Chicago has lost another hometown musical all-star.

DJ Sean Haley, a fixture on the city’s House Music scene and truly one of the best DJs Chicago had, has passed away, according to numerous friends.

Sean Haley was an absolute giant. He was tireless in promoting soulful house music (and not just) as a DJ, producer and a promoter as well. As a producer, Sean was best known as half of Windimoto, a duo with Scorpeze. The Travels of Windimoto was the Chicago/Detroit group’s first EP, though they captured quite a bit of attention from their remix of the Sandman & Riverside featuring Jeremy Ellis track “Into Your Story,” which became the sleeper hit of the underground and a definite 5 Mag fave. He was also a member of “Deep Rooted,” a collaborative project with Sean Owens that released the Earthtones album in 2014.

But my favorite track of his is still the muted, deep and techy tracks of the I-94 project with Glenn Underground, released on Ricardo Miranda‘s Noble Square Recordings in 2017.

Local music scenes are held together by people like Sean Haley, who participate in every aspect of the dance music economy. They’re DJs, yeah, but they’re people that go to other people’s shows too. They buy records, they make a few more, they link up like-minded souls and – in everything he did – push a style of music with a relentless passion.

And Sean was also incredibly funny. He posted dozens of times a day on Twitter, a stream of observations, jokes, local news and life advice from a man who knew how to live it:

Sean was a working DJ – he was constantly recording and uploading mixes, including a few for 5 Mag:

And many more on Mixcloud, ranging from Nu Jazz to Broken Beat and Soul.

In this scene, you often come across people who roll their eyes at the youngins’ and hoard the knowledge they’ve gained over the years. That was not Sean Haley. One can own the most glorious record collection in the world and it matters not a bit if you keep it to yourself. That’s arrogance, pride, conceit. That was not Sean Haley either.

In retrospect, I think that’s why so many of his projects were collaborative by design. He was one of the artists that remind us that while you might DJ alone, DJing is not and has never been a solitary pursuit.

Photo via Sean Haley on Facebook – 2018 Chicago House Music Festival ( pic by Ray Pryor) — at Millennium Park.


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