This Friday our favourite loose cannon PATSY invites you to her Third Birthday! Headlining this glitzy affair is the absolutely fabulous Jacob Meehan!
A thoughtful DJ and passionate organiser of functions, Jacob Meehan has played everywhere from Smart Bar (Chicago) to Panorama Bar (Berlin), worked behind the counter at Chicago’s legendary Gramophone Records, and now roams about:://blank for 48+ hours straight each month when Buttons, the party where he’s both resident and program director, delights all of queer Berlin.
Ahead of his hotly anticipated set at PATSY, resident DJ and booker Whitney Weiss caught up with Jacob to talk about summer songs, anti-fascist protests, and floating music festivals.
Hey Jacob! You’re a resident DJ and program director at Buttons, a great monthly party that combines creative artist bookings and queer debauchery in Berlin. What is a song that embodies the energy of Buttons for you??
Hyper Go Go’s High Cloud 9 Mix.
Before Berlin, you lived in New York and in Chicago, where you did the Men’s Room parties and were a resident at Smart Bar. What record makes you think of your time in Chicago?
RIS – Love-n-Music.
I’ve heard you play everything from house to freestyle to ambient sunrise music to techno. What would you say is the most surprising or unexpected record in your collection??
This track from Mr. Bungle’s California album has been stuck in my head, which harkens back to my teenage days as a closeted, stoned, angsty Midwestern nu-metalhead.
This is your second time at Superstore (thanks for your set at Les Poppeurs a few years ago!) What is a song you’re looking forward to playing late night in the laser basement??
I’ve got lots of fresh stuff from friends and colleagues from all over the globe, which I love being able to share. My former co-worker at Gramaphone Records, Ike Release, just gave me some lush unreleased material, and Will and Nita from The Carry Nation inboxed me a great new vocal house track. Plus new cuts from Buttons residents Shingo Suwa & Stanley Schmidt.
Berlin has been blessed with a lot of sunlight this April and May. What record is your favorite to listen to at home when the windows are open, a breeze is wafting in, and you’re relaxing??
Alice Coltrane Featuring Pharoah Sanders – Journey In Satchidananda.
What’s a song you wish you had written?
Have you heard the latest track by John Roberts? I deeply admire everything that he does.
Do you write music ever, and if so, what’s it like??
Recently you participated in what looked like a beautiful and successful protest against the far right AfD (Alternativ für Deutschland) in Berlin where the music community outnumbered the fascists. I saw that you were DJing at one point. What sort of songs did you play, and what was the day like?
Clubbing is one of Berlin’s biggest industries, so to see the scene self-actualise and come together to politically organise against the far right was beyond powerful and necessary. 70,000+ people showed up in the streets to stand up to the AfD, and show them that they are not the majority. The day was a beautifully colourful, peaceful, multi-generational protest soundtracked by a number of trucks rigged with sound systems. Buttons collaborated on the QUEER BLOCK with Riot, Pornceptual, Herrensauna, Gegen, Cocktail d’Amore, Members, GDay, and Room4Resistance. It was honestly one of the most important things I’ve ever been a part of, and it was such an honour to be able to play for an hour. My personal highlight was getting to drop Robert Owen’s 1987 classic Bring Down the Walls just a stone’s throw from where the Berlin Wall used to be.
You’re one of the organisers of Whole Festival, which is bringing together Buttons, Discwoman, Unter, Horse Meat, Cocktail d’Amore, and more on a peninsula at Greimminer See. What’s a record you know you’ll want to play there, surrounded by friends and community??
I think I’m slated to play before Eris Drew on Saturday night before the sun sets. Our stage will be floating in a lake, which is a former quarry, now flooded. I anticipate soundtracking the transition from light into dark, probably through Bezier – B2 Teleconférence.
What was the first record you ever bought? Where did you buy it?
Babe, we’re gonna love tonight by Limefrom Gramaphone and Try Again by Aaliyahoff Ebay.
What song have you always wanted to hear someone else play out so you could dance to it?
All Night Passion by Alisha!
Catch Jacob Meehan at PATSY, Friday 15th June from 9pm – 3am at Dalston Superstore!
