Monday 28 September 2009


About 2 years ago following a tip off from one of our own house music
underground dj's David Hulmes I started to investigate the Groove Parlor movement
in Chicago.Posted on their website were playlists by Mario Romay that seemed to
evoke the same passions that we have in this country for this great music.For me
it was another return to the great city of Chicago that had influenced my own musical tastes
over the last 4 decades.From the sweet soul of the sixties and seventies through the journey
to house music via Trax,D.J. international,Farley "Jackmaster",Steve"Silk"Hurley right up to present day now with the likes of Vick Lavender.
So I tracked down Mario and he kindly agreed to an interview which I think once again highlights
the connection between Chicago and the UK when it comes to relating to great music and a passion to dance.Here is another insight into the underground sound of Chicago in 2009.

Hi Mario

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Lima, Peru on January 14, 1974

Did you grow up in Chicago?

I came to Chicago in 1978 at the age of 4. I’ve been in this wonderful city ever since. Chicago is my heart, my life and my home. The universe put me here and kept me here for a reason.

What musical influences were integral to you growing up?

I listened to so many different genres of music growing up and still do. As my mind and spirit developed throughout the years so did my taste in music. I always love to discover a new sound so I love to keep my ears open. I love to observe aurally. It’s always a pleasure to hear something good for the first time whether it’s new or old. If it has an impact that’s worthy of an uncontrollable smile then the music is timeless.

Music that I will never outgrow is Jazz & House Music. That will NEVER change. I’m very passionate about things I love and never turn my back on those passions.

Which DJs influenced you?

There are so many DJs that I have listened to and have been influenced by over the years. At an early age I was definitely inspired by the Hot Mix 5 DJs that played on Chicago’s WBMX radio in the early 80’s. They are the foundation for many DJs in Chicago. In my youth I was also inspired by Larry Heard, Lil Louis & Frankie Knuckles.

In the present day I love listening to my hometown favorites: Mark Grant, Glenn Underground, Vick Lavender, Ron Trent, Boo Williams, and Gene Hunt & FLX. These guys are innovative technicians and performers. When they play a local gig in Chicago it doesn’t matter whether they’re playing for 20 people or for 200. Their sound is raw, motivated and inspirational. They are true to their craft and perform with a sense of pride by never compromising their sound.

There is so much talent in this city. You can hear good music here 7 nights a week.

You have a very soulful style judging by the Sounds of Joy mixtapes.

How did this develop and attract a following for you in Chicago?

It’s difficult to put into words about what I feel about soulful music. So many emotions are involved when I hear it. It makes me elated and gives me a sense of serenity. Nothing bad can happen from it. You have no choice but to feel delight and can’t resist moving your body when you experience it. I’m sure there are words that haven’t been invented that would better describe the encounter with soul.

I’m not sure how this passion developed. It’s just one of those things. Living in Chicago and being surrounded by DJs and producers probably conditioned me this way.

When I posted my first Sounds of Joy mix on my website I didn’t do it with the intention of it being a series. I got so much positive feedback and kept getting asked about the next Sounds of Joy mix that I decided to keep it going. The emails I get about these mixes are very inspirational. People tell me that the mixes make them feel good so it’s important for me to carefully select and program uplifting songs to put on these mixes. They’re mixes people listen to over and over again so it has to be right. It’s much different from playing live where you feed off dancers, expressions and emotions.

Can you talk about Groove Parlor and how that came about?

(That's how I originally came across you :)

A note to myself on a bar napkin is how it started. A combination of an eagerness to make a contribution to the House Music community and a strong desire to be creative gave me the inspiration. I had registered the domain name,, two years prior to me launching the site. I had made a 4 CD compilation of acid jazz songs for personal listening. I had named the compilation Groove Parlor which is how I came up with the name. I thought it would be a catchy name for a website.

It’s amazing how word spreads across the internet. I launched the site to expose some DJ friends of mine and to promote some parties in Chicago. I didn’t expect for it to reach the world so rapidly. My site has been visited by people in over 120 countries. I would say that 95% of Groove Parlor merchandise I have sold has shipped outside of the U.S.A.

