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In anticipation of RH’s 20th anniversary celebration during Amsterdam Dance Event with Chez Damier among others, we are sharing a short interview with the artist on our website. This article is originally published in the fifth House Of Music magazine. Out now, you can grab your copy at your favorite record store worldwide.

Chez Damier by Marie Staggat

Anthony Pearson, better known as Chez Damier, came to Amsterdam for a DJ gig around the release of Ron Trent’s 6LP label boxset. We took the chance to catch up with the pioneering Prescription co-founder. After a long hiatus, he’s back in full force working on a variety of music projects. What is he up to these days? We met him just before his show to find out.

Chez Damier was a close witness to the birth of house and techno music. In 1993, he founded Prescription records with Ron Trent, the label that defined the 1990s deep house sound. Around 2010, new releases appeared on Mojuba records. Not only was one of house music’s greats on his return, he was also mentoring a new generation of artists.

Chez Damier kept his role during this interview. Meeting in the lobby of his hotel just before dinner, he answered a few questions, but most importantly, he gave me good advice. “Focus on what you need, not on what you want”, is a good one for me to remember. The smiling Chicagoan doesn’t seem to have lost any of his energy, and he continues to value working with people, up to the present day. He seems to be a character whose life experiences refined him and made him deliberate, without losing his naive and playful spirit of collaboration with others. It also appears since the start that he has valued having fun the most – more than anything else. “Ron Trent and I always had so much laughter. That gave me the spark to try things out and make tracks with him”, he says.

chez damier by Marie Staggat

Balance Alliance

After Ron and Chez parted ways, Damier took Balance records. It was like a divorce, Damier says. “We had to divide everything. It was like: ‘OK, you take Prescription and I’ll take Balance.'” He revived Balance years later, in 2009. As he already did in the past, he broke out of the Chicago circles, becoming a trusted mentor for young European producers this time. He released a triple-vinyl retrospective by Parisian house producer Brawther on his label, and the debut album of Brawther’s fellow Parisian Hugo LX. With Zurich-based Demetrio Giannice, Damier also worked under the Adventures In Barcelona moniker.

The Extravert

Damier’s role as a catalyzer goes back to the late 80s, where he established a fresh scene of music fiends in Detroit. The Music Institute became an important place in the development of techno music. KMS studio opened around the same time, the million dollar studio where Chez became manager and where he created most of the tracks together with Ron Trent. “To me, the period with Ron was very much about sound experimentation. Prescription was about trying things out and having fun”, he says. “We were exploring loads of the hardware that was available in Saunderson’s studio. To me, it was really about having fun. That gave me the spark. Of course we were talking about spirituality, but once we hit the studio it was all about finding ways to build a great track. From the day we met it was just amazing. We have the same kind of humor, this connection between us has never changed.”

Chez Damier was the extravert, Ron the introvert. This made them complementary. “The productions we made in the early KMS days were different from Ron’s solo stuff today”, Damier points out. One of the reasons leading to Ron and Chez splitting their artistic collaboration was a difference in their approach. “Ron had his style and I had my style. But after a while, I couldn’t get my creative kick out of it anymore and therefore I decided to move on.” However, Ron and Chez are still in touch. “We had our difficulties, but we also share the same kind of humor. To me, that’s what it was all build upon, just the laughter.” It’s been over two decades since Ron and Chez parted ways and both have grown in different directions. “Of course I would like to work with Ron again. But we would have to take it from today’s experiences , we shouldn’t continue from where we left off. Ron’s experiences are different from mine and it shaped us along the way. If we would regroup, we’d need to have conversations about what that means.”

The Spark

Chez Damier felt what he started in music wasn’t completed and he returned with the idea to operate less in the foreground. His current musical life suits him better than ever, because he’s in a position to share musical inspiration with others again. Then he starts asking me the questions. About my occupation and dreams and what I do in order to establish them. Chatting in the big hotel lobby, it was time for a cigarette break. Standing by the table in the middle of the smoking room, Chez Damier starts to give advice after being genuinely interested in me. After noticing that I transmformed from his interviewer into his apprentice, he asks me: “What do you see? Turn around and what do you see now? Well, it’s at least both your visions. And that’s what matters.”

 

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