I was born in 1975 and celebrate one of
my first memories;
putting my own copy of “Saturday Night Fever” on the family turntable.
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I was fortunate to come in to my own as a music fan and consumer at a very young age. I grew up hearing the classics of emerging dance and club music as well as the classics of the soul and R&B era: on FM radio, on record and cassette, and on the early years of MTV. It is the nexus, the meeting place, of soul jazz, dance, electronic, hip hop, soul, funk, R&B, house, disco, and world beat that is the bedrock of my inspiration for the majority of my musical career.
The practitioners of dance and club music, the electronic music producers, the first iteration of studio artists known as remixers and re-editors, and the third-stream artists and instrumentalists of this era created and, through the sampling of their music and ideas, has sustained a musical revolution in how people enjoy, perceive, and receive modern music. Their names and influences are many: Quincy Jones, Donald Byrd, Kraftwerk, Chic, Todd Terry, Joel Dorn, Francois K, Tom Moulton, and my friend the late Gene McDaniels are just a few.
The poet William Blake wrote in “To see a World in a Grain of Sand…” that he wished to see “eternity in an hour.” But like us, he had no idea of knowing the depth of that eternity. Blake wished to see and experience the complex web that pins art to its place and time, yet suspends it steadily enough to pass through ages and grow. Fractals, the study of self-similar patterns bearing identical appearance from both micro and macro views, could quite possibly be the mathematical analogue to Blake’s poetic contemplation. The mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, known as the “Father of Fractal Geometry” stated rather simply, “People want to see patterns in the world. It is how we evolved.”
Both of these great thinkers celebrated these creations where one could see Blake’s “infinity on the palm of your hand,” where the closeup in the microscope carried the same characteristics as the greater whole. Undoubtedly, its musical analogue is the art and science of sampling; taking parts or elements from recorded works and presenting them in a new context. While the act of sampling has rankled the musical institution (and still does to this day) it is certainly nothing new. Dance and reggae music DJs were already sampling live by mixing two records together to elongate drum breaks. In the emerging art form known as hip-hop, producers and DJs were gaining access to the individual hits and notes from the original recordings with sampler machines.
A swath of time between the mid-70s to the late 80s was long enough to capture the rise and fall of disco, the emergence of drum machines in electrofunk and techno, the first generation of hip hop, the recapitulation of disco grooves meshed with techno to become known as house, and hip hop coming in to its own in its “golden era.” The epoch of this emerging technology and culture was, by no surprise, some of the most exciting and productive time for modern music on the radio and television, in studio, on records, and in the clubs. The exuberance of the resulting music mix moved it from the fringe to the mainstream in pop culture.
I seek to creatively and academically explore these points of musical intersection where music meets, develops, and evolves into a new idiom. In my pursuits, I hope to dissect the DNA; the specific characteristics of music that has been revisited, repurposed, and reinvented.