Chicago House Music hero Frique is starting a new label called Son of Lea – he gives us the scoop and a free track, No Talk, for you to download in this installment of Chicago Underground from 5 Magazine.
The name Frique (facebook, twitter, soundcloud, mixcloud) has been synonymous with Chicago since the early ’90s as part of the second wave of DJs and innovators that brought forth the loft party scene. And while his presence has remained steadfast in the club circuit, Frique is now stepping out into the world of production and launching his own label, Son of Lea.
Preview: Frique: No Talk – (Son of Lea Music)Free Download
You were a staple of a lot of the loft parties back in the ’90s, it’s crazy to think that these barely exist now in our House community. Why do you think that is?
To answer this question, I’ll have to go back to the beginning. When I started doing loft parties in late 1992, they were the means of introducing myself as a DJ and putting myself out there to the masses. The first party I threw was at 1164 Milwaukee and the next succession of parties were at 1471 Milwaukee, and continued through 1993 into 1994 at 500 W. Cermak. Most of my friends back then were either not 21 or barely 21, so it was where and how we got down.
Between them, people I casually knew from Medusa’s on Sheffield and other spots, and from the other DJs that played – like Diz, Traxx and Gene Farris, amongst others – every party drew well. With the exception of a few that ended early, the parties went off, because of the many people that contributed to their success.
The reason the loft parties ended for me was because I had begun to assimilate into nightclubs after I turned 21 in ’95, and because of the onset of rave culture. I think a lot of people in the House community around that time assimilated into nightclubs for the same reasons.
The reason underground parties are seldom held today is simply because there isn’t that sense, in my eyes, of an anti-establishment. Coupled with the fact that most in the House community are older than 21, underground loft parties don’t have as much of an appeal. But there has always and will always be a counterculture to nightclubs where House Music will live. Believe it!
You’ve been on hiatus from the scene for a while. Tell us what you’ve been up to! I hear you have a label launching?
I haven’t been on a hiatus, per se. I’ve held residencies at Crocodile every first Thursday and Rodan every third Saturday, both for about a year and a half now.
The hiatus you can say from the House community was from about 2002, when my four year residencies at Rednofive and Madbar ended. It ended a string from the mid- to late-1990s of weekly gigs at Smartbar, BigWig, and Crobar to name a few.
For me, I’ve always been a little too analytical about my perception as a DJ and during this time, I wanted to enhance my skill from a technical standpoint. Understanding and respecting all genres of club music is important to me and I seized every opportunity brought forth, which aided in my growth.
Over the past year, I finally gathered enough resources that it was time to make my own beats. Having acquired the basic essentials for a home studio, and being tuned in to what was on the streets and at the clubs, I was ready.
My first remix project was for my good friend Gene Farris called “Back & Forth”. With the help of my friend Corey McCue, this was the first track I was able to actually finish and it came out on his imprint Farris Wheel Recordings earlier this year. (By the way, thanks to 5Mag for the positive review and showcasing my mix as the preview.)
From there, I’ve completed projects for D’lectable Music (Lady D’s Imprint), KGBeats Chicago, Liberate Music and Panama Red Records which are all slated for release before year’s end or early 2011.
And yes, my label is set to launch in January 2011 as well. I’ve never seen as many mornings since I was in school! It’s pretty cool!
Where does the name of your label come from? Is this something that you’ve been wanting to do for a while but just never had the chance?
The name for my label Son of Lea pays tribute to my late mother. I’m always keeping her in my thoughts and having her be the inspiration for thought-provoking music, carrying on a legacy in my family through her from my grandfather, who was a working musician his whole life.
The impetus for starting to produce was to bring together all the music I acquired. I’ve always considered myself a wildcard as a DJ. I love music with an edge, whether mellow or peak hour. But I can’t stay in one place through a set. I have to take that journey through peaks and valleys. My tracks serve for me a bridge between one emotion to a diversion of that emotion, graduating to another; a tool that collectively, through a tapestry of songs and sounds, creates a musical experience for the patron that DJs through the years (too many to name) have done for me. And lastly, as a DJ who has performed exclusively other people’s music, which has given me the ability to travel the world, meet great people from every scene imaginable, and get me to where I am in life right now, it is my obligation to contribute, as an artist and as a label, to the largesse of dance music for all I have humbly consumed.
We’ve discussed this with a lot of artists, about how running a label in today’s world can never really have the endgame of making money. And yet artists continue to launch new labels. What are some of the reasons behind creating Son of Lea and what ultimately would be the litmus test of its success for you?
I never thought artists, with the exception of a few, made money directly from music sales. I always believed money was made through live performances and touring. A label for me, and making music, is advertising. It’s letting people know I exist and gives me viral visibility. Other DJs, radio, blogs, etc. advertise your product to where there is enough clamor and demand to be heard live repeatedly.
Will we be seeing you out more on the DJing circuit once the label is up and running?
That’s a great question. Since 1992, I have been for hire upon availability. Music that comes out on the label, in conjunction with my remix projects and live performances, will enable you to delve into who I am musically so you can become a follower as I go and go and go…