Through several labels like Down Beat, Semantica Records or Sound Signature, but also on his own label Tetrode Music, Specter is a deep house magician coming from Chicago. His experience in the long run allowed him to always preach good sound and the share between all generations. Meeting with this broad-minded, passionate and skilful dj and producer.
You started djing at the age of 15. In your Boiler Jàmon, we can clearly see that you developed very good skills. For instance, you’re beat matching your tracks with the pitch while starting the transition. Pretty impressive! What do you think about today’s house scene?
Todays scene all though the crowd has gotten younger, its still maintaining the vibe for the most part. Lot of people like to bash their scene and there really is no sense in that. It is what it is, and its your choice if you want to be a part of it. People need to step back and see what they can contribute to it instead of always bashing it.
Don’t you think DJ’s sometimes stay in their confort zone while djing?
Well, I don’t think it’s not so much a comfort zone. I think as djs, you want to sound your best. So when you start to incorporate different genres, it can be a challenge and a risk most aren’t willing to take. So most of for the easy way, the flawless set. Nothing wrong with that either. It’s a fine line because I think most people see it as you may not get another booking if you aren’t perfect. Personally, I just don’t think on that kind of stuff anymore. I just do my thing and hope people enjoy it. It’s all you really can ask for.
What is your best set-up? Some people may prefer playing on a rotary, while other likes having a classic mixer. What do you think about having a classic mixer and an external iso such as Bozure?
I really have no preference. My best setup is at least two working monitors and I can really mix on anything fader or rotary. Rotarys with the iso are nice but those isos can be bad on the ears if not used properly. There is no doubt a big difference in sound in a lot of these new boutique mixers coming out. But there is also a lot of factors that play a part to. Like the house system, the placement, etc. It’s a good idea to learn on both rotary and fader. You never know what kind of setup you are going to play on.
How did you start listening to house music?
Well, anyone in the 80s Chicago you could not really go anywhere without it being played somewhere. I was too young to go to partys, so a lot of what I heard was on the radio and local block party djs. My uncle had a little setup and I remember taking a trip with him to this store called Barneys. All these djs in there scrambling for the latest stuff that was played on the radio by the hot mix 5. It was a lot of stuff I was hearing on the radio but never knew the titles. I caught the bug from that day at the store.
How did you meet Damon Lamar? What is your artistic vision for your label Tetrode Music?
I met Damon at this department store we used to work at back in like 1992. It was my first job and I remember walking by the electronics department he was working at. He would always be playing his mixes. So we just started talking about music and stuff. We have been cool ever since that day. He has been like a mentor to me, and our relationship extends beyond the music. The vision for tetrode was always just to put out the music we liked, no matter how many it sold. Never really thought about making money from it. I think the fact that we dont depend on that for a living, allowed us to do that and will continue to.
You also released two EP’s on Sound Signature. I guess it was a nice opportunity to put your work forth. How did you get to know Theo Parrish? Do you feel close to the artistic process he stands for?
I met Theo through the years of coming to Chicago to play. Just small conversations here and there and it developed into a nice friendship. I admire his D.I.Y ethic, to me it’s the only way. Sticking to your guns and refusing to give into trends.
Do you think house music is renewing itself or do you think it is starting to go round in circles?
It will always continue to go in circles or cycles if people don’t push the sound. So many different genres have spawned off house music, so in that sense, it’s evolved. In my opinion, “house music or dance music” will only be as strong as the people who support it. Whether it be djs or the patrons of the club. That is the bottom line.
Can you tell us whose producer you’d advise us to follow in the next few months/years?
My crew of course (laughs). Jose rico, Steve Tang, Chicago Skyway, Taelue, Chicagodeep, Dcook, Isoke, Hakim Murphy. Diggin these guys sound as well : Henry Wu, Chaos in the CBD, K15, Jay L, Andy Mac, Typesun.
What about the scene in Chicago? I went there and talk with Jacob Meehan when he was working at Gramophone. He told me that the scene started to be back, especially in the gay community with the Queer Parties at Smartbar.
There are a lot of underground things happening at the moment. Also there are different nights at various spots. Really, all depends on what you are looking for. It’s just a shame sometimes that a lot of the best music and best djs you will hear is at these small spots. If there is one spot, I can recommend though for a real ¨Chicago” party experience. It’s this place called Da House Spot. A running party for years. Pretty much a no frills dance underground dance party.
Could you tell us something funny that happened during one of your gig? What is your vision of a great party?
I was playing vinyl and cds at this party. It was right when the new Pioneer CDJ 2000s came out. I had no idea how to just get the cd to play, and thats all I wanted. All these buttons and stuff. So I finally get it to play. I’m thinking “ok, all is good the track is playing”. Well, right in the middle of the track, it goes back to the beginning (laughs). The crowd thought I did it on purpose and started to cheer! I must have made a loop or cue point or something. I was like “man, what did i do?”. But it worked out. My vision for a great party is just a room of people young and old just getting loose and having fun. It’s why we go out, isn’t it?
Do you have some upcoming releases planned? Any gigs in France planned soon that you would let our audience know about? New tetrodes are planned for this year as well as some represses. An EO with Jose Rico on On Own Organisation. Of course the album on Soundsignature.
Next gig in Paris is with the Into the Deep crew, on 3/3/17 at La Java.
Final question, our moto is “life is hard, we make it sweet”. What makes life sweeter for you?
That’s an easy question. My two sons Andres Jr and Augustine. They make life worth living and they keep me grounded.