Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

Bottom Heavy

On Saturday, the Laurel and Hardy of Dalston and legendary DJ’s, Dan Beaumont & Wes Baggaley,  are joining forces to get you all bumping and thumping to some deep homosexual house with their brand new night: Bottom Heavy! Having both been prominent figures in London’s queer nightlife for over a decade and played some of the most infamous parties around the globe including The NYC Downlow, we are pretty sure that these two bottoms know how to throw a TOP party.

Despite their quite sickening resumés and having been pals for years, its actually the first time they’ve collaborated together! Don’t worry huns, this isn’t the only venture for the duo. Later in the year, Dan and Wes will be playing back-to-back at Farr festival alongside Prosumer, Tama Sumo and Lakuti! 

To get you lubed up and prepared for Bottom Heavy, Dan and Wes had a little chinwag amongst themselves! Read on to find out what these two legends think about the state of London’s LGBTQ+ Nightlife, their most played records and whats on the horizon for them both!

 Dan: Can you remember the point in your life that house music grabbed you?

Wes: I do actually. I was still at school and too young to go clubbing but I remember when Steve Silk Hurley’ ‘Jack Your Body’ and Raze ‘Break For Love’ were in the UK charts and on Top of the Pops. I remember the video for ‘Jack Your Body’ having a bucking bronco in it. Then there was the whole acid house /rave thing in the tabloids. I became mesmerised by it. I used to buy 7-inch singles every week with my pocket money from being really young and I remember buying ‘Jack Your Body’, ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ and Inner City ‘Good Life’ on 7inch. The first house music 12 inch I bought was Lil Louis ‘French Kiss’ in 1989/90 which I still have and still play.

Dan: I remember all those weird cartoon videos they threw together for those Chicago house records that became hits. Also remember thinking ‘who is Steve Silk Hurley and why isn’t he in his video?’ Then I got totally obsessed with Betty Boo.  

Wes: What inspired you to open Dalston Superstore? 

Dan: I met Matt and other Dan (DSS co-owners) when they were running Trailer Trash, and I was doing a party called Disco Bloodbath. As promoters, we often had problems with venues, and talked a lot about starting our own. Eventually we began looking in earnest and around 2008 we found the site that became Superstore. It had been empty for a couple of years before we found it. We just wanted to create a space where the people who came to our parties would feel at home, where the music, drinks and food were all good and our friends could be themselves.

Dan: What sounds are you looking for when you go shopping for records to play out? What are you trying to communicate through DJing?

Wes: That’s a tough one. I like a really wide range of different music and play various styles but when I’m looking for sort of functional dancefloor records I tend to be drawn to quite energetic stuff with lots of percussion. I’m a massive fan of the old Cajual, Relief and Dance Mania Records and always tend to gravitate towards that type of jacking type sound. I also like disco and I’m a sucker for a disco sample but I don’t like playing the same sound all night. I just tend to play what feels right at the time, could be soulful, disco, acid, techno, hypnotic deep stuff, jazzy stuff, ravey breaks type stuff, broken beat, African percussion.

Wes: You’re partly responsible for some of the best LGBTQ+ parties around at the moment including my favourite, Chapter 10. What are your thoughts on LGBTQ+ clubbing in London at the moment, especially with a lot of venue closures in the last 5 years? 

Dan: I personally think that LGBTQ+ clubbing is very inspiring right now. Adonis, Discosodoma, Homodrop, PDA, Femmetopia, Gay Garage and loads of others are all pushing underground queer music and culture to new places. Unfortunately the gay scene is still affected by misogyny, internalised homophobia, body shaming, transphobia and masculine bullshit, but it seems like more interesting voices are starting to come through, which means more creativity and more talent steering queer clubbing. Also it’s exciting to see groups like Friends of the Joiners Arms, Resis’Dance, and London  LGBTQ+ Community Centre (all rooted in queer dancefloors) disrupting the status quo.

Chapter 10 Dan

Dan: What do you think are the positives and negatives of LGBTQ+ clubs right now?

