Spirit of House is proud to bring you an exclusive interview with Darryl James, a legendary DJ, producer and remixer out of New York, USA.
A biography can be found on page two, a discography on page three of this article.
Question: Would you mind having a few words as an introduction to who you are, and where you’re from?
Answer: I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. I have had a love for music since I was a child and pursued my dj-ing career from the age of 14.
Question: How did you get into music, and what are your influences and heroes (DJ/producer/artist…)?
Answer: I would have to say my first trip to the studio was with current partner Fred Mc Farlane in the late eighties. Todd Terry was the one that convinced me and got my first manager when I went into re-mixing. In the beginning Todd Terry, Masters At Work and I have spent a lot, a lot of time together in and out of the studio. I have a huge amount of resect for Tony Humphries and Shep Pettibone, and David Morales for their dj ing and re-mixing.
Question: When did you discover your love for house/soulful dance music?
Answer: I don t know if it was just about soulful house/dance, because to me, you have to be a music lover. The soulful experience of music has all tempos and styles, and you have to understand this to be a good producer /re-mixer. But if we have to put a moment into this it would be the late 80's.
Question: What other music styles beside house music you listen to, and at what occasions?
Answer: I have satellite radio to keep up with the R&B, Jazz, Hip Hop, and House. If I have just gotten out of a session, depending on how long I ve been in for, I ll listen to what I just did or talk radio. My selection I will say , is just on mood at the time.
Question: You are known for running a very successful radio show in New York City – how did this happen, and is the show still going on?
Answer: Yes the show is still going on, knock on wood. Radio which I do luv by the way, is like everything else unfortunately in today s world, more Corporate, like a lot of businesses, it has become only business and numbers, and we have more business people today and less music people. Most of the people in radio are in for it for glamour and money, only a few people truly love it, and you can tell those people by the quality of there work.
How I got on radio, one Thursday Vinny Brown the program director of Kiss FM called me in, he was trying to do back in the early nineties, a cable show, music television per say, what we now know is BET, MTV type of a show. If all had worked out he wanted me to be the dj for this show. The meeting went well from my stand point, I wasn t gonna say no. As I was leaving he asked what I was doing tomorrow around six o’clock, and the rest was history...
Question: What does being a club/radio DJ mean to you?
Answer: For me dj-ing and music in general has been the soul of my existence . I take it very seriously and treat it like my wife. Everyone that I have ever dated knows music is my woman, and I cheat on her to be with you on the side. I grew up looking up at dj s, and hope that I can do my part to keep the legacy of the true dj alive.
Question: You’ve been doing re mixes and production since the early 90’s – how did you get into that?
Answer: With my first partner who was David Anthony. Todd Terry got us our first manager, David needed help as well as myself, with music and we merged .We did a lot of good re-mixes, good learning experience, and good times, it seemed like a good fit for both of us, bad marriage.
Question: Since around 2002, you started releasing lots of re mixes of R&B/soul artists (together with your partner Fred Mc Farlane) under the name of DFA, many of them on the unofficial FallOut label (and on various bootlegs). What is the story behind it?
Answer: The word bootleg sounds so dirty, lol, I prefer promotional records to exploit my talents and the talents of other re-mixers that record companies for whatever insane reason don't want to put out . There is a method to all of my madness and I actually have a plan behind what I am doing.....
Question: What is your affiliation with Fall Out Records, if any?
Answer: NONE..... LOL <<<<<
Question: Over the past decade, the major labels and radio stations more and more lost interest in soulful dance artists and re mixes. Do you think this will change back to the better soon, or do we have to expect the situation to even get worse?
Answer: Well, for one, producers/re-mixers, in the producing of house have to get with the program as have other genres of music. We have to start producing real acts and writing better songs. We have to produce better albums, of dance, and produce real albums, not just an album of 15 songs of 126 BPM's. The radio aspect is much more difficult today, with deregulation, radio stations have become specialist in certain types of music, so the younger generation is not forced to listen to other types of music, which takes them longer to appreciate other types of music. Tempos of rap and R&B are going up so this is a plus.
In the rap world unfortunately dance has been given a stigma that you have to be gay to like it but I can tell you so many rap dj s like it, but are afraid to play it, cause they ask me for the music and I see certain peeps out at the functions.
I believe it will get better, with the rising tempos and the dance shows on tv and so forth, doors and ideas of dance I feel are getting better, we in the dance world, of making records have to do a better job of making records and albums. I hear people say they want to keep dance underground. Why, so know one will hear your music, or you just like being broke. I just laugh at these people.
Question: How would you define a good piece of music?
Answer: When the public says it s good.....
Question: Where do you find inspiration for your projects?
Answer: It's always inside of me, I don t need anyone or anything to pick me up, God has shown me the way, I m always up for the challenge, I feel it, dream it, it just comes to me, and I do it.
