PHUTURE – ACID HOUSE CREATORSApril 4, 2019
30 years ago history was made in Chicago when Acid House was born, it came straight from the ‘Phuture’ and revolutionised dance music. DJ Pierre a pioneer and a visionary steered the TB – 303 into the history books and into the minds of every dance music producer on the planet, with his co-creator Spanky (RIP) ‘Acid Trax’….
Mike Mannix: Hey man, it’s great to talk to again this year, it’s been 30 years in the making and you have just come back from the ‘Phuture’ to relaunch the seminal group that revolutionized an entire generation of clubbers to the Acid house sound. With hindsight a given, did you realise at the time the massive impact these records were gunna have on an unsuspecting population?
DJ Pierre: Sup Dawg. First and foremost I appreciate yours and Iconic’s time and interest. I’m definitely a fan of what you guys seek to do. To answer your question, I find a new level of appreciation every time I look at Phuture and I put “IT” on once again. Like doing this new tour…I have to become Phuture 100%.
That requires me looking at the very beginning. I go back to the feeling we had when we completed Acid Track. I don’t recall knowing that it would change the music world…or even culture. It truly impacted culture. I do recall feeling in my gut and spank and herb did as well, that this was different. This was unique. We were too young and inexperienced to know what that GUT feeling was trying to tell us, you know.
But I’m very happy we listened and pushed it to the right people. We may not have understood the magnitude of what was to come but we knew that session was so organic and special and the end result was to be treated as such. So we did our part there.
MM: Tell us about your relationship with the original band members ‘Spanky’ and ‘Herbert J’ back in 1987 and how much of an influence they had on your development as an artist and the group in general?
DJP: I have to tell you, Mike, it’s very difficult for me to speak about Spank, knowing he is no longer here physically. We were like brothers man. He knew my family and I knew his. We went to the same high school and he knew that I was DJing around the neighbourhood and so he would say “man I’m gonna make some beats for you to play”…I was like dope… I’m ready.
So he started making beats and I would play them out. He then started to plant the seed of being a producer in me. I was not making music. I started djing first…but
spanky kept telling me I had an ear and the way I mixed he could see me making my own music.
So he was the one who opened my eyes to that being a possibility. What I took for granted and thought was normal, he would make me see that maybe not everyone can do what you do Pierre. He would be super supportive man. So the producer DJ Pierre came to light because of Spanky…and it’s now my passion. My life. So it’s tough being here without him. He knew things about me that no one else did and he understood me like no one else on a friend brother level would.
He was definitely a force in my development as an all-around artist. When I made new tracks I would send to him and get his feedback. He had an amazing ear as well. Herb was supportive to the group as well but Spank and I we’re the heart of Phuture.
MM: Sometimes when the mould is broken for a new style to emerge, the original can lose its impact over time as the sound gets more refined by ‘future’ producers and artists. That being said, Acid tracks has lost none of its relevant potency and still destroys clubs and raves across the planet, what was the creative thinking as you were laying down the TB 303 squelches and timing them to perfection, whilst maintaining the drive of the tracks? Walk us through the studio and production process what was key?
DJP: I agree with that. Time somehow has a way of diminishing the impact of unbelievable work. Or at times they disappear, unfortunately. Acid Tracks has definitely stood the test of time and outside influence. I’ve personally done reworks and those haven’t come close to the feel of the original. We knew making it that people would either love it or hate it. So it was risky…looking back. Lol. But it was that guy feeling man that led us.
Being wiser and more aware I see that it was spiritual. We just went with what was happening and we became part of this larger thing that was happening. So I see it as a spiritual process. Spank had a beat going and we all were feeling it and I just started messing with the 303 and I had a thought to twist those knobs because I knew there was more to get from this machine and we needed more depth. We needed a more bolder, nastier feel…and so I started twisting the knobs to the beat and Spank immediately said Pierre keep doing that and we jammed out for over an hour on that one track. Acid Track people.
MM: Why is ‘now’ the right time for ‘Phuture’ to relaunch?!
DJP: Well Spank’s passing was sudden and a shock to all of us. We had commitments to Unsound Festival, Flow and a few others. So thankfully Angel Alanis came on board to help us fulfill those. After our last gig together Phuture took a break but it was never discontinued. Just at rest for a bit…dealing with the reality that Spank was gone.
The fans will not let us retire man…that’s HUGE. We love our peeps man
MM: You have said many times how you value and respect the work ethic of an artist that puts in the hours to learn their craft in an unrushed, patient, methodical, process over time. So with the relaunch of Phuture comes with it a new band member the artist ‘Lessnoise’ who has obviously earned his place, introduce us?
DJP: Most definitely. I’ve been looking for a partner with whom I could sync with creatively and who was local. I live in Atlanta now and I’m very much a part of what’s happening in the house and techno scene here with our venue Wildpitch and also working with other artists who are amazing talent. So one of those artists is Lessnoise.
He stood out to me immediately when we met, but I’ve been around a long time and I’ve learned how to be patient even when an artist stands out to me. I know how to spot the talent. Felix Da Housecat and Roy Davis can tell you.
I also have a desire to help develop talent IF they are willing to be helped.
So I watched his character, I looked at his skill level as an artist and I just focused on him for 2 years man. The last gig Spank played was at my venue Wildpitch as Phuture and Lessnoise was there and he spent every minute with us, setting up gear and breaking down. Spank loved him. I have a pic where Spank is pointing to him eerily saying yeah…”He’s good to try and fill my shoes”. So when my partner Andrea mentioned going back on the road and asked who should we mentor to fill in, I choose Lessnoise.
