I'm excited to finally get to post this. I did this interview with Dr. J during the summer. What I've always liked about listening to J spin and doing interviews with him and just talking to him in general is his genuine passion for what he does and the music he listens to and plays. Whilst being a veteran DJ you can tell it still holds a sense of fascination for him which has always drawn me to listen to him since I first started sneaking into bars. He is also head hauncho over at his own boutique record label Roots Forward (www.rootsforward.com) releasing limited edition old school hip-hop singles which is pretty rad. Without adieu.
JH: So what's the first one here?
DJ: The first one would have to be 'Ring My Bell' by Anita Ward…
JH: OK! Yepp!
DJ: I remember when I was a kid, probably nine or ten, Saturdays was the big house cleaning day for my mom. She would do the vacuuming and the dusting and she would always just have the disco pumping.
JH: So this is the mom song?
JH: You always get that one song that people are like 'my mom used to listen to this song all the time' and it turns into your favourite.
DJ: So my mom had a compilation called Dancin at the Disco and it had this woman in a gold sequinned mini skirt kinda dress, and I remember Ring My Bell really stood out on that album. I think there was some MJ on there and maybe some Earth, Wind and Fire as well, but Ring My Bell really stood out, just of you know, the cheesy little … woooo woooo (*J does a perfect imitation of this*) … that little sound or whatever in the song. And my mom used to play that LP to death! So I think that was one of my early introductions to disco music. My mom was a huge disco fan, which kinda stands to reason now as I play a ton of disco when I'm DJing out so I like to think a lot of that comes from that initial introduction as a kid.
JH: Cleaning house. The one for me, and it's not so much that my mom played it a lot but they had it around the house that I recognized was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I'm pretty sure I knew ever word on that record by the time I was six years old.
DJ: So that would be my first one.
JH: The big number one.
DJ: Another big track for me was by Grandmaster Flash… and you know often times people always say 'The Message' or whatever, but my first introduction to GMF was a track called 'Girls Love The Way He Spins' and that was actually the first LP that I ever purchased, it was in '85…
JH: What'd that run you at the time?
DJ: Oh jeeze, it was cheap… like $8. And I remember going on a trip to see my aunt and uncle in Calgary, it was a family road trip in the summer of '85, and we went to some outlet mall or something… and the cheesy record stores they used to have, they had tapes, 8-tracks or whatever, but for some reason this GMF LP really caught my eye, so I bought it, took it to my aunts house, she had a turntable at the time… and I was just listening to that thing to death for the rest of that trip.
JH: And you know the rest of the family as like 'Oh, I don't know about that new record Jason bought…'
DJ: Well, they hated it but that was one of my first introductions to rap as well. And in fact, that same record I have hanging up on my wall downstairs framed because I had GMF autograph it. About twelve years ago he was DJing in Edmonton and I took the LP up to him and he signed it… so that album, I don't think it's his best album, but that's definitely the one that…
JH: The one that got you first?
DJ: Yeah. So that was kinda '85, and then there was a couple tracks I remember, my mom and I went on a trip to Toronto, it was some business trip she had to go on to promote some cookbook or something she was doing for work. And I remember this trip, a couple big things about this trip - Jean Chretien was Prime Minister at the time and he was doing a book signing and he autographed a picture of himself, that I still have… but on this same trip my mom went to Sam the Record Man in Toronto and she bought Tears for Fears first album with Shout! on it, and that to me… that's number three on my list. Shout! by Tears for Fears. She also bought Sussudio by Phil Collins…
JH: Oh! Your mom has great taste! I'm sure we've talked about this before, but that is actually my favourite song of all time. Hands down, never will change. Haha
DJ: Oh my god! Haha So that's three and four on there for sure.
JH: How old were you when you were into Sussudio?
DJ: That was '87, so I would have been 14.
JH: K so was this like the we're going to the first parties we've ever gone to kinda soundtrack? Or like, what was the?
DJ: I was in grade 8. So keep in mind that by that time I was already really big into rap. Pretty much all I listened to was rap.
JH: Now were you the only 14 year old that was into only rap music or was that like the thing?
DJ: At my particular school, I was the only guy into rap music. In fact, my school was basically upper-middle class headbangers. You know, the tight acid washed jeans… the AC/DC, Metallica, those black t-shirts… leather boots or whatever the guys were wearing and the girls were wearing the hi-tops with the tongues sticking out, the crazy back-combed hair… the soundtrack at my school was heavy metal. And I used to take my boom box to school with rap playing on it. This was grade seven, then by grade eight I started getting into a lot of the dance stuff, the Tears for Fears, the Phil Collins…
JH: Obviously Shout! was a radio hit, so was Sussudio, Was it that you were getting into pop radio stuff? Or was there something else in the music that was sticking out to you at the time? I mean when you're hanging out with kids that were listening to Metallica and whatever else at the time…
DJ: They hated that shit! They used to chase me home after school. Luckily I was in track so they never caught me. I was the black sheep. And for me it had nothing to do with what was being played on the radio, I didn't even listen to the radio. I just had my tapes goin, whatever I loved I played.
JH: So then we got the last one here.
DJ: The last one was actually by Gino Vanelli. Do you remember 'Black Cars' by Gino Vanelli?
JH: Like is it the song I'm thinking of?
DJ: Black cars look better in the shade…
JH: Yepp yepp yepp.
DJ: And I'm not certain but it seems to me like my mom might have purchased that Gino Vanelli as well on that Toronto trip. I think that Toronto trip really shaped a lot of stuff musically.
JH: Just set the wheels in motion hey?
DJ: Seems to me she bought Wham! too, that Make It Big album on that trip too. That whole poppy kinda dance stuff…
JH: And it's just set in since.
You can check out his soundcloud here too (soundcloud.com/dr-j-2) where he's got some of his CFCR Expansions promos up and has all his blog, record label, radio show, and youtube channel.