THE JEDTHAI KNIGHT IN TAMPASIA 10.04.15

April 14th, 2015

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Not too long ago in a land not too far, far away….

Invitations were transmitted across the galaxy to fans, family, and friends to attend a born-day celebration like none other.

Hosted by Serious Soul,

Scheduled guest Tony Humphries was to play an out-of-this-world extended four-hour music set.

Titled: Serious Soul Private Series #2, only 150 tickets would be available to purchase.

This event was not to be missed.

So with a click of a button, tickets were purchased, and the space cruisers were fully charged.

It was time to party.

21:55 Galactic Time

Two Alliance members of the House Music Excursionist Crew trekked to the land of palm trees and rolling sapphire waves. Their traveling feet stopped at the stairs of a Spanish Deco casa with a courtyard patio filled with overdressed collegiate yelling over “Trap Queen.”

“ATLANTA?!?”

“Yes. We come from the Atlanta Republic.” The two HMEC members announced to a couple whose mouths dropped while they waited in line.

“No entry till 10 pm,” announced the gruff baritone from a hulking gatekeeper. His barrel frame blocked a door that slightly opened ajar as loud thumps seeped out.  

The HMEC’s mission was further explained.

“We come to celebrate the born day of the JedThai Knight,” said the male house dancer.

“And to hear Tony Humphries play.” Lady Socialite interjected to the locals dressed in a button down short sleeve and a little black dress most appropriate for the humid air. For a few minutes, time crawled to a stop as the four pecked away at the screens on their electronic devices.

Then the door opened. The gatekeeper looked on, his demeanor now less authoritative. “You may proceed.”

Enter the aphotic room that was all empty besides ten figureheads including bar staff. “The locals call this Velociti where house and techno music lives,” explained the local wearing the short sleeve shirt. The male dancer wiped his eyes. He was hard-pressed to believe that before him stood his house music hero.

Theory of Thaisoul

Legend foretold a Disc Jedi must master five tests before knighthood. In the Disc Jedi Order of the underground house movement only select vanguards have faced and conquered all five feats. A lofty ambition, not for the posers but for the purists who are brave, disciplined, and determined. One Disc Jedi not only prevailed but excelled at all five tests: “The Trial of Skill:” the ability to slice ‘n’ dice elements into one harmonic voice, “The Trail of Courage:” exposing a musical movement to his hometown with grit, “The Trail of Flesh:” the ability to craft music that evokes a “Beautiful” homage to the passing of the most important loved one in his life, “Trail of Spirit:” the ability to defeat adversity with his inner sinews, and “The Trial of Insight (or Knowledge):” the ability to craft tomorrow’s sonics today. He is Jask-and rightfully so deemed-a JedThai Knight who is the master of Thaisoul.

The Theory of Thaisoul dates back to Jask’s birth. Born Jack Merideth, at the age of thirteen-when Darth Reagan ruled the Republic with an iron fist during his Strategic Defense Initiative-the lad took to the 1’s and 2’s guided by a Public Enemy rage. Music became a cynosure as he perfected his craft. He played it all; rhythm & blues, rock, electro, new wave and house music, the latter he discovered transmitted from faraway provinces. After his inception to acid jazz, he introduced the burgeoning sound to his hometown Tampasia Republic. Work as a resident Disc Jedi led him to notoriety, steady income, and pouty-lip admirers. His work as a music producer garnered support and hailed praise from DJs and house purists who heralded him a mystic JedThai for championing an Asiatic voice into the house of soul. Often crowned the king of smash-ups, his remixes and productions are resilient yet weighty. With a discography that reads like a DJ Order of underground house music, DJ’s namedrop Jask. To know Jask is to understand the sum of his passions: Galactic battles and….  

23:10 Galactic Time

Sade!?! Yes. Where there is Jask, there is the music of Sade. That explained the familiar refrain from an earlier hit of the band that welcomed guests to the born-day celebration. As lead vocalist Sade Adu’s alto disappeared into the mist that-already?-straddled the ceiling before dancing to the floor, the House Music Excursionist Crew male dancer questioned, “Why must there always be someone who lights up in my dance space?” Unbeknownst, a puff of smoke in the face would be the party’s least of concern.

Small talk and “YO, BARTENDER OVERHEAR.” were distractors, largely ignoring Homero Espinosa’s “Blues In A Rose” (Unreleased Jazz Mix). A magnetic energy pulled a horde of bodies not to the dance area, but-sadly-to the bar. The ever-growing cast of characters resembled those at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Their faces smitten with gin grins. Their backs turned to the JedThai. The party girl who stuck out her rump and cavorted about like a horse who then wiggled her derriere for a peep show at her white panties for a friend to Instagram.

Jask sensed the Darkside nigh. His observation stayed keen and undeterred. In battle, a Disc Jedi uses two turntables, a mixer, and plays songs for a dance floor: In battle, a JedThai Knight uses computer software, digital downloads, air horns and cinematic drops-and whatever else is at his/her disposal-and takes the dancers on a journey as the music slays a dance floor. With his index finger held steady, Jask punched cue. “I Can’t Get No SleepI Can’t Get No Sleep.” The instantly recognizable Masters At Work anthem pulled several bar-huggers onto the cement. “Jus Dance” commanded Mr. V as additional bodies followed suit.   The Dario D’attis Mix ripped the dance area into two: “For Those Who Like To Get Down” and those who scratched their heads flabbergasted. The Marques Wyatt Deep Sunday Retro Vibe Mix rang true, “Don’t Get On The Back of the Folks That Like To Get Down.” After all, this was house music for a “Housenation.” Thirty-two bars later, the Hosemaster Boys Doorly Remix morphed into MD X-Spress’s “God Made Me Phunky” (HCCR) as Mike Padovani’s “It’s Alright” delivered hi-brow sonics. A final blow to the cranium occurred when Louie Vega & Jay ‘Sinister’ Sealee featuring Julie McKnight’s “Diamond Life,” dropped from the ionosphere. The JedThai played hardball and scored with a Hardrive that penetrated “Deep Inside” the soul. Anybody not coming to party with the birthday boy was damned.

“Love Will Save the Day. Music Will Save Our Souls” read the quote on the Frankie Knuckles tribute tee that Jask wore. A statement Jask personified throughout his opening mantra as he honored the timeless DJ Code:

Where there is emotion, in music there is PEACE

Where there is ignorance, in music there is KNOWLEDGE

Where there is passion, in music there is SERENITY,

Where there is chaos, in music there is HARMONY

&

Where there is death, in music there is the….

 

To be continued….

Words by AJ Dance

Illustration by AJ Art

MASTER TONY HUMPHRIES IN TAMPASIA PART II 10.04.15

April 12th, 2015

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Tony Humphries

The Force

23:00 Galactic Time

If Jask be the JedThai Knight: Tony Humphries is the Master Jedi who sits on the twelve-member High Council of Classic/Soulful House Music where his pedagogy serves two-fold; by day, ranking as guardianship of the High Council of First Knowledge where he preserves house music’s origins and by night, educating Younglings of house music’s origins.

That night, dressed in his signature black tee, Humphries turned a deaf ear to the classics and opted for a contemporary inaugural: House of Funk featuring Oliver Night’s “You Got To.” Track number four from his latest Tony Recordings’ “Miami Uncuts 2015” tanked. Listening ears moved closer to speaking cabinets to interpret enhanced sound clarity. Therein the problem lied not in the club mix itself, but in the communication of wires and cords that snaked crisscross from gizmos to power strips cohabitating electrical outlets. As the first song, the second track limped along. Not until Lenny Fontana featuring D-Train’s “Raise Your Hands,” the sonics kicked into full throttle. Perspiring flesh that swayed from wall-to-wall failed to applause.

