Friends Of LITA | Q&A With DJ Supreme La Rock

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Dust_and_Grooves_9704

(*Photo by Eilon Paz from the book Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting)

Wheedle’s Groove - Seattle Funk, Modern Soul & Boogie: Volume II 1972-1987 is now available! Ten years since the release of Volume I,  we’re back with another amazing volume of unheralded Seattle soul and funk. The man that helped bring the Wheedle’s Groove project to life is our bud, the World class DJ and record collector devotee, DJ Supreme La Rock. Without him, the sound of Seattle’s soul and funk scene would still be rotting away in dank dark basements and thrift store dollar bins. We checked in with Mr. Supreme for a short Q&A about the origins of Wheedle’s Groove, collecting vinyl, and the merits of computers in the DJ booth. Read the interview below…

 

You helped to compile tracks for both Wheedle’s Groove Volumes I & II. How did you first get turned on to these relatively unknown Seattle soul/funk 45s/LPs?

I started buying soul & funk records in the mid 80′s. I found a 45 once on a whim by the Black on White Affair that I liked and the address on the record label was in Seattle. That made me start looking for other local stuff to see what was out there that I didn’t know about.

 

Do you have a favorite track from the latest Volume II set? And how’d you find the record?

I’d have to go with “Holding On” By Unfinished Business. I obtained the record direct from the lead singer on it after tracking him down in a roundabout way after searching for two years straight. It was his only copy and he was generous enough to let me have it to add it to my local archives.

 

What’s unique about the Seattle soul sound? How did the scene in the Northwest differ from other parts of the country like the Midwest and East Coast?

The Seattle sound was a well blended mix of different genres that created a unique sound during this time period. The difference between it and anywhere else was the collaboration of different races creating bands as where most funk/soul bands from the Midwest & East Coast were pretty much 100% black. These bands were black, white, asian, native, etc.

 

You’re known as one of the world’s preeminent diggers and record heads. What advice could you give to an aspiring vinyl collector?

Never judge a record by it’s cover and don’t be afraid to explore genres you WILL be surprised.

 

You have an impressively expansive record collection. What are your most prized records? Which record alluded you the longest?

It’s hard to say what are my most prized record would be. Each one has a different sentimental meaning to me but the one that alluded me for years was Black Out by the Douglass High School band. I looked for years for my copy. I bought it from a friend that said he’d never let it go but finally did. Of course I’ve found about 4 more copies after adding it to my collection for about half the price I paid. Seems to always work out that way no matter the record. Digging law.

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Which record are you still on the hunt for?

I’d still like a Salt “Hung Up” 45. I’ve missed out on a copy about 6 times now. Who’s got me?

 

As a DJ who spins vinyl, what is your thought on DJs who use computers?

I love technology, I use a computer/serato in about 50% of my DJ sets. There’s nothing wrong with it. My problem is with people that get a computer on Monday and have booked a DJ gig by the Friday. Everyone is NOT a DJ and shouldn’t try to be.

 

Is there a record you always bring with you when you DJ? Which song is always a surefire way to get the crowd moving?

Songs that always work with crowds are familiar ones. The average club goer isn’t there to get their mind blown by some rare unreleased 45 no ones ever heard before that was discovered in an old studio that has shut down. No matter the crowd they need something they’re familiar with. Things are changing now as well, meaning I used to drop a Jackson 5 record at almost any party and the crowd would go nuts. I dropped one at closing last week and the crowd turned and looked at me like they wanted to hang me. Plus all crowds are different. I can’t drop the same set to a bottle service night club that I can at a hipster club so a true working dj needs to be diverse and know his (or her) sh*t. One record that does almost work for any crowd though would be Aretha Franklin “Respect”. Ladies love to sing along to it and almost everyone knows it.

 

What’s on your turntable these days?

Ivan Neville “Dance Your Blues Away” has been getting a lot of run…….

 

Thanks again, Supreme, for chatting with me. Before you go, can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on?

As for now just promoting the new Wheedle’s release, and rockin’ parties nightly in a city near you.

For more info about Supreme and to catch him rockin’ a party near you visit www.supremelarock.com.

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