Question: Your perception of the current situation of the music scene and the things which need to evolve:?
Answer: It's easy to say music is not as creative any longer, songs are not as good, and this may be true, but until things change we have to do the best we can. I think as the new younger artist and writers evolve, so will their writing and song making. One thing people don t realize, is that the internet has more people listening to different types of music now than ever before.
Question: What are you feelings about the movement away from vinyl to CD/MP3?
Answer: I don t care, it s all about music selection, ok, so now almost everyone can supposedly dj, it s about technique and selection, you give 10 guys the same 20 records, maybe, maybe two of them play them well.
Question: Some say, CD/MP3 sound not as good as vinyl - your thoughts and experiences?
Answer: The people at companies, I won t name any, but the peeps that made the cd player new the the cd does not carry all frequencies. Enough said, vinyl has a warmth you can t get on cd, and bottom..... cd s are just convenient in a lazy society ,,,, but I will admit , it does make for easier traveling.
Question: What can we expect from you in the near future?
Answer: I m making music, all kinds of music, I have a "Erotika"a dance/ Brazilian project I am finishing, with jazz versions also, a 29 year old male R&B artist and a 17yr old young lady I just signed from Virginia, TRU.
Question: What artists would you like to work with if you would be given the opportunity?
Answer: I would like to work with a few contemporary artist to help move them into the 21st century musically. LOL..... but I am making calls to a few dance artist that I would like to do some projects with , one in particular is Kenny Bobien, I want to take his shit to another level and place, I love his voice.
Question: Your 3 favorite all time songs:
Answer: Convertion "Let s do it", Candi Staton "When you wake up tomorrow", Steely Dan "Peg" (childhood thing)
Question: Anything else you would like to share with us:
Answer: Music is one of those things that no matter what we are going through, it s always there for us, and when we hear certain songs it gives a place and time to reflect upon.
People need to treat music (from a producer/ re-mixer stand point) better if we choose to take this flight, cause music will love you, or break your back..... she s a selfish Bitch.....
Many thanks to Darryl James for taking the time to answer our questions.
Darryl James, Disc Jockey, Remixer and Producer unparalleled is also a master at understanding his audience. He knows how to gage the mood of the crowd and also knows how to "move the crowd". Perhaps this is why he is able to produce beats that resonate from the bottom up making the fee tap, the fingers snap and the body moves all before the head has realized what has happened. Because of his extraordinary ability to pick hits, he already knows what his listeners want … gives it to them… and keeps them yelling for more. Yet, another weapon in his arsenal is his skill at mixing music in such a unique way that it sends his audience into the stratosphere whether they are grooving on the dance floor, jamming in the car, or relaxing at home.
Darryl James, a Bronx, NY native got his start spinning records at his uncle’s night club at the early age of 16. That is where he gained valuable experience and honed his craft. With natural progression and knowledge, Darryl moved on to Deejay in two of the hottest clubs of the 80’s in New York City; The Red Parrot and The Silver Shadow. Darryl’s skills helped him snag the much coveted position as the main house DJ at the World Famous Bentley’s Night Club for several years.
Deejaying at Bentley’s brought to the attention of radio stations and record companies what the general public had been enjoying for years … Darryl’s artistry of mixing records. In 1991 Darryl began doing Mix Shows for WRKS (98.7 KISS-FM, New York). The following year in addition to KISS-FM he was performing a live broadcast for WBLS (107.5, New York). From 1994 through the Winter of 1998, Darryl blessed the airwaves with is Mix Show on WBLS. He currently displays his mastery of the airwaves on the Lunch Mix on KISS-FM (WRKS 98.7, New York).
While working, Darryl met and formed a productive work relationship with world renowned Disc Jockey, Todd Terry. This union delivered several hit records on Todd’s dance label, Freeze Records which included "You Make Me Happy"and "Where Do We Go”. Continuing on the creative path Darryl went on to remix various artists, including Jody Watley "When a Man Loves a Woman”, D Mob (featuring Cathy Dennis) "Why”, Janet Jackson "If”, Tony Toni Tone "Ex-Girlfriend”, MN8 "If You Only Let Me In"and Incognito "Where Did We Go Wrong"just to name a few.
In 1994, Darryl James started producing various artists along with Fred McFarlane of Jocelyn Brown, Jenny Burton and Robin S fame.
This partnership proved to be the one that would produce the unforgettable sound of their new artist, Dennis Taylor. Dennis’ catchy hit "Enough is Enough"is just one of the reasons why Darryl and Fred are becoming producers to watch. Their R&B, dance and funk inspired cuts "Here I Am"and "Just When"from Dennis’ upcoming album is sure to become an audience favorite.
