Interview with Marshall Jefferson

We spoke with Marshall Jefferson regarding the past years and the future...

Interview with Marshall Jefferson Photo by Gemma Parker & AJR Photos

Could you tell us what was it like back in the eighties when it all started and, perhaps, compare it with how it is today?
There are too many records coming out now. Back then, there were only about 15-20 new dance records a week coming out, so if there was something special, EVERYBODY played it. Now, if something great comes out, it gets lost in the crowd of bullshit that comes out the same week. A record could be a hit one week, and then nothing the next now. Back then, hits would play for more than a year. With that in mind, there were a lot more songs that people could connect to and fall in love with. We knew the names and artists of all the records we loved.

It is well known that it was your track, "Move Your Body" that was the first house hit ever and that you were the first to make acid and deep house tracks. Back then, did you at any time stop and think to yourself: "These tracks could be big." ?
I thought "Move your body" was going to be the biggest thing since sliced bread soon as i finished it. No, i KNEW it. I took it to the Music Box the same night and Ron hardy played it on cassette-6 times in a row. But "Move your body" wasn't the 1st house hit ever. "Music Is the Key" By Jm Silk hit and sold about 100,000 copies, "Like This" By Chip E, "Mind Games" by Qwest, all came out on record before "Move your body". "No Way Back" by Adonis also was big. I also had songs out before "Move your body", at least 15 of my records were playing in the clubs, some have never come out to this day. "Move your body" was playing in the clubs almost a year before it finally came out on wax, and was so huge before it came out that i was doing regular interviews with European reporters before it even came out.

Since we live in an era of vast technical possibilities when it comes to electronic music making, there will be more and more artists and more and more music. Do you think it could affect the scene in a negative way? 
If they make crap, yes. We don't need more bullshit cluttering up the market hiding the good records, we need special songs and hits that mean something, or everything is going to die.

Of all of the electronic music genres, house is definitely the one that has more than any other made its way into mainstream. What do you think of it? 
I feel house has never truly made the mainstream in its pure form. I think house has moved away from vocals and concentrated more on instrumentation, and that's slowly killing the scene. It's not really the producers intention, but they're at fault. See, no matter how good the instrumentation is, someone somewhere is going to copy it. A good song with good vocals will somehow find a life and lift the scene.

When it comes to all of the genres, we know that European electronic music is somewhat different than American, in general. What about the crowds at the parties? Do you see or feel the difference?
Well, the American scene is pretty different because they don't exactly know what's going on. There are some pretty weak American DJ's because they don't know what's going on either. They read about it, but they don't hear it. It's a shame because technically, a lot of them blow the European Dj's totally out the water. On the other hand, European Dj's blow the Americans out of the water musically. Back to the crowds, the Americans are certainly more energetic than their European counterparts (when they hear the good stuff) because they're less jaded.

How important is the role of clubs in the promotion of electronic music?
It's very important. If the clubs don't play a certain genre, that genre will die. Clubs however, need to get together and have a summit of some sort. They need unity and organisation or they'll all die. All genres need to play on one dance floor.

What is the best thing about being a DJ and producer? What's the worst?
Travelling and meeting new interesting people and experiencing different cultures. The worst thing is it's bad for long term relationships.

We heard that video games are a great passion of yours. Is that true?

Is it true that you'd like to make movies?
Yes, I would like to direct. Maybe just 3 movies or so and stop, but make those movies special.

What is house music all about?
House music in the beginning meant the BEST underground that Britney Spears would never sing, but was absolutely the hippest shit possible. House music didn't have a set 4 on the floor beat. "Hip Hop Be Bop" by Man Parrish was House. "Sweet Dreams" By Eurythmics was house. "Walk The Night" by the Scatt Brothers was house, and they was pretty techno sounding. It was never supposed to be a certain beat or a certain groove. When I 1st did "Move Your Body", everyone was so screwed up at that point that they said it wasn't house music, even though it was playing in all the house clubs. The problem was the piano. What they didn't realise was what I had connected to, the fact that anything that was hip enough was going to be played in the house clubs, and I proved that time and again after that with records like "Acid tracks" and "Open Our Eyes", as well as the Ten City stuff. If clubs went by this philosophy, the scene would get new life.

Your favorite record right now?
"Feel Me" - Marshall Jefferson featuring Rachael Pearson.

Mathias Haegglund Code Collector, Globetrotter, and Occasional Gamer.