With the sound system intact, Tony flew across the motherboard on his space cruiser blasting Shea’s “Where Did You Go” (Atjazz Floor Dub), Tracy Brathwaite’s “Smile” (Casamena Alex Mix), and Neal Conway featuring Dana Weaver’s “Fading Away” (DJ Spinna Mix) that all played like a digital website’s Top 20. Rather Tony’s motive was to advertise his week’s top 10 was a different download altogether. Either way, the house alumni danced, the house freshmen danced, one veteran NYC house dancer broke it down, “Many of these people don’t get it.” Several fresh faces failed to grasp they gazed at someone who had never played in Tampasia, let alone someone who had been a Disc Jedi playing music longer than they had lived on Republic Earth.

Thirty five years? Thirty-six? Perhaps, thirty-seven? What is the definitive sum of Tony Humphries’ professional registry as a DJ? From his initial invite to play at a then new radio station, New York’s KISS FM, to becoming the program’s MixMaster-by the way, no easy feat for an up and coming with a name to establish- to his formal tutelage from Master Larry Patterson, Tony gained notoriety at Jersey’s famed Club Zanzibar during the decade of decadence. At the dusk of the century, Humphries was name checked from the streets of Newark to Manchester. His Jersey sound landed him a residency at London’s Ministry of Sound where he pleased European palettes. He remixed the icons: Janet Jackson to Nina Simone, he received gold records, his pager beeped constantly. Exhausted and restless, he refused remix work until encouraged by the late Godfather Knuckles to dive back into the studio. Today you will find Tony’s signature scribbled across the digital universe via Tony Records….

And at the JedThai Knight Jask’s birthday bash as Soulful Session featuring Lizzie Nightingale’s “Made For,” cooled sweat stains and chilled dancing feet like a gentle breeze on a humid summer’s night.

The heat index cranked up on Crackazat’s ”Candle Coast.” The House Music Excursion Crew’s male dancer intertwined with a local starlit in a dancing duel, minus lightsabers. Over the head. Around the hips. Through the legs. Fall to the floor. A rollover onto the stomach. A forward jump on the balls of the heels. Standing erect. Perfect balance. A light applause.

“I’m trying to keep you from falling over,” said a lady to a character who struggled to barely stand erect on the wooden floor. He was that guy. The guy with droopy eyelids, an unforgiving slur, and disheveled dress, his aim to dry-hump and score. “That is what happens when you charge $10 all-you-can-drink from hours 8 to 10 pm,” noted Lady Socialite.

“Time for some fresh air,” She suggested.

“And a change of shirt,” replied the house dancer.

The two slipped through a back door onto a spacious outdoor patio dehisced with Havana shirts, stilettos and rompers. Hip-hop careened the crowd; left to right, front to back, in semi-circles: so too the libations, poured from several bartenders to waiting cleavages and V-necks. Bronzed beings slouched in line for the powder room. A tan collegiate offered advice, “To your rear,” on how to exit the Cafe Courtyard. “Well, everyone seems nice enough.”

A Master Jedi does not always travel the path less followed strictly alone. At times his contemporaries even the playing field. As in the Kings of House which Tony is one-third member alongside David Morales, honored by playing The Face featuring Kym Myzelle’s “Lovin” (Disko Mix) that caused arms to flail upward and “Yays” to vesuviate from mouths, and Louie Vega who appeared the topic of Tony’s thought. Convertion featuring Leroy Burgess’ “Let’s Do It Again” A Louie Vega Interpretation (Dance Ritual Mix) turned the disco out, 3 Winans Brothers featuring The Clark Sister’s “Dance” (Louie’s Dance Ritual Mix) caused the crowd to yell, “Even in the bad times/I wanna dance”-and dance the crowd did-Louie Vega starring Duane Harden’s “Never Stop” (Instrumental) cooled the pulse of beating hearts, as Jet’s “Uncle Sam,” on Vegas Records, brought the beat to a tribal simmer.

02:00 Galactic Time

“EVERYBODY GET ON UP AND DANCE,” a diva commanded. Her vocals pierced over percolating percussions and a tambourine that possessed the sweaty air. At that instance, veteran house heads’ entered into trances. Their sweaty flesh thrown against the brick walls like rag dolls after child’s play. And playing with the crowd was the trick up the Master’s sleeve. Add Loleatta Holloway’s vocal riffs singing over Hamilton Bohannon’s “Let’s Start The Dance” and Warning: The Dance Floor Was Now A Danger Zone.  

The commotion continued for another ten minutes. This was Tony Humphries at his best; when he traversed the music galaxy and aligned the stars of garage, house, disco, techno, gospel, vocals, and tracks into a dancing astronomy. His ability to “Wow” hearts of the novice to the seasoned spoke of his royal Kingship. Whilst leaning against the ledge of the bar, a wide-eyed thirty-something surveyed the action. He had no words to speak for his T-shirt summarized the experience into two worthy adjectives, “Serious Soul.”

words: aj dance

illustration: aj art

DETROIT SWINDLE IN WASHINGTON D.C. 27.03.15

March 28th, 2015

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00:23 EST

The Break Up

Sojourn down a flight of stairs into the mouth of the cavernous. Welcome to a basement that wipes grime off its brow. Dark, dingy, and dank. The space has charisma and it speaks with charm. No selfies. No photobombs. No videography. Washington D.C.’s U Street Music Hall forbids.

A golden haze hangs across the smoke-free room. LEDs emit lights of magenta turned emerald that play cat and mice over shadows of ball caps and mops of hair that bop up and down in slow motion. Behind the postured mass are the bodies whose feet spin in circles and feet sway left to right. Missing are the breakers with their cropped circles as they fall to the floor to showoff hand stands with their legs spinning in the air ready to take out a limb. The only danger present is the bar destined inebriated slamming into bodies in motion. “Excuse you?”

A dancer’s jazz shoes stick to the ground. The wooden floor is already covered with libations. Within seconds a hooded figure bent over scurries by as a rat in daylight. He is a savior. In his hand, he holds a bottle of baby powder. The floor candy spills across the wooden titles in a snake formation. Thank you Jesus!!!

“Wheeeweeee!!!” A swarm of approval erupts from the mouths of many. A thump and percussions introduces “The Break Up” before a lo-fi punch kicks the drum. In the background the crowd sings, “You stole my love” in repeated refrain. In the foreground the sonics sound muffled. A move closer to the hanging speaker cabinet reveals a low hum. To swindle is to cheat by fraud or deceit and tonight Detroit Swindle is being robbed of a superior sound system.

 A fuzzy recollect

Detroit is a musical nucleus. The Motor City’s influence stretches from Leeds to Amsterdam to Stuttgart. Its grip ignites lads to monogram the “D” into their stage moniker. Detroit Swindle’s Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets is such. It is tempting to label the awesome twosome as studio producers first, label owners second and touring DJs third. After all, the Amsterdam natives met in a club, one Deejaying and the other manning the acoustics. Thereafter, their rise to fame is a fuzzy recollect. “I don’t know,” a release on this label and that label placed them on DJs radars. “Maybe,” it was their debut “Boxed Out” that won critical acclaims with its cross-genre pollination. The question begs, is their any originality to this duo or is it all a formula calculated by a sharking music executive to keep pace with EDM trends?

