Q:Where were you born and raised and how old are you now ?
I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago (Beverly area). Iím 30.
Q: How long have you been Djing and how did you get into it. ?
Iíve been Djing for 9 years. I started in 1993 when I was in college (U of I). My roommate at the time (Rashaun) was pledging Alpha Phi Alpha and he started to play around with the records I had, trying to make blends and trying to scratch. Weíd have blending contests with which neither one of us would win because our blends were terrible. Rashaun was actually better. It wasnít until my best friend Frank Sneed from the house group Risque III taught me how to catch beats that I learned to blend. So by the time Rashaun became an Alpha, I could blend decently. Rashaun asked me to do the first Alpha House party for the next semester and thatís where it all started.
Q: How would you classify your style of djing ?
Thanks to my buddies from college, DJ World, Paul Hutchinson, Sean Long, Rassoul Freelane, and Eddie "Acid" Mills, my style developed into a universal approach to mixing,
whereas I spin to satisfy the crowd but play something that the Djís and collectors appreciate also. Making a good blend that the crowd likes is still my motivational passion.
Q: What is your personal definition of house music?
House music is a term that really only applied to the dance music that was played in throughout the 80ís in my opinion. Thatís when I was first introduced to the culture. Deep house to me
was another way of referring to the classic dance records of the 70ís and early 80ís. I think house music has developed into many other subcategories such as underground, trance, acid-jazz, and rare groove. But when you add it up, itís all an extension of what Larry Levan was doing at the Paradise Garage, what Frankie Knuckles was doing at the Warehouse, what Ron Hardy was doing at the "Box", what the Hot mix 5 were doing on WBMX, what Bobby Q Bobby
and Walter "Get Down" Brown were doing on Friday Night Audio on WKKC, and what all the legendary Djís (too many to mention) from back in the day were doing that created a culture.
Q: Who are some of the DJ's past and present that you respect and have influenced you the most?
Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, DJ Rush, Walter Brown, Andre Hatchett, Rob Mckay, Frank Sneed, Pharris Thomas (when he was spinning house), Farley "Funkin" Keith, DJ World, Paul
Hutchinson, Hugo and Patrick Hutchinson, Sean Long, Rassoul Freelane, Eddie "Acid" Mills, Torin Edmond, Mike Dunn, Emanuel, Sadar Bahar, Lee Collins, Russoul, Glenn Underground, Boo Williams, Chico, Melvin Gholston, Nate King, Big Paul Yíall, Derrick Brown, Steve Maxwell, Rahaan, Dj Izrael, Alan King, Twilight Tone, Tone B. Nimble, Brian Reaves, Brian Borden, Sean Smith, Mark Grusane, and Dj Question.
Q: Who are some of the house artists\producers that you are feeling right now?
I like Paul Johnsonís work, Abstract Truth, The Soul Grabbers, all the Yoruba stuff, the Naked Soul recordings, Glenn Undergroundís work (I played drums on some of it), and of
Q: Are,or were there any artists, that are not considered to be house, that have inspired you?
Well, Iím a musician first (from out the church) and Dj/producer second so my influences are pretty vast but here goes:The Hawkins Family, Andre Crouch & the Disciples, Thompson Community Singers, Clark Sisters, The Winans, Commissioned, Kim Burrell, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, The Yellowjackets, John Scofield, Ferrante & Teicher, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Kansas, Fela Kuti, Lee
"Scratch" Perry, Bob Marley, Third World, Peter Tosh, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, Police, Journey, Def Leppard, Dio, Black Sabbath, KISS, Van Halen, Roy Ayers, Last Poets, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Gamble & Huff,Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Isley Bros., Prince, Jacksons, Sly Stone, James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic, BDP, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Black Sheep, Kool Keith, X-Clan,
Black Moon, Gangstarr (DJ Premier is the illest!! Please believe it!!), Mos Def, Slum Village, Jadakiss, Nasir Jones, Shaun Carter, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G.,Jaguar Wright, DíAngelo, Omar, Lewis Tayor, Jamiroquai, and most of all, my brother Bleek T.S.O. (Brandon Johnson)
Q: Ahhh A Musician. What instruments do you play ?Do you sing as well ?
I play drums and percussion. I can hold a note, but I'm no singer by any stretch of the margin.
Q. You mix classics that have real drums being played on them. Does knowing how to play the drums make it easier for you to mix these records ?
