Tuesday, 18 February 2014

OUGD505- Studio Brief 1- Focused Research

My original research was on Turntablism so I have decided to focus it on House Music as this is the area I am most interested in.

The roots to 1985

Like it or not, house was first and foremost a direct descendant of disco. Disco had already been going for ten years when the first electronic drum tracks began to appear out of Chicago, and in that time it had already suffered the slings and arrows of merciless commercial exploitation, dilution and racial and sexual prejudice which culminated in the 'disco sucks' campaign. In one bizarrely extreme incident, people attending a baseball game in Chicago's Komishi Park were invited to bring all their unwanted disco records and after the game they were tossed onto a massive bonfire. Disco eventually collapsed under a heaving weight of crass disco versions of pop records and an ever-increasing volume of records that were simply no good. But the underground scene had already stepped off and was beginning to develop a new style that was deeper, rawer and more designed to make people dance. Disco had already produced the first records to be aimed specifically at DJs with extended 12" versions that included long percussion breaks for mixing purposes and the early eighties proved a vital turning point. Sinnamon's 'Thanks To You', D-Train's 'You're The One For Me' and The Peech Boys' 'Don't Make Me Wait', a record that's been continually sampled over the last decade, took things in a different direction with their sparse, synthesized sounds that introduced dub effects and drop-outs that had never been heard before.

But it wasn't just American music laying the groundwork for house. European music, spanning English electronic pop like Depeche Mode and Soft Cell and the earlier, more disco based sounds of Giorgio Moroder, Klein & MBO and a thousand Italian productions were immensely popular in urban areas like New York and Chicago. One of the reasons for their popularity was two clubs that had simultaneously broken the barriers of race and sexual preference, two clubs that were to pass on into dance music legend - Chicago's Warehouse and New York's Paradise Garage. Up until then, and after, the norm was for Black, Hispanic, White, straight and gay to segregate themselves, but with the Warehouse, opened in 1977 and presided over by Frankie Knuckles and the Garage where Larry Levan spun, the emphasis was on the music. (Ironically, Levan was first choice for the Warehouse, but he didn't want to leave New York). And the music was as varied as the clienteles - r'n'b based Black dance music and disco peppered with things as diverse as The Clash's 'Magnificent Seven'. For most people, these were the places that acted as breeding grounds for the music that eventually came to be known after the clubs - house and garage.

Right from the start there was a difference in approach between New York and Chicago. "All of the records coming out of New York had been either mid or down tempo, and the kids in Chicago wouldn't do that all night long, they needed more energy" commented Frankie Knuckles after his move to Chicago. The Windy City was seduced to a far greater extent by the European sound and when the records started to come, it showed. Whereas garage in New York evolved more smoothly from First Choice and the labels Salsoul, West End and Prelude, there was no such evolution in Chicago. Opinions still differ as to what the first house record was, but it was certainly made by Jessie Saunders and it was on the Mitchball label - probably Z Factor's 'Fantasy', but there was also another Z Factor tune which went by the name of 'I Like To Do It In Fast Cars'. 'Fantasy' sounds extremely dated now but ten years ago it was like a sound from another planet, with echoes of Kraftwerk's heavily synthesized string sounds, a Eurobeat bassline and a simple, insistent drum machine pattern. Suffice to say, the record remained obscure outside the close-knit urban Chicago scene.

