"We use to play songs because we liked them, now we play it because dj so and so from club so and so is playing it. This is a problem that no one wants to address. I am a fighter for the underdog, and always will be. The music that isn’t getting the most exposure typically is most beautiful and the most sophisticated."
Could you tell us how you got into djing / producing and about your early career?
I got into djing when I was a junior in high school. I heard a Larry Levan tape when I was going into my freshman year of high school. Anelderly couple from Detroit who were old friends of my late father brought two young girls, who they were providing care for, with them to a trip to Chicago and the oldest of them brought two cassette tape mixes from the Paradise Garage. Needless to say, I was hooked and intrigued by the movement and the message in that music. During and after my second year of high school I started to become more and more mesmerized by the music when I was introduced to mixes by Frankie Knuckles and soon after the late Ron Hardy. A lot of older cats in the neighborhood were djs and I started to hang around them. These brothers taught me the basics of djing and I introduced them to a wider / advanced selection of music. I always wanted to produce music. When I first heard disco I knew I wanted to make music. I asked my mother and father for a keyboard and some piano lessons. Sadly to say I never received that gift, my father wanted me to focus on playing football and boxing. Later I became friends with Chicago dj Lee Collins and made some attempts to produce music in 1990. Later in 1991-1992 we produced my first release under the name “Rhythm Section” on Movin records out of New Jersey. My very first record was remixed by Tony Humphries, this was an honor. In the early to mid 90s' I met Ron Trent and formed a friendship and a musical relationship. Songs like “NcameU” and “African Blues - Word, Sound, Power” [both on Clairaudience] were products of this partnership and mutual educational process.
What’s your music background? [Do you have learned how to play some instruments? Which artists have influenced you the most?]
I humbly admit, I don’t play any particular instrument that well. I can play well enough to get my ideas down and communicate this tothe great musicians I sometimes work with and enjoy vibing with. You learn how to manipulate the electronical side of production when you are left withthe task of writing your own projects alone. The artists who have the most influence on me and my music are, Chick Corea, Pat Metheney, Azymuth, Leroy Burgess, Herbie Hancock, Steeley Dan, Lonnie liston smith, Webster Lewis and recently I developed a mutual admiration and close friendship with Lars Bartkuhn of Needs. We have the highest respect for each other’s music.
You have records on many labels (Nite Grooves, Compost, Prescription, Peace Frog, Trackmode, Wave and others) and, recently, you have launched two new ones: Circular Motion and Infinite Audio. Is there a different concept and goals behind these two labels?
Circular Motion is an imprint focusing on a more traditional combination of soul, jazz and fusion mixed together to form a special brew of sophisticated dance music. Infinite Audios' focus is to introduce the organic, spiritual, less unpredictable side of dance music and its' cultural significance.
Some months ago you have released an album on Trackmode, “Necessary Phazes”, which is not often regarding House Music producers. Could you tell us about this project process and about the people who were involved into it?
“Necessary Phazes” is a very personal story that had to be told. I never sought out to make music that would fit into a category that could be defined by people who are not spiritually and respectfully connected to music. This project served as a soundtrack for my experiences and lessons in life. House music does not exist in my creative process-world. Making music for people who share a sense of global consciousness is my goal. Making this album was fun mainly because of the people involved in the creative process. My son Quincy worked closely with me through the whole project. Pianist Brian Nichols was a complete joy to work with, he added textures that complimented the songs' integrity. Vocalist Ugochi and Chico also contributed generously. Asa Watkins, formerly a drummer of Peven Everetts' band, was a joy to work with as well, lending his keyboard talents that no one seemed to know about. With Dave Sampson on guitar on the track “Everyday” and Glenn Underground on keyboard bass on the track “Thinking of You”, the album showcased a considerable amount of talent and positive energy.
What is your favorite track, the one that you are the most proud of?
"Electro Disco" is my favourite track mainly because it was written and composed with the participation of my son Quincy. We had so much fun making this tune. It will always be a special memory for me. The synth lines are so alive and emotional.
You are resident dj on Inner Sound System parties (with Torin Edmond). Do you feel that the fact you are spinning often helps you creating enjoyable House Music?
I don’t know if spinning/programming helps to create enjoyable music. For me spinning provides a different form of escapism-expression. Making music is a little bit more special for me. Mainly because you have to dig deeper for creative energy. With djing you can live through the music you are playing, and allow it to guide you.
I really don’t think about a deep/soulful house scene, I never believed that it existed in the first place. Good music, no matter what genre, will exist forever. We have to get past the idea of creating trends and the clique-ish support of upholding regional favourites. There is so much mediocre hype out today, no one pays attention to detail and musicianship. This is why the house music scene sucks today. I don’t consider myself to be a part of it. I make music, you can call it whatever you want. Love and appreciation for the art of good music is the reason we got into this in the first place. Now people make heroes out of cats who put out a lot of music, despite its noticeable lack of quality content. We use to play songs because we liked them, now we play it because dj so and so from club so and so is playing it. This is a problem that no one wants to address. I am a fighter for the underdog, and always will be. The music that isn’t getting the most exposure typically is most beautiful and the most sophisticated.
Nowadays, we see Electro and 80's sound influencing many House Productions. Do you think that in order to move on in housemusic, producers have to always look back?
People will always look back to the past because the past is a form of the future, there is nothing new under the sun. Having lived through the electronic age of music gives you a preview of things to come. The 80s' created an atmosphere that reflected the open-ness and abstract nature of dance music. Some people are attempting to incorporate these influences just to be trendy. It’s better when you've had the experience of being exposed to the culture that inspires the creation.
The number of files illegally shared on the Internet dont stop to grow. As a producer, how is this affecting you? What could be the solution?
What can we expect to hear from you in the near future?
You can expect to hear good music coming from the Miquifaye music movement. Look out for more music on my labels and the resurrection of my old label Clairaudience. There will be releases on Joe Claussell’s Sacred Rhythm label from myself under the name Jombo Life, produced by myself and William Kurk, a very talented multi-instrumentalist from Chicago. A full-length album under the name Soundphaze (the production team of myself, William kurk and my son Quincy). This album is an introduction to the next phase of my musical journey. More stuff on King Street / Nitegrooves and Track Mode will also follow.