I think he comes with a fresh energy and he has big shoes to fill…but I think he will do great. And we got Spank’s blessing!
Phuture will always be relevant. Period. We have always been ahead of the curve, always testing new boundaries.
Can’t wait to share what we came up with together.
MM: You have timed the relaunch to coincide with the biggest dance music networking event in the world in Europe at ADE [Amsterdam Dance Event], what was the thinking behind this and are you excited for the ‘Phuture’
DJP: I have to admit man that all of this happening right now at the same time had nothing to do with me. I am aware now so I am able to recognize that a bigger force is at work. It’s bigger than me, bigger than Get Physical, bigger than ADE. God is at work man. This project will uplift people because it comes from a place of higher thinking and positivity. It’s spiritual in nature. So I’m sure when it reaches the masses people will feel it.
Music is spiritual and Music is Life. I’m humbled to be a vehicle
Mike Mannix: ‘Lessnoise’ thank you also for talking to us at iconic underground magazine as an already accomplished solo artist, and also as a member of the infamous band ‘Phuture’. But first, we will look at your own history and background when you were stepping up, what kicked it all off for you?
Lessnoise: It’s a pleasure, Mike. I began with the idea of becoming a DJ around 1997 after spending some years playing guitar, bass guitar, and drums performing rock, technical metal, electronica, new age, and even classical. I was attending all the raves in my hometown Monterrey, Mexico. Around that time, there was not much of a scene.
There were just a few local DJs, no record stores, no turntable stores, no place where to rent a DJ mixer. If you knew something about a rave, it was because you knew the promoters. Or because someone that knows someone said something about a rave in the desert of Icamole, which was about an hour away from my town.
The energy, freedom, and happiness of these events were making a really big impact in my life. I decided to put my instruments in the buy/sell section of the local newspaper. The cash I got from selling all my pedals, cymbals, amps, etc. only allowed me to afford one mixer and one turntable. And what I had leftover I spent on the most amazing records I could find online in stores like Satellite Records. Because it was extremely expensive and unsafe to ship to Mexico, I could only afford for them to be shipped to the border of US and Mexico and then I would drive 2 to 4 hours across the border to pick up only 5 or 8 records. And when I got back home I would listen, learn, try to understand and analyse every single kick, every single change, and every chord (remember I only had one turntable).
After almost a year I was able to afford a second turntable and finally put the beat match in practice. And that’s how I learned the basics, by myself practising all night long (because during the day I had two jobs and was going to school). In 2000, I got my first residency, which I think was the best way for me to learn how to read a crowd and how to build up a 6-8 hour set.
Since then I have kept my focus in the studio and in DJing, without stopping. I was trying different projects, learning, and producing until I signed a record deal with Baroque Records in 2013. After a few releases on the label, I felt I had come up with a really solid idea in the studio and reached out to a few DJ/producers that I have huge respect for and asked them if they were interested in doing a remix…Pole Folder and Jay Tripwire were on board.
The EP received solid support and during that time I had the chance to meet Pierre at a Roland Aira event in Atlanta. That week I sent him a demo and he liked it.
A couple of months later he opened the doors of his studio for me to come and create. I’ve been working there since
MM: Your track ‘Shedding light’ is an ethereal enchanting soundscape punctuated with a throbbing bassline driving the hauntingly wandering vocal. Discuss the production process and hardware/software used, what was key?
LN: I am inspired by art, art in all forms and shapes. For this track, I tried to use an instrument, computer, or processor to create the music as if I was painting a canvas. I wanted it to be colorful and dark. I think ‘Shedding Light’ got both sides.
When I write a new track, I try to use different combinations of devices that I haven’t used before. The first idea I came up with for ‘Shedding Light’ was one of the main bass lines using a Roland TR-8 and a TB-3. The vocals were sampled and triggered using dynamic panning automation. Stutter Edit by iZotope was also really useful in this project. Ableton Live is where I run the main ideas and I work arrangements and mixing using Propellerhead Reason.
MM: Music is a spiritual thing a soul thing?
LN: Picasso said “sex and art are the same things” and I couldn’t agree more. You use most of your senses, it’s a ritual, it satisfies you. Of course, you can’t touch music but you feel it.
MM: DJ Pierre has worked with the biggest and best in the dance music scene over 3 decades and knows talent when he sees it. How does it feel for you personally having been invited by him into this prestigious role, considering its massive history in revolutionizing an entire music scene, alongside the illustrious memories of Spanky one of the co-creators of Acid House, how did this all unfold and are you ready to add you’re your own sparks?
LN: Yes, it is definitely a real honor and an opportunity that was beyond my dreams. I used to spin Dj Pierre’s records and had great respect for Phuture and Acid House. I got closer to Phuture when I met Spanky in 2016. We spent many hours together in the Afro Acid studio jamming and testing equipment for their live show at Pierre’s club WildPitch Underground.
We had a good friendship, it felt like we were family, like we had known each other for a long time. After that, we had texted often about gear and setups. In Miami WMC 2017, Afro Acid artists performed at Do Not Sit On The Furniture. I performed live and Pierre seemed excited about my set and gave me some great feedback. A few months later Pierre asked if I’d like to join him to keep Phuture going. It felt right. Spanky, Pierre, and the whole Afro Acid crew have inspired me to push harder and have helped me achieve my highest goals. I am truly thankful and I am ready to uphold the reputation and legacy of Phuture.