DeeperSoul Blog - Deep & Soulful House Music

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Sunday, February 12

DeeperSoul Interview - DJ Oji & DJ Pope

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Oji & Pope

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PART I
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Could you tell us how you got into djing / producing and about your early career?
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Oji - For me, Djing started back in Brooklyn NY. Way back in the days of partying in the parks, backspinning records, block parties and the first and early days of hip hop. It was with that inspiration that I first came into the artform of Djing. Eventually this would lead to spending my allowance and summer job money to make demos in whatever studio I could find that would do it for the cheapest. Back then, you could find studio time for as low as $15/hr. Nothing much came out of that, but that experience would definitely help me later in my career.
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Pope - I started Djing in 1979. I started out doing house parties and local boy’s club parties, eventually, graduating to one of the local clubs in 1983. I started producing or making beat tracks in the early 80s. In 1991, I completed my first production called “Come Together” (Emotive records).
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What’s your music background? Which artists have influenced you the most?
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Oji - Musically, I come from so many places. I am always asked this questions and there is really only one legitimate answer. My father, was the biggest influence. He was a record collector and music connoisseur. He exposed me to Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Quincy Jones, Brass Construction and more.
Frankie Crocker (may he rest in peace) was also a major influence. He was a radio personality on WBLS back in the late 70s and 80s that was not afraid to push the envelope. He brought disco to radio. He played B-sides and broke so much music. As a result I was exposed to other artist like Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, Michael Jackson, Ashford and Simpson and much more.
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Pope - Music background stems from my mother and my aunt. Growing up as a youngster, I was surrounded by music due to my mother’s love for Rhythm and Blues. She was a collector of 45s and 78s, which contained musical genres such as gospel, R&B, and jazz.
My aunt took my musical background to the next level when she exposed me to live music. My aunt sang professionally as a background singer for Ray Charles, as well as one of the original members of the hit Broadway play “Hair.”
A few artists that have influenced me are Quincy Jones, Frankie Knuckles, Farley Funkin Keith and Tony Humphries.
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You both are running POJI Records since 1992. How was it born? The goal stills the same?
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Oji - POJI records was born as a result of the old cliché “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Pope and I met in college. We both attended Morgan St. University. He was from Chicago and I was from New York. Both of us had been touched by house from our original origins and coincidentally had similar personal goals and desires as it pertained to the music. Perhaps our individual quests to be Djs/producers would have been better received if we were physically living in NY or Chicago. However, we were now living in Baltimore and it was Baltimore that we would represent. Baltimore already had a few icons who had made their marks on the industry. Namely, Basement Boys and Ultra Nate. So we were caught between a rock and a hard place being away from home and in a city where we would like to call home, but perhaps considered outsiders. Not saying that we were not shown any love, but it seemed like “respect” would be the thing that we had to earn on our own. So that’s what we set out to do. Make our mark and make our music with out care or regard for what else was going on in our outside of our city. The record label would be our chance to show the world what we could do, but we also vowed that it would be an opportunity to unify the city and those like us who were looking for an opportunity to express themselves on wax. It was and still is our intention to expose the talents that are here in the Baltimore/DC area.
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Oji, your album “Spiritual Journey”, featuring an impressive list of guest artists, is now released. Can you tell us a little bit about it (producing proccess, guest artists, etc)?
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Spiritually Journey is somewhat of a story. Its my story and that of those involved in the project. The thing about stories is that we are really never alone in our personal experiences. People can always relate to your story, because for many it is their story as well.
Perhaps its no secret after all these years that DJ Oji is a man of percussion. I love the drums (congas, djembe, bongos etc). I have west Indian roots and I cannot deny my African heritage. These things are inside of me and one thing I know for sure is that no man or woman can control themself when the drums come calling. That is a “spiritual thing”. Hence the album and title song written by me and delivered by Sheila Ford “Spiritual Journey”.
Not only am I believer of what is ancestral, I am also a believer in what is holy or a higher power. So you will hear some gospel influenced tunes as well. DaMighty1 features Pedro and the album also features a remix that I did for Byron Stingly’s “Its all Jesus”. It was an honor for me to have such an opportunity to do a remix for one of my own inspirations.
Reunited with me on this album is Una and Carolyn Victorian. These ladies have been with me over the years and the world has seen them blossom as POJI artist. They are both part of the reality has come into fruition from our original goals for POJI records.
Lynnette Smith is also on the album. Although we have been friends for so long, this album would be the first time that Lynnete and I worked together. The same is true of Sheila Ford.
I am also blessed to have been able to include a remix that I did for Deborah Bond. She has a beautiful voice and wrote a beautiful song. I was given her whole album and asked to choose a song that I wanted to remix. When I heard “See you in my dreams’ I knew this was the song for me. I could apply it in so many ways. It spoke to my heart and I had to make it happen.
