SONNY: What are your first memories of Music that inspired your journey into DJ-ing and Producing?
THE TWILITE TONE: Listening to the radio at 2-3 years old. I would learn what was on the top ten at the time and recite what the list of songs and artists. I would do this upon request by my mother and friends on the spot. I would love playing my great grandfather's record collection in my great grandparents basement. There I would teach myself how to do the things I heard on the records played on the radio like scratch and cut. I would put paper on the platter of the record player, moving the record back and forth while cutting the sound with the speaker on/off switch on the receiver. In 7th grade I remember going to my classmate Lil Boo’s house. They called him “Lil Farley”. I’d be writing rhymes and he would be playing/Dj-ing dance records. We didn’t use the term House at that time. This was around 85’-86. I remember a few other pivotal moments, like picking up the trumpet in the 3rd grade for marching band later switching to drum instruments. What quite possibly had the biggest longest impact on me is when my mother bought the Casio SK-1 and later the Casio SK-5 keyboards for me. I would be inseparable from these keyboards walking around playing the everywhere I went.
My experience growing up in Chicago 80's music scene was magical journey of discovery, learning and growing like it possibly was for most kids going from adolescence to teenage years except mine was set to the soundtrack, landscape and of a budding renaissance and utopian society that is now almost folklore, legend if not myth that is whispered by less and less people who were actually there to witness and experience it. The scene was the inner city and suburbs of Chicago. It was underground and mainstream. It was ours. It was not a genre. We never focused on what so-called genre the music was. The term house music was not something we said at the time. We just would say “Is that shit beatin? Ok cool play that shit”.
That was when the term house was born.
Between 1986-89 was a key time for me personally. Having Lil' Louis come to my high school to hand out flyers for his parties, and actually having conversations with him about music. Seeing Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Gene Hunt, Mike Williams. We had our own hero’s right at home. Gene Hunt was a big supporter of my first dance records I produced with my partner Dion (No I.D.). It was a way of being and seeing things. It was us and we appreciated it right there in then, in real time. It was our sound. It was our clothes. It was our hair. It was the way we moved both in dance and transportation. It came from within as oppose to needing validation or input from without. I miss that Chicago. However, something new is brewing with the promise of passing the torch and continuing the lineage. I'm excited about that.
You have worked with so many artist over your career. When producing what motivates you during the process, what inspires you to produce?
What inspires me to produce is Life, meaning being present to what I'm experiencing in real time. Also, being present to the moments and the people I'm in the room with and providing them with what they need and exceeding their expectations of what they want. This is my purpose to serve them through the medium of music, to assist them get to the other side to the next destination on their journey. I also seek to erase separation and segregation between musical ideas, sounds, and styles.
The Twilite Tone, Beats in Space Mix
In your own words how would you describe your music style as both a DJ and Producer?
It is the phrase I coined about 3 years ago, I'm Trans-genre. That is transcend preconceived genre or category by being, seeing, creating based the moment, how I feel, and what I like or love in that moment to communicate a statement or motivate and inspire feeling or thought/cause epiphany through this medium of art I choosing at this time: MUSIC.
Who are some of the people that influenced your passion for music?
My mother, my uncle Hassan, my aunt Monique, my family overall who are all musical in some way. However, honestly they did not inspire my passion rather they gave me an outlet for my already growing passion or the stimuli to see and hear what's possible. My passion was inspired by the music itself and it's resonance within me.
You are a key member of the legendary Chicago music scene, more specifically Dem Dare. How would you describe that legacy?
The Dem Dare legacy was a group of friends that serendipitously came together in the late 80's that I dubbed Dem Dare and then later I changed our names to The Darians. every last one of my friends in this group were brilliant, gifted, and misfit toys/outsiders thus we were known around the city of Chicago as "Dem" over "Dare/Them guys/those dudes/here they come. Dem Dare is way more than music and is very much alive and highly imitated but has never been duplicated, despite numerous attempts. Dem Dare and I are responsible for the shift in the club scene, clothing by making the distinction between style vs. fashion, hairstyles, slang, culture, promotion of self awareness from street or neighborhood point of view, the coexisting and collaborating of not only people from different sides of the city but also people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds coming together to form a collective based on wanting more.
Common "Breaker 1/9"
Who were Dem Dare?
Reggie (ReggieKnow) was an Art Director at Burrell, creating Advertising Campaigns for Sprite/Coke, McDonald’s. Common had just got signed to a major label, which I was producing and rhyming on. We took what we learned from street culture and made it a profession. That was different from what the poverty thinking segregated townish mentality Chicago had to offer in the late 80's and early 90’s. Dem Dare/The Darians is the culmination of all the free thinking independent black movements with the promise of The Cosby Show set over beats. We even connected in NY when we would travel there back in 1989. I would dance with Crystal Waters dancers and became good friends with the Dancers on the New York scene including Ejoe Wilson, Voodoo Ray, and Mop Top Crew Members like Caleaf Sellers.
You have mentored a lot of producers and DJ’s over your career including the late DJ Timbuck2. What is your advice for those who are interested and DJing and Producing?
For anybody getting involved in music and the culture is first of all love. Not in a whimsical sense but do you love this shit? And What do you love? What would you do if all your bills were paid and everything was taken care of? Would you do music? Or is this a hustle for you? If you do it for love it is your purpose and how you chose to serve humanity. In regards to the business if you don’t know find out, seek consul. Always have foundation in family, a good management team, and your friends that call you out when you are wrong keep them around you. Have family that's your team around you. Another thing, you can be inspired, and influenced but be original. I’m more inspired than I am influenced. Be gentle with yourself, know your enough, and keep growing and moving forward. Be intentional with your efforts. Again be gentle. Do what you like not what you don’t like.
On Saturday, November 17th, Le Bain presents The Twilite Tone
with Sonny Daze | 10pm | The Standard, High Line
Header photo by Christine Ciszczon
The Twilite Tone