Being a drummer helped me to really appreciate the grooves and endurance a lot of these drummers possessed.They had to play some of those funky grooves for a long time without losing the "pocket". Being a drummer did help with my deejaying because I could listen to what the drummer's doing on the record to hear the setups for the
breakdowns. Also, I could catch the beats at the beginning of a record's intro and start my blends from an earlier spot on the records based on the timing of the live drummer's roll (ie. starting "Los Conquistadores Chocolates" by Johnny Hammond from the flute and drums instead of the drums and bass that comes 8 bars later). Being a dj helped me to become a better drummer too in the fact that I learned to play more disciplined behind a vocalist, like the records I hea! rd. I also learned to play on the drums what beats a crowd loves to dance to more. So it worked
both ways. However, as most dj's on the page know, mixing records with live drums can be difficult because no matter how good a drummer is, he/she is still human and is subject to change tempos (speed up or slow down) within a song. Dealing with this issue has a lot to do with knowing the tempo changes within a song. I'd like to say that being a drummer makes that part easier to deal with, but the many mixes on deephousepage.com show that all you have to do is know your music and your blends will be fine.
Q: Please tell us about one of your most memorable nights at a club, where you were the DJ and also when you were just part of the crowd.
My most memorable night at a club where I was spinning was the first time I played "Whyíd You Fall" by Lilí Louis at the Ebony Room (thanks for the record G.U.). The crowd responded beyond what I could perceive. They danced so hard that the tiles from the
ceiling were falling to the floor. My most memorable night as part of the crowd was at the B-Side when Brian Reaves and DJ Rush were spinning. I havenít danced that hard since then. Rush played the most unbelievable edit of "Soul Searchiní Time" by the Trammps that Iíve ever heard. Itís the second best edit Iíve heard besides Rahaanís edit of "Funkanova", and Emanuelís edit of "Bad Luck". The best edit Iíve ever heard was Frankie Knucklesí edit of "Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven" by Two
Tons of Fun.
Q: If you were fortunate enough to hear Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles at some of the historic clubs in Chicago please give a short commentary on what it was like to experience them live? If you actually deejayed with them let us know about that too.
I heard Ron Hardy spin at a Navy Pier party around 1987. We had just happened to be riding in my fatherís boat on Lake Michigan at the time and we kept hearing this deep house music
getting louder and louder. Once we realized the music was coming from Navy Pier, me and my boy Lavelle hopped off my fatherís boat and went right into the party. Ron beat it to death!! Ron Hardy possessed the uncanny ability to take mid and uptempo soul records and turn them into party classics. I think that was his most overlooked gift. I never got to hear Frankie
Knuckles live because I was too young to get into the clubs Frankie spun at. But my buddy Rodney, who was older than I was, would go to the parties and record them on cassette. We would listen to Frankieís mixes the next day or whenever Rodney came by. Frankie Knuckles was the
consummate professional. His blends were ALWAYS clean and he played a lot of Euro-disco and new wave artists like Anne Clark, The Sparks, Yello, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Talking Heads. I had the honor of meeting Frankie Knuckles recently at the Spy Bar. Very grounded and down to earth brother.
Q: Please comment on the current house scene in Chicago (clubs and radio)?
The Chicago scene is sporadic at best. Emanuel and Sadar keep the scene alive by doing weekly events. However, the Chicago crowd is extremely fickle nowadays. When I did the Sistaz and
Brothaz of Vizion parties, it took some time to get the crowd we eventually obtained. Moreover, we combined two cultures by having parties that started with poetry. Now I donít even see a lot of the people from our parties at the Attic (where Emanuel spins) or Slickís (where Sadar and Lee Collins spin). I think the poetry part of our parties has a little to do with that, but the Chicago crowd has to learn to support the music and the scene and not a particular Dj.
The Way We Were parties where Jamie 3:26 spins are always off the chain. I just wish they could throw more of them. Hopefully Sistaz and Brothaz of Vizion can find a venue that will support what we do so we can contribute to keeping the scene alive.
Q: What about the ideal of House, where it is supposed to be one nation under a common love of the music, where Latinís, Blacks, Whites, Gays, Asians etc. can all party together in peace and
put away there differences.
Iíve seen very few parties live up to that ideal. The Battle of the Djís party at the Spy Bar accomplished this. So did the Sinibar when Sadar spun there on Mondays. I see more and more
whites and Latinos at the Attic nowadays, so thatís cool. Even though the crowds are around 90% black, when other races or creeds come to the parties, we all have a good time, which is what itís all about.