Wes: I also think it’s a very good time for LGBTQ+ clubbing at the moment. In spite of a lot of the recent venue closures there are great nights popping up in non LGBTQ+ clubs. Seems to be a sort of creative DIY culture happening which is great. There same is happening in other cities like Manchester with great nights like Meat Free at the White Hotel and Kiss Me Again at the Soup Kitchen. There’s some great music events and brilliant cabaret stuff going on at the likes of The Glory and The RVT. As you mentioned, the internalised homophobia, transphobia and misogyny needs to be addressed. A lot of the fetish venues have closed down and some of the bigger LGBTQ+ fetish nights in London are struggling to get venues. I do think this is a vital part of the culture that is dwindling. I reckon we need a LGBTQ+ fetish rave with good music. 

Dan: Good point about all the amazing queer parties outside of London!

Wes: Can you tell me some of your favourite producers and record labels at the moment?

Dan: Labels: Lionoil, Let’s Go Swimming, Lobster Theramin, E-Beamz/Hothaus/UTTU, Not An Animal, Ransom Note, Sound Signature, Stillove4music, Dolly, The Corner, Work Them, Mistress. Producers: Telfort, Powder, Mr Tophat & Art Alfie, Jay Duncan, Midland, Jonny Rock, LB Dub Corp, Stephen Brown, Garrett David, Steffi, rRoxymore, Pariah, and everything Luke Solomon touches. Loads more that I’ve forgotten!

 

 Dan: I love it when you find a record that you know intimately from the first bar to the outro, and it does a really long stint in your bag. What are your most played records over the past couple of years?

Wes: I’ve got a few of them. I’d say my absolutely most played record is Braxton Holmes and Mark Grant –The Revival on Cajual, which has never left my bag in 20 years. I actually need to replace it because I’ve almost worn it out. Also the Maurice Fulton Syclops ones, Where’s Jason’s K, Jump Bugs and Sarah’s E With Extra P are go to tracks but luckily he’s just released another album of gems. The man’s a genius. There’s Kinshasa Anthem by Philou Lozolo on Lumberjacks in Hell that came out a couple of years ago that I’ve played a lot, and then there’s that Danny Tenaglia remix of Janet Jackson – The Pleasure Principle that I’ve owned for many years but didn’t know what it was until I heard you play it at Phonox haha

Dan: I’ve totally stolen The Revival off you. It’s pure magic.

Russia Wes

Wes: Tell us a bit about the idea behind Bottom Heavy. What can we expect?

Dan: The main idea is so we can play together all night and I can steel your tunes! Whenever I’ve heard you play, I can hear a sound in between all your records, a sort of energy that I’m always searching for myself. It’s hard to describe, but it exists in the space between that jacking Chicago sound, leftfield Detroit stuff and tribal New York tracks. Plus also jazz, afro, techno, electro and disco elements. As we mentioned earlier, here are loads of great gay nights popping off, but I think what’s missing is a really great HOUSE all-nighter that joins the dots between all those sounds. 

Wes: Haha! Well there’ll be a lot of tune stealing going on because I’ve been known to have a sneaky peek through your bag as well. 

 Dan: Back to your earlier point about Fetish nights. Why are they important to the gay scene? Are there any you remember particularly fondly? If you were to throw a fetish party, what would the vibe be?

Wes: With the fetish thing I thing it’s important to have those spaces where you can dress up and sort of act out your fantasies and do whatever you want within reason. I’m actually not massive into the sexual side of it myself believe it or not, but I do like the spectacle of the whole thing and the dressing up and the fact people are free to express themselves sexually at those nights without judgement. Sadly a lot of the fetish nights are also men only parties that go hand in hand with the whole gay misogyny thing. 

 A few years ago me and my friend Lucious Flajore put on a fetish night at The Hoist which is now closed. The night was open to everybody, gay, bi, trans, heterosexual men and women. The soundtrack was dark disco, slow brooding techno and weird electronics in one room where we also had alternative cabaret and showed art house horror movies and in the other lighter room we played disco and showed John Waters films. 

 The atmosphere was great but we had problems with the sound and there was no dancefloor to speak of then the venue closed. We also had a problem with heterosexual men complaining about gays (I know right? At the Hoist!). I am actually thinking about re-launching the party at a new venue and putting in a good sound system but making it more LGBTQ+ focused and making sure people know that women and trans people are more than welcome 

Dan: That sounds amazing. You need to make it happen!

Dan: OK last one from me. Who is your biggest DJ influence?

Wes: That’s really tough but I have to say Derrick Carter. I first heard him play in about 1995 and became obsessed. I loved the way he seemed to mix different styles with ease and mix the records for ages.

