Joe Smooth – “I Wish People Would Ask Me More About My History”
Joe Smooth is one of the pioneers of the style of music known today as house music. He is a self-taught musician who from the age of 12 has been creating music that is inspiring to all that his sound has touched. In 1985 he joined the DJ International family and quickly became a central force behind everything written or produced from the visionary label. This included Co-producing The Jack Trax EP with Chip-E, the first record to use the words House and Jack. Many say this was the first true house record. Joe also Co-produced and mixed Frankie Knuckles first record the remake of “You Can’t Hide”. He has worked with such artists as Frankie Knuckles, Marshal Jefferson, Chip E, A Guy Called Gerald, Lil Louis, D’Bora, Tyree Cooper, Fast Eddie, Fingers Inc., The Art Of Noise, Sterling Void, The Pet Shop Boys, Janet Jackson, Brian Mcknight, Atlantic Starr, The Style Council, New Order, Steve Hurley, DJ Skip… and countless more.
At the age of 16, Joe Smooth began having house parties and DJing throughout Chicago’s underground music scene. At 18, he opened his first underground night club called east Hollywood Mannequins. In 1983, at the age of 20 Joe became the head DJ at the now world famous Smart Bar nightclub, became one of the top DJ’s in Chicago and created the atmosphere and mystique that still lives at Smart Bar today. In 1985, the limelight looked at Joe as the number one DJ in Chicago and propositioned Joe for their Chicago nightclub as musical coordinator. In 1987 along with Limelight, he also started working for the soulful Charlie club nightclub as head DJ/musical coordinator and penned one of the greatest house anthems of all time “Promised Land”.
In 1988, with musical production work at a high and traveling abroad to DJ and Perform, Joe Smooth left the Chicago club scene for a short break to put his concentration fully into his productions. In 1990, Joe Smooth saw a need for a serious underground house club in Chicago and opened the very successful Warehouse nightclub, named in tribute to the legendary Warehouse nightclub of the late seventies and early eighties. In 1994 Joe Smooth looking for new horizons ventured to Rome to work on a label idea with producer Claudio Donato “Active Bass Music” . In 1999 Thru 2005 Joe Smooth returned home to Chicago and did extensive work with Slang Music Group and Nu Soul. Joe’s work at Slang and Nu Soul would include projects featuring Whitney Houston, Donnell Jones, Destiny’s Child and Sisqo and earn a multitude of Gold and Platinum record awards.
From 2005 until today Joe Smooth is one of the top DJ’s in Chicago, a certified platinum producer/remixer and world class engineer. He has 2 labels Obelisk Production Multimedia, which has songs signed by worldwide artist such as Faith Evans and George Clinton. Indie Art Music his second label is based on the more underground and up and coming sounds. Joe Smooth has always worked hard to stay ahead of the curve and is a consultant and mentor to some of the worlds greatest producers, djs, and labels
Q&A by S&S
S&S: What’s your style of music?
Joe Smooth: House, Club, Dance, Soul, and different forms of electronic music. I really do all types of music, but my musical foundation is Inspirational House Music.
S&S: How do you describe it?
Joe Smooth: I try to create a work of music that people can feel not only on the dance floor but also on the inside, in your heart and soul.
S&S: Who or what was most instrumental to you when it came to music?
Joe Smooth: The Who, would be people like Stevie Wonder, Gamble and Huff, Prince to Depeche Mode, Ministry and the Beatles The What, would be my love for music and the want to be able to create, led me to pursue understanding the creative process from the thought to finished musical work.
S&S: What drives you creatively?
Joe Smooth: I get musical inspirations from life and the world around me, then, I try to translate that inspiration into something musically tangible.
S&S: How much does your audience influence you and your music selection?
Joe Smooth: I kind of do what I am inspired to do musically as a musician then factor in the current sound of the day and as a DJ I want my audience to have an experience they will enjoy so their thoughts are always my priority with the coloration of my musical taste.
S&S: What artists or genres do you listen to when you’re not working?
Joe Smooth: I listen to all forms and genres of music … I just appreciate great music no matter where it’s coming from, whether it’s House, Funk, Rock , Classical or Soul. On the flipside I enjoy great talk radio from great creative artist like Howard Stern.
S&S: Do you have any favorite memories of growing up with your family?
Joe Smooth: All my memories are great ones especially the ones where we would get together as a family on holidays or go on trips and travel. It really exposed me to many positive different people and cultures, which have been very important to shaping my perspective of life.
S&S: Is there anything you would like people to know about you?
Joe Smooth: I love to create music that touches your soul and I am humbled and greatly appreciative when I see someone or hear about someone who has been touched by my music in a positive way.
S&S: Are there any charities you are working with or excited to tell us about?
Joe Smooth: I am on the board of directors of Priscy’s Production Outreach Program and would like to extend the opportunity for everyone to feel free to send donations to help us help today’s disadvantaged youths to find a better way in this world, through art, literacy, music, dance and technology. We can be reached at: http://www.priscypop.webs.com/
S&S: Are there any questions that you wish people would ask you?
Joe Smooth:I wish people would ask me more about my history as a DJ. Many times we only get to cover that briefly and more time is spent discussing my production history. There is a lot of history from being a DJ back in high school, while at the University Of Illinois, Smart Bar, The Limelight, The Rivera, The Charlie Club, to me opening up the second Warehouse Nightclub on Randolph and Halsted and being one of the top DJs in Chicago.
S&S: And on the flip side of that, are there any questions or references you wish people would stop asking or using?
Joe Smooth: Not really …
S&S: What artist(s) have you been the most excited to work with?
Joe Smooth: I have been blessed to be able to work on projects with some of the most talented and creative minds for a few generations. I feel blessed that I was able to work on Frankie Knuckles first actual vinyl release a cover version of “You Can’t Hide” and was a part of his development as a record producer. I had the opportunity to work with The Art Of Noise, Peter Hook from New Order, projects from Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Lil Louis, A Guy Called Gerald, Avant and many other gifted and highly creative talents.
S&S: Are there any artists that you dream of working with on a collaboration?
Joe Smooth: I would like to get in the studio with Prince, Stevie Wonder and Carl Cox separately or together.
S&S: What can we look forward to next from you?
Joe Smooth: You can always look forward to some work of music that is created with the mindset to uplift and inspire. My latest release “We’ve Got To Love” a Joe Smooth release featuring the talents of Paris Brightledge and myself, really bring me full circle with my longtime friendship with Frankie Knuckles, as I helped him with his first release in the studio “You Can’t Hide”, “We’ve Got To Love” I believe is his last production remix release and as such will always be a special and magical record for me. I am always looking for something new, creative and outside the box. So stay tuned and keeps on the look out for the next episode.
S&S: What legacy would you like to leave?
Joe Smooth:I would like to leave a legacy that is the truth of House Music, I would like to leave a great collection and body of musical works that touch peoples hearts and souls and I would like to leave a legacy of inspiration to those who have come after me in this world of music.
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