Spence:Chicago mixes Volume #11 of The 312, 5 Magazine’s Chicago House Music mix and interview series with the people in your neighborhood – the DJs that keep the Chicago House scene on top.
There is something invigorating about watching someone work nonstop, especially one with a strong passion for his music. Spence:Chicago’s UndergroundHouse.tv channel has given a voice and a network to hundreds of DJs sharing a love for House. This time we’d like to shine the spotlight on his excellent style and mix.
The interview picks up below the mix. Photo by Marta Krasnicka.
What part of Chicago are you from and where do you derive your musical influences from?
I live on the north side of Chicago near the corner of Clark and Belmont. My musical influences are varied: I grew up listening to classic rock (Zeppelin, AC/DC, etc.) and after college got really into the punk rock scene in Chicago while listening to bands like Big Black, Black Flag, Fugazi, X and more. I played guitar in an underground rock band in the 90s and co-owned a record label that released Wesley Willis Fiasco’s first album. During that time I was hitting Red Dog, Shelter, The Bridge, Kaboom, Smart Bar and other clubs to get my House fix. House music was always there for me. I learned how to DJ in the mid-2000s and never looked back. My house influences include Kerri Chandler, Frankie Knuckles, MAW, Jeremy Sylvester, Grant Nelson, DJ Sneak, and numerous classic ’90s House tracks/artists. My modern influences include Alex Agore, the label My Love is Underground, and the new school House coming out of locations like Mexico City and northern Europe on labels like Hustler Trax.
Tell us about UGHTV, how it got started and all the work involved.
I started Undergroundhouse.tv (UGHTV) on Halloween of 2010 after video streaming for over a year on another Chicago-based channel that was primarily focused on Soulful House. The idea behind UGHTV was to have a station consisting of underground House DJs located around the world that were spinning different non-commercial genres. We currently have DJs from Brazil, Japan, London and all over the U.S. with more interested in joining. It’s been a lot of work and obviously video streaming DJs is a niche genre so we’re not taking over the world or anything, but it’s been successful in its own right. We’ve done live streams from clubs and other event locations, including the last three House of Sol events, various fundraisers, and also the Frankie Knuckles Tribute from Millennium Park in Chicago which had guests joining our chat room from all over the world. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to give back to the House community in Chicago by broadcasting events as well as featuring local DJs as residents and guests that deserve to be known. I’d like to give a shout-out to all the UGHTV DJs past & present, as well as Antoine Simpson of HouseHeadSpeaks for the contribution he was as an important part of UGHTV from roughly 2013-2015.
Where do you like to find your music usually?
I get my digital music from Traxsource, Juno Download, Bandcamp and Soundcloud. For vinyl I walk down the street to Gramaphone Records and dig. If I can’t find what I’m looking for at Gramaphone I hit up Juno and Discogs. I’m also on quite a few promo lists, and I have various producers hitting me up to check out their productions so I find new music that way too. This mix I’ve done for 5 Magazine is a blend of some of my favorite classic to modern underground House tracks, with about 50% being vinyl-only releases from labels such as My Love is Underground (Paris).
What do you have coming up for the future, where can people see you play?
Last year I was accepted to be a resident on Grant Nelson’s D3EP Radio Network which is based out of London. My show is a live broadcast from Chicago called ‘House Dope Sessions’ and I feature classic to modern underground House. Beginning October 10th my show will be on every Saturday at Midnight UK and 6pm Chicago (CT) at d3ep.com. I also created and admin the largest underground House group on Facebook called Underground House Music that currently has almost 43,000 members. For gigs, myself and Alex Mr. Latin House will be DJing at the final Golan Studio Halloween Party in Chicago in a 5 room warehouse near the Chicago river… It will be off the hook. On Saturday November 7th I’ll be appearing alongside the Flying Almaria Brothers at 1912 Lounge in Chinatown at 2002 S Wentworth Avenue.
Mixing a regular job with DJing and producing can take its toll. How do you find your balance?
I barely pull it off and some that are close to me would say I don’t pull it off at all lol. I get up at 5:15am every day during the week to trade electronic futures, then I run UGHTV, I’m working on finalizing original productions (yeah it’s a cliche, whatever), as well as keeping up with my DJing, radio show, track digging, etc …. and I try to stay in shape and have a social life, educate myself, ride my motorcycle, etc. Basically have a life. I can tell you that I haven’t experienced the emotion of boredom in at least 15 years. My problem if anything, is over-stimulation so during my down time I try to do things that chill me out. Congratulations to 5 Magazine for 10 years doing the damn thing! You’re doing God’s work… RESPECT.