True story: back in elementary school, house music wasn’t my first love of music; in fact, it was rock and roll music. I use to get teased for listening to this style of music, not only from the guys, but from the girls too! While everyone was listening to either R&B or dance (disco) music, I was listening to rock and roll music. I use to play my rock and roll music on a very large boom box (everywhere I went) and were wearing my Kiss T-shirts too! One day, I eventually knew and heard my calling (to attract the girls) not only to DJ, but to also through some of the biggest “house music” parties that Chicago has ever known and loved.
At “The Loop Roller Disco Skating Rink”, I re-named it “The Loop Machine” where I was DJing and organizing pack to capacity house music dance parties by the thousands, every Friday and Saturday night, also booking other Chicago house music legendary DJ’s, such as, the godfather’s of house music “Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy ‘aka’ Ronnie”, the king of house music “Farley “Jackmaster” Funk”, Steve “Silk” Hurley, Mike Dunn, Armando Gallop ‘aka’ Armando, etc. I also hosted my very own bi-level house music dance club in Chicago named “The Jungle Club” and the rest was history.
2. Where do you continually get your inspiration?
I continue to and always will get my great inspirations from two of my greatest music influences: Larry Heard ‘aka’ Mr. Fingers and Byron Walton ‘aka’ Jamie Principal.
3. Talk about Target Records.
In 1981, I was fed up with a few of the labels here in Chicago due to their mishandling practices of money that I decided to venture off on a label of my own. I confided my greatest intention to a great friend of mine, the grand high priest of Chicago’s house music “Craig S. Loftis” who regularly DJ’d here in Chicago alongside the godfather of house music “Frankie Knuckles” about my decision. Craig thought my intention was an intelligent one, and in fact, he named my label and “Target Records Chicago” was now born.
DJ Joe Lewis is the president, C.E.O., and founder of “Target Records Chicago” since 1981, which was ideal only for me, but I decided to help or gather up a few other inspiring DJ’s and artists along the way, such as, Larry Heard ‘aka’ Mr. Fingers, Paul (Leighton) Johnson, and Melvin Meeks, just to name a few. That was one of the smartest and intelligent idea I have ever made.
4. Love Of My Own and Change Reaction EP seminal House Music Productions.
In 1986, The Love of My Own was highly anticipated due to my meeting with Larry Heard ‘aka’ Mr. Fingers, whom I meet through the help of his younger brother (baby fingers) back in high school. While in school, baby fingers, told me that Larry was his older brother, I was a non-believer.
One day, after school, baby fingers invited me over to the family’s house (within walking distance from the school) with great excitement and much disbelief, I accepted. At the time, I didn’t know what Larry really looks like or if he would even be there at all, but I was determined to find out about him anyway. I was soon invited to walk into an off to the side bedroom (of which was Larry’s) and there was a guy, who I now know as Larry, creating this wonderful masterpiece “Mystery of Love” for the first time being recorded, ever! I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds of his incredible work of art.
I was so amazed that I also created my magical masterpiece “The Love of My Own” a style I believe symbolizes Larry’s with a dream that he would work with me on this project and, in fact, he did. Two years later, in 1988, I simply wanted to create a house collector’s E.P. album titled “Change Reaction” of which it was and still is today a highly collectable E.P. album. This is one of my most sought after E.P. album, if you are very blessed to own one. The prices for this incredible work is sky rocketing high everyday and soaring from 3 to 4 figure sums on EBay, happy hunting.
5. Talk about Repress, Bootleg, your new record on Clone.
I believe repressing of great quality house music, such as, club music that receives much more radio play is a good thing. Not only does it help the DJ that could buy a brand spanking new copy to replace the scratched, worn out one that he or she banged to death in the club. It can help with fond memories, re-living, or re-birthing of those great house music parties and moments. It also will help the new generation, who may not have heard of this great style of house music played before or may not have known of this quality work of art from various artists, to further educate them about the making and the history lesson of house music, and to keep the house music culture that we helped build alive, because the newer generation is our future DJ’s and recording artist’s.
