Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LSD Magazine Interviews - Farley Jackmaster Funk (Issue 2)

My LSD Magazine partner and i got to speak to the legends we idolised during the Acid House Revolution...This is an Excerpt from the interview which you can read fully online...

Farley Jackmaster Funk is a living legend, a man who kept pushing the boundaries of the musical experience and the dancefloor. Originator, innovator, ambassador, he is at the core of the house revoloution and a spellbinding influence on other giants of the movement. The man who played such a seminal role in the whole concept of house, the man who broke the UK and opened us up to the whole journey took us on a ride through his memories and insights.

What was the vibe like in the Hot Mix 5 and how did the Hot Mix 5 set the flavor for mid 80’s Chicago?

Incredible. It was actually pretty hard to take in, because you didn’t even realize that you were creating a whole new genre of music and every day was like Christmas. The Hot Mix 5 set the whole tone for everything that happened after us in house music because it was radio, and whatever it was that we did individually in clubs paled next to what we were doing with the radio. I mean we had over 3 million listeners every Friday and every Saturday and as far as the music went, we didn’t really have to break house per se as if there was nothing comparable before, because disco was there and house is an extension of disco, only electronic. For me the beats were the same and it was almost like making electro house in that the house was already there and it was about taking it electronic. But suddenly it had a name and that made it easier to break it as a new style.

And I tell you what, we used to play a lot of Euro stuff and what was coming out of Europe really didn’t get enough credit because some of the music that they were making in the early 80’s was around before we started our style back in Chicago. The same goes for Prelude Records too who were honing their own electronic sound at the beginning of the 80’s, and those guys really didn’t get categorized or credited into the genre until later when people actually started looking back and naming those records house once house had really come into its own.

How big a part did gospel play in the soul of early house? 

Well for one thing, a lot of the singers actually came from church, as they did in disco and almost every other musical style, because people who went to church had grown up learning and honing these amazing vocal skills. The dances too were very reminiscent of being back in church – we used the 2 step and clapped our hands on the dancefloor in the same way that we used to in church. Think about it – house – God’s house – there was a whole lot of stuff that we didn’t really click when we were naming things, because we were just coming up with them out of nowhere, that so many of them were actually parodies of our experiences in church. Think about a pastor who preaches to a congregation – a DJ was basically preaching musically to a club congregation, and even the mirrorball hanging from the ceiling was an almost identical symbol to a cross hanging in the middle of church

How did Aw Shucks go down in the clubs when it first came out? 

Aw Shucks went down beautifully because I had ripped the bassline from a song called Beat the Street by Sharon Reed, so the foundation of the song as already familiar to people and the Aw Shucks of course came from Let No Man Put Asunder. I just took two ideas and put them together, because don’t forget, I wasn’t a musician in the early 80’s so what I would do was to basically remix or reshape other people’s music, set it to the house beat and name it house music! Even the record label I had at that time was called House Records, and everything I was doing was coined or branded house to really identify it and help push the genre.

That’s basically where Love Can’t Turn Around Came from too, taking the deep soul vocals of Issac Hayes and working it into a house groove. Exactly. That was an original composition but in the same way that rappers used to take James Brown’s beats and then rap over them and in fact what the whole essence of dance music was all about – ripping old records, updating them, giving them a new beat and then coining a term for the style like ‘house’. In the early 80’s, a lot of the Brit stuff that came out was generated in the same way, that’s what ‘mash ups’ were. They would take accapellas, because the kind of singers they were looking to use weren’t really around in Britain – it was much more of an American sound, but they would then lay other music under the accapellas and create mash ups. 

Love Cant turn Around was huge in the UK. Was the UK even on your radar before that track had such soaring success? 

All I knew was ‘London Bridge is falling down, falling down, My Fair Lady’ (note from editor – that was the Jackmaster on vocals down the phone!) before Love Can’t Turn Around happened. I was blessed to make that record, blessed to meet people that I would never have thought of meeting and all through the music of the music. That was a total thrill because it was a whole other world for me and everyone else who had the chance to come to England and a really special opportunity for us to get together and learn about each other’s culture. And all through the music. I tell you – still to this day it is awesome. At that time, I was big in England and even more famous in Chicago, and it was an amazing experience to be bi coastal in the States, international, and just travelling all over the place with this new idea, this new style that I was basically representing and promoting. Pretty hard to take it all in actually. So I’m arriving in London and the first thing I want to see for real is the black taxi after watching The Saint and Simon Templar back home. Being a boy, cars were my thing and I was fascinated by the different vehicles, even down to you guys driving on the opposite side of the road. That was the kind of thing that drove us, going back to Chicago and telling these stories and seeing everyone sat there going ‘Get outta here man – you’re full of it’ And then next thing you know, they’re making records too, and they’re getting their own chance to go over there and then come back and spread the word even further. I think house music did wonders for the sightseeing business because you had all these guys heading over from Chicago, just so excited to be sat on a plane off to see a different country and experience another culture...



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