This season we had an airplay set with Divino Niño, a Chicago-based band known for their dreamy, psych-inspired pop. Be kick back and watch this performance of their song “Initials LV,” video courtesy of the WNUR Media Team. Listen to the rest of the set below.
The North Shore Center for the performing arts was filled with soulful music Thursday, October 20 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jung Yup, a member of the Korean ballad group Brown Eyed Soul, had agreed to sing as part of a fundraising concert jointly hosted by Korea Daily Chicago and the Korean American Sports Association of Chicago (KASAC).
Jung Yup is a nephew of the president of KASAC, Hong Byung Kil, who organized this event to raise funds for KASAC’s entry to the 19th Korean American National Sports Festival (KANSF) set to be hosted in Dallas, Texas, June 2017.
The stage felt as though it was set in an orchestra (to be fair, North Shore Performance Center also hosts orchestra performances). The audience were all formally or semi-formally dressed, a completely different vibe from a hip hop or rock concert where people are much more energetic. When Jung Yup came up onto the stage himself, he gave a sincere promise to the audience that he would do his best to convey the emotions embedded in his songs, which are predominantly ballads.
Jung Yup, Guitarist Park Juwon, Pianist Uniqnote, Bassist Ahn Byungchul and drummer No Yongjin performed jazz covers of Jung Yup’s songs and famous pop numbers. Tracks ranged from Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World and Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning to Nothing Better, Jung Yup’s signature cover, and Unrequited Love.
Park is the most renowned jazz guitarist in Korea, while Ahn and No were both active session members in the Korean indie music scene. Uniqnote is a singer-songwriter who wrote songs for groups like Fly to the Sky and Brown Eyed Girls. The acoustic collaboration between Park and Jung Yup were especially poignant, awing the audience with covers of YB’s Cigarette Girl and Yoo Jae-ha’s You in My Arms.
Surprisingly, unlike at a vast majority of concerts, there were only a few phones out to record the show throughout the concert. When Jung Yup started off the show with What a Wonderful World, everyone was silent and listened in as they immersed themselves in the performance. They seemed to be pointing out that our own eyes and ears are probably better suited for concerts than cellphone cameras are.
Due to Brown Eyed Soul’s legacy as a group of lush R&B-flavored vocalists renowned for their harmony, it was hard to initially fathom how Jung Yup would be able to fulfill that expectation on his solo concert. Jung Yup and the band pleasantly surprised the audience with a wide variety of arrangements, starting from the moody acoustic covers to groovy and jazzy tunes. The audience had little time to be bored.
Jung Yup was relaxed and enthusiastic on stage, taking his time to talk with the audience. He also tried to share his enthusiasm with the crowd as he set up the audience for an interactive session during one of his songs, so everyone could sing along in the chorus. He walked off the stage into the aisles while singing a Bob-Marley-inspired reggae/jazz interpretation of Peter Frampton’s Baby I love your way, taking selfies with the audience and passing the microphone to them. At this point, the show was not just a place to relate and immerse oneself into the songs, but it became a place where everyone had fun in an opportunity to sing with their favorite singer.
Saving the best for last, JungYup ended with Its Love, an OST for the Korean TV series Doctors. Before he sang his last song, he told his fans that if enough people screamed “encore” after his song, he would come back onto the stage for one more song. He even went off to say that he always stands at the edge of the stage behind the curtain, preparing himself for the encore. Once the song ended and people excitedly screamed “encore” to call him back, JungYup returned and joined forced with the guitarist Park in an acoustic rendition of You, In My Arms, an original song by singer Yoo Jae Ha that Jung Yup had covered on Yoon Do-hyun’s MUST, a Korean music TV show hosted by the leader of the rock band YB.
Overall, the concert was a fun and interactive experience. Jung Yup told us that people are welcome to ask him anything they wanted to ask about his personal life. His female fans took advantage of the opportunity to scream how good looking he was and ask whether he had a girlfriend. Jung Yup comically welcomed them, requesting them that they send in more praises as it “makes him feel like a star.” And a star he was indeed.
Special thanks to Korea Daily Chicago for providing the materials for this publication.
If you want to learn more about Korea Daily Chicago and its event schedule, check out their website and social media.