Far as bootlegging, I’ve been bootlegged once or twice before, nowadays, who hasn’t. I win settlements in or out of court. Just remember this; if anyone chooses to bootleg me for any reason at all ever again, without express written consent from “Target Records Chicago”, we’re going to come after you (all around the world) in a court of law, no excuses, period! With my approval, I have three re-releases that are out or either scheduled to come out in the near future on two of the most well respected labels, such as, “CHIWAX and Clone records”. The CHIWAX re-release titled “Chi-House” is out not, so go and reserve your copies today and the Clone record releases titled “Lost In Tracks” and “Change Reaction” originally released on “Target Records Chicago” in 1988, will be re-released very soon. All three of these re-releases were hard to find, but now will be a must have again and will continue to be a crowd pleaser as usual. They are very highly sought after and anticipated and will sell out fast, so don’t sleep on these beautiful gems.
6. Tell us about Chicago music scene past/present.
The Chicago house music scene of the past is the “Holy Grail” and shouldn’t be compared to the Chicago house music scene of the present, which would be an insult! We shouldn’t even be comparing the two in the same sentence. That’s like trying to mix oil and water, those two will never mix. Just like this comparison, there is none! The past history of the Chicago house music scene was the originators, who helped pave the way for D.J.’s and artist’s, such as myself and countless others. They helped to create, form, and shaped this culture and dance music craves, that’s being felt all over the world today! The house heads here, we use to look forward to clubs in the past, such as, the warehouse (the original location), the music box, the candy store, C.O.D.’s, etc. We use to look forward to the greatest D.J.’s of all times, the godfather’s of Chicago’s house music and beyond “Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy ‘aka’ Ronnie” and the founding father of Chicago’s house music “Lil Louis”. No matter where these three D.J.’s / Artists played, ALL D.J.’s here (no matter how big or small their D.J. name was or is) came out to hear these three legends play every time, even me. We miss good, productive radio station dedicated to the game of house music such as, Saturday nite live, ain’t no jive, Chicago’s number one dance party, heard on 102.7 F.M. W.B.M.X. Oak Park / Chicago. We also remember there was a record shop that we all loved and supported throughout the many years of house (young or older people bought records here) “Imports, etc. records”.
The present history of Chicago house music scene is not being felt, loved, and respected in the same way that it once was. Although, the nightlife scene has been down and climbing up steadily, it seems to be going in the right direction now with the new breeds on hand: D.J.’s, Artist’s, dance venue’s, and even the record sales are on the rise too! We (Chicagoans) have to stick together much better to make this thing we love, call house music that we helped build, work again! We have to be the trendsetters from the past and carry it into the present (looked up to again) like we us to.
7. Drums, Synthesizers and Sequencer.
There are a lot of amazing drum machines, synthesizers, and sequencers out there, but there are quite too many to mention right now. As to the pacific gear I use, that’s for me to know and for everyone else to find out (very mysterious), one love and respect for the artist and the house music creation.
8. Which artists are you currently listening to?
While I have no favorites, I listen to every artist from around the globe that is very dedicated in making quality house music, especially those artists who use live instruments in their creations, such as I, and such as, club music.
9. Your best place for music .. around the world?!
Where I’m DJing (I’m back!), where the beat and the house music take me, to a well-advertised dance venue with thousands of patrons in an attendance, or a quality recording studio, anywhere around the world (I’m releasing new music).
10. Enlighten us on your dream project?
At the moment, I have no dream projects in sight (I’m releasing new music again!) I’m not a big dreamer, but I wouldn’t mind collaborating again with Larry Heard ‘aka’ Mr. Fingers or I wouldn’t mind doing a project with Byron Walton ‘aka’ Jamie Principal. I would be up for doing a project with DJ’s or artist’s, such as, Stacy Kidd, Glenn Underground, Sheree Hicks, Brain Pope ‘aka’ DJ Pope, Dmitri Bronson, and Elise Gargalikis, just to name a few.
Mogdax represent a ‘special corner’ of electronic music right now – not many people from Italy are making this sort of ‘bridge’ between old disco, italo disco, and new electronic. Mog and Dax, together make exactly this sort of connection…
Introduce yourself. How did you get started, and how long have you been DJing?