Our cult-status, high-protein buffet of belters Battered Sausage returns with an almighty bang this month, as we welcome Harry Cross of Men’s Room Chicago to the lazerpit! No stranger to getting topless crowds of carnivores and vegans alike writhing on dance floors across the US and beyond, he’ll be unleashing his signature brand of cosmic belters on the Battered Sausage basement. We caught up with him to chat special projects, the gay underground and where to party in Chicago!
Hi Harry! We’re so excited to have you join us soon for Battered Sausage! How has your 2017 been?
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year, and I mean a batshit crazy rollercoaster like The Joker. Highlights include those moments when the entire gay DJ family got together at Honcho Summer Campout and the Trade Show USA party in Brooklyn.
Men’s Room was recently credited by mixmag as one of the 6 club nights redefining the gay underground – what do you think is the special ingredient of Men’s Room that has allowed you to maintain an authentically underground experience?
We’ve been lucky enough to find an audience that wants that edgier underground experience. Keeping that audience engaged by continuously innovating and allowing them to add to the experience is key.
Men’s Room has been in existence for over five years now – if you had to pinpoint a highlight, what would it be?
Men’s Room started at a bar called Wang’s. We crammed people into this tiny room for the first few years. The owner, Henry Chang, owned the space next door to Wang’s and used it as an art gallery until he decided to convert it to a proper dance floor. He built a stage, installed a Funktion-One sound system and created a doorway to Wang’s – without telling anyone he was doing it. At a very special Men’s Room party, at midnight, we drew back a curtain and revealed the new dance floor space to a packed house of hungry partygoers. The energy that night was LIVE.
Can you tell us a bit about the Femme’s Room specials you’ve been doing and what inspired you to start that project?
Femme’s Room started as a reaction to the masculine vibes of Men’s Room. We saw the lack of female representation in Chicago’s LGTBQ party scene and responded to it with Femme’s Room. Where Men’s Room is stripped down (literally), Femme’s Room is about self-expression via your look and attitude. The party was truly inspired by the incredible amount of femme talent in Chicago – from DJ’s, producers, artists, designers, dancers – and we wanted to provide a stage to showcase their talents.
There’s a lot of talk about LGBT nightlife being under threat in London – is there a similar concern in Chicago?
There’s some concern in Chicago as well. A few of the sex positive spaces that have been around for decades, such as The Bijou Theatre, have closed down and are not being replaced. The few new gay bars opening in Chicago tend to be rehashed gay bar concepts with lots of TV’s and a stripper thrown in. The gay bar owners aren’t doing anything innovative. In a world of hook-up apps, you have to provide a unique experience that people can’t get anywhere else to draw them away from their screens.
If the queer club scene in London could learn anything from Chicago, what would it be?
It’s all about finding the right space. Men’s Room started at a small bar attached to a sushi restaurant. The owner, Henry Chang, allowed us to convert the space to our vision. We brought our own lighting, turned the sushi restaurant into a clothes check and cranked up the smoke machine. Any space can work with the right elements.
You are taking us on a date in Chicago – where are we going to eat, drink and dance?
Well, if I really like you I’m going to cook for you at my place. But if I’m still figuring out the chemistry I’ll take you to The Publican – a pork, oysters and beer place in the West Loop. Then we’re taking a long walk to the beach and smoke a blunt. After that we’re taking a sketchy bus ride up to Smart Bar to dance to techno bangers where we’ll truly see if there’s chemistry.
If you had a time machine and could go dancing anywhere/anywhen, where would you go?
I’d have to say Paradise Garage because I have a tattoo of the logo on my left arm.
Any exciting plan in the pipeline that you can let us in on?
Going b2b with Aaron Clark of Honcho at Smart Bar’s first 23-hour party featuring Derrick Carter, Miss Kitten, Robert Hood, Jason Kendig, Eris Drew, Justin Long and all of my Chicago favorites. Plus there’s talk of an international Femme’s Room tour. And I have a day party in the works.
One track that you can’t wait to unleash on the Superstore lazerpit?
