A Chicago Tale: Jamie 3:26
The B-52's "Rock Lobster" (1979)
"The punk out, pre-house days."
Promoters used to come to the high schools and get kids to pass out flyers. You'd get your name on the flyer and that was status. They also used to throw battle parties where dance crews and rival schools were pitted against each other. One promoter came up to the school asking who the groups there were and some cats said "Them Lust Boys." Next thing you know, it's on a flyer! We did some wild things. We had gotten "lust" tagged all over the school by some other members who didn't go to our school. When we came to school the next day, everyone was talking about us and we got in trouble, but no one knew who did it. To come to school and see "lust" in white spray paint everywhere gave us a bad boy rep, and we were all pretty boys, so the girls went mad! [Laughs.]
We started having house parties, then graduated to doing picnics with over 500 people and no permits. They were legendary and we did them for 3 years, with the biggest one having over 1,000 people. It went from a dance group and DJ crew to a promotional group. Hanging posters on the street poles and doing street promo. I learned promotion and marketing from those days.
And that's happening today with dance music?
We are in the middle of another transformation and creation of dance music. The younger generation has technology at their fingertips. They are using YouTube, blogs, and web articles to research and discover. The thing is, history isn't that important to many, so it's easy to snatch something someone has thrown away and take it, make it your own, then get all of the accolades. That's the issue I have with this way of thinking and stealing.
Still, some Chicago and Detroit original artists get some respect.
Playing a few festivals are cool, but what about the years that these folks had been ripped off just like the blues cats? The only way to make an impact and take advantage is to not be old and bitter. Take advantage of the attention and technology, teach kids the roots, and set up shop. Brand yourself, get a label—not a digital one. Learn about the new forms of getting your music out there as well. Do something besides bitch and moan!
Reading a room is basically knowing when to drop a jam or switch it up. If I'm playing with someone and they have been in one direction the whole set, I'm going to take it musically another way. If the cat before is playing sexy, umbrella house and these folks wanna get beat, you're supposed to be able to notice that and flip it up during your set. Play what you believe in!
On Friday, September 21st, The Rooftop presents
Jamie 3:26 (Chicago) and Ari Shark (The Gel Lab)
10pm | The Standard, High Line
The interview was originally published in July 2016.