As Darryl continues to put his spin on music and produce records that keep the crowd jumping, we can expect to be caught up in his world for a long time … and LOVING IT!
Anthony Hamilton "Can t Let Go" (Jive Records)
Charlie Wilson "No Words" (Jive Records)
Ne Yo "So Sick" (Def Jam)
Avant "4 Minutes" (Geffen Record)
Lil Kim "Whoa" (Atlantic Records)
Urban Mystiq"I Refuse" (Independent)
Raheem Da Vaughn "Believe" (Jive Records)
R Kelly "Trapped Pt 1" (Jive Records)
Raheem Da Vaughn "You" (Jive Records)
Mink "Glory of Life" (KingStreet Records)
Fabulous "Baby" (Atlantic Records)
Fish Go Deep "Battery Man" (Acme Vinyl)
Kierra 'Kiki' Sheard "You Don’t Know" (EMI Gospel)
John Legend "Ordinary People" (Columbia/Sony Music)
Jill Scott "Whatever" (Hidden Beach Records)
Brandy "Who is She" (Atlantic Records)
Tamia "Still" (Atlantic Records)
Angie Stone "Stay for a While" (J Records)
Patti Labelle Feat. Carlos Santana "When You Smile" (Def Soul)
Alicia Keys "Diary" (J Records)
Patti Labelle "More Than Material" (Def Soul)
Patti Labelle "New Day" (Def Soul)
Jennifer Holiday "Think It Over" (Jellybean Records)
Kem "Love Calls" (Motown Records)
Syleena Johnson "I Believe in Love" (Jive Records)
Joe "More & More" (Jive Records)
Mariah Carey "Heartbreak" (Def Jam Records)
Floetry "It s Getting Late" (Hidden Beach)
R.Kelly "I'll Never Leave" (Jive Records)
Floetry "Say Yes" (Hidden Beach)
Heather Headley "I Wish I Wasn’t" (J Records)
Heather Headley "He Is" (RCA Records)
Gerald Levert "Funny" (Elektra Records)
Gerald Levert "One Million Times" (Elektra Records)
Amerie "Talkin To Me" (Columbia)
Musiq "Half Crazy" (Def Jam)
Missy Elliot "Work It" (Elektra Records)
Usher "Can U Help Me" (Arista Records)
Kim English "Grateful" (Nervous Records)
Glenn Lewis "It’s Not Fair" (Epic Records)
Byron Stingly "Grateful" (Indie)
Donnie "Do you know" (Giant Step Records)
Vivian Green "Gotta Go, Gotta Leave" (Elektra Records)
Dennis Taylor Album "Unconditional" (Dome Records, UK)(Producer)
Dennis Taylor Album "Enough Is Enough" (Dome Records, UK)(Producer)
India T "Now U Know" (Dome Records, UK)
Cleopatra (Remix) "U Got It" (Maverick Records)
Beverli Brown "Could be You" (Dome Records, UK)(Producer)
Martha Walsh (Remix) "Something in Your Soul" (Logic Records)
Deena Spring "Get Up – Stand Up" (BMG Records)
Gladeez "When You Need Somebody" (Mushroom/BMG Records)
Incognito "Where Did We Go Wrong" (Polygram Records)
MN8 "If You Only Let Me In" (Columbia Records)
Melanie Williams "You Are Everything" (Columbia Records)
Dr. Alban "Away From Home" (Logic Records)
Sade "Pearls" (Epic Records)
Rebecca DeRuvo "I Caught You Out" (Arista Records)
Jody Watley "When a Man Loves a Woman" (MCA Records)
Tony Toni Tone "Ex-Girlfriend" (Mercury Records)
Janet Jackson "Because of Love" (Virgin Records)
Janet Jackson "Anywhere, Anytime" (Virgin Records)
Janet Jackson "If" (Virgin Records)
Rupaul "What You See, Is What You Get" (Atlas Records)
Identity Crisis "Island Girl" (Motown Records)
D Mob (featuring Cathy Dennis) "Why" (Polygram Records)
Joe Roberts "Lover" (FFRR Records)
Travis Flood "Follow Your Heart" (Select Records)
Beat System "Happy Days" (FFRR Records)
Malaika "Easy to Love" (A&M Records)
BKS "Take It While You Can" (Quality Records)
Arizona "Ride On The Rhythm" (Virgin Records)
Mahogany Blue "Affair" (MCA Records)
Nerrissa "The Rain" (Select Records)
Nerrissa "Stars" (Select Records)
Cookie Watkins "Love Can Save" (Strictly Rhythm)
Kathy Brown "Can’t Play Around" (Cutting Records)
Aftershock "Slave To The Vibe" (Virgin Records)
Aftershock "Didn’t I" (Virgin Records)
Cajmere "Brighter Days" (Cajual Records)
Sophia Shinas "The Message" (Warner Brothers)