On and on indeed! Jesse Saunders takes issue with Spin magazine claim that Farley Jackmaster Funk was the first to play early house records – so what does Farley himself say?

What happened in the early days of house music? Well, we know that much of what has been chronicled about Detroit techno, for example, was rubbish. The Belleville Three story, which lazy journalists continue to recite regularly, has long been disproven as a marketing myth.

So it’s only reasonable to ask questions of what happened in Chicago too. And one person who’s particularly keen to make sure his role is remembered is Jesse Saunders. He has claimed in an endless number of interviews over the years that “On And On”, the song he released back in January 1984, was the first ever house record put on vinyl.

Is he right? Despite this claim being around for years, no one’s been able to verify it’s true – but nor has anyone been able to credibly dispute his words either. Whatever the truth, Saunders gets very annoyed when he reads what he perceives as information about house music history that’s wrong.

Which is why Saunders wasn’t happy when he read an article which first appeared in print all the way back in November 1986. And he appears especially irked with claims in the piece that Farley Jackmaster Funk – real name Farley Williams – was the first to play “obscure oldies, imports, drum machines, and early rhythm-only tracks like ‘On And On’.”

He points out that “How could he be the first to do all this if Ron Hardy, Wayne Williams, Frankie Knuckles, myself and many others before him were already doing it? Farley didn’t start DJing until 1980.”.

So what does Williams have to say for himself? He gives a rather rambling reply, which I’ve tried to clean up as best as I could. He says “Jesse Saunders never claimed, even in his TV interviews in Chicago that he made house music. He wanted to [work with] Prince and Motown. My truth is my label was the first record label to tell you it was house – House Records. As Chip E often states, Jesse never claimed he was making house music until much later – but I still have him credit, even though it was Vince Lawrence who was really the first with ‘Fantasy’.”

“I wasn’t the first – that was my ego talking. But I know if I didn’t play this on the radio, we wouldn’t be talking about this today. The 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 is Jesse Saunders, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Steve ‘Silk Hurley, Jamie Principle and Chip-E. Now mix that however you like!”

Well, that cleared things up, didn’t it? When even those who were there can’t agree on what happened, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of us…

Ever wondered why the garage house movement ended up going nowhere? Legendary producer Tommy Musto helped explain it – decades it before it happened…

In 1997, the speed garage movement was getting underway in the UK. The scene developed from Sunday club parties which took place near the Ministry of Sound in London – there were only so many times you could play Todd Edwards dubs at 130bpm, so new records were soon required.

Things went well for the first year or two, then the UK garage scene started to eat itself alive. The majors got involved and so did the gangs at the parties. Since then, garage in the UK has never exactly taken off again – and its most recent incarnation was garage house. Again, this never took off in the way it could have.

As this blog has mentioned in the past, the scene is absolutely rife with infighting – “my toddler would be absolutely embarrassed if they saw how petty some of them are”, said one source to me recently. They could do worse than listen to this piece of sage advice Tommy Musto – one of the names behind garage when it emerged in the USA in the early 1990s – which he dished out in September 1997

No one ever learns the lessons of the past anymore, do they?

Ever wondered why Felix Da Housecat was REALLY refused entry to Berghain? Here are the details that no one ever reported at the time…

Back in 2015, Felix Da Housecat paid a visit to Germany. He was in the city of Berlin – and having presumably heard of the infamous Berghain nightclub, he decided to pay a visit. The club is well known for being particularly fussy over who they let in – it’s not unheard of for the venue to let you in one week and refuse entry the following week.

Anyone going to Berghain does so with no guarantee they’ll get in. Numerous articles have been written over the years about what to do to increase your odds and what not to do. Felix Da Housecat, however, chose not to read any of this material to up his chances.

They refused to let him in. Only his side of the story has ever been heard – mostly because he shouted the loudest and also because dance music journalists are normally too lazy to ask. He responded to the snub with a series of expletive-filled tweets, accusing Berghain of being racist and disrespecting Chicago.

Not so, according to two sources. They say that he was caught jumping the queue. They claim he just cut in and hoped no one would notice – but unfortunately for him, the doormen at Berghain did.

Infact, one source was actually in the queue that very evening and clearly recalls what happened. She says “He was being a d**k, basically. He cut in line, and started acting like he was something special. He just came across as a p***k. Then when he got to the front and they shook their heads, he flipped out.”

“He started banging on about being a really big DJ and mentioned he was from the same city as Frankie Knuckles. At one point, he even used the ‘don’t you know who I am?’ line. One or two of the doormen were almost laughing at this point, it was ridiculous.”.

Another source confirmed the story as being correct, simply summing up saying “The reason Felix was turned away was nothing to do with racism and everything to do with him acting like an entitled a***hole.”.

