Chicago House Music Festival 2019
Credits Bryan Balli
My Name is Chris. I am from the south side of Chicago. I have been DJing and collecting Chicago House records since I was 15 years old (about 23 years). I started @House_Nation_Chicago to share my record collection and educate new people about Chicago House, Italo, and Deep House Music. I hope to use these records to tell the stories of the evolution of Chicago House Music.
I have another instagram page @kanamit_mpc where I service and sell drum machines. I follow a lot of producers and sample cats. I would always see guys post their records and it was always soul or jazz. I didn’t see any page dedicated to House music, so I decided to make @house_Nation_chicago. As a DJ, I get my inspiration from old WBMX mixes by Farley Jackmaster Funk. If I’m trying to produce something I study the greats like Marshall Jefferson, Mr Fingers, Farley, DJ Pierre, etc.
Chicago House Music was able to grow because of the clubs like the Warehouse, The Playground and The Music Box. Those were special places where Frankie, Ron, Jesse and Farley could be play the music they wanted. They could experiment and try different styles of music. Once the city of Chicago changed the laws on juice bars they could no longer operate and that almost killed the scene here. There are always house parties going on in the city. Of course there are certain clubs that always play house, but I don’t think anyone can duplicate the feeling or sound of the Music Box. A few times a year there will be a big Hot Mix 5 party or Farley’s B Day bash. The biggest event of the year is the Chosen Few Picnic. It takes place in a park by the lake. Theres no dress code and no age limit. I think that is really where people can go and just be free with the music. There’s young and old, black and white. People just go there for the music and to have fun.
In my opinion WBMX is the big part of the puzzle that really gets overlooked. You see, Chicago was a very segregated city. You have black neighborhoods, white neighborhoods, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc. People stayed in their own neighborhoods. Back in the 80s The Warehouse was a gay black bar. Most people were not going to party there. Wbmx is very important because it allowed the music to reach everyone in the city. WBMX Program director Lee Michaels had a city wide dj competition. Everyone submitted tapes, even Frankie Knuckles. Lee selected 6 DJs with different styles to represent the different parts of the city. The DJs he picked became known as the HOT Mix 5. (The 6th guy never showed so they ended up with 5) Instead of going to a club you could hear this music on Friday or Saturday night from you car or bedroom. This is what really helped get the music to everyone around the city. The type of music they played, how they played it, and the skill that they had was never ever seen or heard before.
Everyone loves Frankie and there wouldn’t be a movement without him and the Warehouse, but it was Ron Hardy who made Chicago house as we know it today. Anything that Marshall Jefferson made he took to Ron. Ron was playing these tracks and no one ever heard of Virgo or Marshall Jefferson. Dj Pierre gave Acid Tracks to Ron. Ron played it 4 times. The first 3 times no one danced. The fourth time the crowd went crazy. He was a pioneer. I don’t think house would have evolved the way it did without him.
Chicago didnt have any club scene in the 70s. Chicago was dead compared to New York. It wasn’t until Robert Williams opened the Warehouse and invited Frankie to be the resident. This was where it all started for Chicago. Frankie was playing underground disco. People started to talk about it and went to experience the music. They didn’t care that it was a gay club. The music became so popular guys would go into Imports Etc and ask for that house music. Referring to music that was played at the warehouse.
Sadar Bahar has stayed true to the original meaning of house. That is the underground disco that was played at the warehouse. He is known for possessing some of the rarest records from that time. He created his own identity by doing the opposite of everyone else. DJs would all play the same popular cuts and he did the opposite and started digging for rare obscure tracks. He definitely is in a class of his own.
I think Italo Disco had a major influence on the Chicago House sound. The Hot Mix 5 was playing alot of Italo Disco and imports. Jesse Saunders and Farley played imports at the Playground. You can really hear the similarities in the drum patters in songs like Chi Chi Liah – Proud Mary or Alessandro Novaga – Electronic Drums. That music heavily influenced early house production.
Those records started to show up around 81 – 83. They were not available in every store. There were only 2 places in Chicago where you can get imports. One was the legendary Imports Etc and Loop records. A good example is Hypnotic Tango. I think they sold 30,000 copies of that record here. They kept the pressing plant open just to supply the stores in Chicago.
I’m always working and learning. As I said I buy and sell drum machines. Mainly the mpc. I currently work on the MPC 3000, Roland Tr8, Roland TB03, and a Korg Minilogue. I have experiences with all of the MPCs but like using the 3000. I don’t use any software for creating. I think all of the advances in technology have killed creativity. Its not always true, but simple is better to me. Listen to the music that was made with a 909 and a jupiter (Mr Fingers Can You Feel It). Everyone is doing too much now. Faster workflow yes but not necessarily better music.
I have not made any documentaries yet. I have been very fortunate that I have made some relationships with guys like DJ Pierre and Jesse Saunders. If i get the opportunity I would like to do a documentary focusing on how the music was made or how the relationships were formed. These guys were kids and were taken advantage of. theres a lot people don’t know about. Im interested in the gear that was used and the ideas behind some of the songs. Many of those stories never get told because everyone documents the same thing over and over.
My dream project is to release a Jack Trax EP on Afro Acid which is DJ Pierre’s Label. Releasing an EP has always been a goal of mine but to do it with the Legendary DJ Pierre on his label would really be something special to me.
CHRIS “THE INCREDIBLE” HOUSE NATION CHICAGO intw. 06.2017 Family House.
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.
THNX to: Gaia Somasca (2003)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.