Dax: I’m Dario, known as Dax DJ. Living in Vicenza in the north of Italy, not too far from Venice. I start DJing many years ago I
was 14 and now I’m 31! Initially using tapes recorded from Italian radio shows and playing them at “Cantina” small parties…
After going to high school, I started working in the best DJ record shop in my town: Music Power. They wanted me to work there, because every day I spent my time in this shop looking for new vinyl and breaking their balls! There I experienced a lot of dance music: soul, funk, disco, Italian commercial dance, techno and house music and all the little independent labels
that I love. My first 45” was Kraftwerk Space Lab, later my first 12” was Sueno Latino on DFC’s Italian Label.
Mog: I’m Max, aka Mog, 32 years old, from Vicenza. I started playing electronic music in 1991 and since then I can’t stop. I have my own music studio where I spend a lot my time, almost live in it. Since I was 17, I’ve bought and sold instruments. I’m very affectionate with the ones that are now in my studio.
Your new label is called Made in Italo. Please tell us about the first single by Mogdax, Jack Ibiza.
Dax:Made In Italo Records was founded by Max and me (2005). I can’t do music without Max; we met several years ago and we started to collaborate in his super home-studio, focusing on new musical directions and spending time talking about music, italo
and analog equipment. We like electronic music and Max is the heart of Mogdax. Fact One is our first single with two tracks, Jack Ibiza and Black Side, totally played by Mog. The voice you can hear in Jack Ibiza is mine. It’s our first tribute to the current electronic scene and the Black Side track is very close to nostalgic italo, but with some Detroit feel.
Mog, you handle more of the technical side of MogDax. I had a chance to visit your studio. Can you tell us what instruments and sound tools you use, and how these affect the results of your production?
Mog: In the Mogdax project, I am the creator of the music not only from a technical perspective, but also trying to
craft a sound that belongs to the mix of Dax’s experience and mine. I worship the analog sound from analog instruments, but I also like using the new software now available. It was hard to choose between the different types of instruments, I had no choice but to buy one and learn from the instrument itself. Once I’d bought my first Casio drum machine and my first Akai sampler I learned what sound I was really looking for and what machine would satisfy my needs. If I wanted a filtered and dirty bass I would use Roland; if I wanted an accurate and calibrated sound, I’d prefer to use my Korg or Quasimidi…The sound is the most important thing in conveying the exact feeling you have while you do your track. Talking about software, it’s useful to help the work of an artist, but it’s also standardizing the music scene at the present time.
What kinds of things influenced your musical background? Disco, funk, soul, or other genres like jazz and classical?
Mog: My dad’s passion for music was my lucky charm. He introduced me when I was very young into the amazing world of music. Every style gave me something I brought to my music, from the bossa, through to jazz, to italo disco. But what did really influenced me, and my musical sounds, were the early nineties productions of Warp, Plus8, Kk etc.
Dax: Working in a record shop, I listened to many different styles. Afro music influenced me: a sort of mixture of electronic, funk, disco and tribal – all mixed. At the beginning I played acid house on my radio show (my first Nugroove and Bobby Konders). I’d been into the electronic scene also, and collected all the Aphex Twin, Autechre, Richie Hawtin +8 and Warp vinyl. And after that, back to the seventies, and I became a crazy maniac collector of gems and obvious italo tunes. One of my Italian electronic gems: Giampiero Boneschi’s Moog Mandolins & Moonlight on Durium made with “Strumenti Elettronici.” (Thanks Bob Moog!).
Do you find that you can achieve the “italo” sound with new, virtual instruments? Or are you specifically trying to create a newer, more contemporary sound?
Mog: I prefer to create new and more contemporary sounds even if some of the italo ones are always present in my
virtual instrument archive. Nowadays, the available tools help you do unbelievable things by manipulating the sound the way
you want. I don’t want to follow a path in music creation; I just follow the ideas I have at the moment.
Do you really eat pasta everyday?
Dax: Yes, all Italians eat pasta every day! I love spaghetti all’amatriciana with parmesan, aglio olio, peperoncino and carbonara. Italian food is the best and pasta is good healthy food. We’ve got many types of pasta from bigoli, to orecchiette… also the North is different from the South and the islands, Sardegna and Sicily.
