Philadelphia's Worship Recordings
by Dj Dennis
Before I even made the big move to the City of Brotherly Love called Philadelphia, I already knew that there were some great people and a plethora of amazing music waiting there for me. What was fantastic is when I found out just how great it is when a small group of producers and DJs are the actual people creating that amazing music, and how welcoming they were when I moved into town. Not only did they give me a chance to come spin some tunes at their long running night in Old City, but they introduced me to so many other positive people who were involved in Philly’s nightlife. Rob Paine and Willyum from Worship Recordings are excellent role models for production companies, DJs, and producers to set a standard by. They are true to their city, their music, their city’s culture, their friends, and all else that surrounds them. I was honored to finally get some questions together to share who they really are, and to have them express their thoughts and feelings toward the city they live in and the nightlife that they support and give so much to.
INTERVIEW WITH ROB PAINE and WILLYUM OF WORSHIP RECORDINGS
Taken from Worship Recordings website…
"It was sometime around the fall of 1998 when Rob Paine and Dan McGehean were sitting around and having…um…tea one afternoon in Philly when the concept of Worship Recordings came into sight. With both the right ingredients that the two had to offer - a label was born. And with the insight of long time bredren Zach Eberz (other half of Solomonic Sound) Worship Recordings was molded into a label that concentrates on the dub factor of house music.
Whether it is deep and bubbling, or jackin' and rollin', there is always a mix that any house head can't test on a Worship plate. Worship will be taking dub music to its furthest ends, weaving house and reggae side by side in this here I-wah. Through the sight of Ras Tafari, we will put a conscious message into the already conscious vibe that takes place in our culture of dance. "
DJ Dennis - Every DJ has a pivotal event that turned them on to the music they spin...what was it for you?
Rob - I don’t believe there is a distinctive pivotal event or point in my lifetime that brought me to where I am now with my music. With DJing or producing I am constantly taking in new music of all genres and always hearing new elements in songs I already know and love. It’s a levity event that takes place everyday.
Will - About 1990/91 there was a party here in Philly called "Garden of Eden" put on by Nigel Richards and the Horizon Group. That was the first rave I attended that had a deep house room. The slower pace, the funky baselines, the soulful vocals; that was what I was looking for in my "techno." I just didn't realize it until that night.
DJ Dennis - From that time, what has stayed consistent to you for all those years? i.e. style, attitude, message in the music, etc.?
Rob - Definitely attitude. The D.I.Y. way of life is what we follow. Love is always the message. Never enough and not enough in this world. Love doesn't have to be some hippie thing or new age thing, its reality, and for some reason its hard for people today around the globe to express to EVERYONE. Even your enemies... especially your enemies. Kill them with love and you can never go wrong. Have a clean and pure heart and mind.
Will - I would definitely say my attitude/outlook has stayed pretty consistent for me over the decade I have been interested and involved in the house scene. I think I have hung onto a little of that PLUR vibe from the early nineties for sure.
DJ Dennis - What does Philly have for you that has kept you here? What does this town mean to you?
Rob – (Many things) Culture, amazing musicians, producers, singers, song writers, DJ's and everything in between. Philly is home base and always will be. The greater part of my life has been here. Even as a youth I would get so excited coming downtown Philly, checking out the graf on the way in, all the sounds coming from the streets, people of nationalities from all over the world. Every city is like that I guess but Philly has my heart and soul sealed bonded to it. There are also the people who represent Philly and fight for it: Gamble & Huff and every person that came out of Sigma Sound, John Coltrane, "Philly" Joe Jones, Sun Ra and the Arkestra, The Roots, Gill Scott, King Britt, Josh Wink, Dozia, Lady Alma, Rich Medina, Peter Blacks International Sound System, Hopeton Brown, etc. There are way too many to even list. I feel honored to say I am from the same city as these amazingly talented peeps.
Will - This is my home. It just feels right. It's in my blood, in my genes. I identify with this city and I don't think I would never be able to feel as much at peace and in my element in any other city. I grew up 20 minutes North West of the city, and when I was a kid I can remember making trips downtown with my family to see a baseball game or whatever. I would always be so fascinated with our skyline, how from the greenery of the suburbs erupts a pretty massive cityscape. The impact of these moments on me as a kid, the awe I felt, made me realize that what I wanted was to be involved and contribute to the culture of the amazing historical city in my backyard.