"Those records didn't really motivate people" says Adonis, one of the early producers on the Chicago scene. "The first was Jamie Principle's 'Waiting On Your Angel'. See, before there were records there were cassettes, and that was the hottest thing in Chicago. It was so hot Jessie Saunders went in and recorded that track word for word, note for note, and put it out on Larry Sherman's label Precision. It was so influential that four or five records came out that took its sounds." Within a year though, others were fast joining. Saunders, who by then had come out with his Jes-Say label, with Farley Keith (or Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk) getting in on the act. Frankie Knuckles, who had already done some remixes for Salsoul was also beginning to work on his own productions. By 1985 it was clear that something big was beginning to stir. Ron Hardy, who was to become the backbone of the Chicago club scene by consistently breaking the new records, began playing at The Music Box around the same time as Frankie Knuckles left The Warehouse, and other DJs like Farley and the Hot Mix 5 who threw down the mix shows on the radio station WBMX were making names for themselves. But making a record wasn't the priority for most of the DJs at the time - they were making music specifically to play at the clubs and the parties that were beginning to spring up in the city. Larry Heard and Robert Owens, later to be known as Fingers Inc, and Steve Hurley were all experimenting with basic rhythm tracks long before they made the jump to vinyl.

"I started dabbling in making my own music." says Hurley. "Just making tracks to play as a DJ, not really thinking as far as producing - more to do with just having something to play that nobody else had. And one of these tracks, 'Music Is The Key', got such a good response that I decided to borrow some money and go in with another guy, who happened to be Rocky Jones, and put the record out."

That momentous occasion was the beginning of DJ International Records, one of the two labels that was to give all the aspiring producers in the city a chance to get their music on to vinyl. The other, Larry Sherman's Trax Records was already up and running, though to begin with Sherman was attempting to break into a more commercial market with Precision. 'Music Is The Key' (the first house record to include a rap, incidentally) took house on a step by incorporating more musical elements and a vocal, and by the time Chip E's 'Like This', also on DJ International, appeared house had discovered real vocals and the sampled stutter technique that's such an integral part of dub remixes today. "It took a little while for the sound to develop" remembers London DJ Jazzy M, who worked in a record shop at the time and was one of the very first to get house on the radio in Britain with his immensely popular Jackin' Zone show on London pirate station LWR. "When 'Like This' and Adonis' 'No Way Back' came out, that's when it picked up. At first it was just drum machine programs and they were called trax, like there was Chip E Trax and Kenny Jason Trax and that's what house was, with maybe a few dodgy samples. I can remember talking to Colin Faver, who was one of the first DJs here to get into it, about 'Like This' and we were both really excited by it."

Meanwhile, things were gathering pace over in New York though the development was a lot slower. Mixers like Larry Levan, Tony Humphries, Timmy Regisford and Boyd Jarvis, who came straight after Shep Pettibone and Jellybean Benitez were making ground as remixers, and fired by the raw club sound of Colonel Abrams, the deep, soulful club sound that became known as garage was taking shape with early releases on the Supertonics, Easy Street and Ace Beat labels. Paul Scott was one of the first with 'Off The Wall' in 1985 but before that there was Serious Intention's deep dub classic 'You Don't Know' and even before that was World Premiere's 'Share The Night'.

While Frankie Knuckles had laid the groundwork for house at the Warehouse, it was to be another DJ from the gay scene that was really to create the environment for the house explosion - Ron Hardy. Where Knuckles' sound was still very much based in disco, Hardy was the DJ that went for the rawest, wildest rhythm tracks he could find and he made The Music Box the inspirational temple for pretty much every DJ and producer that was to come out of the Chicago scene. He was also the DJ to whom the producers took their very latest tracks so they could test the reaction on the dance floor. Larry Heard was one of those people.

"People would bring their tracks on tape and the DJ would play spin them in. It was part of the ritual, you'd take the tape and see the crowd reaction. I never got the chance to take my own stuff because Robert (Owens) would always get there first."

"The Music Box was underground " remembers Adonis. "You could go there in the middle of the winter and it'd be as hot as hell, people would be walking around with their shirts off. Ron Hardy had so much power people would be praising his name while he was playing, and I've got the tapes to prove it!

