Thursday, September 12, 2013
1 on 1 with DJ Pierre
His real name is Nathaniel ‘Paul’ Jones. His middle name is not even Pierre, although he’s more known to others as DJ PIERRE. Besides a deejay, he is a music maker and people mover. Pierre was a name given to him by his youth Pastor in the Catholic Church he grew up in. They all went by Saint names in church and his was Peter, but he thought that being called Peter wasn’t cool. So they said how about Pierre – It’s Peter in French. “So I was like, yeah I can work with that. So everyone in Church started calling me Pierre and that’s when I adopted the name. I’m now no longer Catholic, but the meaning behind the name is still valid”, stated DJ PIERRE in his introduction to this interview with Ramona Portelli for Conversations Magazine.
DJ Pierre was born in Harvey, Illinois that is a suburb of Chicago. His uncle Nathaniel Jones, whom he was named after, once played with Duke Ellington and his band. Music had been part of his life from early on. All of Dj Pierre’s six siblings, played some sort of instrument. Dj Pierre played drums and clarinet. He was in the marching band where he played the Tri-Toms.
“We won a major drum competition in Canada," says Pierre. "I think I was about 15 years old. So that re-enforced strongly my belief in music and what can be accomplished if I applied myself. So that re-enforced strongly my belief in music and what can be accomplished if I applied myself. I now live in Duluth, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta. I’m married and have 4 kids, 3 girls and a boy. Last two girls Nia and Nylah are with my current wife."
You are the creator of acid music. In your own words, can you describe what exactly is acid music?
Acid House is freedom to create and explore. Acid House is boldness to declare this is music as well. There was nothing else like it in our world before Acid Tracks. So it was bold…it said you will accept me despite being different. I am music and I can be felt and I can cause people to dance and go nuts.
Basically you gave birth to a genre and pioneering a sound that had the whole world dancing and imitating for over 20 years. How did you first discover you had a talent for deejaying?
Music has always been a part of me. But I used to listen to the Hot Mix 5 on the radio and would attempt to record the songs they played and mash them up to make the flow that I wanted. I’ve always been intrigued by the rhythm of an entire set and how it can leave you feeling nostalgic, hyped, inspired, sexual…it goes on. So I asked my dad for some turntables and it started from there. I turned my garage into a DJ set up.
You are a founding member of Chicago group ‘Phuture’ with Spanky and Herb J. What is Phuture, and what is your role?
Phuture began with Spanky and myself. We started out wanting to emulate those we respected. We found out that we could do more than that. Spanky programmed most of the drum patterns and I wrote the lyrics, programmed most of the Acids and did the arrangements of the songs.
By time you got to know about the ins and outs of the Chicago House scene. Soon you were spinning at parties and Chicago clubs. By the late 1980s, you were considered to be one of the best DJs in the area. What are your comments about this nice reality?
Every time I go back home, which is often, I have another memory or moment where I recall a DJ battle I won. I mean there must have been a divine hand in my development because it’s like I was born for this. I won most battles in my area and would DJ on 3 turntables. Then I was Scratching Pierre because I would push the boundaries scratching and looping and all that. I outgrew the suburbs and looked towards Chicago the big city. And one of the biggest DJs at the time in Chicago opened that door. Lil Louis gave me a chance to open up for him at the Bismarck. And that made a lot of people ticked off because I’m from the burbs but I’m DJing one of the biggest parties in the city. That’s the kind of mentality in Chicago that prevents growth. It’s crazy but it didn’t stop me. I’m honest about that reality. I love Chicago. I love even the environment I came up in. The good and the bad; it made me who I am today. So I’m very humbled when look back at everything. I know I was one of the best, but I hardly stress that or even think about that. I mainly think about my inspirations like Marshall Jefferson and Lil Louis, Hot Mix 5. That’s what comes to mind when I go back to play Boom Boom Room or the other events Joey Swanson does there.