Dan: I used to go to his Classic residency at The End religiously, and would always try and describe tunes that Derrick played to people in record shops the following week. I never had any luck. I was probably trying to describe about three records being played at the same time.

Wes: And for my last one I’m going to fire that question back at you and also ask if you have any music coming out soon?

Dan: I’ve got a bunch of music nearly finished that I need to sort out. I’m going to lock myself away and do that. Arranging tracks does my nut in. 


 Catch Dan & Wes at Bottom Heavy Saturday 23rd June 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!

Jeffrey Sfire

Detroit DJ Jeffrey Sfire joins us here at Superstore for an extra special European date in between playing at Panorama Bar and at Lab.oratory in Berlin. With a love of all things hi-NRG, Italo, ’80s, Chicago house; Jeffrey’s sets span genres and gets gay men dancing across the world’s discotheques. He’ll be flexing his disco muscles next Saturday for Little Gay Brother’s Locker Room down in the laser pit with Vauxhall babes Maze & Masters.

Having discovered Detroit’s underground warehouse scene at 15, moved to Chicago at 18 and having lived in Berlin, Jeffrey has finely tuned both his music taste and DJing style to suit banging clubs, sleazy afterhours and gay discos, and that’s all in addition to releasing productions under the Sfire name with Samuel Long on Discodromo’s celebrated Cocktail D’Amore label. Ahead of the Little Gay Locker Room we chatted to Jeffrey about his secret past as a restauranteur, going on dates and why everyone loves hi-NRG again…

The theme of the party here at Superstore is Locker Rooms. What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever got up to in a locker room?

A boring old BJ.

That’s not boring! That’s naughty!

But it’s not as exciting as it could be.

Tell us what happened.

Oh no wait; I have a good locker room story. It’s not naughty though. My biggest crush in high school, one year in fitness class, had his locker next to mine and it was kinda unbelievable haha. Nothing naughty ever happened but… no I’ve never really gotten up to too much in a locker room.

You’re super influenced by the ’80s- what did you look like then and what kind of music were you listening to… tell us about 80s Jeffrey!

Well I think a lot of my musical influence comes from riding around in my mom’s car listening to pop music.

Mum Jams.

Yeah totally. And I had a little afro because I had really curly hair. She used to make me have this little golden-brown afro which was cute. Oh and my mom used to make me model in department store runway shows! Which is pretty adorable!

I always go back to my mom’s, listening to pop music in her car…. like Madonna, and Wham, just early ‘80s pop. Just radio hits, but back then it was all synthesisers and drum machines, and it was all dancey stuff so it really appealed to me.

If you’d been in your early 20s in the ‘80s, what music do you think you’d have been into of your own accord though?

I don’t know, I always wonder that. You never know… you could have found something else totally interesting. I always wonder what people then thought about the ‘80s music I listen to now. Some people say Italo disco was like trance in the ‘80s. Certainly when dance music from the ‘70s to the ‘80s became more electronic, there were so many musicians that totally disregarded it because they thought it was soulless. Um, I don’t know. I hope I would have been into the same dance music! The Chicago taste, and the Detroit taste really appealed to me, which was mixing everything together- from disco to house to pop to freestyle- all that stuff, just mixing it all together and dancing. I think the New York sound was a little more Afro for me… but then I also think ‘would I have been really New Wave?’ like the Liquid Sky soundtrack kinda music. But I think being in the Midwest especially; it’s humble and more about having fun than being fashion.

Back to baby Jeffrey… you were going to warehouse parties in Detroit from the age of 15. What are your formative rave memories?

It’s funny because I just moved back to Detroit and I’ll pass some burnt out warehouse and be like “didn’t we party there?!” I just remember when I was coming up I was so interested in DJing and so many of my older friends were DJs and I was all about just soaking it in, learning by watching and going to see as much music and different styles as I could. I was so excited. I grew up in a suburb that’s very Old Money, kinda posh and conservative, so getting to escape on the weekends and go to these crazy parties, with tonnes of queer people and all these older people too, so there was all these freedom. It was everything.

But mostly for me it was about watching DJs. There’s so many good DJs here, and so many good styles.

Who are some of the first DJs you saw around that time?

