Every month 5 Magazine’s Man+Machine features talks about musical machines and the men & women who love them.
This month we talk to one of the forefathers of the late ’80s Hip House movement, Tyree Cooper.
Twenty five years after the producer of “I Fear The Night”, “Acid Over” and “Turn Up The Bass” started, Tyree has kept his skills sharp, producing, remixing tracks and showcasing his MC skills for other producers including Ben Sims and Tom Trago on labels such as Ovum Recordings and Rush Hour. His new album with Bobby Starr under the name “Jack The Box” was released in October from Moodmusic.
We recently did a whole story on the Dance Mania machine with Parris Mitchell and Ray Barney. What was the energy back then in creating tracks? Was it really a situation of constant creativity without the pressure?
I can truly thank Ray Barney for giving me the opportunity to further my career as a DJ and producer. It was a real cool time going to Barney’s One Stop and dropping off my DAT and always saying, “These kids ain’t gonna like my sound anymore” because I just had a few Hip House hits.
But I was 100% wrong. All Ray said was, “Let’s see…” And from the first to my last it was a really cool thing.
There have been many tales and revisions regarding the story of the track “Video Clash”. Being one of the players in this tale, can you tell us your version?
Well my story is as such: I knew that Lil Louis was going around saying that he made this track called “Video Clash”. By me meeting Marshall Jefferson prior to me hearing “Video Crash” from Marshall, Mike Dunn and I decided to do our own version of that track. Mike did one called “Magic Feet” and I did one called “Video Crash”.
Once all three were released, Mike Dunn’s outsold mine and Lil Louis’, and mine got bootlegged and renamed “Acid Crash” by this guy named “Jeffery Collins” or something like that – the MF!!!!
But needless to say, both versions have been one of my most licensed tracks from my catalog.
What is the most important piece of equipment in your studio now? Are you strictly a hardware kind of guy or have you moved on to using more software based units?
Nowadays, I’m a software dude. It just makes production it a bit more simpler, and you can save your projects much easier.
A lot of today’s music sounds so clean and processed, almost no human “mistakes” in them. Having been there from almost the inception of this movement of dance music, what do you think of this evolution? Do you like a little human error in your productions?
First of all, you’re gonna have some type of error because of that simple fact that it was made by humans and we know how infallible that can be.
But I’m still one of those “happy accident” kinda guys, because that’s how the creative process begins sometimes. Sure, you can go into a project with the thought of having a idea, but what fun is that when you can do something fucked up and come out with something dope as fuck?
Do you mentor any budding producers? What hardware and software essentials would you recommend to those starting out in the game? What do you think they should focus on first?
I don’t mentor anyone but I do give advice to anyone who comes my way.
As far as software for the youngins, just buy what you can afford and work with it until you can afford something better.
And what they should focus on is to stop stealing other people’s shit! I mean, find the best possible way to find your own expression as we did back in the day. That’s why we have classic tunes to this day.
What has moving to Berlin done for your outlook on music, both DJing and production wise? Tell us about your residencies and how they all differ.
Me moving to Berlin when I did was probably the best thing I could have ever done, because it gave the head space I needed to continue my career. You can’t imagine the changes I’ve seen in this city and in the music scene, it would blow your mind.
But what I will say is that I have witnessed the birth of two genres and it took the world by surprise: EDM and the rise of club culture here in Berlin, then it spread throughout the rest of Europe and the world. Since living in Berlin I’ve extensively studied the music business and music scene firsthand, and have held my ground amongst my European peers.
I now play at one of the most famous clubs in the world, Tresor, which is renown for “Techno” but over the last years they’ve opened its doors to more and more “House”.
So as of October 2010 I along with my friend and production mate Bobby Starr have been doing our own thing under the name “e.man.ci.pate” and have had a who’s who of DJs to cross our fader.
We’ve also had another popular club on a regular basis called Kater Holzig (cat woody). I have a project out now under our main name Jack The Box.
And the difference between Chicago and Berlin is the freedom of the mind, and I don’t mean some dreamy shit.