Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LSD Magazine Interviews - Tyree Cooper (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...

From his time with the Funk Brothers drumming up the rhythms for some of the all time classics, to his commercial smashes, to his role in bringing hip hop into house music, Tyree Cooper was at the forefront of the house revolution. His contribution to hip house widened the appeal of house music, laid house as a template for a kaleidoscope of musical styles, and brought the urban vibe of hip hip hop firmly into the house. Old School legend Tyree spoke to us...

What was it like for black Americans in Chicago during the mid 1980s? 

Being black and growing up in America, you don't have to think about anything else outside of your surroundings. You’re so oppressed but don't know it, you think you have freedom but you don’t. And you try to do what you do. Anytime you have an oppressed society something creative is gonna come out of it, i don't care what it is but something groundbreaking is gonna come out of it. So for us as far as House music was concerned, we didn't think that anyone outside of Chicago would be listening. 

So when did the spark become a flame?

When Jesse (Saunders) starting doing it, he wanted to become a bigger DJ, so he started making records. When he did it, Farley (Jackmaster Funk) said ‘Screw’ that if he can do it, i can do it to. Farley stripped it down even more. Jesse had the music side and on the other-side you had House but it was more of a beat track. The Jack tracks for the Jacking music, so we had House and we had Jack. Depending on the kind of person you were that’s the kind of music you listened to. So the preppy people went to House Parties because they’d play a little disco. It was cleaner they had polo shirts, blue jeans, preppy loafers. Just straight up college prep, the whole party. 

Some of these people were fashion designers and were designing clothes for rappers back in the day. Outside of Dapper Dan and his jogging suits, I’m talking parachute prints for the ages, man, it looked like a fashion show in a House Party. When you went to the Jacking Party or a Beat Party on the Westside or you went to the hood parties, it was only Beat music, that's when the party started. When I went to London that was the side I grew closer to because nobody was dressing up, they dressing like fuck that, I’m in this party, I’m going on.

In Chicago it was always the High School Parties those were the parties. Every famous DJ that you can think of from Chicago back in the day, trust me, he got known from the High School Parties. It was all focused on the High School kids because that youth movement at the time, hip hop and house, well in Detroit it was Techno and that was closer to Miami Bass meets Kraftwerk, it so was futuristic and if you lived in Detroit you got it. They had House too because of Ken Collier. So this whole black youth movement was bubbling and by 1985 Farley said ‘Im going to London’ I was like what you gonna do, DJ? he says ‘Yeah’. I’m like ‘They listen to House in London?’ 

Our experience of London was the language, Benny Hill and only white people. If you were shrewd enough and watched international TV, you might find Desmond’s (black tv show from 1970s) which came on PBS. Desmond was my shit, Pork Pie, man I loved Desmond’s. Benny Hill and James Bond if you got deep, we didn't even think about The Saint. I’m no college professor but I liked knowledge and more so than my peers. Growing up in the hood you see your friend or someone you know on the corner selling drugs or somebody stealing cars or someone Breaking and Entering or doing all kind of nonsense. I said to myself as a kid, I can’t do this shit, so I played basketball until I found House music, that was my escape. Basketball saved my life, I mean it really saved my life. I wanted to be in the NBA that was my dream. I could play and most of the people I played with played in the NBA but at 19 I started thinking about my height, i thought yeah, I could play in Europe, back then you needed the grades it wasn't as easy as it is now.

My best friend Hugo was a DJ so he was taking me to these House Parties and stuff, saying he wanted me to check Farley (Jackmaster Funk). I was blown away by his DJing, for one there was women from end to end and not like girls in the hood.. I was like OK, what I gotta do to be part of this. First you get into the music and then you get into the scene and vibe. So i said to Farley ‘Yeah I know how to DJ’ he laughed at me saying ‘You don't know how to DJ’ ‘I’m like yeah I do’ Farley says ‘OK, come by the crib’ I went by his house he had two decks and a mixer. I said ‘go ahead do your thing’ he did it and I said ‘Alright, you gotta teach me how to do that shit’. He said ‘Nah, I cant teach you this it took me five years to learn how to do this’. So me being the person I am, if you tell me no and I like it, I'm gonna find a way to do it. Get good and then try to be better than you, not go against you, just better. 

For me it was like basketball, if you score 20 on me today, tomorrow if you score 2 points on me you’re good. After a while another friend of mine named Leonard Remix Roy and another guy Alto Hines and his brother James Hines who had a sound system in the neighborhood, gave birth to me and Mike Dunn. The times they heard me trying to DJ in that basement, day and night. Until one day they say ‘You doing a party on your own, do you know what your doing? You need speakers? ‘ Then they heard me and Mike Dunn play and said ‘Wow’. Mike Dunn is the only DJ partner I’ve ever had. When we got together to DJ it was like me and Mike against the world. We both like the same music but in different ways, Mike liked to tape records and edit, so I was like ‘Mike edits’ They sang like Frankie’s but were cleaner, it was for us. One of the promoters that gave birth to so many DJs was Marvin Terry, he threw some of the biggest parties on the planet.

 The comparison with England is that you had warehouse spaces we didn't have those spaces, we had hotel lobbies or hotel halls. We hire Hotel Congress or Hilton Hotel for two thousand bucks. It didn't matter we were charging ten bucks and 2,500 kids would come to the party. Every-time you threw a party downtown everybody came, matter of fact, if you threw a party anywhere in Chicago and it wasn't crowed, you really did something wrong. Especially if you were one of those DJs like Ferris Thomas, Andre Hachet, Steve Hurley or Mike Dunn and we’re not talking radio DJs because every-time they were on a flyer it packed the party every-time.

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