We are here with Volcano Radar. The band is Julia Miller, Elbio Barilari, and joined today by Sam Bradshaw on Bass and Tim Davis on Drums. So what did we hear today?
2 original compositions, 1 song/poem by Leonard Cohen, and finally we ended with an open improvisation.
Tell me about that Leonard Cohen tribute arrangement.
Elbio: Well as you can tell from my accent I am not exactly from here. I’m from the south, but very south, like 10 thousand miles south, from Montevideo, Uruguay. And over there we have a very active Rock and Pop scene, as well as our own Tango and Folk music, etc. And I always loved songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and I have been a fanatic of Leonard Cohen for my whole life. I was really sad when he died, and even more sad because he died in these circumstances. Julia came up with the idea of doing one of his songs, one of his most recent songs in this broadcast and I immediately said yes.
Julia: But there are not too many people who have the gravitas to do that song and really have the connection to it.
Was that the premiere here on Airplay?
Julia: Yes it was!
On that note, I’m wondering how you guys compose and arrange? Is it a very collaborative process?
Julia: Well those two compositions came from a live, improvised show that we did and recorded, with Tim Davis actually. We improvised those as a group on the spot and ended up forming them into tunes and have used them as tunes in various ways ever since.
Elbio: That’s one of the procedures. Julia and I are both composers, working with symphonic music and chamber music. And we do some structured music. But one good thing about this band is we don’t need to write so much, we write a lot for other things. In this band, what we normally do is bring in some little idea and develop the idea with the band or we just improvise something, we like it, and we try to repeat that and keep it.
I saw you guys are in the studio recording some new material. What projects do you have on the horizon?
Elbio: Yes, we have a few projects in the oven right now. I have been working with Paquito [D’Rivera] for like 15 years, 20 years in different projects – chamber music, Latino music. Finally, he was coming to Chicago and we decided to do a recording session and it went great. But, we still need to mix that one and work a lot in postproduction. But we have a live CD that we are trying to release by the end of this year, or the beginning of next year, most likely. And on March of this past year, we released our duo CD, called Electro Parables or Parábolas Electricas. That one is up and we got great reviews. It’s a record we did in-studio, Julia playing guitar and synthesized guitar and I’m playing all the things I play.
Julia: That was a long form, structured improvisation for us. So the whole piece, especially the first piece, Two Hundred Years of Solitude is one take and then a few overdubbings. No editing or breaking or anything like that, it’s all one large take.
We have it here in the stacks. Electro Parables is a great recording if you haven’t checked it out. I want to thank you for joining us, it was really a pleasure.
Julia: Absolutely. Thank you for having us, it was our pleasure.
Elbio: Thank you very much
Summing up Wadada Leo Smith and John Lindberg’s Oct. 29 performance at Constellation in words seems to be an almost impossible task. Somehow translating the night’s journey into words. Words, words, words. Does that word even mean anything now? What if I say it 100 more times? A thousand?
My girlfriend is in an acting class right now, and she tells me the Greeks used words impeccably. In their writing, words weren’t hollow signifiers, they moved and felt and had intentionality, had courage. Courage- what a word. I can’t say I fully understand what it means, or that I know how to use my words impeccably. She might be able to give you a better picture. But I walked out of Constellation that night feeling like I maybe understood that word “impeccably” a little better, because it’s really the only way I can sum up how Lindberg, Smith and Mike Reed performed: impeccably.
Having an appropriate attitude towards fear.
Smith put the horn to his lips and there was fear. Fear of music maybe, or fear of the power he assumed in front of the audience. But there was also a disposition to that fear. An awareness. Awareness of the power behind each note he played and, equally important, each note he didn’t.
Suddenly there was the first note and the performance began. In that beginning there was a courage and a sincerity in playing for more than just the reason that people paid to come see him do just that. There was an urgency to say something, a courageousness to jump into the relative unknown. And so they began, Lindberg with fluttering arco work on his bass and Reed sensitively moving around the kit. Soon Wadada leapt in with the spirit of a man half his age, with sharp attacks and blaring lines cascading across the energetic soundscape. Sometimes there were wrong notes and sometimes silence was the only right note. Music means something more when you play with courage, because suddenly that note and that silence mean something.