Funny how none of those details made it into his rant, isn’t it?

We’re celebrating Black History Month – by trying to shift some more records! Juno Download joins the many businesses jumping on the bandwagon for not entirely selfless reasons…

It’s Black History Month, you know. Well, it is in the UK and Ireland, anyway. Which is eight months later than the USA and Canada – where all this started, by the way – but I digress. Over the next few weeks, expect companies all over the place to try and tag onto Black History Month to emphasise their “not a racist” cards.

Now, a disclaimer. This blog does not care one jot what colour your skin is. Nor do I have any interest in your your height, weight, gender, sexuality, skin colour, disability, job or anything else. If you like seeing the dance music world covered in an irreverent manner, you are a friend of this blog. It really is that straightforward.

But many companies have cottoned onto the fact getting behind campaigns such as this one makes them look good. And they almost never do it for selfless reasons – such as in the case of UK dance music download shop Juno Download. On Friday, I received this email…

I personally can’t understand why Juno Download – and yes, I’m looking at the other dance music stores here too – can’t just integrate coverage of black artists and black-owned labels into what they do the rest of the year. This special coverage in October smacks to me of virtue signalling.

The optics are they’re doing it purely to get some more sales. Which is a shame, because I don’t believe for one second that’s their sole motivation. Yet batting away this criticism is much easier than anyone seems to realise.

The number one indicator of what stores should get behind is talent. There’s plenty of talent in all colours – but history shows there’s probably more within the black community. Showcase that talent by promoting it on your front pages.

Lead from the front. Craft your own path and show how it can be done. And yes, you’ll probably sell a lot more music too…

As a Scottish singer reveals she was offered a gig in exchange for sex, some bizarre stories from one anonymous female DJ – prepare to be astonished!

After five months of running Amateur’s House, I like to think that I have some idea of what I’m doing. There have been a couple of hiccups in that time, but I remain of the opinion this has been a sharp learning curve yet also one of the better ones in my life.

However, a good idea is a good idea. And one of my readers threw this suggestion in my direction after reading on BBC News about Iona Fyle, a Scottish singer who revealed she was offered help to get a gig – in exchange for sex. The story was as depressing as it was entirely unsurprising.

A while ago, this reader – who is a female DJ – told me a few stories about her experiences. It was all in confidence – but she’s now given me clearance to publish those stories, with any names redacted. There’s three in total and what follows are her own words – the only edits are to remove names and correct the odd spelling mistake…

Such a lot of orgy-bargy!

Yeah, I’ve been asked for sex to get a gig before. The one I remember most was around 2005. This guy worked for ****** at the time and it was an open secret within the industry that he had, shall we say, peculiar proclivities. Nothing illegal, just stuff most people would think was weird.

We arranged a meeting at a nice restaurant over lunch to talk about some shows that were coming up at ******. He was very polite, asked all the right questions and came across as really professional.

Then he mentions he can get me extra work if I agree to come along with him to a party he’s going to on Friday night. When I asked what kind of party it was, he said it was most likely going to be an orgy. I made my excuses and left…

Is this REALLY a photoshoot?

When I was starting out in the 1990s, I’d just arrived in London and didn’t have much money. I’d been advised to get press shots, but there was no way I could afford the prices I was being quoted. So I looked in local papers and found an advert for a photographer who was just starting out. He was cheap, so I booked him.

He invited me to this house in Peckham and explained he’d done some work in the dance music industry before. So he knew what they were looking for. The photos started quite formal. I’d gone down there in a cute little dress, but things soon changed.

Before you know it, he was taking pictures of me in my underwear, covering up my boobs with my arms. I assumed this guy knew what he was doing, so went along with it. Anyway, he went into another room afterwards to make a phone call whilst I got dressed.

I overheard the phone call and was horrified to hear that he wanted to sign me up as a prostitute! I took the film out of the camera and left quietly before anyone noticed. Funny looking back now, but f***ing scary at the time!

Was he having a bleeding laugh?

I’ll tell you about the ridiculous one, though. It was in the late 90s and I was starting to make a name for myself. After finishing a gig one night, a promoter came to see me. He told me he had some work lined up and gave me an address where we could discuss things.

So I went to the address about two days later and found out it was his house. Anyway, I went in and he was very professional. There was a woman in the house too, who turned out to be his wife – so at least I knew he wasn’t likely to try anything naughty.