Keytronics Ensemble – Something in that Groove
Catch Harry Cross at Battered Sausage on Friday 22 September from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
Brooklyn based DJ, producer, prolific remixer and Let’s Play House label boss Jacques Renault has long been on our list of dream-guests. Having played in legendary clubs around the world, from Smart Bar Chicago, APT New York, Panorama Bar and London’s Fabric and Plastic People, it is high time we invited him into the depths of our lazercave to teach our bodies a thing or two about house music at LaGasta! Promoter Vangelis caught up with him to chat musical influences, travel and tracks of the moment.
Hi Jacques! We can’t wait to have you in the basement for LaGaSta! Where are you and what are you up to at the moment?
I’ve been in Amsterdam for the week, just played Shelter last Saturday and Redlight Radio Wednesday. Off to Rotterdam Friday and Glasgow Saturday before heading back to NYC. I’ve been away from home for almost a month now so I’m looking forward to being back.
When did making music become your job?
Probably around 2009 I switched to doing music full time. I’ve had a variety of jobs but music was always what I wanted to spend my time on the most.
Where do your musical influences come from?
I grew up playing classical and jazz before discovering hardcore in my teens. I never stopped listening to any of that once electronic production took me over. Everything sort of blended together eventually.
How do you manage your time between producing music, co-running the Let’s Play House label and touring?
I’ve learned to juggle a bit, ha! I’m lucky to be working with incredibly reliable friends, a supportive girlfriend and espressos.
What are your three greatest loves in life?
Music, food and travel. Essentials.
What are three things you must always travel with?
Laptop, earbuds and USBs. You can always buy clothes and a toothbrush somewhere, right?
Which is your favourite destination?
Amsterdam is fantastic, that’s why I’m here now. I was also just in Japan for two weeks – it’s always a pleasure to visit that country.
Which are your favourite tracks at the moment?
Tom Noble remixed my track Words recently. It’s our Let’s Play House Record Store Day release. I like it.
Which is the last song you remember yourself singing or whistling lately?
O’Jays – I Love Music
What’s the ideal soundtrack of a night ride with your car/on a car?
I live in Brooklyn and don’t own a car so it’s always Uber Radio!
Catch Jacques Renault at LaGaSta this Friday 3 February from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
After a year of quality parties which saw guests ranging from Rob Mello to Gideon and Nathan Gregory Wilkins, the TUSK boys are ready to celebrate their birthday in style. They welcome genre-bending juggernaut of the Chicago dance music scene and Smart Bar resident Chrissy for a house, techno & disco birthday blowout. We caught up with him to chat alter-egos, remixes and plans for 2016!
You have been known by quite a few monikers over the years – from Chrissy Murderbot to Chris E. Pants and now just Chrissy. How did each of these projects differ?
Chrissy Murderbot was footwork, juke, ghetto house, a bit of jungle—more uptempo stuff tied into the bass music world. I grew a little bored with that scene so I’ve used the Chrissy moniker to concentrate more on what’s closest to my heart, which is house and disco.
You ran a Year of Edits blog in which you posted a disco re-edit every week for a year. That’s pretty damn impressive considering how many other projects you have going! What was that process like?
I’m always making edits for personal DJ use, so I had a pretty large stockpile of things that I felt were strong and deserved to be shared. It was too many to realistically press to vinyl so I thought, “Why not just give them away to everybody?” That ended up being the initial batch of edits—challenging myself to make enough to have a whole year’s worth was just an interesting little addition to it.
How has the Internet changed the way you work with other DJs and producers?
It has allowed me to better keep in touch with DJs I meet on the road, and to share music back and forth between other DJs and labels that I love. More importantly it has revolutionised collaboration.
Your recently released Growl EP features one of our faves, Shaun J Wright. What was it like working together?
We did it all over the internet! I emailed him a batch of instrumentals, he picked one he liked and wrote some lyrics, emailed me some recorded vocals, I did a little bit of effects-work on the vocals and edited everything into a structure that I thought worked, sent it back to him for his notes, and we just kinda bounced it back and forth online until it was finished. Everybody’s so busy that usually that’s the easiest way to do it.
