Chicago house is a sound and concept any music fan in their right mind is familiar with. The city of Knuckles, Heard, Louis and Jefferson has countless sons and daughters to be proud of. Their sound has reached all corners of the globe and evolved along with others into the phenomenon that is modern day dance music.
Regarded as perhaps one of the more technically gifted of these originators is none other than Derrick Carter. A DJ and producer synonymous with the second wave of Chicago’s house movement, Carter has been rocking dance floors week in week out since the late 1980s.
Born in LA in 1969, Carter grew up in the Chicago suburbs before attending the university of Illinois and working in local digging spots Imports Etc and Gramaphone. He eventually dropped out and pursued his fledgling DJ career full time. Originally spinning RnB and disco, the emerging house music scene in the windy city made its impression on the young DJ leading him and his friends to start cutting records of their own.
1989s “Mood” (as Symbols and Instruments) was one of his early stand out tracks. Utilizing the newly popular 4/4 sound and infusing it with funky bass lines and ambient synths, “Mood” has a distinctly experimental flavor. Although not an overnight success, the track gained popularity over in Europe; forging a name for Carter and getting some of his first bookings on that side of the Atlantic.
Once the bookings started coming in Derrick Carter never looked back. Touring relentlessly and running several labels, most noticeably Blue Cucaracha and Classic, Carter cemented his place amongst crowd favourites. His personality really shines through in his sets that often draw inspiration from Jazz, Soul, Hip Hop and anything else that happens to take his fancy. These elements combine flawlessly to give the audience a truly captivating and authentic show.
We’ve had a look back at five tracks that define Derrick Carter’s sound, have a listen here.
Symbols & Instruments – “Mood” (optimistic Mix) (1989)
Carter’s first notable release came as part of a collaboration with long time friends Chris Nazuka and Mark Farina under the name ‘Symbols and Instruments’. Although this highly experimental track failed to make any real waves on their side of the Atlantic, it has since proved to be a success in Europe.
Derrick Carter AKA The Innocent – “No Music” (1995)
This 12 minute groover shows a deeper side to Carter’s productions as part of The Innocent project. Released on Doghouse in ’95, to say it’s stood the test of time would be an understatement.
Derrick Carter – “Where U At?” (Where Ya At, Now?) (2002)
Featuring an enthralling vocal sample from the man himself, a more polished and distinctly modern gloss covers this one. Punchy and repetitive with Latin grooves and soulful trumpets, “Where U At?” is a prime example of where underground house had evolved to by the time 2002 rolled around.
Derrick Carter & Chris Nazuka – “Life Is Like a Circle” (1999)
Another powerful vocal sample leads “Life is Like a Circle”. It penetrates the initial ambience like a laser through the dance floor smoke before the rolling bass line kicks. Make sure you’ve got the volume turned right up for that.
Truman Industries – “Love Plus” (Derrick Carter’s Love Groove Mix) (2006)
Not only a prolific producer but an acclaimed remixer too, Carter’s take on “Love Plus” incorporates elements of the Funk and Jazz he grew up on. The result of which is a playful track guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Derrick Carter plays in Leeds on Saturday 10th February, with Jasper James, Love Muscle’s Michael Upson and more also appearing at The Dirty Disco at MiNT Warehouse. He can then turn his attention to April’s Terminal V in Edinburgh, where he will perform a rare disco set to show off the eclectic tastes of his youth. Kolsch, Bicep, Rodhad, Peggy Gou and Helena Hauff also grace the Scottish festival on Sunday 1st April.
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