Having launched the site has allowed me to meet great people. It’s amazing to me that I have mixes on my site from DJs I have admired over the years. There is sometimes the perception that I have a team of people that work on Groove Parlor. Groove Parlor is a one man operation. I do everything myself including the design and maintenance of the site, flyer design, event promotion, audio recording & photography. It’s a lot of work but the feedback I get is worth the time and effort. I don’t have as much time as I would like to focus on the site but I hope to keep the material fresh for many years to come.

How long have you been attending the Miami WMC?

I have been attending WMC since the mid 90’s. It wasn’t until I launched my site that it became more work than leisure.

I’ve been doing an annual Groove Parlor WMC party since 2005 and have been fortunate enough to get some of my favorite DJs and producers to play my WMC events. The roster over the years has included Glenn Underground, Mark Grant, Josh Milan (Blaze), Black Coffee, Vick Lavender, Marques Wyatt, The Rurals, Jihad Muhammad, Boo Williams, Ron Carroll, Gene Hunt, Jay-J, Andre Harris, Lady D, FLX and yours truly.

Miami is great because it gives you an opportunity to see great friends from out of town. It’s like a family reunion every year. It’s also a great way to meet new friends. I have made some lifelong friendships because of WMC.

Who are your favourite house music producers and artists?

There is so much talent in this wonderful genre. I’m sure I’m missing some great names. These producers/artists usually put out gold: Glenn Underground, Mark Grant, Vick Lavender,Kenny Carvajal, Antonio Ocasio, Peven Everett, Jihad Muhammad, Ian Friday, Blaze, Man-X, Black Coffee, Monique Bingham, Carla Prather, Russoul & Swaylo

What is your current Top 10?

Erykah Badu “Honey (G.U. ReWerk)”

Peven Everett “If I Can't See You Tonight”

Peven Everett “Meet Me On The Dance Floor”

Vick Lavender Chicago Chase (A Tribute To Fred Hampton)”

John Arnold & Jeremy Ellis “Nightlife (Daz-I-Kue Remix)”

Bakura feat. Darien “Mistaken”

Franck Roger “Dangerous Girl”

Know “Graffitti (Vocal Mix)”

DJ Man-X & Albert Sterling Menendez feat. Blaze “Consequences (Man-X's Sunset Nights Vocal Mix)”

Urban Mystic “I Refuse (DJ Spinna Mix)”

Which Ten records influenced you the most over the years?

This is much more difficult than compiling a current top 10 because there are so many songs that have made an impact in my life. Narrowing this selection down to ten is almost impossible but I’ll do my best. These are the first (non house music related) songs that come to mind. These are currently on repeat in my home and never fail me when I need a boost.

Lonnie Liston Smith “Space Princess”

Herbie Hancock “Stars In Your Eyes”

Marvin Gaye “Nuclear Juice”

Gary Bartz “Music Is My Sanctuary”

Fela Kuti “Open And Close”

Lou Donaldson “Bag Of Jewels”

Herbie Hancock “Chameleon”

Fela Kuti & Roy Ayers “2000 Blacks Got To Be Free”

Fred Fisher Atalobhor & His Ogiza Dance Band “Asa-Sa”

Donald Byrd “Change (Makes You To Hustle)”

Earth, Wind & Fire “Drum Song”

Bobby Hutcherson “La Malanga”

Miles Davis “Black Satin”

Maceo & The Macks “Soul Power 74”

Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery “Down By The Riverside

Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s “Blow Your Head”

Azymuth “Dear Limmertz”

I know I’m cheating here by going over 10 records. I just couldn’t remove any of these songs from the list. I could probably go on and on with a longer list but these are what instantly came to mind.


  1. Bravo to Groove Parlor and my Favorite Mario Romay.. Miami loves you!!!
    It doesn't get any better than the Sounds of Joy!!!

  2. wow, great interview...
    I'm looking forward to still seeing Groove Parlor around in the next ten years...

    with lot's of love, peace and happiness from South Africa

    Mixus Afro҆tatic