Seems like every time I sit down with DJ Pierre, we wind up with a lot more material than we can squeeze into print. Last time, we had a lengthy discourse on the meaning of “Wild Pitch” and the origins of Acid House, among other detours from the mainstream.
A few weeks ago, we were talking about the Phuture live show and the set-up they use when conversation turned toward the early days of House Music and Pierre’s first gig – before Phuture or Acid House even existed.
Spoiler: It took place in a barn.
(You can hear more from Pierre and Spanky of Phuture this coming Wednesday, July 15 in conversation with 5 Magazine at the North Michigan Avenue Apple Store, 679 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago at 6pm. Essential details here.)
5 Mag: When I first saw a DJ spin – it was either Armando or Gene Farris – I had no idea he was actually playing records. I thought it was all live, just like Phuture plays now.
Pierre: I was DJing before I was making music, but I can think back to when I never heard of a “DJ” unless you meant the ones talking on the radio. But then I would hear some of the shows. I was like, Wait… There are two records playing at the same time. How is that happening? I was really curious how people were doing that.
I went to a dance at my high school and a DJ was there and I remember him having two turntables and a mixer. I just watched him the whole night. I came straight home that night and told my parents I wanted two turntables and a mixer.
Did your parents ask why you needed two?
Yeah, my father was like, “You only need one!” But he went out and bought the stuff. Then the first time I wanted to DJ a party, I was leaving the house with the turntables and he was like, “Where are you going with that stuff? You’re not taking that stuff out of here!”
I said Dad, this is the equipment I need to DJ with. He said, “Okay… but you’re not taking both of those turntables! You take one and leave the other one here. What are we going to do if you lose both turntables? One of those turntables is ours! Don’t one of your friends have a turntable you can borrow?” [laughs]
… Thinking back on it, my first party was actually at a barn. Yeah, a barn.
It’s called University Park now but it used to be called Park Forest South. There was a barn that the town owned or whatever – you used to be able to go there for like a little petting zoo or whatever. I remember going to the town hall to ask if I could do a party there. I convinced them to let me throw a party in the barn. I don’t even know where I got the idea to do that.
That was my first gig – I threw a party in a barn. I got paid either $300 or $500 or something like that. I remember keeping the check. I did the same thing at a pool – the city had a pool and I said, can I do a pool party? I was feeling good! I was official! Hey, I’m throwing parties, being paid to DJ… I think I was 18, maybe?
More from DJ Pierre & Phuture is in the July 2015 issue of 5 Magazine, out now.