Mog: I love pasta with tomato and mozzarella. In Italy pasta is a must in everyday meals.
You actually know a number of the italo disco pioneers personally, like Daniele Baldelli or Leonardo Re Cecconi (Dr. Togo). Can you tell me about your experiences with some of them?
Dax: Yes, I know Daniele and I’m a fan of Baia degli Angeli 77/78 (legendary cosmic club) and “Cosmic Culture” (check out the new CD collection out on Amarkord Records). I have many tapes. My friends usually listen to them in the car, smoking. I’ve got several friends outside Italy that are going crazy looking for italo vinyl! The secret is to come to Italy and go to little fairs in little towns. You can find everything; it’s where I met the BAFFO and his super collection of italo and seventies US records and where I met Luigi Figini (known as Dr. Togo) from Emilia Romagna. Actually, he’s spending his weekends selling old second hand vinyl at fairs and festivals.
Are there any contemporary Italian electronic, disco, or house music producers whom you admire, or are working with?
Dax: I have many friends in Italy that do music: Spiller, Beker – Re.Do.It.Stone.Funk.Collective, Duoteque (Dusty Kid and Ferlin), Guglielmo Mascio, Fabrizio Mammarella, Maurizio Dami and Jolly Music. But my best artist, musician and friend is Mog!
Mog: Thanks brother! In the Italian electronic scene my favourite producers are Pankow in the early nineties and now Jolly Music.
What are the essential elements for a good party when you are DJ’ing?
Dax: Main ingredient: the good music; the feeling: from the location, to the people, to the sound system.
Mog: Cool People
What is your ideal kind of music?
Mog: A mix between the Orb’s dreamlike atmosphere and Richie Hawtin’s minimalism, Autechre’s syncopated sounds and Lumukanda’s tribal rhythms.
Dax: I play several styles during a DJ set, I like to surprise people and make them dance with obscure disco tunes and mix them up with electro minimal tracks or moody ones. I love it! Tracks like Gaucho’s Dance Forever – DJ version (System Music) or Sounds of Humano by Sangy (Musix), Stand By by Code 61/2 (Many Records) are modern!
Give us a Top Ten list of favourite records, old or new, and tell us why.
Dax: Several records… You need to check my family-house.net web site every month or listen to the Mogdax sound. Here for you is a quick selection of secret (but not too secret!) weapons:
PASSENGERS Girls Cost Money (Durium) Super boogie
AUTECHRE Amber (Warp) Very close to me
VARIOUS Big Bear 002 (Big Bear) The way I met Stevie Kotey and Bear friends
MFSB Mysteries Of The World (Phi’Int.) Essential juice
JIMMY CRASH (Nugroove Records) This is minimal
ADONIS We’re Rocking Down The House Yes, we rock!
EL COCO Cocomotion (AVI) Dancin’ baby!
RAY MANG / LEE TONG (Hole Subaltern) Nu-funk dope
LIL LOUIS & THE WORLD Nice & Slo (CBS) When I was young I usually played this at the end of every set. Perfect “ultimo disco”!
What do you in your free time, besides making and spinning music?
Dax: I’ll tell you. Music is my life … My free time is just for friends and my doll!
1. We are very happy about Retreat fifth birthday, tell us about your experience, moments that give you encourage and force.
Yes, It’s been quite a ride so far and there were many moments that were encouraging! One of my personal highlight with Retreat is when Hauke and I had received the Test Pressings of RTR02 (Session Victim). We wanted to give a copy to Clé (Martini Bros) so we went to hear him play in the “Cookies” club in Berlin. We said hello, gave him the record and he played it instantly to a packed dance floor, without hearing it beforehand! Hauke and I were totally flashed…
2. Tell us about Retreat “House Music” theory.
Our theory or philosophy is simple: we just want to put out Dance music that is honest, groovy, forward-thinking yet true to its roots (the vinyl DJ’s). We never plan a release, we only put out a record if the music is there. That’s the reason why we’ve only have 15 releases in 5 years.