Q: There appears to be this tension in Chicago between the jocks who play disco and the jocks who play mostly new music. Can you comment on this.
Iíve seen this tension first hand. First of all, Chicago is and probably will always be an old school city when it comes to party music. I donít have problem with Djís playing new or
old music as long as they cater to the crowd well. I buy a lot of new music but I donít just buy something and play it just because itís new. Thereís a lot of new and old garbage out there. So itís up to the Djís discretion to pick whatís hot and whatís not. Like Jamie 3:26 always says "Good music is good music, period".
Q: Considering some of the problems that House is experiencing today in the US (Lack of radio air play, club politics, mass misunderstanding as to what house music is, etc) What do you
see as a solution?
I think support of the culture by the club owners, elimination of backbiting by the Djís, and overall support by the house/underground crowd can solve many problems. House needs to be
documented, kind of like what Ken Burns did with the jazz music multi-volume documentary. Thereís a whole world of people who have no clue about what house music is and how it was started.
Q: If there is one thing you could tell us about the Chicago scene past or present that you thought no one knew what would that be?
That my roommate and best friend Frank Sneed played keyboards on "Essence of a Dream" by Risque III
Q: Was there a rivalry between the Southside, Westside and Northside DJ's back in the day?
Not that I know of.
Q: A lot of older heads in Chicago are not happy with the historical accounts of the Chicago House scene that have been printed recently. Interviews with key people who were part of the
scene were not done. Any comments on this?
Iím not old enough to give a historical account of the origins of house music. But there are enough people in Chicago who know what really set the stage for this thing called "house" People like Alan King, Leonard Remix, and Chip E. have enough knowledge on house music to write several books. So whoever decides to write or document the history of house should make sure they get viewpoints and commentary from pioneers of the culture.Q: If you have experience playing overseas what has been your favorite country to play in? What country would you like to play?
Thanks to the deephousepage and mynia, Iím spinning a party in Belgium before the year is out. Iíd love to spin in London, Germany, Japan, Australia, or Toronto. Iíve been to London on
business and their underground scene is really cool. Iíd also love to play in Nigeria with all Fela records since thatís where he was from. Iíd love to show Nigerians how much we appreciate the militant and funky legend they brought to the world.
Q: I know itís hard but what would be your ten favorite records of all time?
Q: Where can people come and here you play these days?
- Disco Madness Ė Sparkle
- Anything by Fela Anikulapo Kuti
- Locked in this Position 12" Ė Bunny Sigler and Barbara Mason
- Every Omar album
- Every Lewis Taylor album
- Happy Music Ė Rainbow Brown
- Chicago Ė Roy Ayers
- Rock Freak (Move Your Body) Ė Le Cop
- Got to Get Your Own Ė James Taylor Quartet
- We Donít Allow No Sittiní Down in Here -- Invitations
Iím still the resident dj for Sistaz and Brothaz of Vizion. We just havenít found a venue that we like yet.So Iíve mainly been making mix cdís that I sell. Iíve been playing drums
with Midnight Sun a lot more than Iíve been spinning. We play at Touch of the Past in Bellwood every Sunday. So those of you in the Chicago area who wanna hear classic dusties live, come on out.
Q: Now what does the future hold for you ?
Finishing a hip-hop project for Arista Records, selling my beats to artists in New York and Philly, starting on a hip-hop project with my boy Kanye West (producer of "H to the Izzo" for Jay-Z), making more mix cdís for the deephouse page and just living life
to the fullest.
Q: Personally I think the internet is the future of broadcast music\video. Soon a computer will be in every home like a radio or TV and bandwidth will increase to accommodate delivering it in higher quality. What are your thoughts on the internet presently as a means for DJ's and house music to get more exposure?
The internet is probably the best medium for increasing exposure to house music because the web instantly gives the music global accessibility. Iíve would have never gotten a gig in Belgium
if it werenít for the internet, particularly the deephouse page. Thank You!!!
Q: Any final comments or words of wisdom to share with the other heads out there ?
Be true to the music, be true to yourself. Thatís the easiest thing a person could master.
Q. Eric, how can people contact you
People can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q : Thank you for the interview Eric and we at the deephousepage would like to wish you the best of luck.
Thank you for the opportunity to give a little of myself.Hotep!!!