do now,” said Pineo, who was born and raised in Berwick.
The electronic mix artists carefully selected singer-songwriters to add their sounds to an eclectic compilation that spins Kayo collab “Circles” one minute, then pairs a rap beat with famed fiddler Ashley Macissac’s talents in the next track, “Foggy Dew.”
“We love to collaborate with singer-songwriters,” said Pineo, who continuously strives to come up with something people have never heard before.
“We try to push the boundaries on electronic dance music.”
There was a long list of collaborators to thank in accepting the ECMA for LIFEBLOOD, including artists Adam Ware, Skratch Bastid, Ghettosocks, Quake Matthews, Moe Munroe, Concordia, Kylo, Kyle and Jhamiela of Dub Kartel, KayLove, Sam Klass, Avery Florence, Cameron Hawes, Joel Freck, JellyTooFly and Codo Lowe). Sean Snow etched out the artwork for the album mastered by Matt Stevens.
“Music bridges people together. It connects them,” said Pineo.
“There’s a real sense of encouragement for artists to express themselves in their own way (in Halifax) and that’s really what got us to where we are now, that open-mindedness.”
Pineo, 26, started toying around with producing music on his computer ten years ago.
“It was something that I could do on my computer that was expressive and productive,” he said.
“It all started alone in the room and then you come out onto the stage and even though you have social anxiety, it’s just kind of like a trance that takes over. Anybody who really wants to perform really well… there’s a different side of you that comes out on stage.”
He initially honed his skills at home and pursued his passion further by completing a two-year course at Halifax’s daVinci College of Art & Design, where he now teaches students about electronic music. He took gigs mixing music for bands and worked sound for live shows as he built his way up, one connection at a time, to where he is now with PINEO & LOEB.
“I just love music. I’m a fanatic of music history. My friends always joke that I’m like an encyclopedia of music.”
PINEO & LOEB has toured extensively within Canada, and done some shows abroad. The dynamic duo can regularly be found spinning at the Pacifico Nightclub in Halifax on Saturday nights.
The awards, the fans, the festivals, the fun – they’re not taking any of it for granted.
“We’ve been through an earthquake. We played a gig in Nepal together in 2015, and there was a massive earthquake. That was crazy,” said Pineo, noting that thousands of lives were lost as a result of the destruction caused by the crippling quake.
“You go through this stuff on the road together that makes you brothers for life.”
From the epicenter of activity, they watched as lives were forever changed in one way or another. They saw buildings that crumbled to the ground, and slept in a parking lot for seven days when it was not safe to be indoors due to the threat of further collapses.
“It was really eye-opening. It made me realize how lucky we are to be able to even try to do something like this,” he said.
“This is what we’re meant to do.”
When it came time to put out a full-length album, Pineo said they wanted to set the bar high with LIFEBLOOD.
“You better make a statement,” he said, recalling the thoughts that frequently ran through his mind throughout the production process.
“You better not just make party music, you better make something that’s going to last.”
Through all the excitement and life-changing experiences in the last decade, his hometown of Berwick is far from a distant memory.
“I had the peace of mind and serenity out here to be able to get good at something,” he said, looking into town from an Adirondack chair on his mother’s back deck.
“You write some of the best stuff when you’re in a relaxing situation, and take it back to the chaos.”