R.C. Lair: House Keeper

Back then it was all good, and the first warehouse parties in Montreal, well, I've never seen anything like them since I moved away. They were fresh, minimal, always in secret locations, a lot of times in these gutted, 10-story warehouse buildings. You'd go in through the docking bay, and there'd be a bunch of guys in black tee shirts wearing little headsets, and they'd pat you down, and you'd be thinking, "Okay, what's up?" because there was no party in sight, just an empty warehouse. Then a freight elevator would open up, and they'd load you on 20 at a time, and--bang--the doors would close, and the elevator would start to go up. And as you passed the second floor, you'd start to hear this faint beat--boom, boom, boom. And it got louder with every floor, until you got to the top, and the doors opened and it was like--BOOM, BOOM, BOOM--you walked into this incredible, packed party, with all these drag queens and kids with glitter and all these futuristic clothes and slides on every wall of some African tribesman or two dogs having sex or whatever, and flashing lights and a pumping sound system and people--all different kinds of people--just losing their minds to positive, happy house music. I miss that. It's not like that anymore.

NT: What do you mean?
R.C.: Well, last year I read an interview with [superstar DJ] Moby, who has basically dropped out of the scene in disgust, and he described my emotions perfectly. He said that in late 1993, maybe early '94, something fundamental in rave culture began to shift. For one thing, the music got darker. No pianos. No vocals. No certain types of happy noises. Now, I don't want to come off like I'm just pining away for the past, but, again, Moby put it exactly. He said what drew him into the scene was less the music than the love and community and the atmosphere of acceptance, which was reflected in the music. Now, the most popular rave music is much darker, faster and harsher than deep house music. Now, if you play house at a rave, a lot of people are like, "Excuse me--vocals? I don't think so."

NT: That seems especially true here. It's like Phoenix is taking its cues from L.A., where the scene's all about hard-core, rather than, say, San Francisco, which is still a stronghold for house music.

R.C.: Right, it's a general pattern that's even worse in Phoenix. In other cities, maybe there's a house scene, a hard-core scene, a jungle scene, and the raves bring them all together. Well, here, you're never going to see [formative Valley house DJ] Pete Salaz's name on a rave flier, because of this strict, discriminatory mentality. People here seem to feel that deep house music has no place at raves. When I first moved here, I spun house and got this totally negative reaction, and I couldn't believe it. I was like, "What are you talking about? This is house music. The only reason you're listening to any of the music you're listening to now, little raver, is because of house music." Raves didn't come from alternative bands. They came from warehouse parties. Ware-house. House music. See the correlation? It's fundamental. Everything in the scene evolved from house, and it deserves way more respect, here and everywhere.

NT: You sound like a crusader.
R.C.: Well, I am on a crusade, dammit. I want to bring house back into the house that house built. And I'm making progress. I don't spin strictly house anymore, but I slip it into my sets, and I've got kids coming up to me all the time, saying, "R.C., I never liked house, but I like the house you play." So many times I've heard that. And it's because they haven't ever listened to good house; maybe they just heard a few booty house records, with some 300-pound gospel woman wailing all over the place, and they just wrote it off. I just want everyone to give house a real chance. At the very least, in my opinion, when the sun's coming up, you better be spinning house. The phattest parties in the world, no matter how hard or jungly or breakbeat or electro you get, at the end of the night, the party needs to slow down a little and ease into a gentle, come-down, smiley-face groove. I mean, at Musik [a March 29 megarave at Firebird raceway], they put Kevin Brown on as the closer, at 5 in the morning, playing happy hard-core, which is fast as hell. The next day on the Internet, no one had anything nice to say about anything, because they were all so grumpy, because after having hard-core shoved down their throat all night, what do they get at 5 in the morning? [R.C. does a reasonable imitation of automatic-weapons fire.] More hard-core. Blech.

NT: Any turntablists you'd like to cite as influences?
R.C.: Yes. [French Canadian DJ] Robert De La Gaultier, and I credit him to this day with being my mentor. He was the epitome of the bomb DJ, because he could rock any crowd, anytime. If it was a gay, older crowd, he had the queeniest house music. If it was a rave, he had German trance and Detroit techno. He went to Berlin one summer, I think it was 1992 (and he was an older, gay DJ himself), and came back with all these hard techno records before that sound was even breaking out, and he played them in mainstream clubs. People didn't even know what the hell was going on, but they liked it. And I'm like that.

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