On Tuesday night, DJ Tony Okungbowa from the Ellen DeGeneres Show and one of Canada's favorite DJ's Jojo Flores launched their new album A Night To Remember at the Soho Grand Hotel Club Room. Their album is a mix of '70s and '80s dance songs mixed by the duo and produced by Francis Cucuzzella of Canada’s independent record label Unidisc Music Inc. The album recently premiered on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the pair has been launching it all over the country.
[Photo: Tony Okungbowa via]
The event featured the two-disk compilation of A Night To Remember spinning in the background while guests danced the night away with DJs Tony and Jojo. In the swanky Club Room drinks flowed with an open vodka bar sponsored by Wodka. We had the chance to sit down with DJ Tony Okungbowa before the event for an exclusive one-on-one interview about his experience on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and his new album.
So you studied theatre growing up, did you always have a passion for DJing as well?
I went to Uni to study theatre and I started out trying to learn to play bass guitar but I was not very patient so the next best thing was being a DJ. My brother is a DJ as well in London. Jojo’s brother’s a DJ as well, so we have four brothers that are DJs.
You’ve acted in a bunch of plays by Shakespeare, Much Ado, King Henry, Midsummer. Were you always a fan of his work?
It’s part of the requirements to do Shakespeare in college. And of course, when you’re younger you don’t really appreciate the language but when you’re older you sort of think ‘wow, I get it now.’
[Photo: Tony Okungbowa via]
How do you balance the commercialism of the Ellen show and being an actor/musician/DJ?
The first thing you do is you find people who are like minded who can sort of help you in situations. Like Jojo is the music/DJ friend that I have and then I have friends that are filmmakers and actors. So you try to align yourself with what I call ‘my best’ so to speak. If I turn to Jojo and say I want to remix a track or DJ one night he will say “I’ll do the legwork, I know what you’re capable of doing and bam: it happens. I also have three months off every summer during hiatus so I can do a lot of projects then.
What was the inspiration for this album, "A Night to Remember?"
We wanted to share our tastes in music and bring them together. It just happened organically and it took about six months. It was tough with our schedules and sometimes we would go four or five days, even a week without speaking. I felt like I was in a divorce. But we got it done and we’re happy.
[Photo: A Night To Remember Album Cover via]
I know Ellen is vegan, how about you?
I am vegan as well. I’ve been vegan for about five months but I was pescatarian for years.
You just acted and produced Restless City, which debuted at Sundance last year. What was that entire process like?
This was the first film I’d produced and it was incredible. Sundance was really, really supportive, it was shot in New York, the distribution of it was great everything went really well.
[Photo: Tony Okungbowa, Jojo Flores via]
Here’s the scene: You’re throwing a rooftop party with endless bottles of tequila and the door locks. You’re the DJ and you can choose five people to stay with you till the sun comes up. Who would you choose?
The girl I’m seeing of course, my boy Cassidy, my brother, a few friends really.
Who are some of your dream musicians to work with in the industry in the future?
Stevie Wonder because of his body of work, it’s incredible. Plus he’s a really nice guy.
How do you pick which song is played everyday on Ellen?
Everyone has a lot to do with it. It’s a national television show and it has a lot to do with who is on the show that day. There’s a plethora of things that go into it, the bottom line is I come up with songs and the producers and I chat about it, there’s a fine art to it.
[Photo: Tony Okungbowa, Ellen DeGeneres via]
Say Ellen had one show left, what song would you choose and why?
What’s the next step for you after this album? Where do you see yourself in the future?
Hopefully we can make a part two. We have other projects we’re working on as well. I’m also working on a new project to create DJ apps for the iPhone.
Tuesday, May 21
We sat down with Anne Pasternak for a few questions about Creative Time's past and future, as well as the importance of having an awareness about public art in the city.