Timmy Regisford from "What Kind Of House Party Is This?" interview
"I don't think that there's such a thing called House - I think House is a name people made up of underground music. When I was growing up, what I listened to and what I go off on was Dance music, music that was generated in the clubs by guys who inspired me like Tee Scott, Larry Levan, François Kevorkian, Tony Humphries, Larry Patterson, Rick Richardson and guys like those.
They didn't play House because there there was nothing called House back then, it was Dance music, it had lyrics, it had songs, it wasn't all instrumental, it was basically up tempo Soul music to be exact.
But as we progressed into it, people found different names to call Dance music 'cause I guess Dance music got borin' to them, and as time elevated, technology started gettin' much more confined and simpler where people could make music in their house or their basements. But that's no different to when we started putting out music; England started and all these other parts of the world started developing their own kind of music and went through phases like they have with this House, Deep House, Acid Jazz and an'that. But the bottom line at the end of the day is it was all Dance music because we made music so people could dance. So the explanation of how I fell into House music doesn't exist, there is no such thing called House music, it's just a name for Dance music"…
"What differentiated House from Dance music is that House had no lyrics on it, it was just instrumental tracks, and that's why anybody with this technology can go home put a bass line together, make a track and call it a House records, because there's no creativity going into it. Not many kids that are growing up to this thing are writing lyrics - like, we would listen to The Tramps, their so called Dance music was Disco back then, but people heard lyrics on top of those tracks which were great."
Timmy Regisford on how he got into Hou… sorry, Dance music "Which one?"
Timmy answering my question about how this form of Dance music began "House!"
Me, giving up trying to avoid using the word "It was a progression that was going on from Disco, bacause in the late '70s going into the early '80s you had early Prelude and early Emergency Records who had the sense of changing Dance music into electronic music that evolved into what everybody calls House. They had, like, the Shannons, Kanoy and all those types of records that were made from drum machines and synthesizer bass which wasn't live anymore. It became more computerised that it was live musicians and stuff. It was more of a deep, heavier sound - a sound you couldn't get the same from a live drum as you would a drum machine."
"But what is House? You've got places like England, where England went through changes in music every three months - they had Acid Jazz, they had House, then they had Deep Hose, they had Techno, and I mean, all these things are all electronic music. I mean, what's Deep House? What's the difference from Deep House and House? What's the difference from Acid Jazz and Jazz? I mean, you hear about all these different names, but at the end of the day it was just Dance music and still is Dance music."
Timmy drives home the message
Timmy Regisford was born in Trinidad on August 23th 1963.
His father was a welder, and his mother was a nurse. He went to College High School in Manhattan, and went on to study Psycology at College Bruch, also in New York City. But for Timmy, psychology was a mind-bended experience thet only music could save him from. He already knew from the age of fourteen that music and dancing were the only things that could free him to be who he wanted to be. No one prompted him until after he found the clubs, and through this, Timmy started to appreciate the world's most treasured art form - music.
"Basically I'm playing no different to what I've always played. The only thing different that I am doing now, is introducing different kinds of cultures of music. I'm not in the music because of what people like to play, I like to introduce cultures. I had a club called Shelter where I would play African music by Feller Kutai and get people to get off on it, and I could play a bassy John Coltrane type of record and have people enjoy it. These people like to hear music, they don't like to hear three hours worth of this so-called House music, of instrumental music playing back to back to back to back, bacause it becomes boring. People like Tony Humphries - I used to love the way he played because he was playing songs, and then all of a sudden he became everything that was just new, and it was good just because he played it.
Well I don't think that's so. I think people have to feel the vibe of what you're trying to put across, you have to mould people into what you're trying to get, and if that surronding comes to you, then you'll have something that you can really build on.
That's why I introduce Jazz music, I introduce African music, I introduce Latin music, just endless music, and it's not House, it's just music, and if people can get off on it then I mean…"
Timmy revisits an old theme "I always took it as a love and not a business. If I took it as a business, when my club closed, I couldn't be out spending on records, but I could go to Japan, I could go to Europe, I could tour and make money, but I'll do it because I love it, it's a hobby, it's not the lifeline of what I've worked up to. I'll always want to consider it just an hobby and love, so I don't treat it as everybody else does and just go and buy records because you wanna be first to play this, or you wanna be the one who everybody knows - that's not me. I work in a record company, I'm in a good position, so I don't need to do that to make money. The money I'll get travelling around doing that, for what I wanted it that much, but i look at it as a love and not a business."
Mr Regisford talks about something else (Djing) "Disco dancer, Club DJ, Radio DJ, A&R man for Atlantic Records and Taboo".
