DJ Pierre is one of the hardest working men in the music business. After more than a decade of producing innovative and cutting edge underground house music, the master creator is at the height of his burgeoning career, and shows no signs of slowing down.
DJ Pierre is the quintessential dance producer. With his finger on the pulse of today’s underground house scene, he is shaping the present and laying the ground work for the future. Pierre is currently laying down tracks for his forthcoming full-length opus and in the midst of starting his own underground dance label.
My music is the center of my world says the beat master “Once I get the vibe going, I can’t stop. It’s an intense feeling, fusing the rhythm and beats in an underground groove that makes the dance floor shake and people move. It’s a very spiritual evolution for me — one that I take very seriously.”
More than just a producers’ producer, Pierre is the unconventional king of the hard-core house mixers and a visionary. One of the original producers of the 80’s Chicago scene. Pierre fuses together scorching acid grooves with pulsating beats, laden with the sultry vocal samples “I’m more or less a minority type producer,” he says “I make music for a very select group of people. It’s not for the masses. It’s for people who really know their music. If you just get into dance music, you probably won’t be into my tracks. Someone has to be deeper into house to get my music.”
Over the past 10 years, DJ Pierre has created a niche for himself in a genre that sees its players change continually, most being forgotten more than remembered. Moreover, his name has become synonymous with some very provocative and influential sounds. Pierre has produced more than 50 house anthems ranging from Phuture’s “Acid Trax”, “The Creator” and “Your Old Friend” to Photon Inc.’s “Generate Power” and “Give A Little Love”. He also scored well with Joint Venture’s “Masterblaster” and his own “Muzik Set You Free.” As a remixer, he’s hit gold by reinventing more than two dozen infectious grooves including, Phuture’s “Spirit,” RuPaul’s “A Shade Shady,” The Pet Shop Boys “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing” and Urban Soul’s “Sex On My Mind.” He hit number one on the Billboard Dance chart with Midi Rain’s “Shine.”
Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, DJ Pierre was a master whiz at fixings things, be it transistor radios, televisions or the Christmas lights on a family tree “I always thought I’d be into electronics. I was seven years old and really good with doing stuff like that–fixing people’s watches, putting lights in people’s radios. I had no training, just a lot of curiosity”, he says. “I’ve always been able to figure out on my own and learn by the experiences of doing things myself.”
Pierre became immersed in the underground world, learning the ins and outs of the Chicago House scene. Soon he was spinning at parties and Chicago clubs. By the late 1980’s, Pierre was considered to be one of the best DJ’s in the area and he was being lauded for his on-the-cusp acid house sounds and his def remixes.
Firstly how did you get into music?
Short answer is…it was divinely intended. Long answer is that my family, namely my Dad, got us all into playing instruments. I played in Symphonic Winds all throughout high school.
My Uncle played with Duke Ellington, all my siblings played, my Mom would listen and make me dance to old records. So I just had a natural inclination towards music and my environment made it easy to soak it all in.
When did you get hold of a 303?
With Spank (rest in peace my friend). I miss talking to that dude man. Spank picked it up at a second-hand shop in 1985 because I told him I heard it at a friend’s house and it had rawness that we could use. We got busy right after.
Historically your tracks have contained socio-political lyrics and references such as rise from your grave. Looking at the current situation do you feel that dance music should be be referencing and interacting in this way?
100% yes. I have some key messages coming, because not many people are using their music to speak. Music has always been a tool for socio/economic/political shifts. I don’t speak much in person and on social media. I let the music speak for me. And I can’t simply tell you to move, jump and jack to the music man. Life is happening and we can dance all we want but there are decisions being made without our input. Music I believe is spiritual. So I truly think if the intent is right behind it, it can impact lives, perspectives, actions. It can cause shifts in the spiritual and natural worlds.
What does your current studio look like and how do you approach writing tracks?