One of my favourites is this guy called D. Wynn. He’s an older Detroit guy, along the same time period as Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. But he like didn’t become mega famous. I think he’s one of the best DJs from Detroit ever though. He had a really cool style. Also Mike Huckaby was a huge influence, just in his DJ style. And some of my friends that I hung out with all the time, like this guy Derek Plaslaiko who lives in Berlin now. Him, and some other people, I would watch them all the time, and pick up on their styles. I think they had a huge influence on my taste. I think Detroit has a really specific taste. I mean even between Detroit, New York and Chicago, even other cities, I feel like each has a very specific taste. I’m really grateful to be from here, and picked up that, y’know. 


D-Wynn Boiler Room Detroit DJ Set by brtvofficial

Why do you think hi-NRG making such a resurrgence this year?

Because everyone who is like 20 wasn’t sick of it eight years ago! Because they were 14 haha! Honestly, I was at a house party the other day, and this girl that had to have been like 21, she put Spacer Woman on. She was like “Oh.My.God. you guys, listen to this song! It was made in like ’81!!” and she put it on and I was like “You have got to be kidding me. You’re not like totally sick of this song??” She said “I’VE NEVER LIKE HEARD THIS BEFORE!!”

It was just resissued by Dark Entries…

Oh well that’s probably why. I was in San Francisco too. Well that makes sense. Hahaha! It is funny though, because things like that pop up and you’re like Ohhh that’s why.

It has felt since at least the beginning of the year that the genre is reaching a zeitgeisty point and people have started to get a bit bandwagony…

Well I feel like it keeps going through waves.

Everything is cyclic, certainly… but hi-NRG is like the “thing” this year.

Well that’s good to hear, because I like to play it. I mean I guess people just got sick of house music.

If you had a time machine and could visit any dancefloor anywhere/anywhen, where would you want to go dancing?

I think I would wanna go to the Muzic Box in Chicago. And hear Ron Hardy DJ. I would wanna hear him do his thing live.

Or even, there was a club in Detroit called Heaven with this guy Ken Collier.

Tell us about how you met Samuel Long and how Sfire came about?

He and I met on a dancefloor, in Berlin. His band was playing at an art gallery. We had some mutual friends so we were introduced. Then I saw them play and I was really into it, and I could hear the genius in his music. I suggested they make a dance version of a song they did, and he was like “well, why don’t you come and help me make it.” He had heard me DJ a few times, and he just invited me over. He’s very friendly and like ‘lets just have fun making music’ kinda guy. So we worked on it, and then we made a new song and then we were like “lets make a new song”, “lets make a new song”, “lets make a new song” and after a while we had a handful of songs, and we became really good friends. It was really fun just to go hang out and be really casual about it, but still have fun.

Any plans for more Sfire records?

Um yeah, we have maybe five songs that haven’t been released that we could work on. I think the project will turn into us working with lots of different people for each record. It’ll be really fun. Some new producers, and new friends, people from all over really.

You’ve lived in Detroit, Chicago, Berlin… where is your spiritual home?

Oh that’s a tough question. That’s my existential crisis right now. I left Berlin about a year ago and that was my spiritual home for a long time. So I’m really wondering this right now. But I’m starting to think it’s California. It’s a really magical place, and people are really happy there.

Where in California?

San Francisco.

Whilst in Berlin you were also a restauranteur, how did that develop from your supper clubs?

Well my ex boyfriend who I moved to Berlin with, he is an extremely talented chef, so for money we did a supper club that got a ton of press for it. We just ran with it, and it just seemed like an easy thing to do, to open the business in Berlin. There was a great demand for it, so we knew it would be successful. And so we went for it! American style!

There’s a video interview online with you both in the restaurant and the décor is amazing, especially all the lights… owl lights, and deer lights… it just seemed like you’d obviously put a lot of thought into that.

Yeah. We did. We completely renovated that place. It was this disgusting filthy restaurant before, so we tore out everything, and built the bar, and the shelves and everything. The flea markets in Germany are so great because they have so many of these animal figurines; actually most of them are on my desk right now! The owl lights and all the bunnies. Flea markets in Berlin on Sundays. You just have to go. And the best thing we would do was take loads of road trips, and if you drive down the country roads, every town you get to has a second hand shop where you can fill up a trunk for €10. It’s incredible.

RADIUS.TV | Little Otik | Jeffrey Sfire & Kevin Avery from RADIUS. magazine on Vimeo.

You’re taking us on a date in a city of your choice. Where are we going, what are we eating and where are we dancing?