Timmy Regisford's resumé (abridged) "I'll move on. Imean, everybody has a window of opportunity, and until I see or when I go out there and hear that there's a difference of music that doesn't relate to what I'm to, a change that comes along that I don't want to accept because I don't fell it, then I'll move on - until then I won't. I think that no one DJ can satisfy everybody, but you have to find your criowd and if you find your crowd and your niche, you'll become the best at that in your circle, and that's all you can ask for, you've got people from Billboard, you've got your DJ clones, and you have the industry with quote unquote "labels" on guys.
David Morales mixes all the great records now. Then it was "Little" Louie, and then it was Shep Pettibone, and before that it was Tony Humphries. Everybody's had their phases, I've been through the phases, I've mixed "the" records, and after that it was time for me to move on. That means that I don't spend eighteen hours in a studio mixing a record any more, because now I'm sitting up in a office where I can hire people to do so. A lot of guys get into the business, and instead of getting into the business of learning the business, they wanna stay in one place and think that it's always gonna be the same. But it always changes, and if they don't get inside of the business, then it will be more difficult for them to achieve things. If they stay narrow minded and focused in one place, we'll have more major record companies in the United States not payng much attention to Dance music, just the independents will.
In Europe it's a different case, Europe is a big market place that loves Dance music, but the music that they love is basically all instrumental, hard and close to Techno type of music, but that's what they're making money on. Here in Atlanta, South Carolina and all these places, people don't get off on that, but at the same time you can't go down there and hear a group like Ten City, who write lyrics to their songs which is all Dance music and true to what they do, because it's hard for them to come over that barrier where the guys that program the radio stations - who could them the exposure - haven't been open to it.
So if they're not open to it, they wouldn't play it. And there's not enough of groups like them coming out of major companies where anybody would pay it any attention in the first place. If someone would put lyrics to the great tracks that these kids are doin', and make a song from it so people could sing along instead of just sayin', 'Ahh, this is a good track', it would get much, much further."
Timmy talks business "There is none right now. Everywhere I go, all I hear is house music, I don't hear no lyrics or no songs in an hour and a half but that's not satisfactory. You know, each to his own, people like that, but at my club people didn't like that. I mean, a little bit of those so-called instrumental House tracks is great, but to go forty-five minutes just playing track after track after track after track becomes monotonous, it becomes uncreative and boring, and it shows that you're not growing in the music. Most of these young DJs coming up wanna make records and wanna get into the records business, but they fail ti realise the source of where the music came from. It doesn't come from making House record, so they're getting bad teaching from the kinds of people who are playing this kind of music. When we were growing up, we were listening to Earth Wind and Fire or Brainstorm, or all these groups that were doing all these records and being educated to learn songs. Whereas the young DJs today are getting educated jusi to learn 'doom doom doom doom doom doom', so they don't go anywhere, because they reach a certain level and just stay there."
TR on why he has no favoured DJ today "I like Nick Jones, because I think he comes from a school that played songs. I like the music that he selects, I like the way he mixes, but I don't think thet he could sustain me for four or five hours. There's a different things about different DJs that I like: i like François Kevorkian's selection of music, because it's very different and he gets into different kinds of swings. He knows music and he's been educated to know how to present it, but as far as his mixing technology and knowing how to move a crowd throughout the night goes - I don't like it. I used to like the way that Tony Humphries played, because I learned a lot from him, but the last few times Iheard him, he was more cloned into playing House music than what he was brought up listening to. Merlin Bobb who I grew up with, I like the way he plays, and that's about it."
And what’s wrong with DJ’s "There’d be this guy from Dance Tracks, the most popular record store in New York right now, his name is Joe Claussel, and he knows music, he knows all differentt kinds of music, he’s well rounded. For myself, I’m the type of guy that doesen’t think he knows everything, but I do like to learn from people, and for the lenght of time that I’ve know him I’ve learnt a lot about he feels about music and where he sees it. I didn’t become well rounded until I worked at radio station for WBLS for over five years about 1982/3-1987/8, where I was brought in to do mixes, and while I was doing these mixes came to realise that besides the Dance music that I listened to there was a John Coltrane, there was a Miles Davis, there was a Tito Puente, there was a Garto Barbieri, there was a Stanley Clarke, and all these different kinds of music that I wasn’t open to, and it opened me up to make me think, ‘Damn, we’re just living with these guys’ cause there’s nothin that hasn’t been done before, it’s just presented in different forms’.
But Joe is the kind of guy I could go up to in his store and ask him to find a Jonh Hammond record, or ask him to find the newest House track, or ask him to find the best Latin cut, and he would know it, come up with it and give it to you. That’s the person I see that’s well rounded."
So there is someone he likes! "Scuba diving, because it relaxes you, and you can’t talk to nobody under water."
Hinting that the interview is over
[ October 28, 2002, 07:29 AM: Message edited by: AC ]