You have collaborated with and remixed an amazing array of artists – who is still on your ‘to work with’ list?
I’d love to produce a Pet Shop Boys record. Or do something with Dego from 4Hero. There are a million amazing new artists that I’d love to remix, but when asked this kind of question I first gravitate toward my heroes growing up. Vince Clarke would probably be fun to work with.
You are a resident at one of Chicago’s most iconic venues, Smart Bar. How has Smart Bar influenced you as a DJ and producer?
The DJs at Smart Bar are all so talented—easily one of the best groups of DJs on earth—that it really causes you to step up your game. It’s at once a very welcoming and very challenging environment, and it really keeps your skills sharp.
For those who haven’t made it across the pond, what is unique about the Chicago music scene? Why should it be our next party destination?
The world’s best DJs. There are some amazing DJs in every city of course, but Chicago is a brutally competitive city full of great DJs and savvy audiences that grew up with house music and DJ culture. As a result, the no-name opening DJ at some hole in the wall bar is often better than other cities’ headliners. (Detroit is also amazing in this respect, for the record.)
Which emerging artists are you most excited about?
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for Chrissy?
I have a new project called Chrissy & Hawley with a vocalist friend here in Chicago. The 12” single for that is coming out on Smart Bar’s label, Northside ’82, and the album is coming this Summer on The Nite Owl Diner. And I have a couple other edits 12”s and solo bits lined up as well!
And finally, can you give us a taste of what you plan to bring to TUSK in three words?
The Black Madonna has had quite the year in 2014. We fell in love with her from afar via some standout mixes, stellar word of mouth, on-point interviews and through booking all of our favourite DJs at Chicago’s legendary Smart Bar, where she just happens to be talent buyer by day and resident by night. She makes her first appearance in the lazer pit on January 3rd so we thought we’d have a look inside her record box…
A record where the vocal gets you every time?
Hit It N Quit by Jamie 3:26 and Cratebug.This is one of the best records ever made and the vocal is scorching. It’s really become a signature record for me.
A record that reminds you of when you first real dancefloor experience
Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order. I remember spinning around on a dancefloor when I was 14 in a tiny club in Kentucky when the arpeggio comes in. Heavenly experience. It sticks in my mind clearly over 20 years later.
A record that is forever Chicago
Gotta go with The Percolator by Cajmere. I used to have a Percolator ringtone on my phone and when it would go off it didn’t matter who was around. Grandmas in the grocery, bus drivers, teenagers: everyone knew just what it was. I think it’s the national anthem of Chicago.
A record that was passed to you by a DJ mentor
You know, I wasn’t really friends with my mentors. My “mentors” were people who made the mixtapes I loved. I learned to DJ essentially completely alone in a college radio station. So many records I play came to me from knowing the sets that my “mentors” played, but I don’t think any of those were ever given to me. I had a lot of DJ friends, but I wasn’t lucky enough to have a close, trusted mentor in that way.
A record that who’s lyrics could be about your life
Getting Away With It by Electronic.
An album you listen to from start to finish on a regular basis
Metro Area, Metro Area. I heard this right when it came out. It appeared in my local record store in Kentucky, Ear Xtacy (RIP). It actually took me a while to warm to it. My ears just weren’t ready for the whole idea. What made me really pay attention was the use of Miura in a DJ Hell mix. He did something with that record that framed it for me in the way I needed to have it framed and suddenly the whole record made sense. I think no matter what I do as a producer, I’m still returning to this record. As a producer, as a listener.
Your favourite Smart Bar anthem
You Can’t Hide From Yourself, Teddy Pendergrass. Our main man Derrick Carter rinses this one. I have several specific memories of him dropping this in his legendary 7 hour sets. No bassline has ever been bigger. Those stabs. The horns. It’s pure Derrick.
A record that’s missing from your collection
The 12″ of Losing My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys. I have never owned it, believe it or not. I probably have dozens of PSB records, but this just isn’t one of them.
A record that you can’t listen to because it makes you too sad
What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye.
Join The Black Madonna for Battered Sausage alongside Severino, Nadia Ksaiba and more on Saturday 3rd January at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.
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.
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.
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.