"The difference between Frankie and Ronnie was that people weren't making records when Frankie was playing, though all the guys who would become the next DJs were there checking him out. It was The Music Box that really inspired people. I went there one night and the next day I was in the studio making 'No Way Back' " In 1985 the records were few and far between. By 1986 the trickle had turned to a flood and it seemed like everybody in Chicago was making house music. The early players were joined by a rush of new talent which included the first real vocal talents of house - Liz Torres, Keith Nunally who worked with Steve Hurley, and Robert Owens who joined up with Larry Heard to form Fingers Inc, though the duo had already worked with Harri Dennis on The It's 'Donnie' -and key producers like Adonis, Mr Lee, K Alexi and a guy who was developing a deep, melodic sound that relied on big strings and pounding piano - Marshall Jefferson.

Marshall worked with a number of people like Harri Dennis and Vince Lawrence for projects like Jungle Wonz and Virgo, who made the stunning 'RU Hot Enough'. But it was 'Move Your Body' that became THE house record of 1986, so big that both Trax and DJ International found a way to release it, and it was no idle boast when the track was subtitled 'The House Music Anthem', because that's exactly what it was. Jefferson was to become the undisputed king of house, going on to make a string of brilliant records with Hercules and On The House and developing the quintessential deep house sound first with vocalist Curtis McClean and then with Ce Ce Rogers and Ten City. "I can remember clearing a floor with that record" laughs Jazzy M. "Though they'd started playing it in Manchester, most of London was still caught up in that rare groove and hip hop thing. A lot of people were saying to me 'why are you playing this hi- NRG' and it was hard work but people were starting to get into it." 'Move Your Body' was undoubtedly the record that really kicked off house in the UK, first played repeatedly by the established pirate radio stations in London, which at the time played right across the Black music spectrum, and then by club DJs like Mike Pickering, Colin Faver, Eddie Richards, Mark Moore and Noel and Maurice Watson, the latter two playing at the first club in London to really support house - Delirium.

Radio was the key to the explosion in Chicago. Farley Jackmaster Funk had secured a spot on the adventurous WBMX station, playing after midnight every day, and it wasn't long before he brought in the Hot Mix 5 which included Mickey Oliver, Ralphie Rosario, Mario Diaz and Julian Perez, and Steve Hurley, giving people who couldn't go to the parties the chance to hear the music. Then there was Lil Louis, who was throwing his own parties. By this time, house was moving out of the gay scene and on to wider acceptance, though in Chicago at least it was to remain very much a Black thing. Though a number of Hispanics were on the house scene, the number of White DJs and producers could be counted on one hand.

The labels were still mostly limited to the terrible twins that were to dominate Chicago house for the next two years Trax and DJ International. Between them they had nearly all the local talent sewn up and by popular consent they were just as dodgy as each other, with rumors and stories of rip-offs and generally dubious activity endlessly circulating. Everybody it seemed, was stealing from everybody else. One that remains largely untold involved Frankie Knuckles. "This was the story at the time" recalls Adonis. "Supposedly Frankie sold Jamie Principle's unreleased tapes to DJ International AND Trax at the same time. Then Jamie came out with a record called 'Knucklehead' dissing Frankie. After that Frankie went back to New York."

When Rocky Jones at DJ International became convinced by a larger- than-life character named Lewis Pitzele who was helping put a lot of the deals together at the time that Europe was the place to focus on, house poured into Britain with London Records putting the first compilation of early DJ International material out. As the press bandwagon rolled into action the 86 Chicago House Party featuring Adonis, Marshall Jefferson, Fingers Inc and Kevin Irving toured the UK's clubs. Trax took a little longer