3. Analog, Digital, Sampling, Synth, Sequencing .. tell us your way to make music.
At the moment, I personally don’t try to follow any rules in order to make music… I find this whole digital Vs. Analog debate quite tiring to be honest, I don’t care if you’ve made your track on Fruity Loops or only with analog synths, as long as the track moves me in a certain way!
Production-wise, I like to change my set-up for every track, but one of my constant “tools” is Ableton Live. And I really like to tweak synthesizers, so I spend a lot of time searching for an interesting sound.
4. Talk about the new “Treats Vol. 5” and upcoming tour festival.
This is our 15th release and our first double 12″ in five years. It was important to have all the Retreat artists involved on this compilation as well as some old and new friends. And because we think it’s quite a special record, we wanted to promote it with an appropriate tour. So far, the gigs have been great! Last week in London (with special guest Mr. Beatnick) was off the hook!
5. Belin life and travels gig around the world.
Well, Berlin is still an incredible city and continuously attracts artists from all around the globe…I always thought the hype would die out after a few years, but it goes on and on! I always meet new musicians who just moved to Berlin in order to push their career.
I’m very fortunate to be able to perform music and travel around the world as an artist. I’ve done that for many years now, but I’m honestly not jaded, there is always so much new inspirations in people or places around the world to be found!
6. What Do You Deserve? Future plans, a message to your fans and music lovers.
Well, Of course I would to express my deepest gratitude to all the fans and music lovers who have supported me and Retreat over the years! There is actually quite a lot of new music coming out soon but I can’t say too much at the moment… all I can recommend is: “stay tuned”!
RHEJI BURRELL from Burrell Brothers – NU GROOVE RECORDS interview by Dax DJ (Year 2008)
1. First tell us about Nu – Groove.
Nu Groove was an outlet for music lovers by music lovers… it just happened to be Uptempo Music and majority Dance / house style at first. But we all were interested in great music first!
2. Describe your sound and your music future vision..
I tried to make something that I “wished” that I did. Again I love music first, all types… so putting a 4 on the floor behind it, in most cases was the no brainer part of my productions.
3. Describe whats happening in Club Culture and life, 1989-92 and now?
It became extra worldly and over-saturated… some good and some bad. Money and opportunity put a lot of people in the game, instead of talent. In short, in my opinion, too many fake deep people got through! and it never was about posing, just real!
4. Talk about Nu – Groove Records family.
Frank – One of the smartest, funniest men I’ve ever known. I respected him and his business right up until the end. Karen – a sweet heart, Judy – Knows this game inside out and is funny as hell too. Artist, DJ’s and Producers – The music is our legacy, it speaks for it’s self!
5. Your “House Music” theory.
Make music first..push the tempo and make sure you love it yourself. Impress yourself! That’s a “Theory” it translates to music, house music, polka music whatever!
6. Melody or Beat oriented?
Both and More. I care about everything!
7. Analog? Digital?
It don’t matter. Digital is easier to work with of course, but the end result is what comes out of them 2 speakers. I never saw a dance floor clear cause someone used protools or logic instead a rack of keyboards and a 16 track.
8. 25 West 38th.
Could’ve been a church site.
9. Your coming new web site Burrell Brothers.
It will be the place to get everything Burrell… records, classic and new. Previously released on indies and majors. A Talent Agency, Management & Consulting and Filmed Entertainment, Merchandising too. We’re no taking back and control of Burrell Property. Sorry Bootleggers
10. Your best all-the-time favourite five trax/titles.
ALL of them. Like I said, I love them all or I would’ve let them out of the basement!
(Burrell Brothers pix)
www.burrellbrothers.com coming soon…
Thanks to: Rheji Burrell and Brothers, Frank and Karen Mendez at Nu Groove Records, Judy Russell, Daniel Wang, Little Louie Vega and Moises at Vega Records, Silvia and all Nu Groove Records Music Lovers! dax
Extra questions by Daniel Wang (New York/Berlin – Balihu Records)
A – What was your inspiration for doing “SONG OF THE SIREN”?
Rhano did it… but I would guess.. to do something that he’s never heard before and hopefully neither has anyone else.
B – …. “UTOPIA FILES?” these are my 2 favorite burrell grooves.
Thank you very much Sir… I can take credit for that!
