The history of Dance Music can’t be written without DJ Pierre. He was amongst the beginning threads in Chicago where he witnessed Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse and Ron Hardy at the Music Box writing the definition of House music and their differing DJ styles that live on to this day. Pierre wasn’t far behind his compatriots. He would follow in their footsteps to create Acid House as Phuture with DJ Spank and Herb J, sparking a multi-decade career that still sees the legend performing with tantalizing effect.
This coming weekend, DJ Pierre returns to where it all began, Chicago. His hometown brings us ARC Fest, a two-day fest stacked with some of the brightest young stars and many veterans at the pinnacle of House, Techno, and everything in-between. In the lead-up to the festival, we sat down with Dj Pierre and got his thoughts on electronic music and his birthplace. Here’s our exclusive interview with the legend.
To begin, how have you handled the pandemic?
It’s been an eye-opener into where this world is heading, and also a deep insight into the dark crevices inside our hearts and minds as human beings. This is not only a pandemic that has brought sickness and death to our bodies, it’s also one that because of our deteriorating humanity, and lost ethical standards within the culture of journalism in our media, has unfortunately propagated menticide in most of our society today.
You hail from Chicago and were able to experience Ron Hardy’s the Music Box, the Warehouse, plus the culture around this time. What was the atmosphere like around the music and scene?
I’m proud to say that it was one full of excitement and passion for the music that was squarely centered in unity, understanding, and inclusion. House music was our escape from a world full of illogical thought, oppression, hurt, and confusion. In house music, we knew that we were in a community of equally shared love for the music and the scene. This music was our creation, our baby, our thang, and no one could tell us any different.
Did it feel like this was the beginning of something “big” or special?
Yeah it did, we definitely knew that it was very special to us, but I’m not so sure that we could have possibly dreamed that it would become the soundtrack of life to so many people around the world like it has.
For those who may not know the history or legends of Dance music, who are some acts that people should listen to and check out? What are some of your favorite tracks from this time?
For me, I can say #1 is Ron Hardy. r.i.p. Without him you don’t have this explosion of house music created by the Roland drum machines, and Keyboards. #2 Frankie Knuckles r.i.p., #Lil Louis. Now there are countless other DJs who were blue-collar guys like Gene Hunt who was holding it down for the younger generation of that time. The influential tracks for me were ‘Distant Planet’ (or anything by Fingers Inc.) Time To Jack, Move Your Body, French Kiss, “151” by Armondo r.i.p. Just to name a few.
In past interviews, you’ve talked about the influence of Ron Hardy on Acid House and dance music in general, what can you tell us about him and how he influenced you and Phuture?
He stood out for his unique style of how he DJ’d. You couldn’t put Ron into a creative box, he was rebellious that way.
You also are credited for pioneering Wildpitch, which utilizes a lot of layering and builds, what inspired you to explore this sound?
Coming to NY I quickly realized that all that Chicago Ron Hardy energy was too much for them, so instead of forcing anything I decided to make my tracks start out where they were and let it build to where I wanted it to go then slowly bring it back to a place that they can flow back into their usual NY style.
You’ve had a multi-decade legacy in dance music and have been inducted to the Dance Music Hall of Fame. What was it like watching and being a part of the evolution from the beginning days in Chicago to the “EDM” boom to now?
It’s something akin to a parent viewing his once young child progress into young adulthood whereas they start to depart from the roots, and ways formally laid down by you as their parent, and decide to go their own way, no longer to listen, or to follow the advice you give in the same manner. But like a parent, you let go and learn to appreciate, and look on with great pride at all that they have accomplished regardless of whether they totally veered off on a total 100% different path. You just gotta love ’em! lol!
You’re about to perform in your home city of Chicago at ARC Fest. how does it feel that 30 some years after your beginnings you are performing at a major music festival?
I’m always performing at major music festivals every year around the world, especially in Europe, but it’s nice to play one in my hometown Chicago, the city that started it all.
In your opinion, What makes a great DJ Set?
Definitely being able to connect with your audience and taking them on a musical journey filled with peaks and valleys. For me, it’s a must to bring that passionate energy as well.