The Lab was recently graced by OG Baltimore Club royalty DJ Technics for the latest episode of Turntable Lab Radio. His touch left on the sound of Baltimore Club is undeniable and we were excited to host his incredible talent on the show. We wanted to follow up with Tech to see what’s new in his world and learn more about his history.
Give us a brief background on who Technics is for those just joining the party
I started mixing in 1982, local house parties. First time in front of 500 people was a local Chuck e Cheese teen night 1984. From there I went to A local nightclub called “Chaps” on teen night again. Until 1989 fresh out of school I met Scottie B through dj Vicious V. Got a job in The Sound Of Baltimore working next to Scottie B.
I spent the 90’s doing DMC Battles always placing in the top 10. At the same time I was toying with producing through a childhood friend Tim Moore. My first effort on record was DICKONTROL by Tapp. From there I bounced to Unruly records via Scottie B and Shawn Caesar. Not long after that I created Knucklehead records to put out my own tracks. I met Rod Lee in the late 90’s and we created Club Kingz which was home to the late K-Swift The Club Queen. I was working Music Liberated by the late 90’s and was pushing Bmore club to the masses. The owner of Music Liberated and I created yet another label BALTIMORE BEATZ RECORDS. This label was controlled by Bernie but I was A&R. By 2001 I had opened my own record store Clubtrax located downtown Baltimore.
By 2003 I was producing tracks for the HBO hit series THE WIRE. Working closely with the soundtrack team as a guide. From there it’s been various Underground House projects via Code Red records, putting out global killers such as “Gabryelle” and a few other Deep House tunes. This song was my tribute to my youngest daughter. Since then I have been touring playing for anyone who will listen to good music.
You have a good 20 + years of DJing on you, what made you get into it and what was going on musically for you then?
Music was super heavy in my house. My uncle blasted music nonstop and so did my mom. The man who I know as my dad was a deejay. I was an army baby so I spent my childhood in Germany. My dad was spinning records at home and I was hooked. I loved the concept of putting records on and watching it spin as it played. The needle controlled all the sound. I was amazed. I took in everything I saw, record labels as well as cover art. It was fascinating. I was in Germany from 1975 til 1978. When I got back to the states I remember bugging my mom to buy the last record I remember hearing in Germany which was Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express. That was the first record I ever owned. As you can imagine that would be one hell of an investment. From there the addiction was on. Anything I heard I purchased. I never ate lunch in school because I wanted to stash money for records.
Your name is synonymous with Baltimore Club, can you tell us about your involvement in the history of the genre?
I was one of the original members of Unruly records crew. I think there were ten of us or more. we were a family in music. it was the birth of what was to come in the following years in Baltimore club music culture. I was down with Unruly and releasing tracks on other labels also, like Dj Patrick’s Quiet records imprint. I was the first to pioneer drum build ups in tracks, as in “Push It Up To The Ceiling” I think I was the 5th guy to set up a label and press my own records consistently.
I was also first to pioneer jacking Motown/oldie tunes to make tracks as well as flipping r&b songs (check out Technics remix of Sylvia’s Pillow Talk. Other producers were nailing the hardcore tracks so I wanted to do tracks that appealed ladies or that were just taboo. I was also the person who helped Rod Lee get started making tracks. We recorded all his early tracks at my house on Eutaw place. His label then was Phat Kidz Records, before we did Club Kingz. I was a heavy influence on Rod Lee during that time as he was still new to the game. As you can hear it didn’t take Rod Lee long to find his sound and run with it. I feel like I aided in creating that monster. I had the same influence on K-Swift (r.i.p.), she routinely came to my house to brush up on mixing, get advice and to get the latest tracks I had created.
What would you say influenced the Baltimore sound?
