Todd Terry is an icon in House Music. He also has quite a history that many don’t know about. He did production on the Jungle Brothers’ “I’ll House You” – a tune that people who aren’t even serious Househeads can recite lines from. Todd was the original Masters At Work and even has a place in his heart for Swan Lake. We cover his interesting past, his connections with Chicago and how Arthur Russell and Acid House are a part of him.
Early on you did releases as Masters At Work. How did that come about and how come there were just a few releases?
MAW was a name I used with Mike Delgado because originally we were the Masters At Work. Mike disappeared so I stopped using it. Kenny and Louie asked for the name and I gave it to them.
What about your “Swan Lake” alias?
I was in Greg Ford’s office from the label and they asked for a name for the release. The book Swan Lake was right behind him in his office and I just said it. Everyone thought it was great! They never realized I took it from the book right behind him.
Terry Hunter told us a funny story of how you all almost had an altercation during your first meeting at the New Music Seminar when Armando [R.I.P.] had sampled the same thing as you for “100% of Disin You”.
He didn’t sample the same thing as me; he sampled me! I went up to him and said, “Yo Armando,” and all he kept saying is, “It’s no disrespect, it’s just a name. I love your work.” The whole time he was bracing himself for a hit. I guess I had a reputation to him… that I hit people!
You were a part of the new Terry Hunter release called “No Worries”. What role did you play on the release?
Am I part of that? I don’t remember the situation with that one.
Do you guys have plans to work on more projects together?
We are working on a Todd Terry, Roland Clark and Terry Hunter record called “Hot” out in a month or so.
The “Todd Terry Drums” are one of the most recognizable and most sampled drum loops in the history of House Music. What was the first song to use them? How do you feel about everyone sampling them?
The first of those patterns was “A Day In The Life.” It was already a Housey pattern, and then I used it on “Party People”. I didn’t write it myself – I stole the pattern from some Chicago guys. I stole it from people and then people stole it from me – nothing I can say about that!
Tell us about that experience as part of the production team for the Jungle Brothers’ “I’ll House You”. How does it feel today compared to 22 years ago?
It’s a record that can’t be beat. It’s the most everlasting House/Hip-Hop record. No one is ever gonna beat the era that that record has traveled through.
You’ve always done Hip-Hop as well. What accolade are you most proud of within the genre?
Probably being one of the first guys to really put a Hip-Hop and House fusion together.
Of all your aliases, how do you differentiate which to use for a release?
Every alias kind of matches a sound. Black Riot is Chicago acid samples. Royal House is Marshall Jefferson samples. The Todd Terry Project is Arthur Russell samples.
You don’t play in Chicago often, why do you think that is?
No real reason, just scheduling. I am dying to play there whenever I get a chance.
What’s next in the pipe for Todd Terry?
Doing records with everyone: Louie & Kenny, Roger Sanchez, Armand Van Helden, Junior Sanchez and last but not least Quincy Jones.