In a relatively short time, 2012 to be exact, Lars and Maarten have swindled their way into the hearts of the underground house music market. They too have built a solid following of house enthusiasts. As evidenced by the panoply of bomber jackets, graphic Tees, joggers and skinny denim bottled in 1200 square feet between two performances stages in the music hall. Onstage behind the music decks, Detroit Swindle are unrecognizable, no hipster hair or pornstache. Their appearance is cloned; both are dressed in black tees and trucker caps, a far cry from their leopard print costumes. In the nation’s capital their dress is conservative but not their playlist. Maarten, who plays less, plays the best songs. When he appears center stage, which he rarely does throughout the party, he packs a more soulful punch to Lars’ funky tech. He even elicits the speakers to emit a fuller sound as a groovy bass line plays. Under Lars helm the mixing missteps, cold cuts and beat slamming, that later evens out to a steady flow.

Tonight, Derrick Carter should feel cheated more than Moodymann. The soul of Chicago’s Southside disco mixed with Chicago’s North side’s hi-energy represents. Layered beats that stick to the bones and disco loops that uplift outstretch hours of pleasure. Take, KHLHI “Percussions (Four Tet).” The music crescendos and drops but does not annoy. Beats sound interchangeable. This is track music for track heads. Dubbed vocals from soul giants that should play out into full versus with sing-along hooks never materialize. Robbing the crowd of hearing First Choice fully sing “Double Cross” is a punishable offense.             

 02:00 EST

The Magic Hour

When “Ccccc’monnn’ (s)” and “Wwwwill yooou leave with me(s)?” are stretched into long drawls from future politicians who stand several inches shorter than their blonde-haired counterparts, their departing time has arrived that makes way for the experienced dancers to play.   The magic hour begins.

There dances the good ole’ buddy, a former dance instructor, retired night-lifer, who throws his arms into the air and wobbles his legs as if paying homage to Janet Jackson, to his left a house dancer dressed in all black, sticks her derriere out and twerks before she sidesteps to the right as her friend shakes hands with an out-of-town stranger and says,” You’ve got dancing skills.”

Their bodies groove to Chicago’s K-Alexi’s “The Dancer” where the Ian Pooley Remix drops to 124 beats per minute of minimal thumps and spacey grooves. Gwen McCrae’s “Keep This Fire Burning” (The Revenge Need II Edit) emerges as the party’s hell yeah! The feel good slow burner lifts dancing feet off the floor but only as far as the inferior sound quality allows. Detroit Swindle continues their pilferage on Heist Recordings, their label imprint, with its latest release from Barme & Hamo’s “The Parish Rumors.” Finally, Lars pays homage to his group’s namesake, Detroit’s Terrance Parker on “Love’s Got Me High.” A song and sight most appropriately illustrated by the guy in his wheelchair swaying his torso around in circles, flapping his arms and hands in the air with his head cocked towards the ceiling. His visage says it all. “This is the power of house music.” A fact that will attest Detroit Swindle’s staying power for years to come.

Detroit Swindle

words: aj dance

illustration: aj art

DERRICK CARTER IN NASHVILLE 28.02.15

March 1st, 2015

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Derrick Carter & His Flock of Retired Ravers

2300 CST 

I’m A House Gangsta

Playing a game of “excuse me(s)” while trying not to step on sneakers takes balance and observation. Brushing shoulders and bumping against tatted biceps is the only way to maneuver through T-shirts that read, “I’m A House Gangsta” and “Nashville.” Watch out! Dance circle front and center. A group of six bodies stands in a circumference as if they are mother hens protecting their offspring from outsiders. Within their love nest, a dancer sporting a red Mohawk performs an asymmetric handstand. Into view, a six-foot frame slides three feet as people jump to avoid the whirlwind. Positioned left stage is a hand raver, with one limb, showing off his skills like it’s a badge of honor. As additional b-boys and one b-girl arrive the circle grows and snakes towards the room’s epicenter. Burly hugs, smooches on the cheeks, and handshakes fill the void. As one out-of-towner eloquently explains, “Brown. White. Old. Young. Tall. Short. Fat. Skinny. Beautiful. Ugly. Look at the diversity in this place.”

 Nash Vegas

“They say Nashville has a house music scene. But this is not our deep house,” discovers another out-of-town dancer.

How correct! This is not NYC. Not even Atlanta. To make such assumptions would be gravely ill. This is Nash Vegas! Its electronic soul pumps funky house music through its veins. And tonight, the music speaks its funky sermon into a microphone as it shows off its swag underneath the spotlight.

“How many people traveled from Florida? Ohio? Memphis? Atlanta?” The Back to the Basics M.C. yells into the house microphone. The crowd of old friends, old frenemies, and old associates roars with every location announced. The faces of fine lines and focused stares are retired ravers, house junkies of the 1990’s; the last great decade, a time when wide-legged pants, tongue-piercings and dyed roots ruled the world.

 If Back To The Basics has its say then tonight is underground house music’s rebirth, dancing towards the edge of a revival. What better conductors than Nashville’s DJ Sammie tagging with Kentucky’s Trevor Lamont to reignite a movement? A slim Lamont, showing a salt and pepper goatee, works the room as he plays Derrick May’s “Strings of Life.” The Detroit techno anthem sets dancing feet ablaze. Dressed in a white tee and white cap is Sammie who follows with Black Science Orchestra’s “New Jersey Deep.” The Funkanova’s “Wood, Brass & Steel” sample is immediately recognizable and continues to elevate the party’s status. While Sammie takes the more funky approach, Trevor stirs the pot with laden soul as both pave the way for their successor.    

 24:00 CST

Liquid Spirit

If DJ Sammie and Trevor Lamont are disciples then Derrick Carter is Derrick Christ. And the club on 2nd Avenue is church. The place of worship does lack advertised amenities like valet parking, a VIP bar, and why must bottled water take thirty minutes to receive at the bar? DC’s followers, they affectionately call him, do care but they are too consumed with god worship that straddles the atmosphere. As the evangelist of house music appears on stage, he takes his place. At his altar, a pentagon shaped performance stage is where dozens of gathered parishioners clap their hands. Their blinding smiles replace the flashes of electronic devices; their outstretched hands replace fist pumps. This is the face of Generation X. And tonight, “Babysitters are making money.”

DC rolls up his sleeves. A revelation of tats travels down both forearms to his wrists. His ten fingers steadily grip the controls of knobs and buttons. His visage reads he is about to let his flock have it!

Hailing from suburbia Chicago, WESTSIDE! The tale of Derrick Carter sings an all too familiar verse, at age nine plays music at a family reunion, gets a job at a record store, produces music, starts a recording label, plays Europe and becomes a celebrated DJ who tours the world. The DC sound scribbles a unique signature that leaves dance floors satiated: faster BPMs, heart-pulsating four-on-the-floors, and looped vocals. All key ingredients of fun music.

After all, Derrick puts the fun in funky house. Derrick does not bring the party: Derrick is the party. He is all too willing to serenade his followers with the best. White labels of Eryka Badu’s “On and On” and Faith Evans “You Gets No Love” ring the alarm. Both divas belt over repurposed thumps in Derrick’s musical sermon. A sermon that includes secular visuals. Don’t hate on the dancing dominatrix dressed in head to toe black; a head wrap, dress, fishnets and stilettos, or she will take her whip and pleasure you with pain.