I could do this for all the fun cities right now. But lets say San Francisco. We’re gonna eat Burmese food, and we’re having tea salad (lahpet thoke). My favourite restaurant there is called Burmese Kitchen.

Isn’t it closing down?

Oh yes it is. We’re going before it closes. Anyway, this is a fantasy so it’s still open. So we’d eat there and then we’d go get a doughnut at Bob’s Doughnuts. Then we’d go to a Honey Soundsystem party. It would be amazing.

What are we drinking though?

What are we drinking? Well honestly we’re probably drinking tea, because me and Josh [Cheon] and Robot Hustle always have tea when we’re together because we’re old ladies. We’ll drink tea and then go for a dance.

What’s the first record you ever bought?

A Jeff Mills record. Purpose Maker record. When I first started DJing I was really into a lot of hard techno. So I think my first records was like Jeff Mills records and Joey Beltram records.

The last record you bought?

A Mantra record on Bunker from The Netherlands.

And what’s the record that never leaves your bag?

It’s this freestyle record that I love to play. It’s by Shana and it’s called I Want You. It really never leaves my bag. I played it once in Berlin and my best friend was like “oh, such a Jeff record.”

What’s the reaction it gets from people, other than those that already know you?

I think it’s normally a great reaction. But the best reaction I get is when I play in New York or Chicago and someone runs up and you can tell it was a childhood track of theirs and they’re like “I FUCKING LOVE THIS SONG!!! THIS IS MY SONG!!” A lot of times that happens and it’s the best. When you see someone with that genuine look on their face and it’s not a club hit. Especially in Chicago, I get that a lot. Almost everything I DJ was on the radio in the ‘80s there. People just get so happy to hear that stuff so you get these genuine reactions that are priceless. I love that. Going back to Chicago and DJing is really fun for me.     

Join Jeffrey at Little Gay Locker Room at Dalston Superstore on Saturday 15th November from 9pm – 3am.

Gene Hunt

By Dan Beaumont

Gene Hunt was a protégé of legendary Music Box resident DJ Ron Hardy and had a front-row seat for the genesis of house music in Chicago while still in his teens. He is fiercely protective of Hardy’s legacy and personifies a distinctive style of DJing that dates back to the beginnings of club culture itself. Gene Hunt is a collector of dance rarities, producer of unique analogue house tracks, reel-to-reel edit specialist but first and foremost a DJ.

I met him from Heathrow and accompanied him to St Pancras for a gig in Ghent. He agreed to let me record him talking as we had lunch waiting for the Eurostar.

DAN: Can you share a Ron Hardy DJ secret?

GENE: I remember we were playing together, I think it was about ’87, ’88.

I played this track and he was like, “Why did you rush it out, why didn’t you play the rest of the track?”

I said “But the floor cleared.”

He said, “Let me tell you something: This is what you’re gonna do.” He looked in his bag and he gave me a couple of records. The first record was called Galaxy, by War. So I play this record and cleared the floor again.

He said, “Play it a couple more times.”

I said, “Tonight?!”

He was like “Yeah! Play a couple tracks, do that, then play it again.”

So I played it again. And the crowd stayed on.

He said, “Do you see my point? You have the power to break records. But you cannot be afraid as a DJ to let them experience what you experience. Now what do you think about this record?”

I said, “I love it.”

“Now, what makes you think they don’t? If a record is eight minutes long, play it! Don’t just rush it out or rush it in because the drummers and the singers don’t start getting into their groove until the middle or towards the end of the record. So play that shit! Don’t be afraid. See what you just did?”

“What I do?”

“I just let you break the record.”

And I was like, “wow, you tricked me.”

“I always trick you.”,

Y’know, Ron would give me these challenges or tasks when we’re live at the club. “Alright, c’mon, bring something in.”

I’m like, “I don’t have my stuff with me!”

“Use my stuff.”

So, that was the part about execution. That was the part about timing. That was the part about learning. It was not being afraid to express what you want to express. Give them what they want, but then also educate them.

DAN: Do you think that DJs play too safe now?

GENE: Yes a lot of them do. A lot of them choose their hot spots, a lot of them find more simplistic ways to work an audience without being as creative as they are in other aspects. Now, since you have Traxsource and Beatport and all that other stuff, it makes it very accessible for people to just sit there all day and just purchase shit. Back in the days we had to go to the shops. We had to go to Loop Records, we had to go to Imports, we had to go to Gramophone, we had to go to different places to look in the bins and get creative to find what’s hot. You could get Hot Mix 5 [house music radio show] or you could go to The Playground or the Music Box or Sawyers or what have you and you would just sit back and feel the vibe of what’s going on. You would go to the record store the next day with your tape. We had somebody to educate us, to keep music going on.