No I wouldn’t say I influenced the sound, it was already there. I just created additional lanes to ride in. I was influenced by what I heard other guys producing. Kw Griff and Dj Booman were the true kings of club as far as I am concerned. My desire to do it came from them. Griff and Booman set the standard for Baltimore Club from day one. I was just trying to get in where I could. There were guys like Dukeyman killing it also producing records for other guys and chilling in the background. Dukeyman did almost all the early Diamond K and Kenny B records. Guys like Dukeyman kept me on the grind. Cats like Dj Patrick, Kenny B and Frankski as well as Scottie and Shawn had already laid down a terrific foundation. It was simple back then. I guess I kind complicated things by creating a new lane. Guys back then were all doing tracks the same way trying to follow a certain guide line for style and sound. It forced me to do something different. Plus I wanted people outside of the hood to have an appreciation for club music. I wanted other races to hear it so I touched things that I knew other races would relate to. That was my gift and contribution.
Dj Booman “Stickem”
KW Griff “Ain’t None Of Yall safe”
When was it that you first started to produce?
1993 was when I started messing with the Ensoniq eps sampling keyboard.
What were your first production tools?
Asr-10 sampling workstation
2 Tascam Dat recorders
Alesis monitor 2’s w/ matching amp
Alesis 31 band Eq
Mackie 16×4 Mixer with bridge
Yamaha spx 1000
C.a.d Studio Mic
Top 5 producers (any genre)
Top 5 producers (Baltimore club / house)
Top 5 Baltimore Club records
It’s Nutty – Kw Griff
2 Da Rhythm – Dj Booman
Feel Me Remix – Rod Lee
Flip It Bounce It dub – Dj Big Red
Kong (Karizma remix) – Sticky People
Your top 5 favorite tracks you produced
Pillow Talk (Technics remix) – Sylvia
See About Me (Technics remix) – Marvelettes
I Get Down – Dj Technics
Party People – Dj Technics
Push It Up – Dj Technics
I know you haven’t been in Baltimore for some time now, but do you have any crazy memories you wanna share with us?
My crazy memory #1 is getting locked up by the cops for selling my mixed cds on a corner during Art scape and getting out in time to deejay on the main stage in Art scape the very next day wearing a “STOP SNITCHING t-shirt……..hilarious !!
Crazy memory #2 was one night while spinning at Club Choices, a very pretty lady climbed through the window of the deejay booth and got completely naked, danced all around the booth for 30 minutes. What a show !!
What’s coming up for you? I know you mentioned getting back into pressing vinyl.
Pressing vinyl is mandatory. I have realized that a niche genre such as Baltimore cant survive on mp3 alone. Records have collectable value and people appreciate owning an actual record. I got caught up in the mp3 trend and it wasn’t a good move. With so many cats giving away free music via mp3 just to be heard. It forced me to re-evaluate my position as an artist and a manufacturer of music. People want something they can brag and show their friends when having company over. Who shows off their mp3 collection ???
How do you feel about the recent rise in popularity for Jersey Club?
This is a very sentimental subject for me. I get emotional about this topic for one reason. Before I explain let me say this, I have done plenty in my life good and bad. I didn’t finish college, and I was in and out of my kids life because I was chasing my dream. Anyway considering I didn’t do what my mom wanted me to do which was anything other than music early on, the statement I will make regarding Jersey Club will be the most interesting and powerful thing I can say.
I love the entire Jersey Club movement, why ???
I was told by the founder of Jersey Club that I was the sole inspiration for him to create what would ultimately become the Jersey Club sound and movement. Dj Tameil is the godfather to Jersey Club. He has repeatedly thanked me and told me that one of my songs is how he came up with his style of making his tracks, which everyone in Jersey emulated and still copy to this day. I don’t know about you but to be told and see that you have inspired an entire culture of music is powerful. I did something that inspired Dj Tameil to do what he does and in turn he inspired the entire north Atlantic.
I feel responsible for that, it’s my grand baby, there is no way I can not love it and I do. Many Jersey producers jacked Tameils sound and style, cloned it and flooded streets with it. When you can inspire thousands of guys to do music exactly the way you do, it’s powerful. It’s so personal to me. I like what Jersey is doing, I just wish it was a way to have these guys work together to bring it to the masses in a real presentation. Many of these guys are making tracks with no intention for them. Otherwise I love it. I inspired the man who gave birth to an entire movement and culture. Now I know how Africa Bammbaata feels. Legendary. Even if I had nothing to do with it I would still love it. It’s creative and it’s fun plus it feels good.