DC does not play safe. He will offend. Just #derphouse. All the while, he tells the truth by playing the music people never imagined they ever wanted to experience. Take, Gregory Porter’s “Liquid Spirit.” In a move unprecedented in Carter’s sermons, the tempo slows to a mid-crawl of Sunday morning handclaps with a soulful bump. “Clap Your Hands Now” Porter commands: happy hands follows suit.       

While sipping a liquid spirit, a damsel in distress stands nearby. She has “The Blues” and not because the AFTC (DJ Spen American Poetic Remix) instrumental blasts into the soundsphere. “He bought me here on a date and he knows everyone in here. I just want to dance, but he is too busy talking to everyone.”

After all, this is a family reunion, a den of retired ravers, and the wrong place to bring your first and probably last date.

Then the young siren turns around, throws her drink up in the air, and does a funky kick with her legs as Whitney Houston sings, “Love Will Save The Day.”

“FWEEEEEEEEEEET!” The dancing Dominatrix blows her whistle to the music that time travels back to the late 1980’s. Derrick shows love to his hometown house heroes Ralphi Rosario featuring Xavier’s “You Used to Hold Me,” and Cajmere featuring DaJae’s “Brighter Days” (Underground Goodies Mix). By the time Robert Owen proclaims “Bring Down The Walls,” the sound becomes a muddied hodgepodge.  

DC does not play straight: mixing in one track and riding out the melody on another track. Much is said in a DC sermon. Beats scurry over here. Melodies scatter over there. A bit of madness pursues. His is a narrative conceptually focused with woven textures and erupting elements. If not distributed through the proper sound channels, the mix can sound discomforting and discombobulating. When dancing behind a speaker that muffles the mids, Beyonce raps, “Chocked on a bone when the bone slid deeper.” How sad because HNNY’s “Sneeze” is actually a game changer.

At the intersection where French vanilla, from E-Cigarettes, and sweat scent the air, several dancers have gathered in front of the speaker cabinets for greater sound clarity. It works. Don Armando’s “Deputy of Love” (2nd Avenue Remix) sounds intelligent and at the moment “dynamite!” Too bad dancing feet hesitate to glide over the corn-syrup surface that sticks to the rubber soles like glue. However, the goo does not hinder the red Mohawk dancer who is still dancing in the cropped circle. His arm movement’s pop, and his chest locks to the late Loleatta Holloway’s “Hit & Run” vocal a cappella as his crew watches from the sidelines.  

02:00CST

Nicest Club in America

“Nashville!” Let’s give it up for Derrick Carter.” The Back to Basics MC shouts to perhaps the nicest club in America. As Nashville’s DJ Mindub and Terry Grant assume musical directives, Derrick head nods and waves to the packed house. For the past two hours he never verbally acknowledges the crowd beyond means of playing music. An address that is most comforting for die-hard house heads. After all, in Derrick’s kingdom the music is the message that speaks a million words.

Epilogue

Church

The next morning, sitting at the dinning table with a best friend and her parents over breakfast, their friend asks? “So, where do you go to church?”

I softly mutter, “Last night we were at church.”

words: aj dance

illustration: aj art

DerrickCarterNashville

A VALENTINE’S DAY LOVE AFFAIR WITH KERRI CHANDLER IN SAN FRANCISCO Part 1: MIKE SERVITO 14.02.15

February 16th, 2015

KerriChandlerflyer

A VALENTINE’S DAY LOVE AFFAIR WITH KERRI CHANDLER

PART I: MIKE SERVITO

The Silent Slayer

23:09 PST

A gentle breeze ripples the hair on heads. The night’s wind smells of salt and water. An air of pretentiousness walks by, laughter and faint dialects speaks volumes through calmness. Ahead, pulsating “uhmps, uhmps, uhmps” is the only cue pointing towards the venue’s glass door.

“People hang out here?” A Middle-Eastern accent asks from the front driver‘s seat of his UBER registered vehicle. The bearded face turns his attention back to the GPS attached to the dash cam. “This is the address.”

At the mighty front door sits a burly body with a “fuck off” silence. He points guests into the warmth. After a name check on the prepay list, the moment arrives.

There lays 6000 square feet of industrial space, dimly lit of browns and golds, as shadows pace back and forth. Making out the figures of ball cap covered heads bopping up and down at the main bar is languid. The libation station is packed with a steady stream of thirsty patrons. Liquid gold flows from flasks and the cash register rejoices with rings. After all it is Valentine’s Night and what better companion than a strong drink. Most entertaining is a rapper-esque wearing a fedora and three-stripe tracksuit, sans gold chains, cutting a couple standing hand-in-hand, in line. He embraces the bartender and orders a round. To their right, his dance crew performs a moving version of warrior 3 across the wooden floor. Observers yell “yeah” with violent fist pumps. A dance circle has formed. Already?!?  

Additional pockets of writhing bodies contort around the peripheral of tribes; bearded men and blonde babes stare at a lanky lad beat matching on a performance stage. The room is immersed in a forward house number matched with a groovy melody that pulls additional arrivals towards the center sanctuary. The four-count switches moods. James Jasper’s “Sneaky” is a whacky number with scattered wobbles of bass throwing dancing feet for a loop.

Onstage stands a mid-size frame next to the DJ. The second guy hastily grabs the music controls. His demeanor appears distant, determined and focused. Who is this guy who appears hell bent for world domination?

 23:30 PST

That sho don’t look like no Kerri Chandler, but the records he plays sounds like Kerri Chandler. Was that not “Out To the Boonies” bouncing from the EAW subs? Kerri sho’ don’ slimmed down. He sho’ got a head of full of velvet black hair. Dang, Kerri got slanted eyes, now??? A closer inspection reveals the guy standing on stage, pulling vinyl from sleeves, wears a black jacket, black tee, and black trousers.

Future Internet research¹ reveals, the smartly dressed DJ is Mike Servito. The silent slayer is widely known at his current residency at Brooklyn’s Bunker Parties and for his guest spots at Honeysuckle San Francisco. A native Detroiter, the streets of the Motor City is where he first listened to “Planet Rock” before Michael Jackson. Growing up, Mike Huckaby’s and Derrick Carter’s genre blending techniques influenced the impressionable youth to play vinyl and mix music. Through the years, at times, the on-and-off DJ has laid down his turntables and vinyl for other pursuits. You might turn the heart away from the music but you cannot take the music out of the heart, best describes Servito’s return to his love, playing music. In today’s EDM driven force, Servito is a rarity, he feels at home playing other artist’s cuts than producing his own works and he knows his music, he adjusts the music to whom he opens for, be it techno, house or acid.   He is a quintessence of diversity.

Tonight, the music time travels back to the Midwest, Lil Louis’ “Club Lonely,” to the East Coast, Ceybil’s ”Love So Special.” Sevito has done his homework, and he is surely stealing some of Kerri’s heat. The all vinyl vintage sound showcases some of the best digs of soulful house paired with vocals this side of the Bay.

San Francisco swings, albeit not always to a soulful house sermon. Unless you follow the flock of Father Farina, Saint Miguel or Deacon Harness. Even then the soul speaks a funky singsong with a west coast jump. However, a glance around the premises reveals Generation “I” feels more at home with soulful sounds than one expected. They have been trained, very, very well. Two hours into the event, no one stands and shoots the shit, thumb-pecks texts, or spew cancerous venom into nostrils while standing on the dance floor. 