C – HOW DO THEY FEEL ABOUT CHANGES IN NYC DANCE MUSIC SCENE?
You may or may not be surprised but I’m not a scene kinda guy.. never have been! Most people in the industry don’t know whether I’m dead or alive until a record comes out…
I stay in contact with a couple of close, high profile friends and associates just to be connected but “scene”… I’ find by not being around keeps my mind clear and my creativity from being influenced.. all I ever needed was inspiration and that comes from life!
We got the pleasure to ask some questions to Mr Little Louie Vega:
> Talk about your experience and collaboration with Burrell Brothers, the legendary Nu Groove Records
1. Nu Groove was one of the hottest Underground Dance labels back in 89. They had a raw style with music and touched on all flavors with their style of house music. You heard r&b, reggae, jazz & street influences all through many releases. Example “The Poem” produced by Bobby Konders, one of my favorites was jazz, reggae and house all in one, a classic!
> New York Underground “The Nu Groove Years” mix CD you did.
2. I know the Burrell Bros. Many years, they asked me years back if I would do a mix cd of their classics. Of course I said yes. I played much of their music and respect them as producers. They brought lots of outside musical elements to house music that was not there at the time. They created many classic songs for the dance community and are pioneers of vocal house, bringing jazz, r&b, soul to the helm of house music at that time.
4 years in the making for the first time in a motion picture The Movement that became dance music of today.
Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Frankie Knuckles, Nicky Siano, Francis Grasso, Francois K., “Little Louie” Vega, Danny Tenaglia, Jellybean, Tony Humphries, Danny Krivit, Joaquin “Joe” Claussell, Richard Long, Alex Rosner, Keith Haring, Derrick May, Kenny Carpenter, Jose Padilla (Spain), Sven Vath (Germany), Mr. Mike (Switzerland), Dimitri From Paris (France), Boyd Jarvis, Fantastic Plastic Machine (Japan), Mark Oliver (Toronto), Frankie Bones, Danny Rampling (UK), Albert Assoon (Toronto), Alex Neri (Italy), Pete Tong (UK), Gregory Gray (Chicago), Bobby (UK), Fabrice (Italy), Ralf (Italy), Ron Carroll (Chicago), Craig Loftis, Benji Espinoza (DJ International, Chicago), Nori (Japan), Tony Desypris (Montreal), Ivan Iacobucci (Italy), Yukihiro Fukutomi (Japan), Billie (Artist), Robert Ouimet (Montreal), Steve D’aquisto Alan Thompson (UK), Antonio Ocasio, Patricia Field, Mike Stone, Ricky L & Sauro (Italy), Cosmo, Original Loft And Garage Dancers, Rene Hewitt, Smokin Jo, Robert Clivilles (C&C Music Factory)
Maestro, a feature documentary, tells the story of how a group of people found refuge and a call for life outside the mainstream, what evolved was a scene that set the ground work for what was to come in dance music culture worldwide.
A film 4 years in the making, a rare insight into the underground world as it was.
It’s the first time this story is told in a motion Picture, included in the film are pioneer dance music DJs and producers, ”founding fathers”, its center being Larry Levan, as well as high-profile DJs of today.
It vividly portrays the world that spawned today’s dance music from 2-step, to the eclectic sounds of tribal, to pop artists. Parties from Ibiza to Philly, all are influenced by the quintessential elements that made New York City’s Paradise Garage and The Loft such a powerful cultural force in people’s lives.
DJs Larry Levan (Paradise Garage) and David Mancuso (The Loft) continue to be revered today as the leaders of dance music culture worldwide.
This seminal movement—encompassing dancers, patrons, artists, DJs, sound designers, and more—gave birth to DJ pioneers in the film and contemporary dance club parties across the globe.
Most film documents of this historical movement have fallen short of its true story and impact to the world, providing us with a glossed over account of the time. Opting for a more personal and candid approach, MAESTRO shows the true history of the people through a realistic creative aesthetic. Tracing the underground’s dance origin, MAESTRO brings out a real understanding of this intense lifestyle, and the lives they lived and died for. It is far from mere nostalgia, this film is like the music and experiences it chronicles.
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