Campus DJs explore new electronica

By Andrew Ross

It is only fitting that the Gauntlet should cover the University of ElectroniCalgary, since the group came into existence through the very pages of the paper.

In other words, Amir Omar Sharar and Rob Diaz-Marino–the two artists who currently make up the U of EC–met through the TLFs.

"I thought there would be music students replying," says Sharar, who goes by the DJ name of nrXic. "But we’re both in computer science. Computer science is a very creative department."

"I’m certainly not in it for the math," agrees Sharar’s fellow composer Diaz-Marino.

The two U of C students come from different musical backgrounds, a fact which is evident from their musical styles.

"I grew up on Chris Sheppard, and I thought I could do a bit better," says the ebullient Sharar. "So I searched the Web for a free music-making program." Stylistically, Sharar describes himself as "happy hardcore."

"It’s still like the happy rave in ’95," explains Sharar. "My music hasn’t really progressed with the rest."

"I started composing four years ago," says the more subdued Diaz-Marino who, like Sharar, has no formal music education and composes mostly by ear. "I used to play a lot of video games I really liked the music and wanted to make music of my own."

Diaz-Marino offers a description of his own style, which is much more esoteric.

"It’s essentially meant for game or film music," he says. "It’s describing a story. For all of my tracks I have a background story imagined for it, or a character."

So what are these two very different artists doing together? Putting out a CD, with the aim of raising interest and awareness in electronic music at the University of Calgary.

"The goal was just to get people who like electronic music to get together and make music together," enthuses Sharar who had hoped to complete the project by September. "I thought, maybe if I can at least get them to listen to the CD before they drop out."

The didactic duo also offers advice for people interested in starting to make their own electronic music.

"It’s very easy to get involved in music if you have an ear for it, but you do need music theory," advises Sharar. "It helps a lot."

"If you can get really good sound samples," offers Diaz-Marino, "you can make your music sound a lot better." The duo’s self-titled debut is available on, where you can also hear the songs for free.

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