DJ Dennis - What is your take on the current night life here in Philly?
Rob – Its thriving, with so many things going on. I don t just check house music events so I am never burned out. As far as throwing events, it is hit or miss. I feel blessed everytime we get the heads in the door. We are soldiers in a way that we will never give up on Philly and always do our part in throwing events and bringing talent that is an inspiration to us to town.
Will – Interesting times here in Philly. The underground culture which was so vibrant and expansive in the 90's is pretty much, well, underground. There is a bit of a backlash at DJ and electronic music culture right now as well
so rock, 80's, R&B, and Hip-Hop are taking over the nightlife. I believe in cycles though, and like fashion, music genres come and go in commercial popularity. I hope that electronic music, specifically house, comes back around- but if people have a good time and get their shit on to 50 Cent, Beyonce, 80's, whatever- that's cool too. We all really just want to have fun when we go out.
DJ Dennis - What is the idealism behind Worship Recordings, Solomonic Sound, and your individual parts that each of you play?
Rob - I kind of touched on that above in the other questions on the topic of Love, Unity & Strength. Some of us hail up Emperor Haile Selassie I as our king, while some of us worship a head a lettuce called Ralf :-) but we all have the same love for each other and respect each others’ opinions and individual ideals. Every human has their own religion and people of the world need to learn to respect this. People tend to be too extreme, and from that comes hate and war. It’s a pretty simple philosophy… 'Do unto others as you want done unto you.' In every book of religion out there, that is one thing that is always stated at some point in the reading, although maybe not using the exact same words. But do you really need a book to tell you that? It comes from your heart, and you already have it in your conscious. The parts that we play are making sure we ALL do our part!
Will - I joined the guys as label manager to handle business affairs in 2000, and I can't say that I have really heard anyone talk about a concrete "ideal" behind the label as such. We were, however, founded in 1998 by Rob and Dan to release and promote/develop the "dub house" sound [and culture]. This was due to Rob, Dan & Zack's passion for both roots reggae and deep house sounds and the very interesting and musical fusion Rob & Zack were creating in the studio. We also have always had a strong drive to put out a quality total package, from the music down to the center label and jacket artwork. I think it is important for everyone to realize that we don't just play or deal in the "dub house" sound however- Pete Moss's ZEN METHOD EP and the (E)MOTION DETECTORS track "Cuba Rico" show the other side of house we really appreciate as well. We hope to explore and release other styles of deep house like that in the future.
DJ Dennis - With all the ups and downs in the music industry over the past couple of years, what has kept your drive to stay up in it?
Rob – It’s actually a new disease that hasn't been named yet. I feel bad for anyone that has caught it too!:-) In it for life, no going back now…always a forward movement!
Will - It's really all that I know! I mean, I have a college degree, could probably find a cubicle job pretty easily- but I made a strong conscious choice to work in this scene as more than just a local DJ and to try to make house music a viable career. If the day comes that we really have to fold our hand, well so be it. Until then I’ll keep plugging away and finding ways to make it happen...
DJ Dennis - Are there any particular productions of yours (individually and as a group effort) that you feel consistently represent you as a whole? Or is there something similar you keep in each production?
Rob - I would like to think that everything we do represents us as a whole. We love house music, reggae, soul, jazz, funk, punk, breaks, and the classics. All those elements can be heard throughout our releases at one point or another. I can t put my finger on one production, can you? I feel good about everything we have ever put out.
Will – On the discography level I think there is definitely a common thread that binds them all together, although to put that thread into words isn't easily done..."general vibe" I suppose, although that doesn't really do it justice.
DJ Dennis - When working with other producers, are there any that you specifically mesh with the best? Is there anyone that you really have a urge to work with on a project?
Rob - Yes, the ones that I have records out on labels with! I would like to work with King Tubby but unfortunately he left this planet already.
Will – I'm too new at the production thing, I’ve only really worked with Rob and a few other local producers here and there. I've gotta explore and learn some more on my own first...
DJ Dennis - What does HOUSE MUSIC mean to you?