No one was hiding on stage as the timbre shifted and Smith growled airily through his brass pipe, while Lindberg and Reed accompanied with solid strokes and crashes. The three musicians followed the path of Smith’s “Malachi Favors: The Monarch of Making Music” for over 30 minutes. There were points of congruency throughout- Lindberg peeked over his stand at Wadada, recognizing they had reached a landing point together; Smith and Reed suddenly changed together, like magic. But, in their case, magic was really trust and awareness. I saw trust in their glances that night, so their ears could better navigate. I heard trust in the deep groove that permeated the entire performance. The groove that night was not something you could tap your foot to or line up with a metronome. It was a spiritual groove because of the faith they had in each other.
Each musician had their solo. Lindberg, in the second set, played to the bewildered eyes of Reed, who at one point just gave up trying to play along and sat smiling wryly at the master before him. Wadada played lines and wiggles and journeyed through his horn to places of imagination. Reed captivated me with his downbeat that paid absolute attention to everything happening around him and everything in between. Each star shone individually that night, but in many ways it was the collective combination of the light and courageously-played meaningful notes that elevated the music beyond.
The music or creative spirit that surrounds us always. Like wind moving the air or atoms warring around and against your body.
It felt like Smith, Lindberg and Reed captured a creative force and followed it to loud places and some of the softest places I’ve heard in awhile. The brilliant way Smith and Lindberg write music moves congruent to these forces rather than perpendicular. It’s an impeccable awareness to the true forces behind music. Improvisation often serves as a route along this undercurrent and it did the same in Lindberg and Smith’s composition. Each musician seemed to sensitively pick up on the energy that passed through the room and expressed in as few soft words as possible exactly what they were trying to say. Smith leaned into the mic as the trumpet softly cried its brassy warbles through the cup mute in response to Lindberg’s flautando bowing less than ten feet away. Behind this, Reed sat with brushes in hand, moving slowly around the kit, locking into the quietest pocket for a few measures. Impeccable was all around us.
Acknowledging the tradition of music in the language of the future.
I don’t think it’s worth it to start a discussion concerning the roles of tradition and progressivism in jazz music today. As my good friend and co-D.J. Leo often jokes, jazz seems almost as divided as American politics with real right-wing Wynton supporters in constant tension with the various left-wing parties from the realms of fusion, free and beyond. It’s a discussion I’ve had too many times and one that a truly great musician deflects and proves the ultimate futility and, really, childishness of. (Maybe it’s not so different from American politics after all.) After this show, I’m convinced one of those musicians is Smith. Impeccable requires knowing the intricacies of your language. Jazz as a language came from the blues. Not the twelve-bar-standardized-by-W.C. Handy blues, but the feeling. Wadada, who grew up in Mississippi in the late 50s and 60s, knows this blues well. The spirit of the blues lives deep inside the core of the enigmatic man with a soft smile and quiet eyes. Deep blues, like deep groove, will not be expressed in licks containing flat fives and 4/4 meter. Deep blues exists in the ether and the feeling of how a note is played rather than what that note is. And from that deep blues grows swing, which again doesn’t live within how a musician treats their eighth notes. Smith, Lindberg and Reed don’t need basic and educationally-simplified signifiers to base their music within the jazz tradition; their connection is a deeper one that arises from an internalization of the tradition. By discipline and respect towards the past, they create an impeccable language for the future that assimilates the past without any ball and chain attached to it. As the profile of Wadada arched back on Lindberg’s composition “Feather and Earth” to a burst of fiery lines exiting his horn, I couldn’t help seeing Miles and hearing the future.
“Sometimes when you’ve made art or done something like turning buildings into pancakes or whatever you do, it can be hard to just walk out and leave the room,” Wadada said as the concert wrapped up. He walked out into the audience not as a the incredible performer and cultural force that he is, but as a humble human, seemingly searching for another human to bring him back to existence. To help him walk out and leave the room.
If you haven’t seen a show at Constellation yet, please do yourself a favor and go now: http://www.constellation-chicago.com/
Here’s our visit with singer-songwriter Ava Suppelsa. Ava, who grew up in Evanston, is a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music ; but to hear her play, you’ll think you’re listening to a seasoned veteran of the music scene.
Listen to the interview here at The WNUR Folk Show’s website.