DAN: What is the Chicago sound to you?

GENE: Basically, when house music occurred, I mean we had the disco era first, but when house music first came about, we had Chip E doing shit like Time To Jack, and It’s House. We had Jesse Saunders making On and On, we had Robert Owens and Fingers Inc and Bring Down The Walls and Mysteries Of Love, Ron Hardy doing Sensation, Frankie bringing out bring out reel to reels and tape decks to play the exclusive stuff. People didn’t have a Traxsource or a Beatport, you couldn’t just go there and buy something to sound and fit like everyone. The way they’ve designed the game now is you don’t have to go fish and find your music. We would take reel to reels and grab a razor blade and splice and do edits and make stuff go backwards, with the drum machines and outboard gear like Roland 909 or 707s or 303s and we would create our own stuff to play at parties that accentuate to make us different from one another. When Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson used to come down to the Box and bring the Rhythm Is Rhythm shit and strings of life. They would come to the Music Box and give us all that shit.

DAN: So what did you think of what was happening in Detroit?

GENE: Oh, they were really starting to break that edge. You had like Blake Baxter and Model 500, Metroplex, all that shit from Inner City, all that stuff they were doing, they had their own flavour. Like they took a certain element, they added their own attribute to it, and created a sound called techno. Like when I used to take a 909 track, I would just put basslines and make it real abstract, that would be considered as techno now. I would play that with disco, I would play that with house music because it was my rendition. Okay, what makes Gene Hunt so different? Tracks! He makes acid tracks with a 909 when Phuture 303 made that shit with a 707 and and the 727… he makes his acid tracks with the 909! Oh my god!

Everybody had a different flavor. Lil’ Louis when he did French Kiss and The Music Takes Me Away… I remember when he paid 300 bucks for an 808 drum machine, he started making French Kiss, got the deal with Ray Barney [owner of Dance Mania records].

DAN: Someone said that Jesse Saunders On And On track was important because it taught the whole of Chicago that anybody could make a house record.

GENE: All that stuff was being distributed by Larry Sherman who owned Trax Records. This man had a record company, a pressing plant, right in the back of a meat market! Everybody would come down there and get their stuff pressed up and they had different labels and so forth and we’d press vinyl. You would sit there with a hammer. Me and Ron Carrol would sit over by the garbage can. Ron Hardy would be in the other room doing the shrinkwrap. Steve Poindexter would be doing the typesetting and the labels. We would have all these old K-Tel records and shit and we’d have a hammer and break the records down so we could re-melt the wax. All those records that came out, that you would see on television, we’d break the records and tear out like the vinyl part of it and press records and you’d still see the old records pressed in the new records, oh it was gangster!

DAN: Was Larry Sherman a bit dodgy?

GENE: “A bit dodgy” wasn’t the word! Haha. Let’s try “total dodgy”! But we all learned. We would take the vinyl recording, get a good quality recording of it, go downstairs, make a plate of it, then press it up. The vinyl quality was shitty but back then it was beautiful just to be able to get a record that you couldn’t get. So, Ron would take personal shit out of his collection, record it, and then put it out.

DAN: Why do you love playing records?

GENE: If you’re playing records and the record skips or the record jumps or gets dirty, that’s the fun about it. You’re really up there doing it. You’re really conducting music in a sense, to make it realistic to everybody in the room. The warm sound of a good quality recording and the fidelity that comes out of those speakers, the sound and the feeling of it, it doesn’t sound processed, it’s a real live feeling, it doesn’t have a synthetic feel whatsoever. That’s the importance of playing vinyl. The tape hiss. That analogue thickness. That warmth. It’s different from some shit being processed and watered down. It sounds too perfect. It has to be a little dirty. It has to have a little dirt, a little grunge in it to get with the natural aspect, to make it more organic.

It’s like some broccoli, if you overcook it. You cook all the nutrients out of it and you lose that crunch to it. It’s soggy and synthetic. You want to have warm and organic attributes to get the natural aspect of what you’re doing. That’s why it’s so valuable to play wax.

