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Interviews

When the legendary Ron Trent enters our store on a Wednesday afternoon, we have to ask him the stories behind a few of his memorable records. Especially because we got a few classic titles in-store, one of the first Ron & Chez D records (early nineties style deepness) and another one that Ron Trent produced in the eighties: ERB – ‘The Weekend’. “I made this one in my bed room”, the house pioneer recalls. When we ask him to pick out one of his Chicago treasures, he finds another oldie by Melodious Miles and Bo…. Enjoy the video!

Records:
1. ERB – The Weekend
The official reissue of ERB, a collaboration between Braxton Holmes and Ron Trent on Clubhouse Records from Chicago.

2. Ron & Chez D – Same Titled
Superb Ron Trent & Chez Damier house!

3. Melodious Myles and Bo – Odyssey Love
Produced in 1986, Chicago 12″ – delightful string work on top of a bassline and choice drum programming.

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We already know that Antal met Vincent Floyd in Chicago last March. Since he is a longtime fan of Floyd’s work, he asked for unreleased music.  It turned out that Floyd had enough material, and he selected some of the finest to compile an EP.

Of course Antal wanted to find out more about the man behind the music, so he asked him some questions. This is just a tease, the complete interview will be published in our next House Of Music magazine.

How would you describe Chicago in the 80ties and 90ties? And how did that influence you musically?
During the 80’s, rap and house music were both growing in popularity.  There seemed to be more of a house scene in Chicago during the 80’s, rap caught up in the 90’s.  I was sort of a low key house head so that was my thing. I spent a great deal of time working in promotions;  going to clubs and interacting with different people influenced my music.

Who are the artists in Chicago that you felt closely related to?
I grew up with Armando Gallop, he lived across the street when I was a child, and we were together a lot until he passed in 1996 from leukemia. He was a DJ, I learned most things about house music, house music artists, and event promotion from him. I was inspired musically by Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers. I played keyboard with Larry on some of his tour dates when he was signed to MCA; his recordings are classic. And Chan, who did the vocals for ‘Your Eyes’, is Dwayne Chandler. like Armando, is a childhood friend who lived next door to me when we grew up. He is an awesome singer.

How did your first house productions come about?
Armando was a house producer as well. When we were in high school, he bought a Roland TB-303 groove machine and a TR-707 drum machine. We programmed a lot of tracks in his basement.  I later purchased Roland and Yamaha drum machines and keyboards and started to recording songs. I had been recording R&B songs as well as dance music. Armando had released “Land of Confusion” and introduced me to Ray Barney at Dance Mania.

 

Vincent Floyd – ‘Your Eyes/I’m So Deep’ (RH RSS 10) is available at our store and distribution

Purchase via the store
Purchase via distribution

 

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On March 1st we are is going to hear and see Actress his first life set in Amsterdam after releasing his latest album ‘Ghettoville’. If that isn’t enough; on that same night we are also going to enjoy Moiré’s music. He is going to take us on a thrilling  journey, as he will be playing some unreleased material too – we will be his test dummies. In advance of this huge treat we spoke to Moiré, and apparently he is looking forward to it. We could say… quite as much as we do.

1. You released your first 12” on Actress his label, Werk Discs. How did you two meet and how did you find out that you could be (musical) soul mates?
It was abstract destiny, haha. My friend Lessons, who actually worked with me on this release, introduced me to Actress his ‘Hazyville’ album when it just came out, and I loved it. I had been massively into techno and house and also sort of other stuff  for years, buying records and going to raves. But I was also interested in some kind of ‘new’ attitude and sound – more abstract and uneven rhythmically. Something that would be challenging the ‘classic sound’ and Actress was the answer. His early records were quite inspiring. So when I finally got my ideas thogether and finished some of my own music, I felt that passing it to Werk Discs would be a cool idea. Then we all met , played some shows together etc. And the story continues!

2. In an interview you said that you don’t like to rush into things when in comes to releasing music. We haven’t seen a release for a while, what have you been up to lately?
The process of making and playing music is what I love the most. The actual time in the studio, and how it evolves to the moment I play in the club and release the idea to the crowd is what drives me forward. Pretty much on every gig, I play something unique I have just made, but is not out. Releasing music is the last step. I  just wanna make sure people get the best stuff. So in the terms of my music I like to take my time and write ’till its done. I’m in the process of releasing some tracks right now. There are a few tracks coming out, one is called Solar Signs and its gonna be out on Phonica Records’ 10 years release. Also I’ve been working on bunch of remixes too, which should be out soon.

