When I received the call that Chicago DJ Ron Trent, will be performing at Navy Pier for Sequence Ch!cago, I was excited. Being a “House Head” I knew that this event was going to be amazing and I couldn’t wait to speak with him.
Sequence Ch!cago is a free dynamic performance series that features local artists, musicians and cultural organizations by showcasing their works across Navy Pier’s various unique platforms. Ron will be joined by DJ Terry Hunter (Chosen Few), Paul Johnson, and DJ Heather at the “Housegiving” event. The great thing about this event is that it will also serve as a coat drive for the homeless.
Ron while reading your bio, I had to smile when you spoke of your father running a record pool. For those who have never heard of a record pool or may have never handled vinyl, would you describe what a record pool is?
A record pool was an organization of groups that were designed to collect feedback from music that was being released from various record companies in the 70s. These pools primarily consisted of a crew of active and engaged DJ’s who either played in clubs or had residencies at clubs (Discos). The process was that DJs would be given records and provide feedback to the record pool directors. The directors would then forward that feedback to their clients, which were major or independent record companies. From an authentic perspective from industry tastemakers, it was a true organic way of understanding what people liked.
Creating music is in your blood. Do you remember where you were and how you felt when you first heard one of your creations in a club or on air?
I don’t really recall the first time. Those of us who were making music in the 80s, on the underground level, were already testing out our music amongst each other—years before anything became commercially available. Meaning, we sometimes shared our music within our circle of DJs and producers, to play for our audiences. Of course, when you had iconic tastemakers like Frankie Knuckles or Ron Hardy pay attention to what you were doing, it had a huge impact — and people listened. What resonated the most with me was getting the acknowledgement and respect from both of them. But I was used to hearing my creations played by some of the more popular DJs of our underground era—before any commercial success.
House Music, DJs and entertainers seem to be overwhelmingly received in Europe. What is the difference between American and European audiences?
The difference is that the European market embraced our culture differently because of its uniqueness. The open mindedness of people to our creations is due to the simple fact that, it is rare and exotic to a certain degree. While House Music was created the US, the way American audiences came into contact was rather brief. They engaged with the sound in any of the following ways:
They …went to underground parties;had the fortitude to dig deeper and see past commercial music and/or; experienced the music that returned through foreign markets. So, this is the basis of the level of interaction with what we do.
On November 21st, you will perform at Sequence Ch!cago’s, "Housegiving", which will be a coat drive for homeless individuals in Chicago. What are your thoughts on the event and its purpose?
Homelessness makes no sense… with the amount of money our country makes, there is no reason for it to exist. The reality is, there are people who have suffered hardships for different reasons and there should be automatic mechanisms in place to combat that. If participating in Housegiving can impact positive change, then that’s a great thing and I support it 100%. But, it’s the post-work of this event that will truly make a real difference. Creating opportunities to lend a hand to those in need such as Navy Pier’s Sequence Ch!cago Housegiving is definitely a step in the right direction.
You perform all over the world. What's it like bringing it home to Chicago?
It’s always good to play for your city. The city where you have been raised in legitimizes your value. It’s your roots. It also rounds out your worldly experiences.
House music can be described as a hypnotic symphony, with the DJ being the conductor. How do you create beats and music while keeping the crowd caught up in the story?
The art of DJing is really programming and paying attention to the pulse. If you have studied your craft, then you know how to take people on your journey and embrace your story that you’re telling. This is the ethos of the pioneers of what we do today that I follow.
Do you feel that House Music is “old school”? What will the sound of House be for the future?
“Old school” … I’m not sure if the term hurts or brings value to “House Music”. This form of music is made up of a rotation of different types of genres and new ingredients. It’s a futuristic sound, and always has been since its inception. Confusion comes with people’s varied perception based on musical eras and their first exposure to it. House is a style—the music is infinite. So, it is the future.
What is your advice to someone who dreams of starting their own record company or becoming a DJ?
I will make this short and sweet… study, study, study. Also, be prepared to put in hard work and discipline, don’t do it for the glamour.
Is there any extra insight you’d like to share?
Whatever you choose to do in life, be passionate about it. Live what you do because it will show in the result.
Thanks Ron, I can't to hang out and get my HOUSE ON on November 21st at Navy Pier.
Until next time keep your EYE to the sky!!!