You are one of the most in-demand producer and deejays. In fact, you are constantly sought after Europe, playing regularly in Germany, UK, Italy, France, and you’re a staple at the clubs in New York City. How do you normally relax, and get away from it all?
I balance it with studio time. The studio is like therapy. When I’m out of the studio too long, even if I’m not working on track as yet…even if I’m in that place waiting for the inspiration to kick in - it’s therapeutic for me. My spiritual journey is also a balancing force as well. I now see life differently and my role as well. I’m here because my creator destined it so. So my life is not my own. So when things get crazy I remember that I’m here serving a purpose for the greater good using music as a tool.
You are the CEO of two labels. Afro Acid and sister label AA Trax. Can you let my readers know more about these ventures of yours?
I’ve got a strong team now helping me run both labels, whilst I concentrate on my heavy touring schedule, which is a good thing as I can concentrate on the gigs, whilst the team and my new management can get on with the business stuff. We have some great new releases coming out and I’m quite blessed to be able to work with so many talented people. The philosophy on both labels is to be able to release tunes that make us feel good, make us dance and allow us to be express who we truly are, which is one united spiritual family.
How many years have you been deejaying, and where do you play most?
About 30 years. I’m mostly in Europe. The UK is my biggest territory. I play there the most. I’m in Italy a lot recently and places like Holland. I’m there a lot as well. In the USA I’m in Los Angeles/San Fran few times a year along with New York and Chicago. Smaller areas outside of that too.
Can you name some of your best tracks you are most famous for?
Of course, Acid Tracks, The Horn Song, Master Blaster, Switch 2001.
How would you describe your tracks?
Edgy, energetic, daring and a fusion of different elements. I don’t like to be boxed in so you will find different elements in my tracks or you will find me doing a house track or wild Pitch track then next track will be full Electro.
Are you currently working on anything else?
Yeah working on a bassline for a Laidback Luke/Pierre collab. Other collaborations I have to get to are with Maceo Plex, Hoxton Whores, Judge Jules, The Orb and a few others for release. I’m also working on a remix for a friend Tom Stephan and have a few other remix requests I need to get to.
Can you describe your state of mind when deejaying in front of a big crowd?
Out of body…can’t put words to it. When you connect with the crowd and they trust you, you can tell them anything through the music. It’s like going to a therapist and being able to tell you innermost secrets knowing they are bound to listen and not judge and just accept you for you. That’s the audience for me. They give me the opportunity to tell them my story….what I’m feeling at the moment.
In your opinion, what is the best thing in life?
Love - It conquers all.
Is there a down side to your fame?
There is a downside to a certain degree of success. Once you hit a mark, people will want you to repeat it and repeat it the same way, without realizing the public may not want it the same way. So when certain of my tracks got popular people did not want me to deviate from that mold. And I was growing so there was some conflict there in my earlier years. But now it is what it is. You either take it or leave. Still love.
What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled on someone?
I can’t even recall. I’m sure there is something. But I’ve done a lot of silly things back in the day. I would even go as far as to say they borderline vandalism. So can’t go into that.
What’s the fashion item you couldn’t live without?
My glasses! I used to lose about 2-3 pairs a year. Over the years I would have had a huge collection. Now I have about 3 or 4 pairs I go back and forth with. I usually buy Gucci, Burberry, Prada and Versace. Ray Bans as well for chilling when I’m not touring or driving on a sunny day.
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
Just to be even more of a balanced person spiritually. I want to reach that place where I fully understand who I am as a spiritual being. Then the rest will take care of itself.
DJ Pierre – Thanks for your time for this interview with me. What are your comments for Conversations Magazine readers?
Thank you for your time. Final words would be pay it forward. Do something good for someone just because you can. Then hopefully they will be blessed and inspired enough to pay it forward as well. One love.
Ramona Portelli is a Maltese born freelance writer and journalist. 33 years old, Ramona has been a freelance writer for these last past years, during which she has interviewed various Maltese and international personalities. More information about her on www.ramonaportelli.com.