Continuing my series of interviews it is with great pleasure that I have been able to catch up with one of my favourite dj / re-mixer/ producers of our beloved house music Jihad Muhammad.Thanks for agreeing to this interview Jihad,here we go
Where were you born ? - i was born in newark, nj
When re you born we? - december 3, 1968 (Same day as Colin Curtis,very strange or maybe not J)
Can you talk bout you growing up
and what got you into music ? - i used to listen to all kinds of music growing up. didnt matter what it was...as long as it was good music i loved it.
Which clubs did you go to as you were growing up
anad who were the dj's cutting it back then ? - i used to go to zanzibar to hear tony humphries, cheetahs to hear mark thompson and tee scott. also i used to hang at a spot in nyc called the choice
Who were the artists arrangers and producers that
influenced your musical taste ? - there were alot......blaze, osunlade, ambrosia, stephanie cooke, monique bingham, quentin harris....so many to name
Did you collect vinyl in those early days ? - yes i was an avid collector of vinyl. i used to spend about $150 a week.
How do feel the current climate of downloads,Traxsource
etc has affected the house music genre ? - i actually think traxsource is great. from a financial standpoint the music is cheaper in price....that could be a good and bad thing. good because as a consumer it way less than what i spending on music years ago. bad because your actually not making alot from the music downloads like we were 10-20 years ago. house overall is suffering because of the lack of airplay and visibility. also the heavy file sharing killed it as well.
How did you get into Dj'ing and remixing ? - well to be honest i got into dj'ing as a hobby because i loved the music. the curiosity of blending two records sparked my career. producing was the next step. kevin hedge used to let me sit at the mixing console and work on projects so thats how i got into that.
How did that develop into producing your own music ? - i like jazzy style records so growing up and hearing jazz and r&b all the time pretty much molded my style.
Do you play instruments or build the tracks in the studio ? - i only do the drum tracks and sometimes basslines. i hire guys for the other elements.
2001 you remixed Black Masses My Heavenly Stars on Easy Street
how did that come about and where was it done ? - that was one of the first projects that kevin hedge let me work on. i was a bit nervouse about that one. i pretty much just tried to follow what he was doing at the time.
2004 you released Movement Blues on West End( the label that you also cut Leela James later in 2006 another dancefloor bomb) but that
did not appear to receive full support at the time from the label
but went on to be a huge underground club anthem,talk a little about this iconic track ? - movement blues was my first record i did on my own. i did it at nick jones's studio. the pianist came in and knocked the keys out in one take. i knew it had potential as a great record but i didnt know it was gonna take off the way it did.
Can you tell us about hooking up with the guys from Blaze how that came about ? - well kevin hedge used to be one of the owners of club shelter....plus he was from jersey so i used to see him all the time. he was really cool and used to invite me to come to the studio. he also hired me a few times to play at shelter so the friendship just progressed.
Also in 2004 you released two tracks NJ Groove & Oasis on the Canadian Iwanai label and a 3rd No Way Back in 2006 what was the story behind these cuts ? - the guys at iwanai ( ryan and john ) were really cool. they had me play a party in toronto and the relationship continued to build from there. nj groove was like a laid back jazzy guitar thing that i always wanted to do. oasis was one of my first records i did with a percussionist so i was still exploring my sound back then. i really like the way that project came out.
Can you talk about your collaboration with Chris Dockins on the superb social commentary track "No More War" and your other Camio release The Dawn ? - chris is a great artist. josh milan asked me to work with him so we talked and set it up. when i gave him he track and he told me what he wrote i was a lil dissapointed at first. i think it was because i was expecting something else. he saw something i didnt see at first. but i usually let the artist do what they want on the tracks i do so when we did the session i was amazed at how good it started coming out. the dawn ...that was a good song there too. i believe that was the first one i did for camio.
Which other dj's influenced you and who do you work with the most nowadays ? - ian friday is my boy. naeem johnson is the one who i studied under for 10 years. guys like carlos mena, boddhi satva, keven hedge, timmy regisford, danny krivit.....they all still have major influence over me. i have worked with most of those i have mentioned ...some in the past and some i still work with.
Two of your huge club remixes in the UK were Fuzion Im So Glad with Chris Herbert on vocals George Mena & Frankie Estevez on Production
and Number One Candy Apple with John Banfield can you give us some background on these two remixes ?-i never knew they were huge hits in the UK. i enjoyed the fuzion mix. i always wanted to do a song with chris herbert so remixing this one was as close as i could get. the candy apple was something that was a lil more different for me. my style i think had to change a lil with that song. it was very upbeat and i was used to doing more jazzier style songs. i'm glad it came out nice though.
Downtown 161 you cut two tracks Asahikawa in 2006 and Right Now 2008
on a deeper jazzier tip ? - yes those two songs are more my style. i did a remix for carlos mena and when i heard tamara's voice i said to myself she's gonna be big soon. so i was honored to do the right now jam with her. asahikawa was a song i had dedicated to my friends who live in asahikawa, japan. a record store owner in nyc told me that one of my japanese friends came to his store and brought all his copies of that song.
Tell us about your special relationship with the Chicago guys Vick Lavender(one of house musics most prolific producers in the last 2 years)
and of course Mario Romay from the Cuatro Sessions ? - vic is super talented and we had gotten cool over the years. i was suprised when he asked me to remix his song 1st kiss. i thought it was perfect the way it was. he had been trying to get me out to chicago for a while but my schedule never allowed it. finally it worked out and i had a great time. the gig was really dope. i played a gig at the wmc for mario and that was real nice too. finally got to see him again when i went to play at cautro.
What did you make of our Southport Weekender over here in the UK,you certainly left everyone some great memories of a true deep Jihad Muhammad session,and which other UK gigs have you done more recently ? - southport was amazing. to see the passion of the people who really love this music left me speechless. it's sad that nothing like this has happened in the states yet. all the time i was playing i was like i hope they are into me...lol. the other UK gigs i have done...the tribe party....the party for house fm.....the one at salmon & compass were all great.
Also Movement Soul was released on the UK Label Su Su could you tell us a little about this time? - i forget what song was released on su su.
Could you name 10 tracks that have influenced you as you developed ? - wow
1. only time will tell - ten city
2. breathe - blaze
3. gloria's muse - blaze
4. you know how to love me - phyllis hyman
5. golden lady - stevie wonder
6. school days - stanely clarke
7. it seems to hang on - ashford & simpson
8. love can change your heart - blaze ( blaze mixes )
9. fade - kimblee
10. how deep is your love - blaze
And what are 10 of your current big hitters ? -
1. mahuwelele - mzee
2. take your time - jose carretas
3. juju - black coffee
4. holdin on - nathan adams
5. out of this world - tamara wellons/anto vitale
6. dear friend - dj spinna
7. home - heather johnson-yukio kudo mix
8. each & everyday - rocco
9. dear african sky - henrik schwartz
10. movin on - davina - movementsoul mix
Tell us the cities and clubs in the USA and around the world you have been at recently ? - wow...chicago, toronto, mexico, paris, japan, london, nyc, dallas, boston, DC, maryland. my most recent trip was the chicago trip
What are your plans going forward,what projects do you have on the go ? -my plans are to continue to put out good quality music be it from me or other artists. to keep branding the movementsoul name. to continue to play as passionately as the first day i stared doing it.
I know that you are still hitting all the right notes in 2009 as I have just listened to your mix from Langstons loving the flow and your support for the Blaze Consequences which is a true anthem !!
Jihad thanks again for your time it is much appreciated
as is your help with this interview. - thank you bro....sorry i took so long
Peace & Respect