[Gene is eating a forkful of broccoli at this point]

Dan: What is your state of mind when you’re DJing? Do you get nervous?

GENE: Not really. I know I have a job to do. I have to entertain a room full of people for a number of hours so I have to get everybody on the same page. So based on the way that I feel emotionally – If I got personal problems at home, or I’m going through some shit I’m taking my problems out on the dancefloor. So they’re loving it, and it’s helping me get through my problems. Because I’m unleashing the way that I’m feeling, I’m expressing myself to a room full of people. My car got towed, I got tickets, some shit happened, so I’m going to take it out on you guys and you’re going to love it. I like to tell a story when I play. I like to give you past, present and future. I want to give you aspects of where I started and where I came from. Let you know what’s going on in the now, and tell you things about where I want to go. It’s like a rollercoaster – you anticipate, and you go up, but you don’t know when the drop is coming. My advice is to never plan what you do. Because I want to enjoy it just as much as you want to enjoy dancing.

DAN: What do you think about EDM?

GENE: It has its moments. If you come from Chicago which is the Mecca of house music, obviously, you should have some form of education and history. You hear EDM stuff in a club – I went through this a couple of weeks ago –  I’m like, “Why would they put me on to headline and they got this person and that person” It puts me in a challenging state because here I am in a room full of people who don’t have a clue about what they’re dancing to – but it feels good to them. It’s a mind opener.

DAN: Would you play a disco record to an EDM crowd?

GENE: Yes. Most definitely. I wouldn’t hesitate. I’m relentless. “Alright, they’re digging that. Let’s try this.”

I still hear Ron in my head saying, “Don’t rush that record out, you better let that record finish.”

DAN: And back to Ron – how was it working for him?

GENE: Pins and needles. Out the blue. It was scary. You never knew when he wanted to take a break – he would just say, “Get on.”

There wasn’t a plan, like, “You’re going to play 11:30 or 12:30.”

He would just play a record and then go out the back and chill out. 

“Go ahead, get on.”

He’d be back there taking a nap.

I used to open up. If I was five minutes late and he gave me shit about it. At the very last Music Box – 2210 South Michigan was the very last one. I was like less than five minutes late.

“You have to be punctual, you gotta be on time.”

I’m like, “It’s nine fifty!”

“You should be here at nine thirty.”

He was in my ass because I was there at nine fifty. Subliminal mind games that just got me fucking rugged. And Frankie was the same way with me. I would pick him up – Frankie Knuckles does not drive, Frankie Knuckles does not drive a car, he’s terrified of driving a car. You have to drive him. I would meet him and he would give me music. “Give it to so-and-so, give it to so-and-so, don’t give it to so-and-so.” Specific instructions. Ron was the opposite. But they both respected one another and they were both training me.” They saw a young kid that was ambitious.

Gene Hunt

DAN: How did Frankie’s style differ to Ron’s?

GENE: Very similar and yet different. They both played the same music, they both played the same things. But the way they played them was totally different. Frankie was real sexy with it, real smooth. Ron was more aggressive. It was like passive and aggressive. But you wanted both aspects. In Chicago you couldn’t have one without the other.

DAN: Describe your style…

GENE: [smiles] That’s a good one. Once I get in the groove I want to stay in that groove. I don’t want to have any intermissions. I’m relentless. Once I get it going and once I get everybody into that mode. I keep that flavour going. I want to keep that room and give it bounce. We gotta have some vocals, we gotta have some live drums, we gotta have some groovy shit, we gotta have some sexy shit. I want to give you a four course meal of music.

DAN: Who are your current favourite Chicago DJs?

GENE: My girl Serena – CZ Boogie. She owns a publication called 5 Magazine which is like the house music almanac when it comes to parties.

Czboogie & guest Lurob on the 5 Magazine Show on CHFM by CZBOOGIE

We have a group in Chicago called The Untouchables – it’s me, Farley (Jackmaster Funk), Paul Johnson, a guy named DJ Box, Craig Alexander and CZ Boogie – so it’s the six of us.

How is the gay scene in Chicago?

Off the chain. It’s off the chain. We got a night on Sunday called “Queen” at Smart Bar. It just so happened that the person who does this night owns Gramaphone [legendary Chicago record emporium] – Michael Serafini. The night is explosive. Frankie’s birthday was ridiculous. You had Louie Vega, you had David Morales, you had Derrick Carter. All star lineup. You couldn’t move in the place.

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