Several feet up in the air, on a platform, there stands a technician working the sound. Down below, onstage, for the past twenty minutes or so, another sound technician shuffles around the DJ and his record crates and edges in front of the shiny hardware parked at the drop of the stage. His hands cautiously plugs and unplugs wires into the receivers of 1200s and 2000s. “Ka, Ka, Boom!” A soul-stirring bass line on St. Etienne’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” shatters the sound barrier. The Masters At Work Dub ignites cheers and approvals from the ever-growing crowd.   The technician’s keen eye stares across the boards, the sound is ripe and ready for….

As You Like It Presents: KERRI CHANDLER bounces across four 9×12’ screens configured as one giant monitor. Onstage appears a familiar wide smile underneath a black skully.   Servito poses for a selfie with the party’s headliner. The legendary DJ applauds.  Indeed, Mike has done his job all too well. Just how the people can muster enough energy to endure the future chaos remains a mystery.

¹Rothlein, J. (2014, June 2). Mike Servito: The Late Shift. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?2032

Words by aj dance

A VALENTINE’S DAY LOVE AFFAIR WITH KERRI CHANDLER IN SAN FRANCISCO Part II: KERRI CHANDLER 14.02.15

February 15th, 2015

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A VALENTINE’S DAY LOVE AFFAIR WITH KERRI CHANDLER IN SAN FRANCISCO

Part II: Kerri Chandler

The Kaos Conductor

01:30 PST

Right off the bat, Kerri Chandler comes out swinging, he scores a home run with “Make My Heart,” featuring New Zealander vocalist Latrice Barnett. The befitting tribute scores a nod to San Francisco resident, DJ/producer Jay-J who stands onstage, alongside his buddy Kerri. The Kiko Navarro Mix is a proper demassify to West Coast house music, the game changer that ignited the world over during the late 1990’s to early 2000’s.  

The thumps of funkin’ four-counts continue its reign. A choppy drum loop builds over a swooshing backdrop of heart pounding jabs. The warped vocals mutate from white noise to crystal clear. “Girl I must warn you.” As fingers snap, feet shuffle, and shoulders swivel from left to right, the bodies in motion have no clue what is about to strike. Without warning, the music disappears from underneath fancy footwork. A drum machine drops a kick: Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” explodes into view, only to disappear like a thief in the night. The crowd yells, having realized they been hoodwinked, by one of the greatest “Hip Hop On a RnB Tip with A Pop Appeal” anthems of all time. Hands hit the knees, the body has to rest, slowly breathe in and breathe out-is it time to change T-shirts? -the heart pounds for life.  

Research shows within the first month of life a baby’s heartbeat can beat between 70-190 beats per minute. The resting heart of an adult can beat between 60-100 beats per minute. As a person ages, the heartbeat slows down. This is true for many soulful house music parties. Ever been to a house music party where the majority of the crowd is approaching the mid-century mark? The older the DJ, the slower the BMPs: the older the crowd, the slower they dance.

Not so for Kerri Chandler, or the music he plays. The forty-something years young with a full head of hair, purpose is to make the heart beat faster and for people to dance harder. He believes in the thump. His definitive anthems rings with beats that pound at 124 to 125 BPMS, take “Hallelujiah” and “Rain” respectively, sadly the two anthems not played at this party.

Let’s be real, thumping four-on-the-floors are the lifeblood of house music.   Without the essential four counts-that are not only heard through ears but rattles the heart-one is playing funeral music. A not so fun experience that puts people to sleep. Perhaps, an eternal sleep from the house music scene. And to think why a younger generation has not gravitated to soul filled house music.

Not so in San Francisco, where hipsters and yuppies rule against the age of reason. After all, gentrification is an ugly word. However, young people purchasing and renovating an old space, turn club in a blight area pays off. It shows on the faces of the young-in the twinkle of their eye and in the sparkle of their pearly white smiles-as they dance, blow money on drinks and whatever guilty pleasures arise. In an underground club that sits in the upcoming design district, money is no option. Of course this is no five-star resort hotel advertising bottle poppin’ ballers in VIP, but a more justified experience of a soulful get down to underground music. This is where Asian techs, college preps, bearded hipsters and drunk girls come to party. On the menu, the house special: A happy family poo-poo platter.    

There is no division-no black section in the rear or white section up front. Better yet, in Saint Frank, there are no Asians over hear, no Latinos over there, with whites dotting all points in between. There is no division of age. Grey hairs dance amongst floppy bangs. This is the face of the 21st century smart club, where alcohol sales stop at…

02:00 PST

The room goes dark. One look left and to the right reveals the venue’s two bars are closed with shades drawn over the countertops. No more spirits for this crowd, unless the kind from the music.

As Angie Stone’s “I Wasn’t Kidding,” plays cricket’s chirp. The sea of nameless faces appear unfamiliar with the Scott Wozniak and Timmy Regisford Shelter Version, partly because these youngsters were gawking at MySpace and listening to Kanye West on their 5th Generation iPods ten years earlier when the remix was conceived. However, Kerri gives it to the babes, by playing classics they need to hear.

Classics like, “Ba, da, da, da, da, dah…Ba, da, da, da,” sings a band of trumpets, “Thump, thump,” A drum speaks. A lo-fi bass line drives the groove to discotheque. Teddy Pendergrass sings “You Can’t Hide from Yourself.” The energy in the room shifts to organized chaos. Dancing bodies feel the need to shed their skin and run around the room spiritually naked. Patrice Rushen’s “Looking For You” brings a smile to the face of a nearby, nearly sleeping security guard. On the Joey Negro Extended Disco Mix the sudden sounds of chords surprises. A riff of keys play over an instrumentation of sparse drums that is not in the original mix. Look onstage. Kerri is playing a Korg. Live!!!.

“Kerri is killing it!”

“Who?!?” asks a young man with a vacant expression staring at the stage.

“Kerri Chandler. He is Kerri Chandler!”

Kerri ‘Kaoz’ Chandler was born into a musical family. His father, especially, fed his musical palette and trained his musical ear by giving him a start at playing music in a Jersey nightclub. That opportunity led to additional DJ gigs and stints in New York’s various music scenes from soul to rap. After a tragic experience, Kerri turned his full attention to producing house music. His productions forged the blueprint of futuristic underground sounds back in the early 1990s, a time when semi-house producers copycatted their way onto the charts. The Kerri sound: brass horns, bubbling bass lines, cowbells and steady buildups are instantly recognizable around the world yet they are sacred to the soul. How one produces a vast music catalog from jazz to video games and yet remains true to his morals is the tale of folklores. He is an in demand, must-have DJ/music producer/remixer who plays frequently around the globe than in his backyard.   

“San Francisco it has been a long time.” He lowly announces minus a Jersey accent.  

Horns blast over a four-count that shakes the floor. “Atmospheric Beats” slowly builds to a towering crescendo of jazz house. The soul-stirring classic introduces the next song with a similar tempo. The System’s “You’re In My System” breaks the beats for a solo opener of Rhodes keys. When the song breaks for a spoken rap, the crowd applauds with handclaps. “You’re In My Soul, I Just Can’t Get Enough of Your…” Rightly spoken, the people can’t get enough of the ‘Kaoz.” Cajmere’s “Brighter Days,” (Underground Goodies Mix) ignites more screams. If that is not enough, the vocal version drops as vocalist Dajae leads the crowd singing “Lift Me Up.” As Sunday morning handclaps and gospel wails uplift spirits, Johnny Corporate’s “Sunday Shoutin’” takes the dancers to church. A young lady shimmy shakes in a solid gold sequence dress as if she has the Holy Ghost. Sporadic bursts of energy, allows the body the ability to house dance to harder-tinged anthems and relax on more mellow tracks. Surely, Kerri is beat driven and unapologetic, but he too knows when to give his audience a breather as on Veja Vee Khali’s “Spiritual Elevation.”

