Today we sit down with Ed Nine from Chicago, label head for Groove Access Records. Lets find out more...
For those that don't know you and your music, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Chicago, & I have been a dj since 2007. I went from playing at local restaurant parties and house parties to making my way into the Chicago house scene and playing at big house clubs like zentra and smart bar. I have also had the honor of playing with house music artists that influenced me growing up and still have that influence til this day. That includes Paul Johnson, Derrick carter, gene hunt, and Louie Vega to name a few. I got into music production in 2010, and have a few digital and vinyl releases under my belt. I own a label called Groove Access Records, and have a partnership with 2 of my best friends for Midway Hustle Records. Recently I participated in the Louie vega’s Global remix competition for ”How He Works” and was selected 3rd place out of over 900 submissions.
Can you discuss a specific concept or idea that has deeply influenced your work, and how you've translated that into your compositions?
If Chicago house music is a concept, I guess that is what continues to influence me. I still get the same feeling I got when I was younger listening to mixtapes and house on the radio. I always loved recording songs from the radio Because I needed to hear the songs on repeat. That love never left and I would always say to myself “one day I’m going to make this kind of music” if you grew up in Chicago in the 90’s you know what it was like hearing it.so much music came out of Chicago in the 90’s I still dig for tracks I missed or haven’t heard. There’s a lot on vinyl that hasn’t made it to digital (yet).
As an artist, you've likely experimented with various hardware and software throughout your career. Are there any particular pieces of gear or tools that have been instrumental in defining your sound, and why do they resonate with you?
Oh yea! The 909 sounds are my go to. I use them on every track but able to modify them to craft whatever style of house I’m after. I love using distortion, & overdrive fx, on my drums as well. For melodies, the string and the brassy synth sounds are also my favorite. For bass lines I go for the square wave with chorus and filter fx tools. My number one gear is the iPad. My number 2 is the MPC one. I spend a lot of time on those when I need to get ideas down. I can finish on them or export them to ableton and finish there.
Have any non-musical sources inspired your music? Certain visual artists, films, or books? Can you elaborate on these influences and how they've shaped your artistic vision?
I was always into graffiti. I love how artists are able to express themselves through the art pieces. Those pieces tell a story. I approach music as if I’m creating a story through the different parts of the track. I can start with an intro, build it up with a certain feeling, and the next part can elevate that feeling or you can feel something else. I love when there are artists at events live painting. We have a lot of that in Chicago. Cool art can also motivate me to take the music in a certain direction when the artists are jamming and I look at what they are creating. Live painting adds something special to an event.
Music can serve as an outlet for personal expression and self-discovery. Has there been a particular moment or phase in your life that has profoundly affected your creative process or the direction of your music?
There was a phase during the pandemic where I felt like giving up because I thought my music wasn’t reaching anyone and kept thinking it got me nowhere. I was also not motivated. I have created so much unfinished music that I would also spend hours listening to what i created, get overwhelmed, and wasn’t confident in any of it. My dad was also sick, and I needed to spend time with my 10 month old daughter. I navigated through all that and took a long break. Through out that break I would think about why I started making music in the first place. I lost that drive to make music that I love and it wasn’t the right time for me to be creative. Now that I’m always busy, I miss it, and decided that when I do have time to create, I need embrace the creative process again and just have fun with it like I used to. That form of thinking actually allows me to finish faster. I found ways to get ideas down on my phone or iPad . Sometimes I have so many ideas and never finish but it’s fun getting them down, then going through them even if I don’t move forward with them. This allows me to be more creative and not feel “stuck. When It feels right I’ll move forward and finish and maybe release that music. I also have a lot of unreleased finished tracks that I enjoy listening to and playing out. Making music is just now something I just do and have always loved. I’m happy and I focus on just creating.
The process of creating an album or EP can be a transformative experience for an artist. Can you discuss the journey behind one of your most significant releases, and how it reflects your growth and evolution as a musician?
