When it comes to choose music that influenced me, it’s kind of a broad palate. As a DJ, musician, music producer, but also just as someone that enjoys music… Any way, here’s my list of most influenced music, categorized in genres.
Who else than the king of pop, Michael Jackson. I was there when his album ‘Thriller’ came out in 1982… THE best-selling record of all time (110 million sold worldwide). I was only 10 years of age, but that record… it was a game changer: ‘Billy Jean’, ‘Beat It’, ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, ‘P.Y.T’. and ‘Human Nature’! MJ’s collaboration with Quicy Jones was pure gold, did you know they finished this album in just 8 weeks? This album is a mixture of dance, funk, R&B and pop. I also appreciated the song and video (!) of ‘Thriller’: the sound effects (squeaking door, footsteps, howling wolves, wind) and off course the evil laugh from Vincent Price, I loved the whole feel of a film score. Especially with the video clip that also came out. I danced ‘the Thriller-dance on a high school disco party!
Going back to ’83 I was listening to West Street Mob ‘Break Dance – Electric Boogie’, Herbie Hancock ‘Rockit’, G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid ‘Play That Beat’, Freez ‘I.O.U.’, Break Machine ‘Street Dance’, Spence ‘Get It On’, The Rock Steady Crew ‘Hey You’ and Shannon ‘Let The Music Play’. What an fenomenal and amazing year!!!
Before Electric Boogie I was just a kid that listened to the radio, following the Top40 hits of that time, like anyone else in my inner-circle for that matter. But this immediately changed when I heard the ‘Rockit’, I was completely mesmerized by this new and epic music! I quickly realized that this genre however, was not for everybody; let’s just say it was not taking over the Dutch radio stations at any time soon. The spotlight was more on artist like Spandau Ballet, Grace Jones, Paul Young, Kim Wilde and of course, Michael Jackson.
I started to search the frequencies on my radio, desperately seeking for electric boogie. I taped what I could find but… it was never enough. I started to ask for singles and albums for my birthday and at Christmas. I couldn’t wait this long for Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’, so I bought that one with my allowance. I went to a record store called ‘Pico’ here I discovered imported music from all over the world!
I unfortunately never mastered the dance moves that also came with the Electric Boogie movement, I tried, but it was too damn hard! I was shy and afraid to ask someone to teach me. So…, I danced between closed doors in my own room or played a famous DJ hyping up a party with my music, nothing wrong with that either!
That typical 80’s sound with those amazing synthesizers! When soundtrack ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ came out in ’84, there was one song that immediately grabbed my attention, Harold Faltermeyer’s ‘Axel F’! Named after Eddy Murphy’s character ‘Axel Foley’ in the movie. Another example of a great song with a feel of a film score! I played this song over- and over throughout my teen years and also on ‘repeat’ I might add! It drove my family bananas!
I was a big fan of Ollie & Jerry’s ‘Breakin’… There’s No Stopping Us’ (’84), also mixed with that electric boogie and breakdance vibe, as to be seen in the video. Superb bassline!
But then ’85 came! The world introduced Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew to me with song ‘The Show’! Another great synth, this time based on the television cartoon series ‘Inspector Gadget’. I loved the rap and beatbox skills of Doug E. Fresh. And I really wanted to own this record on vinyl, especially this hard to find 12inch maxi single, that in my mind, only record store ‘Pico’ seemed to have. I didn’t have enough money to buy it and that haunted me. When I finally did, I was too late, it got sold-out! And in this time of age, that mend: you lost your chance! In the years after, I often searched for this 12inch. It wasn’t until much later I finally purchased it on CD, that was a great day in history (lol)
Also in ’85, another song blew my mind, literally! Dazz Band’s ‘Let It All Blow’. What a great sound, so full of bass, synths and drums, that funky tune and the playful vocals. This was my jam! Another repeater for my listening pleasure that drove my family crazy…
For me, hip hop was already represented through Electric Boogie in the best possible way . But off course I was also aware of hip hop in it’s raw form. I guess I needed hip hop to contain a combination of other genres as well. I liked performers like ‘Kid ‘N Play’, who had amazing voices and great lyrics, but also this amazing chemistry together, going back and forth like in a rap-battle. Their music contained amazing funk melody samples from old records. The overall sound of their records were big on drums, bass and DJ scratches! ‘Do This My Way’ was a big deal to me and got me more exited for hip hop. Other artist I loved were: Sweet Tee, Cookie Crew, Roxanne Shante and Tone Lōc.
Also known as RAPHOUSE or HOUSERAP. This musical genre mixed elements of house music and hip hop! Like I said before, I liked my hip hop to be a combination of other genres! I never thought house music could be one of these combinations. But it worked! For a while anyway and it was so much fun. Great synthesizers, uptempo beats, lot’s of bass, deep kicks and hip hop vocals. I loved our Dutch hero in this genre too, Tony Scott. Other great artists were Rob Base, Beatmasters, Double Trouble, Fast Eddie, 2 In A Room, Hithouse, Mr. Lee, Twin Hype, Doug Lazy, D-Mob and Mixmasters.