If there was ever a DJ’s DJ, Kerri is that guy. “I’m so honored to see so many people. My friends are here beside me,” speaks his calm yet resounding voice. “They come from Leeds, NYC, and Florida.”

A real legend gives honor to whom honor is due. Mr. V, standing next to Kerri, speaks, “Jus Dance,” into a microphone over a deep masterpiece that drops knees to the wooden floor. One dancer shoves his back and then his head onto the wooden floor and lays prostrated for an even deeper experience. Piano keys and a sassy sax swirl through the soundscape, making this not only one unforgettable moment but one of the deepest tracks played thus far. San Francisco’s house pioneer, David Harness, who is in the house, is honored with his interpretation of Black Coffee’s “JuJu.” The Harlum (short for Harness and Chris Lum) Mix beats are jacked up on steroids, making Afro-house fun to dance to.  

 04:00 PST

As the music should abruptly end, blinding lights should flood the floor, and security should all but assault guests to exit through the back door, Kerri continues to conduct the Kaoz like a philharmonic director gone mad. There is no stopping this guy. With a wave of his hand he directs the beat to bellow on “Hallelujah,” but his right palm shuns the vocals of Shirley Ceaser. He instructs the cowbell to chime on “Bar-A-Tyme.” Then he commands, “You will obey every word of Kerri Chandler,” as “Bar-A-Tyme,” morphs into a killer monster. “Your every will is not your own.” The twenty-five bodies left dancing agree. Their bodies washed in perspiration.

“Kerri turn it down. Turn it down” Mr. V interrupts. Victor Font takes note of the chaos and puts on the brakes. “Yo San Francisco, it’s been a minute.” V turns around. “Kerri, turn it down.” The volume drops only a half notch. “Yo San Francisco, its Valentines Day. You got to show some love, to the man, Kerri Chandler.” Mouths cheer and hands clap. The music gains momentum into a filtered fury.

Mr. V continues, “Yo lets give Kerri a present. Kerri I want you to play your favorite song of all time. It don’t have to be house. It could be RnB, soul or whatever.”

After a second, chiming bells and a mid-tempo four count stumbles into the sound scape, “The Blackness,” announces a tenor.  “This is my favorite song,” says Kerri. At 4:30 pst, Sound of Blackness’ “Optimistic” (Never Say Die 12” Mix) ushers a dancing body of the club on an very unforgettable night.  Hallelujah!   

Words by aj dance

DISCLOSURE 27.12.14

December 28th, 2014

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Disclosure

The House That Chicago and Detroit Built

 22:30

“How do you stay motivated in the midst of everything going on?” Preachy vocals ask. Young ladies nibble nervously at the paint on their fingernails while the fellas draw their BAEs toward their waists. The sea of half-naked bodies has experienced several opening DJ sets throughout the evening. Various visages appear worn but the majority of eyes stare with dilated pupils. The crowd becomes more fidgety as the voice preaches on. “How do you build your personal momentum and get in the zone?” The Eric Tomas “Rope-A-Dope” sample not only opens Disclosure’s Grammy nominated album, Settle but their live DJ set. Thirty-seconds later, the bombastic voice breaks free for a thump and a clap. “When A Fire Starts to Burn” it burns. Smart devices soar upward to record the Disclosure logo burning on five high-definition stadium monitors. A resounding cheer of approval erupts from mouths of babes. Literally these decorated kids, some who are dressed like infants, are babies. A football team logo of a blue star with a white and blue outline is etched onto the back of a ball cap that oscillates left to right. Someone standing next to me is so excited they deem it appropriate to light up. In the Dallas Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center chewing gum and lip-balm are prohibited but not marijuana?

Despite the unappealing whiff the music remains the focus.

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Layers of pounding percussions make way for a marching four-on-the-floor that beckons earlier Chicago underground warehouse parties with far superior acoustics.

For a hefty music festival the acoustics sound anemic almost weightless. More bottoms, a heavier bass, and high-definition sonics would enhance the Grammy nominated “F for You” disguised beneath bubbly drums and hissing hi-hats. A more defined soundscape would thrust the body forward when the tom-toms drop allowing Howard Lawrence’s understated vocals to send a rushing shock to the heart providing a F-ing mind blowing bass drop.

Actually, the visuals are the money. At the climax on “F for You” (Remix) fireballs shoot towards the ceiling. The sight of fog hovering overhead makes jaws drop. On cue Disclosure’s outline face dances from screen to screen. Laser lights flood the stage and then paints the audience electric green. The gregarious theatrics is controlled by the event’s nucleus, a 500 square feet booth located in the center of the room.

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Then a dog crawls by on all fours, some kid is dressed in a head-to-toe dog costume. There dances a grey rat, sorry but this year a dead mouse appears nowhere on the line-up. There is no shortage of tomfoolery in this world.

In the land of God, guns, and Ford trucks there is Lights All Night. The two-day indoor rave-ahem, festival-in its fifth year, features the crème de la crop of EDM giants playing in four separated spaces. The Drop. The Deep. The Turn Up. The Mothership 2.0. It is within the Mothership 2.0 where class plays hierarchy.  Onstage stands the DJ rock god, below is the alter, there stands his worshippers hurdled in a massive lump, the girls who cry tears and the boys who fist-pump, the dancers and the hicks with glow sticks prance around the inner sanctuary as the very important people stare afar from their exclusive gated community-the VIP-in the outer sanctuary. All the while, security monitors the pulse of the room.  

A pulse that thumps to a thud a few songs later. Around the inner sanctuary, furry boots and skinny jeans sit in clicks on the concrete floor. Perhaps the venue’s lack of intimacy is to blame? The Lawrence brother, yes a lone brother and not the awesome twosome, stands behind an entirely too huge arsenal. He appears dwarfed and too far away to woo the crowd. “Dallas are you still with me?”

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His black T-shirt turns from left to right. His hands appear to punch and twist knobs. Sadly, this crowd will never know if he is playing music live or not. Disclosure is not the best of DJs. Their technical mixing can be clunky but at least you know they are not aided by computer software for beat matching.   But that is on those Boiler Room videos. God only knows what happens when one is erected ten feet in the air.

A hiccup burps from the speaker. A skid-ity-clat, clat, bubbles until it bursts underneath a breathy falsetto. As vocalist Sasha Kimbal battles the voices in her head the music drops into existence and the room’s thermostat rises. Disclose-minus-the-sure turns the tide by playing vocals, a much-needed welcome to the mainly instrumental affair thus far.    

To keep the people’s energy level boiling it appears this crowd needs more apeshit. Something that Disclosure is not. Disclosure is more 1990’s house than today’s cake face antics.  

Disclosure’s rise-to-fame dates back to 2008 a time when the two brothers, Howard and Guy Lawrence first listened to electronic music. Feeding their veins dubstep, brostep, and electro did not make the cut. So the Surrey natives explored the rich history pages of electronic dance music. Their discovery led them to the steel and automotive factories buried beneath the rubble of Midwest America. The musical movement birthed from the original EDM fathers during the post disco era yielded fruitful results. The Lawrence brother’s sound: the house and techno that Chicago and Detroit built. A sound that remains relevant and reverent. That is why you will hear in their live DJ set.  