I would say the ”Deep Concentration” record on NDATL is one of the releases that I feel shows growth. It’s a three track ep and has one funky deep house track Called “Be With You” that was part of a release on a label that went out of business. I revised it and added vocals. I was super happy with it. That one is a tad similar to what I usually create. ”One less struggle was an uplifting soulful ish track that I experimented with for a very long time because I didn’t know how to approach the melody after creating the drums. The drum sounds were a little different from what I had previously created but I loved those drums. I was definitely going for something a little more soulful though. Once I added the string pad and created the bass line it made me feel some type of way and I couldn’t get enough of the vibe that the song was beginning to bring. When it was done I told myself I have to make some more stuff like that. The process of finding the right melody was a lot of fun and very rewarding. This was around the time where I was just creating and having fun with making music, and actually trying to be versatile. It worked for me. The 3rd track is a darker vibe but still a groovy deep track. That one def has a “take you on a journey” vibe the way it’s built up although it’s very simple. It’s also different from what I previously made but still had the feel good vibe to it as I always like to incorporate in my music. The release “let me be” on midway hustle records is a follow up to “deep concentration”. I had the same mindset putting the 6 tracks together for it.
Many artists have a strong sense of social responsibility and use their platform to raise awareness about various issues. Are there any causes or movements that you feel particularly passionate about, and how do you integrate them into your work?
I won’t do politics but I won’t hesitate to help raise awareness when it comes to issues involving children. Autism awareness neurodiversity, mental health, Bullying, etc are also topics that aren’t discussed enough and are overlooked. I never really used my platform for issues as I’m not that great at social media but I feel I need to start helping spread awareness a little more.
Music often challenges conventional genre boundaries and expectations - walking the line between sounds. Do you think its important to sound a little different to the crowd?
Absolutely. Gone are the days where you HAVE to play a specific style or genre/sub-genre. It also depends on the crowd. There are ways to sound different, still sound good, and still do what you do. I love jumping around I love to go from deep house to acid house. It’s how you transition and the songs you use. I mean if the tracks are really good I don’t see a problem with sticking to one certain sound. In my opinion It also depends on how they’re mixed.
The role of improvisation in electronic music can vary greatly between artists. Can you discuss your perspective on the importance of spontaneity in your creative process, both in the studio and during live performances?
While djing, I think the majority of the crowd won’t see how spontaneous you are unless your throwing cakes, have a 100 foot screen behind you with crazy visuals, or have bright 20 foot robots dancing in the crowd . You can probably do something for them to hear it. But to be honest, from my experience as a fan and observing, most of the crowd will overlook it. I love blending tracks for a long time and being unpredictable. That’s why I also like jumping around between styles. I’ll play a “known ” song in the middle of my set or an edit or do drop outs and effects. But most of the time I think the crowd just wants to hear good music. you’ll def have the fans that will notice when your making a new song out of two or play an edit no one has heard. You’ll have people coming to you asking for track id’s or telling you they loved what you did at certain parts of your set. That means you did something different and made it enjoyable for them.
In the studio I do sometimes think to myself how can I make this song pop. How can I create the best feeling possible. I like keeping things simple but in short, being spontaneous in the creative process to me is how can I create the best feeling out of this track.
Throughout your career, you've likely encountered various mentors or collaborators who have influenced your growth as an artist. Can you share a particularly impactful experience or lesson you've learned from someone in the music industry?
Meeting Todd Edward’s in 2015 here in Chicago was very impactful for me. He happened to be right next to me before his set at primary and I worked up the courage to say hello. I was ecstatic when he enthusiastically greeted me back. We talked about a specific label that he was part of, and I mentioned I worked with same label for a remix that never dropped. He told me sometimes it happens but that shouldn’t be discouraging and he knows what that feels like. That piece of advice gets thrown around a lot in the industry. Sometimes you need to hear it over and over, and even if you may know it, it’s nice to hear it from someone like Todd. We somehow exchanged numbers so i can call him to talk more about it. I never called because I didn’t want to be a burden. I was still happy he engaged. Not many genuinely engage and give you their number. That was fun.
If you live in Chicago, you will run into the heroes quite often. People like diz, dj heather, & gene hunt are always supporting local artists not just musically, but in life in general. . Conversations with them are always positive and you always walk away motivated and uplifted after talking to them. I was blessed to to meet people like them at a young age while making my way into the scene. Hearing them also play your music automatically motivates you. Every interaction with them is impactful for me because I’m still a fan of them.
What’s next for you?
I have a 12” vinyl release coming out on Inner Balance recordings in the coming weeks. I’m also taking a small break as my baby daughter was born in September. I’ll resume with gigs and get back to working on the labels starting in the spring.