Rob - Sweaty parties with the gals shakin' it, good vibes, meditation, the sun rising, still dancing, sound systems, good sound systems, very good sound systems!
Will - Pretty much everything, from spiritual release to paying the bills.
DJ Dennis - What is your definition of a DJ and what they should do?
Rob - Don't flop the dance. [Focus on] proper selections for your surroundings and crowd. [Showing your] skills, experimenting without losing people, and making sure the sound system sounds good. Too many DJ’s just go up there and jack all the knobs up and think they are the shit but really the shit is coming out of the speakers in something called distortion and overdriving.
Will – I don't know if I have one definition of a DJ really, I think it depends on the situation and the skill the individual has at adapting to the situation and creating a positive sonic atmosphere for whatever the people want to do. Sometimes that is created by flawless beat matching, sometimes by scratching and dropping hip-hop...
DJ Dennis - When people hear the name Worship, what do you want them to think?
Rob - A household name by the year 2009.
Will - A quality package start to finish; from artwork to the music production to the vinyl itself. We may not be the biggest label in deep house but we always strive for a top notch package and to consistently release quality tracks that fit the Worship discography.
DJ Dennis - What is your take on vinyl vs. Cdr. vs. mp3?
Rob - Mp3’s are no good to play live. They should only be used for listening and saving hard drive space. For me, vinyl sounds the best hands down. It has the edge and fullness I want to hear and feel when DJing. CD’s are great too, especially for pre-release tracks in the works and classics you don t want to travel with anymore. I am all about finding that yin and yang between the two. You really have to be aware of your EQ'ing and levels while mixing CD into vinyl and vice versa. but you know its all gonna be about your laptop. I am not feeling the sound of Final Scratch but I know there are some programs that will be sounding proper coming in the near future. I will wait for that point and then jump on the bandwagon.
Will - Honestly I have no beef with DJing with CDs. 5-10 years ago I felt different but now the decks are so good. But, I suppose I do really prefer the feel of cold vinyl in my hands
DJ Dennis - What is in the works for you this year (events, releases, productions, tours, etc.)?
Rob - 'Shakedown' every second Saturday of the month at Silk City. 'Heavy' every Tuesday night at Soma where we play down tempo, underground, reggae, jazzy and soulful breaks, deep house, and classics; a whole mash up. We keep busy as a reggae sound system as well with Solomonic, making sure we are always playing the most current culture and dancehall riddems as well as all the classics, known and forgotten. Our dub-plate reserve is starting to get pretty nice too! You have to be playing dubs if you want to be a ranking sound system. We do a weekly every Friday at Filo's and every first Thursday of the month at Silk City. Check out both Solomonicsound.com and worshiprecs.com for the fullness on all events. We are trying to have one release every month out on Worship. [I’ve] definitely been in studio mode lately. Hipp-e and I have a release coming out on Large Records under the alias 'Well Red' sometime by the end of the year. Hipp-e, Zack and I worked on a release for Worship under the 'Trinity All-Stars' name that came out a few months ago. I am finishing up something right now for Jah Love Recordings to be released early next year. I also have a remix for the label Citrona on the board to finish. Will and I (no alias as of yet) are finishing up an EP right now that will most
likely be a worship release but could go to another label. I’ve also been working on reggae riddems and consistently recording artists here up at Worship studios and down in Jamaica. All that soon to come, LOOK OUT!
I did most of my traveling out of town for the year besides surrounding cities. I’m really trying to lock myself in the studio. NYE I am playing In Jamaica. but most importantly, I am marrying my queen, Kelly, in January on the beach in Treasure Beach, Jamaica. and at the end of march we are expecting a youth into the world. (no WMC for me this year!) Everything is everything. Did I forget anything?........blessed love
Will - We have an EP of Solomonic Sound Classics coming up (a reissue EP), as well as a 2 track sampler with a track by Chris Udoh and another by Gary Beck from Glasgow. Also, Rob Paine and myself are finishing up a track which should be out on the label right after the new year. I'm definitely excited about that. November 13th at our monthly label party, THE SHAKEDOWN we hosted RaSoul, which was a fantastic night. We are currently putting together a good lineup of DJs for this event but I don't want to name any names so I don't jinx anything!
*** For everything Worship, make sure to check out WWW.WORSHIPRECS.COM ***