In the year of our Lord 2016, it’s difficult to discuss the live music scene without inevitably bumping into the topic of music festivals. Whether it’s one of the 20+ in Chicago of all different shapes and sizes or one of the countless elsewhere in the world, music festivals have slowly become one of the dominating forces in live music culture over the past 50 years. These festivals are really just another reflection of the recorded music business at large and the continual cycle of artistic commodification in our capitalist society.
At the top of the charts are the large corporate festivals you all know: Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, the list goes on. Importantly, all these festivals were at some point fairly independent and small festivals. As the indie aesthetic became more marketable, they became perfect breeding grounds for a takeover of popular indie culture by corporate music and fashion industries, selling not just music but a brand of insiderism.
On the complete other side of the spectrum are the niche festivals like the Bix Beiderbecke Festival Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport, Iowa, or the exceptional Vision Festival in New York City (focusing on free jazz) that by their nature will never really grow or appeal to the commercial powers because of their exclusive and dedicated audience.
As festivals have gained traction in the 2000s and the space between these two styles have widened, there has been increased potential for hybrids and highly-curated festivals to fill the space in between. These festivals essentially take the concept of a diverse music festival and make it marketable towards the niche festival audiences. I give this brief overview and festival theory to contextualize Big Ears as one of those wonderful festivals existing between.
I can still vividly remember walking into the Sun Ra Arkestra concert the first night of the festival last year after a long 11 hour drive from Chicago to Knoxville. The small group of WNUR travelers was certainly tired, but that didn’t seem to be a word the 92-year-old Marshall Allen even conceptualized as he launched into a ripping solo the moment we entered the room. The sound was electric; the crowd danced; the sequins sparkled. As the band played an extended rendition of “Saturn,” we collectively felt the sleep wear off. We all became a little more conscious of how incredible these three days were about to be. Instead of talking about specifics five months after a festival, I would like to touch on some of the lasting impressions of the experience, the profound effect the festival had on my music listening practice and concept.
In many ways, the most special aspect of the entire festival was logistical, which counters the pop-culture perception of what a music festival should be. Instead of following the trend to create a festival grounds and centralized area for the festival with food vendors and beer gardens, Big Ears organizers really use the city of Knoxville to its full potential, utilizing already established venues for music and stores and restaurant spaces. This planning strategy, especially holding music in real venues, does away with the “festival set” phenomenon that affects many other, especially outdoor, festivals and legitimately creates a feeling that each show you are seeing is as the artist intends their music to be presented.
Along with the attention to space, the time allotted for and between performances, adds to the feeling of seeing actual performances and not just festival sets, and allows musicians to take care in their sound checks and incorporate any staging they may want to. Overall, I think this reflects music-first festival programming, that maybe doesn’t appeal to the usual festival-going crowd, but provides a festival experience for the serious music listener.
With the thought of who Big Ears attracts in mind, I remember very warmly the feeling of community that developed over the course of the beautiful weekend. I had the feeling that every person standing next to me at every show, from those in the crowd for Anthony Braxton to Nicolas Jaar to Lambchop, shared a deep love and appreciation for the music at their core and through that felt a sort of universal understanding. It’s a feeling anything I write here cannot possibly do justice, and a feeling that calls me back this year’s festival. Considering the more curatorial aspects of the festival, a glance at the festival lineup can tell you, Big Ears is one of the most incredibly diverse and genre-defying festivals in the country. It’s the only place I know of to hear incredibly high level performances of free jazz, hip-hop, contemporary classical, drone metal, alt-country and Brazilian psych rock in one day. (If you know of any other places, please share.) That fact alone stands an incredible testament to the booking job and commitment to a wide variety of underrepresented music Big Ears consistently demonstrates.
In many ways, I came into the festival with medium-sized open ears. Ears eager to hear experimental music, ears equipped for non-judgmental listening, but ears with varying levels of experience listening to the music and genres they were about to encounter. And I left with big ears, very big ears ready and prepared to devour experimental music in Chicago. Ears that will lead me back to the next beautiful summit of musicians and listeners in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The lineup for Big Ears 2017 was recently released and tickets are available now for the March 23-26 festival. This year the lineup features Carla Bley, Henry Grimes, Supersilent and Henry Threadgill representing jazz among others, all favorites of DJs here at the WNUR Jazz Show. Chicago bands Wilco and Tortoise will hold down the rock programming, along with Coleen, Blonde Redhead, Deerhoof and the Magnetic Fields. Michael Hurley is going to play some guitar and sing (wow), and Steve Lehman and Sélébéyone will make a special appearance to present one of the most innovative jazz and hip-hop albums of the year. The list goes on; I could write pages about every one of these musicians just listed, but I’ll stop here, give you a link to the website, and let you find your own collection of Big Ears artist to get excited about.
