Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Larry Heard

Here's a great interview with Larry Heard that I came across on Resident Advisor.

The preface to the interview begins with this:

"House music icon?" chuckles Larry Heard. "All these kinds of titles end up being put on you, but they have never had anything to do with my original goal and intent." RA catches up with the gentle giant of deep house.

Early 2007. At almost every party you go to, DJs are playing the same tune. On some nights you’ll hear it three times in different rooms. Over the course of the year, the cut becomes a genuine club anthem, inspiring singalongs on the dancefloor and finding its way onto compilation after compilation that summer. A stripped down acid track with honey-smooth vocals, 'The Sun Can’t Compare' was the real deal: a fresh Chicago house track that somehow managed to sound both classic and contemporary. If it had been made by one of the legion of new deep revivalists, you’d have given them a round of applause for nailing the sound.

Of course it wasn’t. The track was by Heard himself, and just the latest 12-inch in a twenty-five year career of records which form one of the most intriguing back catalogues in dance music. For newcomers to the genre—and there were many in 2007—the soft spoken musician’s discography is a rich vein of music to dive into, from proto-acid tracks such as ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Mystery of Love’ that still cut like a knife to his truly sublime 1988 single ‘Can You Feel It?’ to more recent album-length jazz/downtempo/house explorations such as 'Where Life Begins' and 'Love's Arrival'. For longtime Heard aficionados—and there are many of those, too—the revival of interest, of course, wasn’t so surprising. Larry Heard hadn’t come back to the clubs; the clubs had came back to Larry Heard.

Originally a drummer in a Yes cover band, and famously devoted to building his tracks sample-free and from the ground up, Heard’s relationship with the ass-shaking side of house has always been a complicated one. His early classics, for example, were made even before he’d even stepped inside a nightclub. This arm’s length approach nowadays extends to his choice of city of residence, the decidedly un-4/4 town of Memphis, Tennessee, as well as his attitude to DJing, which despite his full schedule of bookings, is a role he’s always had a secondary interest in. Talking to Heard, it’s obvious that first and foremost he sees himself as a musician in the plucking, hitting and strumming sense of the word; he’s not comfortable settling for dance music’s usual methods and roles. It’s an attitude to music that in the end gave birth to the new kind of house he is responsible for: a dance music which deemphasised the relentlessly up-for-it tone of the genre and fused it with non-dance notions of maturity, real musicianship, stretched out improvisation and above all human feeling. In other words: deep house.

In an extended interview, Larry Heard speaks to RA about where he's at in 2008.

Link To Interview

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