3. What we can be on the lookout for is a next 12” on Rush Hour. Can you already tell us something about it?
Yeah for sure, but i don’t  know the details yet. I have loads of ideas that needs finishing and road testing, then we will decide what’s best and if there is something perfectly suitable we can put it out.

4. I also read that environments have an influence on the esthetics of your sound. You have been at Club Trouw before… what can we expect from you there?
Trouw is  special, I feel mega lucky to be able to play there. Of all the clubs I’ve ever been to, it is probably one of my favorites in terms of environment. Architecture is my background, so I do appreciate nice spaces. It just feels nice to play in an interesting building, it helps the music being heard. And vice versa;  music helps architecture to say something to people, then it’s not just a concrete building anymore.

Come join us at Trouw Amsterdam – 1st of March, check out the full line-up on the event’s Facebook page

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Next to Kid Sublime, Aardvarck, Tom Trago, San Proper and Young Marco, Steven van Hulle has been a key figure in the Amsterdam electronic music scene for quite some time. Since a few year he creates music under his Awanto 3 guise. Music for the dancefloor. And again, with ‘Opel Mantra’, he has proven his immense potential. The album twists house music into intoxicating new shapes, blending influences into one thrilling, surprising whole. We asked Van Hulle for a slight introduction.

1. Before your album, you mostly collaborated with other artists. What was it like for you to create so much solo material at once?
I’ve traded the city of Amsterdam for a spot in the country side tow years ago. Thanks to my long stay at Bali, Indonesia and thanks to the lonely winter at my new place, I was blessed with some free space in my mind. I suddenly had lots of time, focus and inspiration to work on the basics for my debut solo album. A huge amount of my tropical energy reserves got out. I couldn’t stop making love to my MPC and nobody was there to stop me. So probably it was just the right time and space for me to create this piece of noise. Collaborating with a few of my favorite musicians was the cherry on top. Without those collaborations ‘Opel Mantra’ would not sound as it does now!

2. … Opel Mantra?
The name is familiar to a number of car freaks, the people who have had their drivers license for at least 20 years. I understand those Opel Manta freaks. The car is a beautiful piece of art (go to Google Images and search for OPEL MANTA). Apart from this materialistic gibber, this name is just a micro joke that refers to the way I love to produce house and bass music; to make it repeat and rise to another higher level.

3. You have a very diverse repertoire, though your album is musically quite consistent. How did the music for the album arise?
Since I touched an MPC 2000 XL for the first time, I kind of started developing my own style, not really knowing why and how. My music is inspired by Latin, African and mainly soulful contemporary music and it is driven by my appetite for never ending loops. I overdubbed the basis of the tracks with music from my favorite musicians. The album is mixed and mastered mainly trough analog mixing desks (and the one and only half inch tape machine), by a very passionate and dedicated Croatian grandmaster of sounds named Zlaya. He played a very important rol in Opel Mantra’s consistent feel as well I must say.

//

Awanto 3 – ‘Opel Mantra’ pt. 1 will be released in the week of February 24th.
www.opelmantra.nl
Via Soundcloud
Via Distribution
Via the Record Store

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For San Proper it was time to launch his own imprint ‘Proper’s Cult’,  and he has just announced on his website to celebrate his first release with a free track for you to download. On Proper’s Cult we can expect San Proper releases and music by other artists. 

1. Can you tell me a bit more about the idea behind Proper’s Cult?
“The original intention was to release quality music that stays under the radar,wouldn’t be easily released otherwise. But I guess that because the first release is a four-track EP by myself, the label’s focus is now quality music in general. And it will be more an extension of my sound as well as of the sound of other artists that amplify the ‘Cult’ – tracks which feed our curiosity and soothe our troubles.”

2. So after ‘The Culture EP’ we’ll get some more Proper releases on your label. Do we get to see a specific side of your music?
There’s a lot up my sleeve which I really want to express with this label. The sound of ‘The Culture EP’ is quite dark and moody in my opinion. So for instance I could probably save weepy ballads for the album which I’m working on for another destination. I’m also continuously working on collaborations while touring and travelling, tracks that could make sense for “Proper’s Cult”. Let’s see how it’ll turn out, ok?