Someone used the term ‘spaceship’ to describe it. I guess it has lots of buttons and shiny lights. I have all the Roland gear. They are a big part of my set up. I used to have an ESPN moment to prepare me but now the music wants to come out urgently, so I don’t take that 1 to 2 hrs I used to watching sports to prep. Now I pray…clear my head…(I try at least…it’s a busy highway) then I get to it. I feel we are spiritual beings as well, so I recognise that I can understand that inspiration can come from a spiritual place. For me…I say I wait on God.
Not the ‘perceived white God’ that people justify slavery and other atrocities with. I mean God, (Yahweh) from original Hebrew texts. He had bronze feet and woolly hair. 🙂
In 2017 you released your wild pitch the story album after the wild pitch mix series. What inspired you when starting that series?
Well, I’ve always said that was organic. Spiritual. It really wasn’t planned. Get Physical is great. They are really supportive of my process and they get me. I am pretty complicated. I’m learning & ‘me’ still. So they let me run free and simply create. That combined with this urge to get new ideas outta my head created Wildpitch. Adding new ideas to old classics people know and love from me was amazing man. Best of both worlds.
You have worked as a DJ, live act and producer. Do you approach each differently and how so? also do you have a favourite?
I absolutely approach all three differently. As a DJ, that is the most natural state to be in for me. I started as a DJ. I was very good at it technically and I did things most people had to focus to do…whereas I just thought it and did it. So DJ’ing technically has never been the challenge. The challenge for me there has always been to find the balance between the conversation the audience has with the music. I feed off the energy of the room and in my early days if the room was sombre then I would have that conversation with them. I had to learn to lead the conversation instead of staying at the place where I found the people. So
as I grew over the years the goal was to take you higher from the place I found you. Live is probably the most intense because it is LIVE. I prepare mentally and emotionally. It’s not a natural process for me. I have to envision what I would like to do and I will prep technically as much as I can before the show and just prepare for where we go. Just recently in Japan, Phuture had a tour there and our live show is normally 1 hour. We ended up doing almost 3hrs. So live, I have to prepare like I’m going into battle, you know, an enjoyable one. I l love the spontaneity of it and I love the immediate reaction to me practically making a track on the spot. Producing is where I am home more. If I had to choose I would say producing is me. That’s DJ Pierre. I can speak and impact and direct. I can be of more use to this world that way.
As a true legend of the dance music scene do you have any advice for any young producers/ DJs coming up today?
I always say this. Be YOU. Look inside and pull the artist out! Never follow the crowd. I am still relevant because I truly do not follow a blueprint. It may piss folks off but I go with my gut a lot and over the years I’ve had to learn to balance that out, but for the most part I strive to be different in every way. Try to create something new. Use the foundation set before you and take it to another level. Do not listen to the hate, or naysayers. Listen to those you trust and weed out the noise. Always stay grounded and know this music is not for you! It’ to be shared. It’s not your ticket to stardom. Too many people are doing that. Be the one who doesn’t. Music is a tool to heal.
Acid music has been a constant throughout the years after being at the forefront of the second summer of love when you were working on the sound initially do you think that we would be here talking about this decades later?
No, we did not know we would be here 30+ years later. We knew it was crazy and different. That’s about it. We hoped it was our start and it actually became our start. Immediately we noticed the impact we could have after we saw the success and so we used the music as a platform to speak. That’s always been a core part of Pierre and Phuture.
There are remixes of Phuture coming out on Avotre with the likes of Sante, Ricardo Villalobos and many more.. How did this come about?
Well Get physical was hands off with me and let me be and I was hands off with them after they got the product. So we discussed ideas but they mainly sorted it all out. Ricardo did a remix of What is House and it was monumental – all 15 minutes of it. I think it was 15 minutes. I respect that man. That’s the idea. Think outside the box. Who said you have to limit a remix to 3 mins?
What is next for you?
Hmmm….just have to wait and see….we have so many plans and projects and the older I get the more patient I become. So whatever is in store, am ready. I still feel like a kid in a candy store when it comes to music, so there is so much more to share with the world. If you are at Movement Festival in Detroit though, catch Phuture live, May 28th on the RBMA stage.