After talking for a while about dates for gigs, money and all that, he turns round and tells me does need me to do him a favour. He then hands me this key and asks me to go round his house and bleed all the radiators. Easily the weirdest thing I’ve ever been asked to do for a gig! But I bet he hope no one ever finds out about the gimp outfit I saw in his bedroom…

Not sure you’d get away with calling a feature that nowadays! Muzik used to have a column in their magazine for calling people out – dubiously titled “Hang The DJ”…

I frequently deride the dance music press on this blog. I believe they steer clear of certain subjects because it clashes with their commercial interests. I believe they’re terrible at holding people to account when they’ve done wrong, and I believe they don’t do their jobs properly.

And I know there are journalists out there who agree with me. I can see them signed up to my email subscription list – why would they stick around if they thought I was talking rubbish? But one thing I also don’t believe is that there was some kind of golden age to dance music journalism.

It was probably better in the past – mostly because I question if it could be worse – but there was no mythical era when it was amazing. It was always on the more reverential, unquestioning side. And when they did try to call someone’s out, they occasionally resorted to some rather distasteful ways of doing it. Such as this, which the long defunct Muzik Magazine published in 1999…

Somehow, I think the editors at the likes of Mixmag and Resident Advisor wouldn’t approve the introduction of such a feature…

Thanks to the Muzik Magazine bot for this story.

As Simon Dunmore tells us how great his relationship with Ministry of Sound is these days, a reminder things weren’t always so amicable in the early days…

Let me start this post by emphasising I do have a certain amount of respect for Defected boss Simon Dunmore. Yes, I might well have some fun at his expense on this blog, but his record label is still here. Most of the house labels around in 1999, when Defected was set up, have long been dead and buried.

And it appears Dunmore is in a nostalgic mood today – perhaps inspired by the Dance For Stevie event this coming weekend. He’s tweeting about his label’s long standing relationship with Ministry of Sound…

But things weren’t always this rosy. Defected came about because of changes within the dance music world. In 1998, Ministry of Sound was doing incredibly well and the majors weren’t best pleased. Their response was to stop Ministry from getting access to almost their entire repertoire for their highly successful compilations.

Ministry of Sound responded to this by trying to set up some other labels. They offered Dunmore £200,000 to set up his own record label. Under the deal, Ministry would do certain back office jobs and Defected would sign and licence records – these tracks would be given prominence on Ministry’s compilations.

The label launched early in 1999. Releases by Defected that year came from the likes of Soulsearcher, Capriccio, Paul Johnson, Masters At Work, Powerhouse and ATFC. But behind the scenes, things were chaotic. Don’t take my word for it – take it from Simon Dunmore himself.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard in 2013, he said “I hadn’t run a label before so getting to learn about leases and company house returns and tax implications, dealing with staff and human resources was all entirely alien to me. For the first two or three years we made some quite big mistakes – not big enough to kill us, but big enough.”.

Dunmore also mentions that despite having worked at EMI sublabel Cooltempo and Polygram outfit AM:PM for nearly ten years before, he wasn’t aware of royalty collectors MCPS. However, they’d heard of him – and they called him in for a meeting to ask why he hadn’t paid some £140,000 worth of royalties.

Reading between the lines of this interview – and several others where he speaks about Defected’s early years – it appears the relationship between him and Ministry of Sound deteriorated quickly, and I suspect part of it was because they expected Dunmore would have been more aware of the business side than he was. I also suspected they thought they would have more control over Dunmore than they actually had.

Defected and Ministry of Sound split officially in 2001, with Defected being in debt to the tune of £500,000. Curiously however, Defected’s tunes continued to feature heavily on Ministry’s compilations even after the breakup. But ultimately, the two were drawn closer together as their labels suffered during the digital age and they had to rely more on the events side of their businesses.

And now, they’re best buddies. Who said romance was dead, eh?

Nervous Records branded suntan lotion? I kid you not – US label dished out sachets of the stuff at the Miami Music Conference of 1996…

These days, Nervous Records make much of their range of merchandise. Given that records don’t sell in the way they once used to, this is hardly the surprise of the century. But you might be interested to note how their stuff has changed over the years.

These days, Nervous are into advertising blue T-shirts which are not being worn by the model in the photo – for some reason, she’s parading her backside in the lead photo whilst wearing next to nothing. And on January 23rd this year, they were flogging sun visors on their social media platforms. On that day in their native New York, there were daytime temperatures of 2°C and -4°C during the night…

Still, there was a time when the label could give people things which were actually useful. Back in 1996 at what was then called the Miami Music Conference, Nervous were giving out sachets of branded suntan lotion. And just in case you think I’m making this up, here’s something which appeared in the June 1996 issue of Muzik Magazine about it…

Sadly, the identity of the “unidentified music biz bod” referred to in the article remains a mystery.

Thanks to the Muzik Magazine bot on Twitter for the heads up on this one.