Last night I was having a brief chat with someone about why they love Jay Dee so much and two things struck me which I thought I wouldn't be able to express in 140 characters. Some might say, I don't really express myself when I have limitless space here but that's another story.
Anyway, as I say, it got me thinking about two things; firstly can I consciously remember the first time I heard my hero and secondly, this person said they didn't like to refer to genres anymore, everything was just music.
I think I'll start with the second point as it is probably easier for me to put down what I want to say on that one. I think if someone said "what kind of music do you like?" and I replied "all music "or "I like everything" it would clearly be a lie. I can't stand the commercial, watered down trance pop that currently seems to dominate the UK top 40. But even if I said "I don't like trance" would be wrong because I still enjoy the Goa stuff Oakenfold played around '93-'94 or the Germanic sound Sasha and Digweed played around the mid to later '90s. So although pigeonholing things and creating pointless sub-genres (glo-hop or something was the last daft thing I heard), I think somethings do need to be boxed off. Again, I am not clever or articulate enough to know what the element in the tracks that I do love are. How is it possible that, say Dizzee Rascal, can make some of the best, most innovative records of the last 10 years with his first album, yet have lost or replaced that 'thing' with his later work? And before anyone comments, I don't think the answer is always drugs.
So to the other point I wanted to discuss; when you first hear someone that goes on to be your hero, was a bolt of lightning striking you the very first time you heard it? This person had been a little bit like myself when it came to their hero, Jay Dee, in that he claimed he like me had bought plenty of his productions and remixes throughout the '90s without realising that it was the same man who worked with so many of our favourite artists (at this point I will stop speaking for this person and these are now just my own thoughts again). I put this down to the fact I was just a teenager who knew nothing about everything so it took maybe 5 years (I guess I'd be around 17) before I realised that the producers and writers and remixers were on the whole, more important than necessarily buying for the artists name.
This then got me thinking about firstly who I consider my heroes and when I first heard them. The answers I kept coming back to were the obvious, legendary disco djs who pioneered house - Larry Levan, Ron Hardy, Francois Kevorkian, Frankie Knuckles etc etc. Through reading the Trainspotter column in Mixmag, the Desert Island Disco pages in Muzik and the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life book, I had actually read a lot more about these djs and the records before I had ever heard any of them - I think the only exception might have been Tom Moulton as the version I would have heard on the radio of Andrea True Connection is just the first part of his mix. But anyway, perhaps not unsurprisingly but in the mid 90s getting into house music as a teenager in small town nowheresville, the only route to anything decent was through the radio and mix tapes - of which neither played any proto house. I had heard rave and the Belgian hoover classics through my older brother in 91-92 but even that had already missed out 3 or 4 years of the history of house.
In '98 when there was some 'decade of acid house' retrospectives and compilations, I was able to first hear Tears, French Kiss or Can You Feel It? and then Mixmag ran a feature on the most important records of all time and Frankie Knuckles had about 8 of the top 10 through various productions or remixes.
The first Larry Levan remix I heard was David Joseph (a couple of years before I later saw the footage and read the story of Greg Wilson on The Tube) and it really was mind-blowing. I guess though, it was cheating because I had this impression in my mind that I wanted it to live up to, I kind of knew what I was getting but it made me wonder how people who heard it back when it first came out felt. For Ron Hardy it was kind of funny, as soon as I heard Let No Man Put Asunder, I was counting how many tracks I had which sampled it - there's plenty!
Anyway, I've waffled on too long. I guess my point is that I knew too much before I first heard my heroes so it's not really fair to compare it with someone elses experiences. I might carry on this story another day if I get bored / inspired / argumentative...