Adonis: "Trax was meant to be a bullshit label for all the dirty, raggedy records Larry Sherman didn't give a shit about. You know, labels were always trying to do radio stuff, but Trax became popular after 'No Way Back' and 'Move Your Body' and all those tracks." It was DJ International and London who notched up the first house hits, first with Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk's 'Love Can't Turn Around', a cover of the old Isaac Hayes song with camp wailer Daryl Pandy on vocals which reached Number 10 in September 1986, and then a record that spent months gestating in the clubs before it was finally catapulted to Number One in January 1987 - Jim Silk's 'Jack Your Body'. The Americans were gob smacked. Their underground club music was going mainstream four thousand miles from its home. But it was no surprise that Steve Hurley was behind the track, which hit the top despite only having three words - the title. Even then he was the one with the commercial touch. It wasn't a terribly original record - the bassline was from First Choice's 'Let No Man Put Asunder', but it summed up the mood of jack fever. All of a sudden the word 'Jack', which originally described the form of dancing people did to house, was everywhere 'Jack The Box', 'Jack The House', 'Jack To The Sound' 'J-J-J-J-JJack-Jack-Jack-Jack'. It was the stutter sample on the 'J' that took the word into legend. Vaughan Mason's Raze, who'd quietly been doing stuff out of Washington DC burst into the clubs and then followed Jim Silk into the charts with 'Jack The Groove'. And garage? New York simply couldn't match the energy flowing out of Chicago but there was little doubt that the music was developing simultaneously. The Jersey garage sound, boosted by Tony Humphries (who'd also been on the radio since 1981) at Newark's Zanzibar Club, was beginning to take shape with Blaze but the New York club sound was defined at the time by Dhar Braxton's 'Jump Back' and Hanson & Davis' 'Hungry For Your Love' which borrowed heavily from the Latin freestyle sound but echoed the energy of house. And over in Brooklyn, producers like Tommy Musto working for the Underworld/Apexton label were developing a different style again, one that like Chicago seemed to take its roots as much from Eurobeat as from Black music, though the mood and tempo was strictly New York.

Pump Up the Volume Documentary

To get some primary research I watched this documentary and took notes. There were some good quotes that I can use in my booklet.

"In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove,

And from this groove came the groove of all grooves,

And while one day viciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldy declared,

“Let there be HOUSE!”

and house music was born."

1977 Disco came about 

Larry Levan (DJ) 
The Garage, New York 

Predominately associated with the gay scene amongst black males 

1979 Disco Sucks campaign 
-racial tendencies 
-disco went out of fashion

1977 Frankie Knuckles came along
Brought it to Chicago, The Warehouse 

Imports Etc- record shop 
-Only place that sold music played in the Warehouse

Warehouse was shortened to 'House' to describe the music

Limited supply of tunes the DJs had to become creative on the decks

"Saturday night live,
aint no jive."

Djs started adding drum machines, this progressed house music 

1983 The Music Box opened in Chicago 
-ran by Ron Hardy 

1984 Your Love - Jamie Principle and Frankie Knuckles 
-Elevated house music 

Moved away from recycling disco tracks and became something new

On and On track triggered the house music boom, made people realise you don't need to be a musician to make music

Time to Jack - Chip E

By 1985 Chicago house had exploded 

Trax record label
-re-pressed old vinyls 

Acid House rose from the misuse of karaoke machines 

Can you feel it - Larry Heard 

Larry Levan, Ron Hardy died from drug abuse in 1992

Move your Body - Marshal Jefferson 
-introduced using piano keys 

1986 House music spread to other countries 

House music was created in and by the African American community. Musically, House music evolved in Chicago and New York from African-American musical traditions like gospel, soul, jazz and funk as well as Latin salsa. Spiritually and aesthetically, it developed in the U.S. out of the need of oppressed people, African Americans, gays and Latinos, to build a community through dance , and later in the UK, out of the need of young people dissatisfied with the meaningless materialism of Thatcher’s England, to build an alternative community of music and dance via Acid House. From a different point of view, House music in the U.S. was associated with black people, with gay clubs, basically with things that white America would not even acknowledge.

House was just perceived as "gay" music for blacks and thus scorned by whites, although its aim was to unify people of all races, backgrounds and sexual orientations. According to Frankie Knuckles, many people could not and still cannot deal with the fact that House music started in gay clubs. Thus, narrow-mindedness, racism, and even corporate music politics played an important role in preventing House music from flourishing in the U.S. in the eighties.