Tracks from Erykah Badu’s Worldwide Underground fill Evanston’s SPACE tonight as audience members mill about in anticipation. An older man parades by in a straw hat, a floor-length gingham tunic and a distressed denim jacket. Another audience member leans up against the bar wearing a white tee and a grey vintage military officer’s hat. Clearly the crowd here tonight is one with an appreciation for the aesthetic; they embrace pairing old with new, familiar with foreign.
KING, an alternative R&B trio made up of sisters Paris and Amber Strother and their “musical sister” Anita Bias, rolled into SPACE on October 11 as part of their two month long tour across the country. Riding high on a wave of critical acclaim for their February 2016 debut We Are KING, the LA-based group has been touring on-and-off for the past nine months, making a stop at SPACE less than a week after the album’s initial release. After their first EP, The Story, came out in 2011, KING slowly gained attention, acclaim, and avid followers as they released several more singles over the next five years. With excitement surrounding each step of KING’s musical journey, it was clear that the crowd at SPACE was eager for Paris, Amber and Anita’s signature lush, soulful grooves.
After a tight, sample-laden set from up-and-coming crooner Nick Hakim, KING floated on stage wrapped in beautiful, intricately quilted floral robes. Opening up with “Mister Chameleon,” the trio fueled audience excitement with their upbeat melodies, hand-clapping, and vigorous bass lines. They continued the pace with an audience favorite, a sure-footed, sleek version of their single “The Greatest.”
It is tempting to refer to the group as the KING sisters—their smiles and encouraging glances convey a unity and mutual admiration that only sisters could have. Often referring to themselves as “musical sisters,” it is this familial love that translates into tight harmonies and intricate vocal arrangements.
The night progresses with more songs from We Are KING: “In the Meantime” and “Love Song,” KING’s favorite song off the album according to Amber Strother.
Taken together, the two songs truly show the depth of KING’s influences. Their twinkly synths and echo-y, distorted vocals sound like things you might hear on an R&B or funk song from the 80s’ or 90s.’ Later, they cover “Computer Love,” the 1985 hit from Ohio-based funk band Zapp, long-time champions of synth-laden, bass-heavy music.
Despite the clear connections to music from earlier decades, though, KING manages to avoid sounding dated. Their music transports you to a hazy dreamland infused with the music of the 80s’ and the heat of the tropics. Dense and lush, their songs possess a familiarity brought about by musical elements from the past, but one that is inviting rather than stifling.
With bright, jewel-toned lights shining on their floral robes, Amber Strother, Anita Bias, and Paris Strother clearly have a grasp on how to translate the images and ideas from their music into a sleek, multi-sensory live experience.
What makes KING’s show so alluring, though, is the love they have for each other and the appreciation they have for their audience—it adds a warmth that no amount of colorful lights or cool outfits could replicate.
Armed with a sense of identity and self-assuredness that only longtime “musical sisters” could possess, KING knows where they came from and where they are going. With the warmth and love they radiate to their listeners, it’s clear that fans will follow them wherever they end up.
I went to Riot Fest this year, and it was a great time. It was conveniently timed the weekend before classes started, and it was great to move back into my apartment and catch some shows before I had to start going to school again and all that lame shit.
From 2005 to 2011, Riot Fest was a multi-venue punk festival, where bands would play at the standard rock venues around the city. They still do a little bit of that; this year the Violent Femmes played a show at Concord Hall in mid-July through Riot Fest. But that’s not really what Riot Fest is anymore. It’s a much bigger, three day outdoor event that plays acts from a wide range of genres. Hip hop, metal and indie rock are all heavily represented.
So sure, it could be said, and it has been said, that Riot Fest has lost its identity. Whatever. If you’re a bitter, aged Chicago punker, you and your extensive knowledge of ‘83 Naked Raygun setlists might be better off staying at home. But as for the rest of us, Riot Fest is a place where you’re probably gonna have a good time. This year’s Friday lineup with Ween (Ween!) and the Flaming Lips back to back was fantastic.
