It’s impossible to chart the history of House without placing DJ Pierre near the beginning. The sound he developed resonates through the music of today. It’s plausible there’s at least one record in your collection owing something to his early production experiments…
Early on Pierre knew making music was what he wanted to do. DJing in Chicago at House parties through the 80s, he wasn’t satisfied with simply copying his peers. So in 1986, with the help of an emergent piece of music technology, a little luck and a lot of vision, he and some friends created a seminal and entirely different House tune – ‘Phuture’s ‘Acid Trax’. The House music scene, which previously owed everything it was to Disco, was pushed in an unforeseen and euphoric new direction.
This release ended up as something only a handful of records ever achieve. It became a symbol for a generation. ‘Acid Trax’ rapidly became more than just a dance tune, for many it was an introduction to a new way of living. The UK started hearing a new phrase, a label that’d define one generation and stir moral outrage in another – Acid House.
Nearly 30 years later he’s still DJing, only now his services are in demand around the world. “I’m very humbled still, by what that one track has done,” he tells us, ahead of his appearance at Brighton Music Conference (BMC). “It still is making such an impact in the world of music”
It’s fitting Pierre is making an appearance at BMC, as music-tech giant Roland are using the event to unveil the next generation of the TB-303, essentially the same device used to create ‘Acid Trax’. Originally this synthesizer was conceived as a bass accompaniment for rock bands but Pierre, and thousands of artists after him, saw endless possibilities in its squelchy, disorientating sounds.
He’s started working on a new Phuture album and with ‘Acid Trax’ still creating new fans, he always working to expose his music to new ears. The new material will still be recorded with that iconic 303. With his other production work he’ll just use whatever is easiest, but he wants to remain true to his early pioneering spirit. “Since Phuture did the first Acid track, we’re going to stay true to the straight analogue 303.”
I try to draw Pierre into the ‘Is EDM destroying the underground?’ argument, but he regards the debate as nonsense. He has an issue with people seeing EDM and the underground as separate entities. “I don’t see the argument. If you know your history you know a lot of what you hear today came from Chicago with House, Detroit with Techno and the UK with Garage and the explosion of Acid House.”
Of course he’s right. There will always be a remnant of the mainstream fighting for something different. Underground is where DJ Pierre is, but he’s able to appreciate some aspects of the mainstream, and contribute some substance to it. This is why mainstream artists want to work with people like DJ Pierre, and why they‘re able to comfortably co-exist. “It’s about being able to reach your crowd at that moment, whilst staying true to who you are. So both sides can reach a middle ground. Things tend to come back around to the beginning anyhow.”
Now, in his mission for innovation, he’s developing his Afro Acid style; a concept for a record label and specific sound, which came to him during a dream. In this vision he saw an afro-sporting smiley face winking at him. A visit to a graphic artist and the Afro Acid logo was born. Then he set to work on the meaning of it all: “I’m always growing as an artist. I’m known more so for Acid house do people tend to put me in that one box. So I created a label Afro Acid Digital to showcase the type of music I wanted to do without any expectations.” This new label enables ignored talent to show there are no boundaries to creativity. He sees as a way of thinking, a way of encouraging people to think outside the box and just create.
Constantly searching for improvement is key to Pierre‘s longevity, and he fully understands how he got to his position. “It’s something that’s out there for the world to see and live by. It’s finding and knowing your purpose.”
DJ Pierre is participating and DJing at the inaugural Brighton Music Conference on Friday 11th – 12th April.