3. Next to the label you also organize the Proper’s Cult nights at Club Trouw in Amsterdam.  Where else can we expect to run into Proper’s Cult?
Since Trouw only has one year left to give me a home with the label-night (Trouw will close), I’ve decided to keep ‘Proper’s Cult’ special and exclusive at Trouw’s Verdieping for the time being, but this cultural event will pop up sooner or later where you’ll least expect it. We’re here to embrace this life-style. It’s a cult…

Download San Proper – ‘Ibizoo Forests’ here ….

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The year has only just begun and Rush Hour has a bunch of stuff planned already. Antal gives a few sneak previews when it comes to releases and events happening in 2014….

Can you tell us a bit about the releases?
There are many things in the pipeline. We are looking very much forward to the debut album of Xosar. After a couple of 12inches it is time for a full length. She has produced an exciting amount of music, and hopefully it will be presented to you and us in the following months. And there will be Vincent Floyd material. Reissues and unreleased tracks. We have met Vincent Floyd last March in Chicago and since we are longtime fans of his work we asked for unreleased music. Maybe that will be the two scoops for now..but there is so much more to come!

After the big success of the first Weekender in Club Trouw, can we expect more big events?
The idea of organizing a 34-36 hour Rush Hour event at Club Trouw came quite spontaneously, and that resulted in the Weekender last November. I think everybody was really into what happened and so yes, we are speaking about a second edition..Which is already very exciting!

We have  to be absolutely on the lookout for…
Our annual Somewhere In Amsterdam party will take place this weekend. It always takes place on a Sunday afternoon, always with nice people, good food and great music. Pure for the love of it! We have invited Hunee & Boo Williams as our guests for this edition. The S.I.A. parties have been rare in the past. Like only once a year. But in 2014, it might be that there are some more editions coming up…


Xosar – The Calling (RHM-002, 2013)

 

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A little chat with Rush Hour’s latest signing Policy whose album “Everything Hits” just came out, he also found the time to make us an awesome mix.

* How did you get started?
Well, I’ve always been a musician. I started out playing piano, then flute, and then the guitar. Growing up in St. Louis, I was heavily into classic rock. Luckily, I developed a taste for jazz and instrumental music, which I think were important to eventually coming to appreciate electronic music. It wasn’t until about seven years ago, when I was active as an independent filmmaker, that I started experimenting with electronic music production for soundtrack scoring purposes. I didn’t start regularly producing the kind of music I’m doing now until about late 2009.

* How did you hook up with Rush Hour for this album?
Back in 2010, I got hooked onto their Direct Current series, and on a whim, I decided to contact them one day. It was probably the second label I’d ever sent demos to. They checked out my Soundcloud page and got back to me the next day asking to reserve a couple of tracks (Disco Report and Lost and Free), both of which will be on the album.

* Tell us a bit about your studio set up
My set up is pretty simple, but I do like the hands-on element of hardware. I use an Akai sampler pretty heavily, along with some rack synths. I also use a 4-track cassette recorder, and some effects I’ve built as part of my chain. In general, I like bringing sounds from outside the computer into my recordings – it’s just something I’m used to. Cubase is the software I’ve used since I got it free with a cheap audio interface years back.

* How did you go about writing the album? And did you have a specific idea in mind when you started?
When I first signed to Rush Hour, we discussed making an album, but there wasn’t a specific idea that I was to follow. The next year I started trying to work towards completing a set of tracks for the album, but I eventually gave up because it was a lot harder than I had expected. I just kept making tracks as I’d always been, taking a few weeks per track and just kept sending them off to Christiaan. In the end, he had like 40+ tracks to choose from and I think he had a better perspective than me for seeing which tracks went together cohesively.

* Have you always lived in New York? What do you think of the music scene here? And who are some people locally who you find inspiring?

I’ve lived in NYC since 1997 and had my first club experiences at Twilo. That was ages ago. But I really appreciate that there seems to be an increasing number of events happening and places to hear great underground electronic music. Even since I started going to Turrbotax in early 2010, I’ve noticed a difference in the crowds. I love the enthusiasm here. And I think the musical output of this city is really inspiring. When I think of music that is synonymous with the energy of this place, I can’t help but think of Falty DL. I’ve followed him since his first album, and his music actually helped me realize where I might fit in.

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Sit back and check out the interview NYC House legend Elbee Bad did for Conceptoradio

Read the interview here

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In the context of the official re-release of the Dream 2 Science EP we had the pleasure to ask producer Cozmo D. some questions on his background and why we haven’t heard back from him sooner.

