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Headliner of the Secretsundaze rooftop party in London in June and also a star of the Movement festival in Detroit and Fabric’s NYE party, Lil Louis was one of the first house artists to sign to a major label, largely off the back of his tempo-shifting classic ‘French Kiss’. He was also behind two of the greatest albums dance music has ever produced: ‘From The Mind Of’ (1989) and ‘Journey With The Lonely’ (1992). The sheer range of his productions, comparable with Larry Heard’s Mr Fingers project, set him apart from his peers and included everything from jazz – his folks were both working jazz and blues musicians in Chicago – to the hard house that originally forged his reputation as a brilliant DJ in Chicago. Though his subsequent production work has been patchy, he has maintained a stellar reputation as a DJ, effortlessly mixing hard, jackin’ Chi-town house with disco classics. “We’re always striving to unearth and showcase new talent,” says ss’s James, “but we also like to take a step back to help understand why we’re all here.” Lil Louis is one of the reasons
Masters at Work
In the studio again last month after many years, and back in Ibiza with a gig at Carl Cox’s Revolution at Space on July 31, MAW, the partnership moniker of ‘Little’ Louie Vega and Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez (aka Nuyorican Soul and Kenlou, among others), helped redefine the boundaries of the remix in the 1990s, Kenny Dope’s percussive genius pushing their work into all sorts of interesting avenues (check the Jamiroquai rerub of ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’). As a result, the duo – with Frankie Knuckles and David Morales – became the go-to guys for any major label wanting exposure for their artists. In the UK, they were venerated for their lengthy sets at clubs like Hard Times in Leeds, and Ministry, where their mix of tough, drum-heavy house and the classic sounds of New York made them huge favourites.
Fast becoming a regular at Ibiza’s DC10 alongside his residency at the swish Blu Marlin Club, Chandler first came to most people’s attention with the brilliant debut ‘Get It Off’ by Three Generations in 1990. He was one of the original wave of New Jersey producers responsible for the garage-house boom of the early 90, and since then he’s been one of a few to sustain a career right into the noughties (his ‘Bar A Thym’ is a modern anthem). Much of his early career was divided between making his own, minimalist grooves and producing for other artists, coming up with some genuine classics along the way (Arnold Jarvis’ ‘Inspiration’, ‘The Shelter’ by Gate-Ah). Dancefloors should expect a rich mix of styles, though he knows to rough up the rhythms when required.
Back in the public eye with bookings at Sankeys in Manchester, The Rainbow in Birmingham and Glasgow’s Arches as well as storming remixes for the likes of Lana Del Rey, Todd Terry (or Todd the God, as we used to call him) was New York’s most prolific producer, releasing music under a bewildering variety of monikers, the most famous being CLS, Gypsymen and Black Riot. His sound, in keeping with the early 90s groove going on right now, was stripped back, raw, and with more than a touch of the hip hop aesthetic. He was also famous – or notorious – for often only playing his own records in his sets. He also, of course, inspired the DJ name of Norwegian disco don Todd Terje.
With an appearance at Pacha in July and at Eastern Electrics festival in London on August 4, as well as recent releases including a brilliant remix of the super-hot Amirali, it’s good to see the return of one of house’s prodigal sons after years away seeking his fortunes in the murky, yet more lucrative, world of r’n’b. Detroit native Mark Kinchen broke through in the early 90s with a clutch of club hits on his own Area 10 label after moving to New York. But it was via his remixes that MK made his name, with an unusual style that incorporated the classic New York house sound with intricate collages of cut-up vocals (a major influence on Todd Edwards), as on his international smash ‘Push The Feeling On’ by Nightcrawlers. It began as a club hit before having the obligatory vocal added and heading for the charts (and being sampled by Pitbull – with whom MK also works – for his hit ‘Hotel Room Service’). MK also provided Celine Dion with her only Billboard No.1 dance hit, an admittedly debatable honour.