HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Lil' Louis

In 1974, when he was only 12 years old, Lil Louis began his glorious DJ career, by editing Philly soul and disco tunes together with an open-reel tape deck. And by the time he was 17 years old, his outstanding ability behind the decks and mixing sensibility made him one of the most renowned DJs in Chicago.

Having started with a remix of "7 Ways", Lil has been producing loads of great anthems on the dance-floor, and some of his tracks including classics "French Kiss" and "Club Lonely" went way beyond just the club scene.

In late 2004, he suddenly announced his retirement from DJing and started on his final world tour , "Last Dance". HigherFrequency caught him just before his last gig in Tokyo at club Yellow, and questioned the reasons behind his decision.

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> Interview : Eri Nishikami_ Photo : Mark Oxley


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : HRFQ : Yellow's going to have their 30th anniversary; do you have any message for them?

Lil' Louis : Well, congratulations. Very happy that they've made it this far and we're gonna cerebrate together.

HRFQ : I heard this is you last tour as a Dj. Where else did you go?

Lil' Louis :Uh, I've done bunch of places. Some parts of Europe, Australia, lot of places in America. We're doing 30 cities to celebrate the thirtieth year.

HRFQ : Where's the last place?

Lil' Louis : Chicago on Christmas day.

HRFQ : Tell me your musical background.

Lil' Louis : I started out back in 1974 as a Dj, but before that I played drums. And I go back to the roots of my father who's a pretty famous blues player in Chicago. When he retired, he wanted his children to carry on his legacy. So, kind of forced us to play certain instruments. I resisted, but in 1974 based upon one accident I just started. I was handed over the resident of dj from a gentleman who was sick that's basically where I stared.

HRFQ : You were right there when Chicago House was born back in the day. Were you recognized that you were making a new movement?

Lil' Louis : Well, I started actually before house music. I started back even before the disco which kind of makes me shy sometimes to go back that far. But when we were starting the whole house music thing, it was basically a graduation of disco. Because disco was declared dead in 1979. So the couple of djs, myself, Frankie and other djs decided to keep the movement alive. For my part, what I did, I bought a couple of keyboards and you know, tried to emulate disco. That's how house music came about.

HRFQ : Is it because you're disappointed with the current scene that you're going to stop djing?

Lil' Louis : No, no. The state of the scene has nothing to do with my decision. What I'm more moved by and induced by is evolution. I wanna branch off to other things. I don't wanna be 90 years old still djing. And you know, I also believe in leaving or evolving on top and I think I've given a lot. 30 years is a lot of service to the community. And I really wanna do other things. Focus is on entertainment or branch out to films. I'm interested in films and also film scoring. Things of that nature. Evolutionally process.

Lil' Louis Interview

HRFQ : Are you going to make them with your uniqueness?

Lil' Louis : Oh yeah, definitely. Anything I do is going to be original. I can't really discuss what's in the pipeline or what's in the works but it will have my touch on it.

HRFQ : What do you think is important to make it your own?

Lil' Louis : First of all, conviction has a lot to do with it you know I've never been influenced heavily by anyone not to the point where I try to emulate. And I kind of stand true to what I feel, you know the story that makes me different. My story is different from any other djs. My story is different from yours. So even if we learn the same thing, I would explain those things differently. So I stay true to the journey. And the story develops from there.

HRFQ : Where do you think the house music should head for?

Lil' Louis : Simplicity. My biggest problem with the house music, or my biggest issue is that I think we've become too complicated in our approach. It's almost like jazz. I think jazz hit a wall when it became fusion and my interpretation for fusion would show up for confusion. We stop identifying with the public and I think house music has done that as well. We've gone so deep until we are shallow. So hopefully, people who are taking my spot will try to do what I always did. Focus on a story; keep it simple, beautiful but simple. Cause right now everything is bazillioned out. So complicated, so crazy core progression until no one cares, no one's getting it. At the end of the day, the customer wants simplicity.

HRFQ : What's the most impressive thing in your 30 years of djing career?

Lil' Louis : The most impressive thingcthat's a very good question. I think sustaining. There are so many moments. I'd say the collective of all those moments. The organic value back in the day is very impressive because no one expected it to excel to the level it has. But the staying power is the most impressive thing.

HRFQ : I believe you are still going to be making music but what are they going to be?

Lil' Louis : Absolutely. But I have no idea. I've trained in the last few years in different area. Some jazz but I became bored with jazz so I studied classical music. I still have that blues in me. So it could go anywhere. And whenever I make music I never plan. Just as when I dj. I never plan the set. I just go and whatever the crowd tells me, that's what I play. You know it's more of a vibe. I see your eyes and I play based upon what I feel from you. And I do the same in the studio. From feeling the certain way. Then I think of a color. Then I try to find the color in the music.

HRFQ : Do you have message to your fans all over the world?

Lil' Louis : That the love is still strong it's not geared towards them because I've received e-mails and some mails that people feel that I don't love music or love dance music. I still love music and I just wanted to evolve and the biggest thing I think is that the people should evolve and allow others to evolve. So hopefully in the next 15 or 20 years, they can accept what I've become, cause I will accept what they've becomes. That's it.

End of the interview

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