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As a second wave Detroit techno musician with a long musical background, it’s safe to say that Jay Denham has been around the block a few times. At fifteen, he picked up his first instrument, a bass guitar. Jay said he wanted to play electric guitar, but it had too many strings. By the time he was seventeen he was playing in a rock band with friends at high school parties. He developed a taste for punk and what Americans refer to as “new wave”, and then moved on to the funk sounds of “Parliament”, “Cameo”, “Zapp”, and “The Time” as the Eighties had arrived.
In 1982 Jay’s musical taste shifted to Chicago house music, when a friend of his started bringing home “Chicago Hot Mix” tapes from radio stations, wgci and bmx and hot mix radio shows from his trips to Chicago. This opened his ears to the revolutionary sounds of “Hotmix 5″, “Farley Jackmaster Funk” and the deep sounds of “Frankie Knuckles”. Immediately blown away by this new sound, Jay started making expeditions to the Windy City to find records and tape the local radio shows he couldn’t pick up in his home town of Kalamazoo. A chance meeting in Chicago with early house producer Chip E and after hearing Chip E’s new record called “Time To Jack” implanted the idea that he might actually try making this music himself.
The next step for Jay came when he met up with DJ and producer Shake aka Anthony Shakir, who started Frictional Records with Claude Young. Shakir had a korg poly 800 keyboard, Jay had a Roland Tr909 drum machine and it wasn’t long before the two of them were making fierce Detroit music. When Shakir got to know Derrick May, he would pass some of Jay’s demo tapes on to Derrick May. Mays’ favorable reaction to Jay’s demo’s led to Jay moving to Detroit to record for Derrick’s label Transmat\fragile records, and releasing his first record “Ritual’s” as Vice on the Techno 2 Next Generation album and then the classic track “Insync” as Fade II Black on fragile records. Frustrated by Transmats’ low output, and not being paid record royalties, Jay started recording for Kevin Saundersons’ KMS label and the Burden Brothers’ 430 West label, before returning to his home town Kalamazoo in 1992, to get back to his roots and where it all begin for him. Back in Kalamazoo, Jay continued to quietly developed the sound he started to develop in Detroit, while working with local producers and DJ’s, and amassing a stack of tracks, despite the fact that he had no way to release them.
Late in 1993, Jay took the plunge and started his own label, Black Nation Records, beginning with the “Birth of a Nation” EP (- also the title of an infamous early 20th Century Ku Klux Klan propaganda movie – fan facts) which featured tracks by himself and friends like Fanon Flowers, Tony Ollie, Brett Dancer and Chance McDermott. Labels philosophy was to produce “funky, rhythmic, driving underground grooves for the funk conscious record buyer”!
Moving on to the Europe scene Jay developed his sound as a DJ and a producer. His DJ-ing took him all across Europe, had him playing at most major European events and then, around the world. Recording for “Disko B Munich” and “Tresor Records Berlin” led to his first album with Disko B Records Germany; “Escape To The Black Planet", followed by second album release “Synthesized Society” with the hit track “Pride It’s Time”. Having experienced all ups and downs in life during the last few years Jay Denham sure has gotten older but not old, and gotten wiser but still far away from wise. The man is still hot when behind the turntables and performing a live set (premiere at the digital/analog festival 2007 in Munich).
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