Finally, I have some friends who join me on this album who love percussion almost as much if not more than I do. These brothers have always been a part of my club enterouge, playing percussion along side my DJ sets. I wanted to give back to them by including them with this project. They are The Inner Corner Band (Esteban, Phire, Maye). They are featured on two instrumentals.
Overall, I am confident that there is something for everyone here. The message is always in the music. Beats are temporary, but words last forever. So enjoy the vocals.
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What are your expectations about it?
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I am hoping that people will embrace this project. It will be available on cd. I am not necessarily looking for just a DJ market. The album is for “music lovers”. Just the same as you would purchase a cd from Jill Scott, Mary J Blige or Mariah Carey. I am hoping that people can but this cd without expectation and be overwhelmed with the results that they get. I want people to be satisfied and know that they have got their money’s worth. Too often is that not the case when we buy music from our known artist. So far that has not been the reaction to this album. At the end of the day, I just want everyone to ENJOY the music and take the ride.
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Did you wrote the songs?
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I wrote or co-wrote most of the songs with the featured artists. The remixes were already written.
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Pope, your latest release is the vol. 8 of the “Traxx From The Vatican”. What is the goal/concept behind these series started in the 90’s?
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The concept behind Traxx from the Vatican was to give the Djs a little bit of this and a little bit of that…meaning…you may have a latin track, a 4/4 banging track and/or lastly a full vocal song. The series started in early 1990’s and the first volume was released on Downtown 161. I have also released traxx from the Vatican on Cajual, Trackmode, as well as my own imprint- Poji Records.
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You are producing Una's first full length CD. How excited are you with this experience? People will clearly see DJ Pope’s signature in this album?
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I’m very excited about Una’s first full length album. It will show the World that Una is a diva to be reckoned with. It will also show my versatility in producing different style of dance music. Some of the highlights off the album will be a remake of the classic “Sweet Dreams” (Eurythmics), “In my House”, and “Y.O.U”. Expected release date is May 2006.
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I have noticed that your new album, including the high acclaimed song “Addicted”, will be coming out on Hustle Music. Can you confirm it and disclose some info about it?
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That’s true, “Addicted” was released on Hustle Music in November 2005. The original mixes mixed by myself and DjOji are now available on Traxsource.
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Both of you have already worked with many artists/musicians. Though, is there any artist with who would you like to work with?
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Oji - A better question would be “is there anyone who I don’t want to work with?” I love to make music. There are so many artists that I am fond of and I would be willing to do original or remix work for. After almost 15 years, things seem to now be moving in the right direction for us both. I think we have both checked off a few names that were on our lists and I am anxious to see what will happen next and with whom.
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PART II
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What do you think of the deep/soulful house world scene at the moment and how do you think it will be in the future?
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Deep house? Well, I love Deep House. Its just hard to decipher what people consider to be Deep House. For me, a song that is mesmorizing vocally and musically is Deep House. The songs that give you that feeling of lost control. You sometimes have to just close your eyes and le the music take you away. Is that Deep House? I think that the DJ is in charge of programming. Deep House is a part of the journey, but diversity will not allow for it to be the entire ride. So like all other aspects of house music, it will survive so long as the DJ is able and willing to program his/her sets to take the dance in many directions. However, the transition has to be smooth.
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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?
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I think that nostalgia is a factor for all genres of music. At this pint there are so many years behind us, that incorporating some of the old with the new is almost inevitable. However, it needs to be done with integrity. It needs to be done in such a way that we are able to progress without getting stuck in remaking the past. The thing about the old is that it is new to the next generation. So perhaps that is a real testimony to what is or what was good music. Still I say we have to progress in order to survive.
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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?
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Its killing us. I don’t know what will become of the near future. There is no money to be made and vinyl is almost a thing of the past. For me, that’s sad. I still play records. I don’t know the answer. I don’t know the resolution, but what will we do when we can’t afford to make music.
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What can we expect to hear from you in the near future?
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Oji - Look out for DJ Oji & DJ Spen production coming soon and DJ Oji remix on Studio Apartment feat. Kenny Bobien.
Pope - You can expect to hear Traxx from the Vatican Volume 9. I have also done a record with one of the background singers of the Neo-Soul band “Fertile Ground”, Andre Blue. The name of the tune is called “Each One Teach One.”
I will also be releasing two other tunes one featuring Ed Ramsey called “In Time” and another called “Can You Feel the Rhythm” featuring Lynette Smith with mixes from H&H (UK). And, of course, Una’s full length album.

2 Comments:

  • At 5:52 pm, Anonymous Orel1 said…

    Thanks Rogerio for this interview, they are two good producers :-)

     
  • At 4:36 pm, Anonymous niceguy said…

    music is universal!!!!!

     

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