RH: Please tell us your name and where you are from. What era were you born?

Cozmo D: My name is Ben Cenac and I am also professionally known as Cozmo D.  I am from Brooklyn, NY.  I was born in 1959 and came of age in the best decade of all time for music, the ’70s.

RH: You are most known for your involve- ment with Newcleus. How and when did you get involved with music? How did you form Newcleus? How did you get signed to Sunnyview? Im sure there are many great stories there, please tell us one. Why and when did Newcleus stop?

Cozmo D: I always loved all kinds of music, due to the influence of my mother.  She would play Soul or Pop, Jazz or Broadway, African or even Classical music and all sorts in-between.  So I was drawn to all kinds of music for as long as I can remember.  I started writing songs and poetry when I was 7 or 8.  Nothing great or involved, but I liked doing it.

When I was 15 or so I took up guitar and joined a band, but I never got really good enough to play.  Then when I was 16 I started DJing.  I took as a DJ name Cozmo Disco and with my cousins and friends started a DJ crew, that we named Jam-On Productions.  That’s when I shortened my name to Cozmo D.  Jam-On Productions rocked parks and block parties all over Brooklyn and New York City.  I was also singing for a Funk/Rock group named Thunderfunk, which is where I first played with Bob “Chilly B” Crafton who played bass for the group.

In 1980 I got turned onto a mini synthesizer made by Electro-Harmonix and decided that I could use that to realize my dreams of making my own music.  I purchased one along with an Electro-Harmonix drum machine, and using two cassette decks wrote and recorded a crude but complete song the same night.  From there it was on, even though I didn’t now a C from a G#.  I made songs like this for about a year until I asked my cousin (and Jam-On member) Monique “Nique” D’ Angevin to lend me the money for a Tascam Portastudio, a mixing board with a built-in 4 track cassette recorder.  She said yes with the request that I tried making music with Chilly B.  I agreed, and our group was born.  It was me, Chilly B and on vocals Nique and my soon to be wife, Yvette “Lady E” Cenac.  Soon Nique D and Chilly B would marry as well.  We called our group Positive Messenger, as all of our songs had a message to them.

We started getting good at the tracks we were making.  I bought more and better equipment, and we were getting good at writing songs.  Finally, we came up with a song called “Computer Age” that we thought was good enough to get us a record deal.  We put together a tape with our best stuff on it, but we had room at the end.  So there I placed a song that I had done as a joke just to fill space.  It was named “Jam-On’s Revenge” and it was a funky novelty track about Jam-On Productions chasing a bunch of wack rappers out of town.  All of the voices were pitched up high like munchkins.

This was about the time that “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force was hot and so we figured “Computer Age” was a not too dissimilar track.  I was therefore going to take the track to Tommy Boy Records, but first stopped by the house of a small-time record producer who had once taken the time to listen to one of my crude pre-portastudio tracks.  His name was Joe Webb.  He loved Computer Age and the other tracks, but when the tape got to Jam-On’s Revenge he practically lost his mind!  We ended up putting it out with him… it was released on his label May Hew Records in 1983.  Since we didn’t have a message to the song we changed our name to Newcleus, signifying the joining together of our families into a new unit.  However, since this was more street and Hip-Hop than the Positive Messenger stuff we released it as Jam-On Revenge (a typo lost the “‘s”) by Newcleus Featuring Cozmo & The Jam-On Production Crew.  Joe Webb then took the record to Sunnyview Records who rereleased it as “Jam On Revenge (The Wikki-Wikki Song)” by Newcleus.  We had arrived.

By 1985 we realized that we were getting ripped off by Joe Webb, who NEVER paid us any royalties.  Rather than be shelved by a long fight over rights and royalties, Chilly B (Bob) and I decided to start producing other acts and eventually start our own labels.  We left Newcleus aside, and dove into the magical world of independent producing.

RH: How did you get involved with house music (during or after Newcleus)? Was it a total different scene or did it mix with the hip hop crowd? Can you paint us a picture of the early nyc house scene, if any at that time?

Cozmo D: Well, I had started out as a Disco DJ and still spun it often (and still do), so I was playing it as House developed out of it.  It was really underground in NYC.  I didn’t really partake in that scene, I was deep into the Hip-Hop and Freestyle scenes at the time, but I heard it and liked what I heard.  I was a member of the world renown IDRC / RPBC record pool from ’85 on and got to hear it develop.  By 1986 we started making House tracks, but had a hard time convincing record companies to go with it.  I was told that House was “just a fad” more than once.

