In discussion with rRoxymore on “KMS 049 B1” by Chez Damier (1993).
What was the first time you heard this track?
I think I heard that track on a recorded DJ mix that was often played in a local radio where I grew up. It was a mix by Darren Emerson, if I remember correctly, recorded during one of these epic raves at that time. Eventually I had that mix recorded on a tape myself, and I was playing it from time to time in my teenage bedroom after school or on weekends. This was in the mid 90’s I think. I never knew who was the producer of the track at that time, I discovered it years after.
Why does it stand out for you? What makes it so special?
It brings me right back to my raving teenage years, just listening to that tape in my bedroom. I think what has always caught me in that track is that gimmick, the weeping sound of the chords, it sounds almost like breathing, and also it is difficult to identify how that sound has been made. Is it the sound of a keyboard chords, or strings, or voices mixed with strings and something else? It has always been a mystery for me and and it still is. That sound, which is obviously the signature of the track, has an unusual character. It is almost some sound design. Even though I guess it is a just preset on a synth, haha. It has always stood out from the dance music production of that time and still is. Maybe because it makes it more difficult to categorize it. Just compare it to the A side which is obviously a House music track. The B side is much more ambiguous stylistically in terms of aesthetics. Is it House music or is it Techno music? That is why I like it so much.
The A-side of this record is probably as legendary. Do you like it as well?
Yes I like it too, but for me it sounds definitely more like a classic House track. Even though, as you said, it became legendary.
There are so many imperatives in club music history, but the vocal sample of the track is particularly fetching. Would you agree that this simple lyric is really part of its appeal?
Yes, totally. This intro “And I’m going to close my door…” is totally absurd in a funny way. It gives a really humorous touch to the whole track, this is even more emphasized with the double voices that come in towards the end. The sound treatment on it makes it really very funny and weird. Nothing is serious here, we are celebrating the fun, the groove and of course the party.
When I bought the record back in the day, that sweeping sound sounced familiar to me, but I could not nail it down for a while. At some point I remembered that DJ Pierre put out a track a year earlier as Joint Venture called Master Blaster on Strictly Rhythm, that already had the sound running throughout, and it actually was a typical element to his trademark Wild Pitch sound. Damier’s track is completely different in structure and groove though. Still, could it be that he was referencing Pierre to pay respect? Or did the sound just fit?
I think I have heard this Joint Venture track a few times, indeed the groove is totally different, but it had never put the same spell on me as the Chez Damier track. Damier’s track is much more uplifting and more groovy in my opinion. And of course also because I have so much memories attached to Damier’s.
I have no clue if Chez Damier was referencing DJ Pierre, or not. I would say at that time a lot of productions were referencing each other. It was part of the scene. A lot of basslines were similar for instance, and chords etc. I would compare that to Reggae and its riddim culture.
The track has sound signatures of both Techno and House, and the strings are very Disco. They always reminded me of First Choice’s „Let No Man Put Asunder“. Is that something that makes the track age so well, that it transcends different traditions into one single track that sounds like the best parts of each?
It is funny that you mention First Choice , as it is also one of my favorite Disco tracks. Well, I think you totally nailed it. It is timeless and it transcends styles. An instant classic. It also reminds me a lot of „House For All“ by the Blunted Dummies, I don’t know why.
Although Chez Damier’s career went back to Detroit Techno’s early days in the late 80s, he really became seminal for his work with Ron Trent on his labels like Precription and Balance, which are among the most revered imprints ever. I can remember that those labels really stood out from the rest in the mid 90s, but why are they still so unrivalled?
I’m not at specialist in House music in a scholarly way, but for me Prescription was the fusion of all the schools in House music you could ever imagine. A crossover of the New York style, the Chicago Style and of course a touch of Detroit. That is what it makes it so unique and cherished by House music fans. And it is also a landmark release for what we know as Deep House.
Are there other records with credits by Chez Damier that you rate as much as this?
Well, it is also not easy to resist the hypnotic gimmick of „Forever Monna“. An absolute beauty of Detroit House, produced in collaboration with Stacey Pullen.
I always found it fascinating that Damier’s music displayed so many influences, like Detroit Techno, Chicago House and classic Disco for example, yet his sound was always very distinct and recognizable as his own. How important is it to develop a signature sound? Is it still important?
Developing a signature is primordial for an artist in my opinion. It is true for visual arts, writing and whatever media you are working with, and of course for music and sound. And it is even more important in a music genre that is so encoded as dance music. For me, it is important as a producer to achieve your own sound, because the narrations of a track are most of the time similar, and all reach for sure the same goal; to make people dance. I must add, that dance music and electronic music embodied the future in way, because of the sounds and the tools used to produce them, like synths, computers, and effects. But I feel that 25 years later it has not changed so much, it has become conservative, it gets stuck in its own past.
Is there something in this track that influenced your own productions?
Aesthetically no, I don’t think so. But maybe unconsciously it represents the archetype of what I am trying to archive in my own work: not being reduced to one style.