Together, these Baltimore natives have established themselves as masters of their craft and have rightly been awarded the coveted title of House Master with this new compilation.
In advance of its release, we caught up with DJ Spen over email to talk about his love of soulful house, who he looks to in order to learn more about DJing, and why the relationship between himself and Karizma has been so fruitful…
How important are Parliament, Funkadelic and Chaka Khan in influencing your music?
Very! I love all of the above because they represent an era in music that will never, ever die! They are the building blocks of what R&B and Dance Music is today.
Do you think it’s important that young people know about House’s heritage?
Yes. Unfortunately many young peeps today are not exposed to enough of what their musical roots are.You have to know where you come from to know where you’re going.
What is it about soulful and Gospel House music that you have found so intoxicating?
It is my connection to an unseen power source that feeds my inner being…LOVE! The more I live, the more I realize that LOVE is a powerful thing! What people have to realize is that the message of love is the driving force in soulful and gospel house music. I receive so much of it that I have to give it away! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
Do you think you have now mastered everything there is to know about DJing?
No way. Every time I hear somebody like Tony Humphries, Danny Krivit, Louie Vega, Kenny Dope, Osunlade, Teddy Douglas, Joey Negro, Timmy Regisford etc. I learn something! But to tell you the truth, I have learned more playing with Karizma recently than I have in quite a while. He is just the master on the CDJs. It’s always inspiring watching or playing with anyone who knows their craft as well as these guys do.
When you’re in the studio, do you prefer working solo or collaborating with someone else?
I am a collaboration guy really. I like working with others that know what’s going on with their craft. Working alone is cool, but it can get a bit boring sometimes. The basics (sequencers, monitors etc..) aside, what’s the one bit of kit on your studio that you really couldn’t do without?
My Mellinia Mic Pre! I like that thing. Makes vocals and live bass lines sound groovie babee!!!
Do you consider yourself a DJ or turntablist?
Both. Thing is as a DJ I pay strict attention to what I am playing and when I play it. That to me is much more important that being a turntablist. But being a turntablist is more fun! You just have to remember that you have to use that aspect of DJing when it’s appropriate.
We have known each other for a long time. I think that and growing up in the same city is what creates that chemistry.
What is the philosophy of your Code Red label and who are your main artists?
The main idea behind Code Red is to do good, solid, quality music. What that allows us to do is concentrate on each record for the record that it is. A record like ‘Gabryelle’ is far away from a track like ‘It’s So Easy’, but they are both great records. Our main artist are Marc Evans,The MuthaFunkaz, Sheila Ford & N’ Dinga, but that roster is growing as we speak.
Who in your opinion is a real life House Master?
Joey Negro. He’s a killer DJ. His record label is amazing. He’s been able to diversify as a DJ and really develop his record label, plus he’s an awesome remixer and producer. All things in one package.
When was the last time a track really blew you away?
When MAW produced BeBe Winans, ‘Thank You’…that was just insane.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about..?
MuthaFunkaz Muthalode Reloaded remix project! Coming October 2011 on Code Red! Featuring the likes of Joey Negro, Kenny Dope, Gramophonedzie, Atjazz, Karizma, and my man Dimitri from Paris!
House Masters Spen & Karizma is out NOW