But even on Friday, I saw dozens of people walking around in Misfits shirts. The Misfits played on Sunday. Just walking around the grounds, it was very clear that this festival was about. This was the festival with the Misfits reunion.
Yeah, Misfits played at Riot Fest. The real Misfits. Not Jerry Only and some random guys, not a bunch of ex-Black Flag members carrying the torch. It seems a moderate amount of communication, a momentary casting aside of legal beef, and lots and lots of money were able to get Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein on the same stage together for two shows this fall, one at Riot Fest Denver, and the one in Chicago.
To those mostly in the dark about the Misfits and their music — yes, the Misfits were the band on the shirts of all the Hot Topic kids in middle school. They also used to be really really good. They emerged in the New York punk in the late 70’s, their music a original mixture of b-movie horror and sci-fi themes and melodic hardcore punk. By 1983 singer and songwriter Glenn Danzig, and bassist Jerry Only absolutely hated each other, and they broke up. During the band’s existence they were known within the punk community, but held little notoriety beyond that. Interest in the band accumulated over the following decade with widespread release of their recorded material, and in the mid-90s Jerry Only re-formed the Misfits with Doyle and without Danzig, who was uninterested. This incarnation of Misfits, with Jerry Only mostly on vocals, and a different, heavy metal sound, have been performing with some lineup or another up to present day. They are not very good. Yet, the Misfits’ popularity, and interest in their 80’s work has only increased with time.
As anyone who’s ever frequented a Hot Topic knows, when Glenn Danzig left the band, he didn’t just leave behind albums of fantastic material. He left behind a handful of incredibly well designed, very marketable logos. The merchandizing of the Misfits is the main source of their legal battles. When Only re-formed the Misfits, he acquired a large share of the merchandising rights for these logos. Only and Danzig have been in and out of court since the mid-90s, in large part due to Danzig attempting to get larger cuts of this merchandising revenue.
So that’s all really boring and lame, right? But that’s the environment that these two shows came out of. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jerry Only said that the idea of a reunion was conceived of and agreed to during a court date. The motives of these guys couldn’t have been more obvious — they hate each other, and they are only doing this because they are going to make a ton of money. And you know what? The show was really really good.
Things started off a little rocky when Danzig’s wireless mic malfunctioned and he kept bitching about it, but someone gave him a new mic and further friction was avoided for the rest of the set. Their setlist totaled 26 songs, all from their Danzig-era years, and mostly off their three classic albums Static Age, Walk Among Us and Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood. The crowd was huge and very into the set. The Misfits’ logos flashed on the giant screen behind them while two huge, evil pumpkins with glowing green eyes guarded either side of the stage. “You guys like our fuckin’ pumpkins?” Danzig yelled at the crowd at one point, “Pretty fuckin’ sweet huh?”
One thing I found interesting was that, though they weren’t playing any of their newer, heavy metal material, the metal guitar tone lingered. It wasn’t overtly metal, but it wasn’t plug ‘n play punk guitar tone by any means. Regardless, the set was packed with their best material. You give the people “Death Comes Ripping”, “20 Eyes” and “I Turned Into a Martian” back-to-back-to-back to start the show and the people get going. The set was great. And most importantly, these reunion shows have let tens of thousands of Misfits fans experience the band they love live for the first time in decades, or for the first time ever.
Much has been made about the recent trend of bands reuniting and cashing in on the festival circuit. There is no doubt that that is exactly what this concert was. And it was amazing anyway. We would all love for musicians to care about their music, to engage with their fans and enjoy playing with their bandmates. But sometimes musicians are greedy, narcissistic pricks, and in that case giving them a bunch of money and shoving them out on stage works pretty well too.
Q: What is your goal with the all vinyl tour?
Richard: You know there’s definitely a couple aspects of why we’re doing it. One of them is just to bring back the art form again because we felt like the art form was being lost, and its no disrespect against people who play on CDJs, we play on them and I’m sure we’ll go back to play on them. But there was just an art form that we felt was missing from DJing and kids that haven’t seen it. We also wanted to challenge ourselves again, mixing on turntables is no joke. The first day we decided to do this tour I hadn’t mixed on turntables in 12 years. I couldn’t even find my turntables. When I got on them, I was train wrecking, I couldn’t believe it and I thought what did we get ourselves into, this is hard! It took me at least a week to really get into the groove, because there’s a skill to that.
