3.1.11. DJ International 

18 June 2021

Alongside Trax Records, DJ international provided the main outlet for most ‘House music’ produced in Chicago between 1985 and 1989, releasing singles by Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard and Kenny “Jammin” Jason, amongst others. DJ international produced 'vocal house’ compared to Trax Records that primarily centred around ‘tracks’ that were only instrumental. DJ International released singles from Sterling Void, Joe smooth, and most famously, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurly. DJ international, even though short-lived, pioneered new sub-genres of ‘House music’ such as ‘Hip-House’. But most importantly, it would spawn the first ‘House Hits’ abroad in the UK.  

By 1986 the sound coming out of Chicago started to impact New York with records by Marshall Jefferson and Larry Heard. The Chicago sound started making a big impact at Paradise Garage, and it was not long until the sound would start to spread to other cities in the US, such as Washington DC. JM Silk’s ‘Music is the Key’ would reach number nine in the US dance charts, giving 'House music’ an even larger national audience. However, an English label picked up on ‘Acid house’. It steered it into the British charts starting a revolution of electronic dance music, which ignited a social movement known today as neo-tribalism, but then simply as ‘Rave’ (Bidder, 2001, p. 49). However, before going into the neo-tribal post subcultural subject of ‘Rave’. It is essential to finish the historical events that took place in Chicago, as in doing so, it describes the dynamic nature of a subculture. From this, it is possible to reach a deeper understanding of the mentality of the ‘Rave’ generation.   

  The next part of the Chicago ‘House music’ story shows how subcultures can dissolve because of commodification. The internal fighting inside the Chicago scene is a sign of ‘House music’s’ economic and repetitional potential, which would also be what contributed to its eventual downfall as the events are not agreed upon how the downfall of Chicago ‘House music’ happens. I consider the information with a postmodern scepticism and, in doing so, use scepticism as a methodological technique in how to determine so-called objective truths of power and ownership that originate through modern self-developing modes. Integrated into the technique harmoniously is Derrida's deconstruction theory, which I summarise to be: An intertextual understanding of a situation is to know the subject or object with what surrounds that moment, and the person’s and witness’s experiences of understanding the subject or object in hand, is that what shapes the epistemic knowledge, and, therefore, defines how one understands or experiences the present. Therefore, as all humans have different experiential pasts, all humans have different experiences of a shared present, making it impossible for historical views not to be based on bias. If one remains in a sceptical postmodern methodological approach, one can deal with these differences in the present in a sensitive way. I propose that this could lead to a shared understanding without it being a systematically defined modernity that leads to an internal opposition of the self and an external opposition with the other. Due to the economic gains of record sales and social reputation at hand in Chicago, between Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk and Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, there was a conflict in opinion somewhere in the decisions running up to the adoption of the name ‘Jackmaster’. The two stories are;  as cited by Bidder interview with Hurley, who recalls, 

I would say right around ’84. My DJ name was Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, and I said I was going to start calling myself ‘Jackmaster’ Silk. Farley was my roommate at the time, and this was maybe a Tuesday. By Friday, his name was changed to Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk. 

But Farley remembers it differently:

I went to the radio station before he went. I said: ‘Farley ‘Funkin” Keith is dead, he no longer exists, there’s a new guy in town, his name’s Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk. Needless to say, Steve was on his way to the radio station with his tape, ready to make the new announcement that he is going to change his name to Steve ‘Jackmaster’ Hurly. And almost ran into a pole.

(2001, p. 50)

 Bidder locates the dispute over the name 'Jackmaster' as a sign of many quarrels to come that would be the downfall of ‘House music’. One dispute between the Chicago ‘House Music’ subculturists involved the ownership of an ‘Acid House’ track that made it across the Atlantic. 

Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley’s signature track was made of spliced up instrumental parts from an old 1970s Isaac Hayes tune called ‘I Can’t Turn Around'. Hurley was inspired by Jamie Principle’s track ‘Your Love’ and called his new track ‘Love Can’t Turn You Around’. He played his version of ‘Love Can’t Turn You Around’ from 1983 onwards. Hurley, who shared a room with Farley, left his version of the track on his four-track tape player, which went missing. One week later, ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ came out produced by Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk and Jesse Saunders, but they received little credit for the single. The single, however, was picked up by an ambitious young club DJ and A&R (Artist and Repertoire) scout at London records. It broke the UK Top 40 credited to Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk and Jessie Saunders’, and it reached number ten in the charts in September 1986. However, several months later, in January 1987, Hurley did nine places better than his rivals, claiming the first 'House music’ number one with ‘Jack your Body’. It was a sign ‘House music’ had grown from an underground subcultural sound to a popular sound of a generation (Bidder, 2001, p. 52). 

What happened musically in Chicago gave young music enthusiasts that had no musical talent the belief that they could also make music and be the next ‘number one’. With the arrival of cheap studio equipment, teenagers across America, the UK, and Ibiza started to produce their DJ tracks on shoestring budgets. Many worked their way from clubs and pirate radio stations to top of the UK charts like the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim would go on to prove (Bidder, 2001, p. 70). In the same way that many different musical genres influenced ‘House music’, the same is true for the bridge between Chicago House, Detroit Techno, UK tracks and Balearic beats. The fame of Chicago House brought interest in the Dj’s who played the music, such as Frankie Knuckles, clubs like Delirium in the UK booked those DJs to play. Visiting DJ’s brought the sound of their city environment into the clubs worldwide, adding further to the variety of the music produced.

3.1.12. UK Summer of Love