Unfortunately, within this genre, a lot of music producers started to release these really cheesy songs as well, with ridiculous cartoonish sound effects and terrible rappers. The use of comedy in songs never appealed to me and it wasn’t this time either. After a while it was all a big joke, but it wasn’t funny. The music industry killed this genre, so in no time DJ’s banned hiphouse from the dancefloor and radiostations. It left a bad taste in our mouths. But…, every once in a while, I can still enjoy one of the classics from the early years, in the privacy of my own home.
NEW JACK SWING
Also known as SWINGBEAT is a musical genre that mixes elements of (again) hip hop!, funk, R&B and dance pop. This is my musical arc in terms of experiencing music as an adult. I still have a huge CD collection of this era. Record store ‘Pico’ played a big role in retrieving all of my CD’s. Most of what I own on CD is imported from other countries. Just like before, with electric boogie, I couldn’t get my hands on enough music from regular CD-stores. Much later, when this era was considered to be a part of the past, I was still going strong on collecting New Jack Swing and kept purchased massively online, still discovering artists and bands that never got noticed in Europe.
The founder of new jack swing and ‘king of swing’, is of course Teddy Riley, Albums ‘Guy’ and ‘Guy 2’ are the top of the line, Keith Sweat’s first album ‘Make It Last Forever’ and so on. Other greats are: Basic Black, Bell Biv DeVoe, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Babyface, Boyz II Men, The Good Girls, Heavy D., Al B. Sure, Troop, Whistle, Today, Full Force, Father MC, Hi-Five, Jeff Red and again: Michael Jackson!
Rhythm and blues originated in African American communities and has been there for like…. forever? However, in the late 80’s and 90’s R&B started to sound a little different; it certainly slowed down, the bases got deeper and people were more engaged with the so called R&B slowjams. By the way, slowjams were also featured on New Jack Swing albums. I was, and still am, a huge fan of these slowjams, I’m talking about half of my entire CD collection! Again, I paid a small fortune to collect all of these gems.
R&B greats: Keith Sweat, Jodeci, Luther Vandross, Blackstreet, Babyface, Johnny Gill, Maxwell, Mary J. Blige, Joe, 112, Justin Timberlake, Next, H-Town, Usher, Jagged Edge, Dru Hill, Freddie Jackson, Silk, Aaliyah and of course the fallen hero R. Kelly.
I was a late bloomer concerning house music. The first house track that I really liked was back in 1987, Steve Hurley’s ‘Jack Your Body’. House is a movement and right from the beginning experimental in sounds, it went through all kind of phases and a lot of subgenres rose up. I did like house music mixed up with pop, like Inner City’s ‘Big Fun’ or briefly hip house as I mentioned before. But when acid house, hard house and techno house became the new standard, I was done with the house scene altogether, so I thought… But suddenly there was Robin S. with the now classic ‘Show Me Love’ and after that, the Nightcrawlers with ‘Push The Feeling On’. I was digging it.
When disco- and soulful house rose up, I started to embrace house music again. Record labels Hed Kandi and Defected started a whole collection of records and as a DJ I loved to play these tracks in clubs. Some of my heroes were: Shakedown, Martin Solveig, Mylo, Tom Novy, Daft Punk, Freemasons, Gadjo, Shapeshifters and Masters At Work.
Latin- and afrohouse came next, I really appreciated these mixed genres combined together, I loved it and still do so today! This music also had a great vibe for festivals and beach party’s. Artists like Bob Sinclar, DJ Gregory, Wahoo, Oreja and Pitbull were rocking it! Dutch house was a variant of Latinhouse music and became a movement of it’s own. Producers and DJ’s like Gregor Salto, Chuckie, Roog, Erick E and Fedde Le Grand got world famous! And I remember going to events like ‘Latin Village’, ‘Sneakers’, ‘Nope Is Dope’ and Bloomingdale beach clubs, such great memories!
Later deep-, techhouse and EDM took over the house scene, which I also appreciated more and more as time went by. As a DJ mostly. There is just so much satisfaction playing these tracks loudly and experiencing people partying. My heroes: Oliver Helden, Camelphat, EDX, David Guetta, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Kungs, Fisher, Tujamo and again, Martin Solveig!
Off course, there are many other music genres I really enjoy, such as: reggae, reggeaton, salsa, jazz, 2Step, trap, classical and even rock. And I have much more musical heroes I can talk about, but that is not what this ‘list’ is all about. The music I mentioned right here, really changed my life in so many ways. It made the music in me and the man I am today. When I produce music, all these experiences go through me! I can only hope that, one day, I will create something myself that will turn up on somebody’s list of most influenced tracks!
It’s such a great compliment to touch someone with your music! That’s what I want and that’s what I’m going for. Maybe someday, that someone is going to be you!!! Keep following my work and I will keep on trying!