“Jack…Jack….Jack…Jack Your body,” the Steve “Silk” Hurley classic playing over a sample of Maurice Joshua’s “This is Acid.”

Chi-town’s diva Dajae wailing, “Lift Me Up” on Cajmere’s “Brighter Days.” Alumni house heads appreciate the Underground Goodie Mix. EDM lovers scratch their heads. Disclosure feeds filet mignon to Happy Meal eaters.  

“This is something new.” The confident voice hypes to faces covered in candy masks resembling Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat. The four-to-floor thumps at 130 BPM with chopped effects recalling juke house birthed on Chicago’s South Side. “Shake That Ass” a voice whispers that commands derrieres bounce as if quivering outdoors in the 30 degrees air.

The scent of sex lingers in the air like cheap eau de toilette. From the guy dancing in yellow short shorts to a woman’s breasts trying to escape her furry bikini. The couple swapping spit next to me. The couple dry humping in front of me. The couple swaying in one another’s arms behind me.

When the one-half of Disclosure is not paying homage to the pioneers of house and techno, he markets his song that reached number two on the United Kingdom Singles Charts. “White Noise”-the song’s accompanying music video was filmed in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit-causes SuperDanceBros to high-five one another as their bare chests slam against bare chests. One bro, wearing a glowing mask of an Inca god, tries to recruit other guys to join their mating ritual.

“If house is a nation, I want to be president.” DJ Roland Clark’s presents Urban Soul speaks on “President House.”   For thirty deafening seconds the music disappears. “If house is a nation, I want to be president,” the voice repeats like a hundred times. Dancing feet halt. Mouths are silenced. Faces appear confused. What is a house nation?   Tribal drums thump but these thumps sound more manufactured on the latest music software than played organically.  The congas bring out the Latinas, dressed provocatively in carnival fashion wearing no more than dental floss and mile-high feathered headdresses.  Mexico flags wave in the air. A Puerto Rican flag is wrapped around the male genitalia of a barely twenty-year-young lad. This party proves American born Mexicans are representing in mass numbers. The latest Spanglish generation has abandoned salsa dancing to writhe their legs over one another. A movement that continuously appeared over the past sixty minutes across the conference hall. Glossy sneakers kick front to back and twists in and out with bouts of spasms.   “Security! Please, call a paramedic.” These younglings have restless leg syndrome. I’m told no paramedic is needed. “This is called the shuffle.” Dazed and confused, I reply, “Calling that a shuffle is (explicit).”

And why must the running man make a comeback?

And to think Generation X proclaims that Generation Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat. is only concerned with snapping selfies than actually dancing at raves. Ah, they do dance. It’s a dance by a different name.

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23:52

The tribal dance comes to a grinding halt. “Dallas, sing your heart out to this next song.” “Now I’ve Got You In My Space,” neon glowing lips sing in return. Disclosure closes out the set with “Latch” their top ten hit that made them a household name.  

“Do ya want one more?” He asks with his British accent sounding more evident than at anytime during the night. “Only if you want it.”

A reverb effect sounds as synthesizers sweep over a stark drum kick. Eyebrows shift upward. Eyes bulge. Bright smiles light up the room. This might be the best song he has played all night, someone thinks, if not the most recognizable song of the night, someone else thinks. A sea of hands charge the air as if playing gangsta at a rap concert. “Sorry Ms. Jackson.” “Ooh,” the crowd sings after the music fades. “Dallas can I get a…..” “Ever, Forever, Ever, the crowd sings at the appropriate time. What a becoming tribute to the ATLiens.  

“I’m Guy, one-half of Disclosure. I had a blast. Thanks for coming out.” The young man announces before disappearing into black.

 24:00

Why younger brother Howard was amiss remains unclear. Guy, the older Lawrence brother aired a self-confidence as to suggest he was groomed to DJ solo. Having to play music and please a crowd of hundreds can be burdensome when you are accustomed to sharing the spotlight. No small feat for a twenty-three years young fresh face with a five o’ clock shadow. The ability to conquer the small allows Disclosure to conquer mountain peaks where their counterparts trip and fall. Their ability to wholly take their craft seriously; producing music with intrinsic value, creating a critically acclaimed compilation, performing live while playing actual instruments and paying homage to the old-skool in their DJ outfit justifies means. Their will to revive house music’s golden years and repackage it to their generation is a testament. Disclosure is not freshmen playing on a varsity team: they are the team. They create the rules, the plays and they score! These two brothers just might be the saviors of house music.    

Words and Visuals by AJ Dance

Ten Reasons How Disclosure Ruled House Music In 2014 While You Slept.

December 22nd, 2014

The UK lads ruled house music and deep house music in 2014. “WHO?”  You house music purists ask.  Here are ten reasons how they accomplished this accolade while you slept.

10. Madonna really???

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9. Usher is kissed by a Disclosure remix.

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8. A Billboard trade magazine cover.

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7. They are the next generation responsible for taking deep/soulful house music to the mainstream.

6. The Queen of Hip Hop goes house on the Disclosure produced “Right Now” and “Follow” singles on her critically acclaimed “The London Sessions.”

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5. Disclosure’s “Latch” launched songster Sam Smith into superstardom.

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4. “Rest in peace Frankie Knuckles, an inspirational pioneer of the music we love.” -Disclosure

 

3. Disclosure’s “F for You” featuring Mary J. Blige earns a GRAMMY nomination.

 

2. “Latch” becomes a surprise summer hit in the States.

 

1. Disclosure is AJ Dance’s artist/DJ/producer and remixer of 2014 and “Latch” is his favorite house song of the year, although the song was released in October 2012.  Anyways, congratulations!

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LEGENDS OF HOUSE 1: KEVIN SAUNDERSON 15.11.14

November 17th, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 1: Kevin Saunderson

 23:30

 “You can’t smoke cigarettes in here.”

“Yes you can.”

“But I really thought you couldn’t…..”

“Yep.  You really can.”

“C’mon you are killing me.”

“Actually, you’re thinking of the “drum” crowd that doesn’t smoke when they dance here.” 

 24:00

“Made In Detroit” tees, plaid shirts and black-rimmed specs canvas the room.  College students fist pump adjacent parents: sparse faces of ecru and olive dot among vast pallid visages.  Behind a black column, a bearded hipster sets his glass of liquor on the floor.  Underneath the smoky haze and pulsating strobe lights that leaves the floor green, a sea of pearly white pupils stare at a stage.  Missing are electric guitars, live drums kits, synths and a hairy mop with plucked lips screaming into a microphone.  Instead two CD players, a mixer and equalizer are the instruments of choice.  Behind the arsenal stands a figure-tall, dark, and dressed in black.  He is who everyone in attendance is ready to experience. 

A four-on-the-floor thumps at full volume before disappearing into the dark.  Warm pads springs to life.  Like the prodigal son, classic house comes leaping home.  Many appear, by the lack of fist pumps, to be vaguely familiar.  Only the dancing is fully engaged.  Time travels back to baggy pants and PLURs: the bygone years of Generation X’s rave soundtrack.  If classic chords beckon feet to move, warm vocals commands mouths to sing,  “Your Love.”  Mouths mimic lyrics, as to say, if memory serves correctly, I used to know every word to this track.  The legendary DJ opens his musical mantra with his back catalog that proves he shines with the great.    