House music had its origins in gospel, soul and funk rather than in commercial disco music. Furthermore, Chicago jazz, blues and soul had an immense influence on the creation of House music. There were significant Midwestern musical influences that led to the creation of the Chicago flavour of House music. No doubt, the Midwest had its own tradition of African American music. Thus, blues and jazz presented a part of the mix. To sum up, the soul music produced in Chicago, Detroit and Memphis certainly had an impact on Chicago house.

The Warehouse, 206 South Jefferson Street

It all started in Chicago’s Southside in 1977, when a new kind of club opened. This new Chicago club called The Warehouse gave House music its name. Frankie Knuckles, who opened The Warehouse, mixed old disco classics and new Eurobeat pop. It was at this legendary club where many of the experiments were tried. It was also where Acid House got its start.

House was the first direct descendant of disco. In comparison with disco, House was "deeper", "rawer", and more designed to make people dance. Disco had already produced the first records to be aimed specifically at DJs with extended 12" versions that included long percussion breaks for mixing purposes. The early 80s proved a vital turning point. Sinnamon’s "Thanks To You", D-Train’s "You're The One For Me", and The Peech Boys "Don’t Make Me Wait", a record that has been continually sampled over the last decade, took things in a different direction with their sparse, synthesised sounds that introduced dub effects and drop-outs that had never been heard before.

House music did not have its origins just in American music. The popularity of European music, specifically English electronic pop like Depeche Mode and Soft Cell and the earlier, more disco-based sounds of Giorgio Moroder, Klein & MBO, as well as Italian productions, they all gave rise to House music. Two clubs, the already mentioned Chicago’s Warehouse and New York’s Paradise Garage, which promoted European music, had at the same time broken the barriers of race and sexual preference (for House music was in part targeted at the gay community). Before The Warehouse opened, there had been clubs strictly designed to segregate race. However, The Warehouse did not make any difference between Blacks, Hispanics, or Whites; the main interest was simply music. And the music was as diverse as the clients.

People who influenced House

Frankie Knuckles

Frankie said, "When we first opened in 1977, I was playing a lot of the East Coast records, the Philly stuff, Salsoul. By ‘80/81, when that stuff was all over with, I started working a lot of the soul that was coming out. I had to re-construct the records to work for my dancefloor, to keep the dancefloor happy, as there was no dance music coming out! I’d take the existing songs, change the tempo, layer different bits of percussion over them, to make them more conductive for the dancefloor."

Larry Levan

Frankie’s friend Larry Levan was a black teenager from Brooklyn like Frankie. In fact, it was Larry who first suggested opening The Warehouse in Chicago. However, things took a different turn, and in the end Larry Levan spun in New York’s Paradise Garage. Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles were indeed two very important figures in the development of House music and the modern dance scene. Perhaps there would have been no fame for the two without the producer, DJ and devoted lover of dance and music, David Mancuso, and his dance parties for gays called Loft parties. "The Loft" was a house party intended for a very black and a very gay crowd.

Ron Hardy

By the mid 80s House had emerged in Chicago as a fully developed musical genre through the efforts of Knuckles and those inspired by him like DJ Ron Hardy of Music Box fame. Ron Hardy was another DJ from the gay scene. The sounds they produced differed in that the basis of Knuckle’s sound was still disco, whereas Hardy was the DJ that chose the rawest and wildest rhythm tracks he could find.

Famous House Music Quotes...

Frankie Knuckles.

"House Music is a Feeling,... a feeling that will never die."

"Not everyone understands House music; it's a spiritual thing; a body thing; a soul thing."

