DJ Pierre Interview: I accept the evolution of music
Read our exclusive interview with one of house music’s pioneers.
Date published: 20th Sep 2013
DJ Pierre is next level, end of. His jaw dropping productions in the late nineties set the tone for what dance music would become, taking a sound which still owed heavily to disco into disturbing and uncharted waters. He gave it that sonic wtf factor, and has been instilling an acid drenched funkiness in the genre ever since.
He hits Egg London this weekend alongside Dimitri from Paris so we caught up with the man talk Afro acid, the secret to longevity and his love for Tinie Tempah.
First of all how does it feel to have been on top of the scene for the twenty five years or so that you have been working?
Well, first off I'm humbled to be still considered for major events, production collaborations and remix requests. I do what I do, because I still love it. I don't look at the years really...nor the accolades. I just continue to do what I do and next thing I look around and 20+ years has passed! So I am thankful for that. It's a blessing.
And how do you manage to keep it fresh, new and I guess, vital. Is it a case of pressure as a legendary DJ/Producer to always be one step ahead in the house scene?
Innately I guess. If you look at my progression and work the sounds have always been a head of the curve. They've always been sort of different from what's out there as in Acid Trax and my WildPitch stuff. So it's natural for me to take what's current and re-interpret it my way or just do something totally new from scratch.
I'm also open-minded. I accept the evolution of music. Not all of it, but I accept and vibe to productions by Bart B More, Tommie Sunshine, Dada Life, Boys Noise etc. I feed on the vibe and then I merge my own creativity with it.
What are the greatest highlights of your career so far in terms of tunes, festivals, dates and so on?
Naturally 'Acid Tracks' is number one for me. It validated the creative kid inside and started me on my journey. 'Generate Power' also blew my mind as it was my first big tune as DJ Pierre. I've been blessed to play most of the festivals that people only dream of, and it's all highlights for me.
Afro Acid Records, your own label, must keep you busy and is there anyone or track that you’re particularly proud of? Also are there any new artists that you are psyched about right now that we should look out for?
Afro Acid Digital is the online portion and Afro Acid Plastik is the sister label producing only vinyl, and it keeps me and my great team busy. We just launched Afro Acid Trax and Detroit Grand Pubahs were the first release. The latest release is by Terry Farley and Stretch Silvester and it's geared to the uber underground fan of the classics and house.
Greatest highlights so far are the amazing events we've done on our own budget. No sponsors. We are growing and looking at sponsors for future but to know this has been a blood, sweat and tears journey is pretty nice. It feels a real accomplishment.
I'm also proud at the fact that we are giving first time producers a home. House of Stank made their first track with us. Manny Cuevas aka M-TRAXXX, Mykel Waters got a boost from being a part of the family. I feel good when I see them branching out doing their own thing. I'm also proud of what came of a simple concept. We now have Afro Acid Tee's and Afro Acid Radio a weekly radio show on www.pushfm.com
What was your first break and first big record and did it set you on your path?
First big break as a DJ was dj-ing for Lil Louis at the Bismarck in Chicago. My first big Record was "Acid Tracks" with Phuture and as DJ Pierre it was “Pierre’s Phantasy Girl". Felix Da Housecat made his first appearance to the world on that track as well. He played keyboards on it.
Do you think House is having a renaissance right now and that the music is so strong it's never really gone away? What kind of a set will you be playing and do you have any secret weapons you can share with us?
House has evolved. A DJ Pierre House set five years ago is totally different from a DJP House set today. My sets will feed off the audience so it's not pre-planned but it will be a true Afro Acid set. It may include some classics, some techno, some electro, Acid and whatever else finds its way in. Afro Acid's motto says basically there are no Boundaries to creativity. So if I play a true AA set then you never know what you are going to get.
You last played at Egg back 2 back with Felix the Housecat, and are you looking forward to this Friday's party with Dimitri from Paris and why?
Absolutely as last time I had such a blast and the crowd loved it so it set me up for the next. Dimitri from Paris has been in the game a long time and I love playing with seasoned artists. It challenges us to get to another level.
What can we expect from your set on Friday and do you have any secret weapons?
I never know until I'm in the moment, so I can't really say. You have to be there.
How does playing London compare to other countries and how do you feel about us as a city?
The UK has been my home on and off over the years. I've spent more time in London than anywhere else in Europe, through most of the 90's so it has a special place in my heart. London also has it's relationship with me. At times, I'm deeply loved and at times it's like they can't figure me out, you know? But London has always supported me and for that I support her.
House and dance is so much ingrained in British music, are there any UK artists whose music you feel a real affinity for? It truly is.
The UK got it a long time ago. The US is just getting on the bandwagon. I like Tinie Tempah that 'Pass Out’ track. That joint he did with Labrynth is cool as well. Holla at your boy Tinie! And I dig Estelle too.
You grew up in Chicago and then moved to NYC/New Jersey, how much of an influence did the neighbourhoods around you have on your path towards music? Were there any other major influences such as key people, DJ's, producers or clubs?
The influence has been great! In Chicago my skills as a DJ were honed. I used to be scratching Pierre using 3 turntables destroying DJ's in battles. As a dj in Chicago you cannot be 'Ok'. You have to be GREAT. That competitive environment made me a very technical DJ to this day.
As a producer in Chicago you had to be unique and find your niche because the best in the world was there. So again I naturally sought to be the best at whatever productions I did. So Chicago was my school with Lil Louis, Ron Hardy, Marshall Jefferson as teachers.
NY/NJ taught me how to run my brand and business. I moved away from Chicago because the labels were corrupt and the competition became toxic. I was on top and some people wanted me down. So the very thing that made me, wanted to destroy me. So I moved to NY.
I started working as a producer with Jive records then Strictly as an A&R and producer. My business sense was developed somewhat there. I saw how a label was operated. The New York club scene in general was very influential at the time. I had my studio and developed as a producer there with B. Tucker, David Morales etc coming to my studio. I formed DJP Records and then Afro Acid out of that experience.
So after over twenty years, what does the future hold for DJ Pierre?
I have to say this. The last few years has been the most challenging and the most creative for me as an artist. Learning and integrating all of the new technology such as Traktor took some doing. I stretched myself working on remixes for The Human League, Hot Rod, Jill Scott and Django, Django.
My release on Boys' Noise's label "Acid" reflects the level that I am now. It had to be current and interesting for a unique label like BNR to want it. The DimMAK(Steve Aoki's label) projects also reflect the fuse of styles that i'm about. The latest on DimMAK is ‘Selecktah’ with Rory from the legendary Stone Love sound system out of Jamaica.
And before you leave us, can you tell us something you think we should all be listening to before we head out the door on Friday night?
Yes. definitely 'Acid" on BNR and 'Strobe Lights, Laser Disco' and Selecktah Dimmak. Also the heads will love this. I just released a WildPitch track called "Save Our World" on Caus n ffct and Deeplay records. I also have a remix for new and upcoming artist, Dosem called 'Attica' on Halcyan Records. Joey Beltram did a remix as well, which is out in November.