RH: You also wrote Sha-Lor’s ‘Im In Love’, which is a 1988 garage classic. How did this record come about? Was it popular at the time?

Cozmo D: Sha-Lor was a two girl group that we had been producing as early as ’86 as an R&B act, but we could never get them on.  I had actually written “I’m In Love” for a different artist, but the girls begged me for it so I let them have it.  This was the last track that I partnered with Chilly B for.  This time I tried Jump Street Records where my friend and future music partner Gregg Fore was doing production.  They loved it!  It didn’t do much at all here in the states but caught big fire in the UK, even landing me my first license with a major.

RH: How did you came to do the Dream 2 Science project? Its a 6 track EP, very deep, emotional house music. Was there a concept? What thoughts were you trying to share with it? Some tracks remind me of Larry Heard/Mr Fingers, there is even a track called Mystery Of Love, which was also the title of one of Mr Fingers most popular tracks at the time (on DJ International). Is this a coincidence or were you influenced by Larry Heard and Chicago house?

Cozmo D: First we released “My Love Turns To Liquid“, which I designed to flow with and feature Yvette’s (Lady E’s) vocal stylings.  I wanted something smooth, laid back, deep and hella sexy!  Gregg liked it so much that he thought we should follow up with an EP in the same vein.  We wrote “Mystery Of Love” (which he sings as “Buster Fhott”) and “Dream 2 Science” (he plays piano) together.  Of course I know of and am familiar with the great Larry Heard, and I am quite influenced by Chicago House.  However, I could probably say the same thing about a lot of the music I was listening to and playing at the time.  The title of “Mystery Of Love” is just a coincidence.

RH: The production sounds clean and bright. Were they recorded in a professional studio?

Cozmo D: The tracks were all done in my home studio.  The vocals were recorded to Akai 12 track and the music was all recorded MIDI, synced to the vocals and mixed down live through an old Carvin mixer.  The DAT that the files were taken from was mastered professionally though.

RH: With releases from 1988 till 1990 you were one of the earlier producers of house music, but also one of the people who exited early as there were no more releases afterwards. What happened here?

Cozmo D: Jump Street went under in 1989 so Gregg was distributing the tracks himself.  Our last release was “You Keep Me Coming On” by Bodywork in 1991, which was hot off the presses when the plant went under, taking our product and our money with them.  Gregg went out and found a regular job, and I set about recreating Newcleus as Cozmo D & The Jam-On Crew.  I was putting the finishing touches on a new album in 1992 when we had a major fire which put me out of the music business for months.  When I had built my new studio I decided to go back into producing Hip-Hop, and fruitlessly toiled at that for the next 10 years or so.  About that time Newcleus became popular again, so Bob, Yvette and I got back together to reclaim our place.

RH: What are you doing these days? Are you still involved with music?

Cozmo D: Though Chilly B passed away in 2010, Lady E and I along with Al “T” Mclaran, another Jam-On alumnus and also the former A&R at Warlock Records when it was in it’s House and Hip-Hop glory days, are still touring as Newcleus.  I am finishing up a new Newcleus album, and am diving back into the House music scene.

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Celebrating the highly anticipated release of  “The Burrell Brothers – Nu Groove Years” part 1 and the upcoming part 2, we had the pleasure to go down memory lane with Rheji Burrell, one half of the legendary Burrell Brothers from New Jersey. He gives some interesting and surprising insights into the daily business at Nu Groove Records and also the early 1990’s New York House scene.

Rush Hour: Hey Rheji, I have read that you got into house music through teaching Kung Fu? Can you  explain a little about that?

Rheji Burrell: Yeah absolutely, i still do. I have a couple of classes today. It’s not my own school but I’m going to set up my own school at one point. So, where I used to teach, at the university, next to the campus, there was a DJ called be B-Free. He was a satellite DJ for the local radio station in New York where Timmy Regisford (I don’t know if you know who that is) was spinning house music and Vernon Freeland was a student there. So like every beginning DJ idolizes a certain DJ, Vernon sort off spun the same records as Timmy. So when they came through university on Thursday they would have a place where kids gather and play records, it was called the Pub. Which was actually a cafe where they would put the tables back and had a pretty big dancefloor. >> READ FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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