Bill: Exactly the same reasons, it’s the art, its exposing to a new generation, that’s really for me, it didn’t exist, the kids now days don’t have any clue about it. (Vinyl)
Q: What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with in a set?
B:The hardest thing we’ve dealt with was in Atlanta last Friday, somehow between sound check between us, and doing the performance, there is a setting on the Pioneer mixer that compresses the output of the booth monitors. So were blasting the monitors, and we literally cant mix on beat when there’s compression, so were like what the hell is going on. So we had to DJ this whole set with compression in the booth monitors, that was the toughest thing at least that I’ve had to deal with.
R:Tough night for us, I mean we know when we play a good set, were our hardest critics. We record the set for ourselves, nobody else gets to listen to it, we listen back and say, alright we need to tighten that up, that could be a little bit better, come on Bill (haha).
Q: So you guys are like constantly practicing and listening in just to make sure?
R: Yaya and tweaking anything and trying out different things, lets try this lets try that.
Q: And you guys have been working together for over two decades? How did you guys meet?
B: I had booked up his group, he had a group called the movement, I used to throw parties as well and I booked them, then he actually booked me up for his club in LA, then after we performed he was like “yo do you wanna jump on?” And I ended up DJing at this club, and I’d never seen a club like this before it was called the Dome. It was a Saturday nightclub in LA with like 2000 people, Go-go dancers. We didn’t have anything like that in Chicago, so I was actually a little nervous like this is insane I’ve never seen anything like this. So they let me play for like 30 minutes or whatever, and we went back and fourth, where he’d bring me out or whatever and we’d start changing and exchanging records.
Q: When did you guys start actually getting together for gigs?
R: We did a CD we came up with an idea of House Connection, saying what if we both played at the same time on four turntables. At that time it was groundbreaking, because there were a lot of guys who would do a mix CD with one guy doing one CD and the other guy doing the other, so we thought what if we do the whole CD because our styles work. Certain things he compliments me on and certain things I compliment him on. There was something better with us doing it together, and that’s how House Connection 1 and House Connection 2 began and we started touring.
Q: How do you think your styles differ?
R: I think Bill is definitely into a funkier groove. I’ll try off the wall things sometimes, that may or may not work, but we both like the funky stuff. We also both like the excitement of playing a record that changes the energy of the room.
B: Ya what I think is that I’m a little more technical where he’s a little more creative. He wants to keep it musical or vocal, and I don’t care about that. So its good that we balance each other out like that, he’ll know if I’m getting to monotonous, or getting to hip-hoppy with vocals. He’s always interjecting and making sure we stay musical. So I think that’s a good balance. I always feel like it has to sound perfect and he’s like nah let it go! And sometimes he’s right sometimes it is better not perfect, its good to have that balance, and we think differently so its cool.
Q: What’s the best story or thing that has happened during a show?
R: I think every night has its great elements. I think the first few nights it was nerve wracking because we didn’t play on vinyl in front of the crowd with the monitors. I think about three or four shows in we started to get very comfortable and I think that was probably the best element. Like all right yo, we got this. It sounded great on paper but you don’t know until you actually go do it. In Houston a guy had a CO2 blast and I see him with one of the guns, he doesn’t think about it, and Bill has this record with a great drop. And he shoots the CO2 blast, hits the needle, and silence… I grab the mike and say “this is why we do it live for moments like this”. Crowd screams and Bill scratches it back in. But its shit like that, good or bad, that makes it real.
B: To top it off it was about 110 degrees, and during sound check our records were literally warping. We ended up putting a tent up so the records wouldn’t warp.
Q: Last question, what music do you recommend, where should new listeners start with House?
R: Bill has a really cool house label called Moody, I have a cool label called Soulmatic. There are labels like Infected, Dirtybird, Perfect Driver, there’s a lot of DJs that are pulling out some really cool sounds, Nick Rockwell is doing some crazy stuff. There’s a lot of really good house music out there right now. I think the most interesting stuff is house music right now. The most inventive people right now are people doing house and people doing bass music, those two things.