Lest you are unfamiliar and fail to understand the significance, let us dust off the pages of techno music’s biography.   Kevin Saunderson was born, and up to age 9 bred in Brooklyn, NY.  His family then traded sights of the Brooklyn Bridge for the Ambassador Bridge having moved west, Midwest, to suburbia Detroit.  Kevin’s high school years proved pivotal as he connected with music enthusiasts Juan Atkins and Derek May without knowing they would soon craft the blueprint for an underground movement.  After a short stint as a college football player, Kevin departed sports to pursue his love music.  Thus, he became an in-demand DJ who traveled the world.  The label imprint KMS-Kevin Maurice Saunderson-established him as a burgeoning music producer of a distinguished electronic camp.  It was his group, Inner City that created a cult following with vocal techno “Big Fun” and “Good Life” fame. Fast forward to present day, Kevin Saunderson is revered as one of the founding fathers, pioneers and pillars of techno music. 

Kiddie-corner the room the bald DJ stands hunched over shiny hardware.  His black tee brushes against knobs and faders.  His fingers flip CDs, press buttons, and slides switches in a single take. The maestro preps to deliver his best scenario: a repertoire of genre-defining sounds. Deep house sojourns on The Journeymen’s “Close to Me”, deep tech on Culoe De Song’s “Y.O.U.D.,” vocal house croons, “I Need You” that stirs the crowd to realize they need Kevin Saunderson just as much, Andrez “Based On A True Story” (Dub Mix) stomps across the cement floor, “Chicago” that Northside funky house sound causes bodies to writhe in jackin’ jolts, “Detroit,” Kevin’s hood, as in Detroit Techno plays at 135 BPMs and higher as Ovenous & Atjazz’s “Soldiers” speaks over marching drums.  Kevin takes a step back.  He beams a blinding smile.  He is having too much fun.  His stacked frame sways from left to right to his mental metronome.  Suddenly the sounds of recognizable synths sweep the soundscape.  It’s the song that made Kevin and Inner City household names “Good Life,” (Techno Mix) a worthy dose of tech-soul that closes out the set.

Scores of hands ripple the air as a body triple spins and jump upwards.  Not one soul is musically immune to bouts of satisfaction.  This is the music that beckons discerning electronic music lovers journey from Florida and Tennessee.  Local neo-technoites and EDM enthusiasts were schooled on the humble beginnings of a global massive front.  The fifty-years young DJ educated the crowd.  In return he receives a heartfelt dancing ovation with thundering handclaps. 

Meanwhile the drink that the bearded hipster previously set on the ground falls sideways on the cement.  Pieces of sharp glass swim everywhere.  Aw great, a sticky dance floor.  Damn, no one thought to bring the baby powder.

Check out Legend of House 2: DJ Pierre

Words by AJ Dance

Legends of House 2: DJ PIERRE 15.11.14

November 16th, 2014

Legends of House Techno meets acid house

Legends of House

Legend 2: DJ Pierre

 02:00

A hefty bear hug is exchanged between the two music buddies.  The DJ transition goes smooth and so much unannounced.  Onstage stands a full-haired man working the musical hardware. He appears far younger than his age.  A closer inspection reveals fine wrinkles that spread like branches of life from his eyes.  He has charm, a jovial wit that radiates as bright as his smile.  House legend number two takes aim.  He appears ready to please.

Heavy-charged techno thumps are exchanged for hissing snares of sexy house meant to inspire more lounging than fist pumping.  Five-minutes later, sensuality is shattered by divas wailing boldly over bouncing keys.  The instantly recognizable Todd Terry featuring Jocelyn Brown and Martha Walsh’s classic makes mouths sing “Keep On Jumpin’.”  As the hook plays the bottoms drop and the big room sound floods the dance floor.  Never has the crowd heard the song played with emphasis.  The classics continue on Meli’sa Morgan’s “Still In Love With You” (MAW Mix) that brings out house dancers not previously noticed during the party.  With one armed out stretched and the other arm folded behind her head, she vogues as her dance partner squat walks around her.

Four months earlier, a defining shift occurred in the city’s underground party scene.  A global-acclaimed DJ debuted his Phutur3 party, named after his late 1980’s Phuture guise.  The monthly series set to showcase local and global DJ talent.  The party proved an underground alternative to the god-complex DJ that rules mainstream nightlife culture, and has since drawn a steady stream of growing faithful supporters of the afro-acid movement.

For those familiar with acid house, DJ Pierre springs to mind.  After all, he is considered one of the patriarchs of acid house.  Pierre’s origin began in the Windy City where as a young child his attention shifted from repairing electronics to studying music.  During the mid 1980’s, when Chicago had as many house/techno DJs as churches on street corners, Pierre followed suit and became a fixture playing warehouse parties. From there he tried his luck at producing and remixing songs.  His luck paid off on the critically acclaimed “Acid Tracks” that led him to working at Strictly Rhythm records in NYC for fifteen years before relocating to the dirty south for family matters.

“Look at the stage.”  Another former Chicago DJ points out.  A vast array of rumps shakes and swings onstage.  Smartphones capture selfies as smiles shine for group photos.  “Hate to burst their bubble but this ain’t no Boiler Room broadcast.”

 DJ Pierre continues to put the P-in-the-air.  If house music ever had a subgenre called P-Funk DJ Pierre would be god.  “Never, Never, Never………” squeals a high-pitched soprano at the top of her lungs.  The man-of-the-hour warps the vocals and grinds out a gospel dub of Floorplan AKA Robert Hood’s “Never Grow Old, that takes the dancers to chucccch.  Hoots and hollers spew from the mouths of babes.  Cue Robert Owen’s “I’ll Be Your Friend” that gets grimy.  Eddie Amador’s “House Music” receives a down and dirty remix that drops knees to the floor.  The legendary producer/remixer is not done yet.  He pulls out the big guns on “Big Fun” from the party’s predecessor Kevin Saunderson.  The sounds of programmable drums, Roland TR-808’s, hover over the crowd like buzzing helicopters.  Spitfire splatters of drums rapidly assault the dancers like military soldiers spraying tear gas at Ferguson protestors.  “Acid…Breathe In, Breathe In” a lowly voice whispers into ears of dancers dripping beads of sweat. Perspiration becomes an accessory that drapes the neck and chest.   As the music intensifies so does the room’s thermostat. “Time for an adult beverage,” notes one drenched dancer.  Only the bar can keep frantic pace with the music.  As Pierre drops hit after hit, bartenders pour drink after drink.  Ringing cash registers sounds like extra instrumentation to the beat.  The music goes edgy and darker with slashing synths and beefed-up BPMs.  Hardcore acid.   Neo-techno/EDM heads be schooled at how the 20th century paged today’s Electro and said, “Give me back my beats.”  Yesterday’s originators inspire today’s generators as evidence on Osunlade’s “Idiosyncracy,” with its techy undertones and robotic overtones.  Whopping guitar riffs and orchestrated strings swirl over a looped four-on-the-floor that pronounce disco house’s revenge.  Paying homage to his beloved hometown roots, DJ Pierre closes the party.  The time reads 3:30 am.

 “Whew, what a night.  I reek of smoke.”

“Me too.”

“The smell is all over my clothes.  Not to mention trapped in my hair.”

“I hear ya.  Although, I must admit, this event was worth every cigarette smoked.”

Words by AJ Dance

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