(Eddie Amador - House Music) [Yoshitoshi Recordings, 1997]

"In the beginning there was Jack, and Jack had a groove.
And from this groove came the grooves of all grooves.
And while one day viciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldly declared: "Let there be house!" Andhouse music was born.
I am you see, I am the creator, and this is my house, and in my house there is only house music.
But, I am not so selfish, because once you're into my house it then becomes our house and our house music.
And you see, no one man owns house, because house music is a universal language spoken and understood by all.
You see, house is a feeling, that no one can understand really, unless you're deep into the vibe of house.
House is an uncontrollable desire to jack your body. And as I told you before: This is our house and ourhouse music.
In every house, you understand, there is a keeper and in this house the keeper is Jack.
Now, some of you might wonder "Who is Jack and what is it that Jack does?"
Jack is the one who gives you the power to jack your body.
Jack is the one who gives you the power to do the snake.
Jack is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly worm.
Jack is the one who learns you how to walk your body.
Jack is the one that can bring nations and nations of all jackers together under one house.
You may be black, you may be white, you may be Jew or Gentile... It don't make a difference in our house.
And this is fresh."

(Rhythm Controll - My House; feat. Chuck Roberts) [Catch A Beat, 1987]
(Fingers Inc - Can You Feel It) [Desire Records, 1988]

House Music Genres

Acid house
Balearic beat
Chicago house
Deep house
Diva house/Handbag house
Electro house
Dutch house
Fidget house
Electro swing
Swing house
Freestyle house
French house
Funky house
Garage house
Ghetto house
Hip house
Italo house
Latin house
Microhouse/Minimal house
New beat
Progressive house
Big room house
Tech house
Tribal house
Vocal house

Vinyl Label Design 

45 Labels. The label advertised the single. The information on the label may be the only credit information that is available to the public. Beyond the title, songwriters, the artist's name and record company logo, three important credits may be included: the producer, the arranger and the engineer. Each of them can be as collectible as the artist. Collectors may also extend their interest to include the records that artists created when they filled the role of producer, arrangers or songwriter. 

Because singles were usually printed only once, the record company logo variations can help identify the year of release. This is especially useful if there is no copyright or print date on the label. 

Album Labels.
 The design of the label on the vinyl helps identify an original album from a reprint. Collectors with a sharp eye will notice differences in printing techniques, color variations, and even the company that pressed the recording because of the location of the raised vinyl ring under the label.



Record Sleeves

45 Sleeves. Until the 1980s, picture sleeves were reserved for well-known, better-selling artists. This was because picture sleeves were more expensive to produce. New artists or those signed only to record singles had their work issued in generic record company sleeves. The sleeve functioned to advertise the record company with its use of a large company logo or memorable design.

Retro sleeves

Album Liners. The record company's inner sleeves for albums often help to date the album in two ways. First, the sleeves may have been printed with information about other recent releases. Second, some companies like A&M Records placed codes on their inner sleeves which helps determine the period for an album release.

Aesthetics for Contextual Publication 

I like the vivid colours used in the poster series above with the almost optical illusion style illustration. I think this style of design illustrates the repetitive nature of the music well.

I like the simplicity and Modernist characteristics of the poster series above. They use a simple four column grid system which is something I need to think about for my publication.

These posters are minimal but have a retro feel to them which is something I am wanting to produce to fit in the timescale of the music.

Nets for Packaging

Im thinking about using a record sleeve template for the packaging of my publication. I will use a 7inch sleeve size.

Below are the dimensions for the label size, I am thinking of having this cut out of the packaging to reveal the front of the publication.

 Packaging Dimensions 

This will be the net for packaging for my publication. The spine size may need changing depending on how thick the publication is when printed on the stock I decide to use.
Publication Dimensions

I will use these dimension for the publication so it will fir into the packaging without being to tight.

Publication Cover 

I came across these publications and thought it would be really nice to use an old vinyl for the front cover of the publication. Because of the page amount I am thinking a thermo bind mind be best if I decide to go ahead with 
this idea.


To bind my book I am going to saddle stitch the pages to black card to allow me to stick the vinyl record to the card. This should give the book some structure and strength.