Lime interview - Clubs & Nightlife
Baltimore-based DJ Spen aka Sean Spencer is without doubt one of the most influential DJs and producers of his generation.
A true advocate of spiritual house music, DJ Spen’s extensive discography of original productions, killer remixes and distinctive DJ sets have been grooving the dance floors since the early 90s. Inspired by hip hop he has also produced unique fusion of gospel, jazz, disco and house. More recently working on the label Quantize Recordings and headlining at the Scottish Soulful Weekender this month; Spen is one DJ who has developed his sound for the modern dance floor.
Is this your first time at the Scottish Soulful Weekender? What's have your heard about it and what can the weekender crew expect from your set?
Yes this is my first time at the weekender. I’ve heard that it's pretty good and I’m looking forward to participating this year.
What kind of a set will you be playing and do you have any secret weapons you can share with us?
As I am always in the studio, I always have loads of secret weapons. What I'm going to be playing is going to be determined by what I see the crowd is doing. I'm definitely a jock who is inspired by the people, so I am sure that I will be playing according to the overall vibe I get.
Is there anyone you are looking forward to catching at SSW2 and why?
The Motor City Drum Ensemble, Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson and Tony Humphries - I’m definitely looking forward to hearing them. Tony especially has been a big supporter of our music since the beginning and it’s always a joy to check him out!
How does playing in Scotland compare to other countries or the UK if it’s your first time in Scotland?
It's going to be my first time playing in Scotland for a while but from what I remember party people in Scotland are crazy party animals, so I am looking forward to having a good time.
How does it feel to have been on top of the scene for the last fifteen years or so that you have been working?
To me the entertainment game is always a working progress. I believe in working hard to maintain visibility, and a good image. It doesn't feel like I've been in this business for fifteen years because it's so much fun! Doing something that I love to do is nothing but a blessing and I appreciate the love I get in return for the work I put out.
Do you think House is having a renaissance right now and that the music is so strong it's never really gone away?
The music is just so strong that it never really goes anywhere. People try to name it different things and do it different ways, but the bottom line is that the music always survives. For me house music is uplifting and inspirational and I can't say that about many other genres especially at the moment. House is definitely here to stay for long time.
And how do you manage to keep it fresh, new and I guess, vital? Is it a case of pressure as a legendary DJ/Producer to always be one step ahead in the house scene?
I work with quite a few talented individuals. Gary Hudgins, Irvin Madden, Thommy Davis, Marc Evans, Sheila Ford, Greg Lewis, and N'Dinga Gaba are people who I work with almost every day that help me to create the sound that you hear coming from Quantize Recordings. I'm blessed to do so many things and I can't take full credit for all that I do. Since Basement Boys everything that I have done has been a group effort of some sort. These days it's been a blessing to return to work with Karizma again as a DJ and producer as well.
Recording & Producing must keep you busy. Do you have your own label and is there anyone or a track that you’re particularly proud of...are you psyched about any new stuff upcoming? What do you see as your greatest musical career highlights so far?
I would have to say I'm particularly proud of the work I done with Marc Evans. He's a great Vocal talent and his songwriting is second to none. I would have to say that the body of work that we've created for him under the MuthaFunkaz production name is awesome. The new label that I am focusing all of my attention on these days is Quantize Recordings, and working with artists like Erin Leah, Tracy Hamlin, LeRoyal, Ziggy Funk, and newcomer, Typheni, Is awfully exciting.
What was your first break and first big record and did it set you on your path?
"A Feelin" by Jasper Street Company on Basement Boys label. Even though I had written quite a few records before that one, "A Feelin" was my first production.
House and dance is so much ingrained in British music, are there any UK artists whose music you feel a real affinity for?
Ziggy Funk, Neil Pierce and Sean McCabe as far as DJ’s are concerned, and Taliwa is a phenomenal singing talent.
You grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, USA how much of an influence did the neighbourhood around you have on your path towards music? Were there any other major influences such as key people, DJ's, producers or clubs etc?
Baltimore was an awesome place to grow up musically. Being close enough to New York and Philadelphia, we had a good and vibrant music scene with DJ's like Wayne Davis, Thommy Davis and Teddy Douglas, who also worked in record stores and nite clibs like Odells, which were also important to the legendary music culture that came out of the city.
So after over fifteen years, what does the future hold for you?
Quite a few things! I am really getting into the engineering aspect of music. I really like taking material and making it sound its absolute best. Running a record label in a time when sales are not the greatest is a challenge, but I plan on expanding and growing Quantize Recordings as well.
And before you leave us, can you tell us something you think we should all be listening to before we head out the door to SSW2?
Erin Leah "Radio Billie Stereo Ella" is a quirky little jazz number that should be out then. "Drive Me Crazy" by Tracy Hamlin and "A Spiritual Love" by Marc Evans are gonna be what The Quantize team will have as high SSW2 and ADE priorities. Lastly, I am co-producing a track with Neal Conway called "Is It Love" by a phenomenal young lady named Typheni that I believe is quite amazing.
SSW2 is the winter event for discerning soul music lovers showcasing headliners such as the legendary New York DJ, Tony Humphries; Baltimore’s DJ Spen; Norway’s Prins Thomas; Motor City Ensemble from Germany; the legendary UK DJ’s Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson and Greg Wilson. Plus soul and jazz legends Ian Levine, Snowboy and Ian Wright and Live Acts such as Alison Limerick, Drizabone, E-Man, Ray Harris Fusion Experience and Darrow Fletcher.
Info: 2-4 November 2012 Scottish Soulful Weekender. The Cairndale Hotel, English Street, Dumfries DG1 2DF, Scotland, 01387 254111, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.scottishsoulweekender.com