We catch up with one of the America’s biggest hard house DJs, the creator of Club Hedonism in San Diego which was a podium for international DJs on the west coast of America. We are also rather excited that he has mixed something very special.
It has been a while since we least saw or heard from you. What have you been up?
I’ve been playing a few selective events in the U.S. I kind of a pick and choose in some cities that I have enjoyed playing in the past. They are smaller event doing vinyl Hard House classics sets. Vinyl seems to be back in vogue, and people like watching me spin it. Some younger people haven’t ever experienced it, plus a DJ can’t fake a set like they can and do with digital format. What you see and hear with vinyl is 100% real.
So, tell us, how did it all begin?
The whole house and techno rave scene was just starting in southern California in the late 1980’s, and I was always a music collector and had started buying this new style of music. Little did I know I was ahead of the curve in learning how to spin this format. I started doing small, mostly illegal events in San Diego, which soon grew to parties that numbered in the thousands in just a couple of short years.
My name spread fast to Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and I started doing events almost every weekend in those cities, eventually spanning out to most states in the U.S. In 1992 I was asked to bring my sound and the rave crowd following to Rich’s nightclub in San Diego.
We started the infamous Club Hedonism which became internationally known, and the birth of Hard House in the U.S.
Many big names such as the Tidy Boys, Lisa Lashes, Anne Savage, Rachel Auburn, Steve Thomas Tall Paul and Carl Cox have played at the legendary night which went on for 10 incredible years.
What inspired you to become a DJ?
I was a young clubber in the 80’s and went out dancing quite a bit.
A friend of mine was the main DJ at a club I frequented. I would go and help him with the lights, and i would watch him spin vinyl, and I thought to myself “I bet I can do that”, so I got some turntables and a mixer and started practicing. Little did I know how far it would bring me.
How did you get into production?
I had a friend, Daryl Riley, had a room full of sound equipment. He asked me if I wanted to try and make some electronic music, and of course I jumped at the chance to learn. It was trial and error at first, but we eventually put out several records. Tony De Vit even charted one track we did called “Everybody In The House” by System Shock. Such a highlight for me when I saw that the man TDV played our tune.
Where did the inspiration for ‘Stalker’ and’ In Control’ come from?
What a crazy story. Stalker was an actual message a woman left on my answering machine. I had woken up after a wild night at Club Hedonism and played the message several times, finally telling myself “I need to make a track with those samples”. Daryl and I did a track which I played for the Tidy Boys. Andy Pickles said “Bring those samples over and let’s do a Hard House track with them.” I went over to the UK and knocked out the original with the talented Paul Maddox in about a day and the rest is history with that track. I’m In Control was co-written with Tidy Boys. I had the samples and synth, they had the drums, bass and mad studio skills. We then threw it all in one big mixing pot, stirred it, and added our own personal flair, hence one cool track was born. We had a blast putting that one together. Both tracks seemed to be well received by the Hard House faithful.
Hard House is a UK sound… how difficult was it to pioneer that sound within the States?
It wasn’t too difficult for me because I pretty much played it from the mid 90’s onwards and it was the sound I was known for. I was booked to play it because it was different than most U.S. DJ’s, which set me apart. It was the sound of Club Hedonism and it helped give the night it’s legendary status.
How big was the sound in the States?
Hard House became huge in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, but like a lot of music in the states, especially electronic music, trends in and out with popularity.
Which dancefloors has your DJing taken you to?
I’ve played almost every U.S. state, Canada, Mexico, South America, UK, France and Germany.
What’s the story with Tony De Vit?
Tony was booked to play at Club Hedonism on the day he passed away. It was going to be his first time playing in the U.S. and he was going to play a couple other events while he was over here. Unfortunately, America never got to experience his immense talent.
His family knew of our effort in bringing him to the states. A friend of mine in the U.K. had contacted them knowing I wanted to come over to the UK for his memorial event at Sundissential. I was picked as one of only eight DJ’s to play the event, which was my first time playing in the U.K. What an event to cut my teeth with. I was so nervous standing in front of the rammed club.
Madders stopped the music and announced I had flown myself over to play the event and honour Tony.
The place erupted with cheers, and I made it through my set without swallowing my tongue. After that night, Sundissential put me on as a monthly resident, which I held for about 2 years. One of my proudest DJ moments.
We hear you are also a keen gardener… is it true you grow your own produce?
I love gardening and growing some of my own produce. I was raised on a farm in Michigan, so I guess it’s something that is in my blood. It’s so relaxing and really gets me in touch with mother nature, plus nothing tastes better than produce picked fresh out of something I grew and nurtured to maturity.
You are a keen golfer, what is your handicap?
I’m a big time golfer. It’s a mad game.
It teaches so much about yourself and how to handle many types of situations. It parallels life and teaches me how to move past bad play, and just use it as a learning experience if you encounter the same situation down the road. Short term memory is key. Learn from it, forget it because you can’t change the past, and move on. Plus, it’s fun to win money of your buddies. I don’t keep a handicap. I play the best I can on that day. Be it in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, I get what I deserve.
Do you play with other DJ’s/producers?
Play golf? Not too often. Not very many of them want to torture themselves with the game.
What’s the story with the golf balls?
I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico to play an event. The promoter was an avid golfer, so he booked a round of golf with me when I was there. He was also a big Hard House fan and loved Tidy and yhr sound I played. Before the round started, he presented me with a dozen Tidy Titleist golf balls with my name and Tidy logo on them. Such a cool and rare gift. I think I only have 10 of them left, so they’re very rare.
How did you become involved in the ‘What Would You Like To Hear Again?’ project?
The good folks at Tidy approach me to put together a mix for this milestone of a year Tidy is celebrating.
I was honoured they asked me to be a part of it. No way I could say no. I had such a fun time putting the mix together.
If we came to San Diego, where should we visit, apart from your house of course?
Our fantastic beaches, our world-famous zoo and wild animal park, Torrey Pines Golf Course if you play, and Old Town for some Mexican food for starters.
What Would You Like To Hear Again? Vol. 4 mixed by Jon Bishop has landed. Listen to it here… https://fanlink.to/WWYLTHA4