Our interview series with Teddy Douglas, DJ Spen and Karizma from the Basement Boys continues as we catch up with the legendary Teddy Douglas.
Synonymous with deep, soulful House, the Basement Boys are responsible for producing a plethora of underground classics in the late eighties, before moving into the mainstream with productions such as 'Gypsy Woman' for Crystal Waters and remixes for the likes of Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Erykah Badu and Ultra Naté. In 1994, the Basement Boys formed their own record label under the same name, recording under a variety of aliases, such as Those Guys.
On 1st January, Teddy Douglas, DJ Spen and Karizma from the Basement Boys will be headlining a very special Groove Odyssey Party to mark the start of 2017. Ahead of the party, we sat down with them all individually to find out more about the legendary Basement Boys and what they’re all up to now.
Teddy Douglas! So you grew up in Baltimore, which is now considered the Mecca of Soulful House. What was Baltimore like in the seventies, before the underground club scene was really established?
Baltimore was much like New York and Chicago in the 70's. Baltimore has always had an underground club scene and Disco was king in the 70's. Our nightclub in Baltimore was Odell's. Odell's, Clubhouse (Washington D.C.) is where I first heard two records seeming less-ly put together all night. These clubs inspired me to become a DJ.
Before you really got into DJing, you were working at music stores, right? And it was through one store, Music Liberated, that you met Thommy Davis and Jay Steinhour, which was to be the start of the Basement Boys. What was it that united you all? Did you share a similar vision or musical styles or was it just pure coincidence?
I was a DJ first. I started working in the record store in 1982. Before 82' I did all the local parties around town building my name. Thommy and Jay were also local DJ's and both worked at the store Music Liberated. The love of music united us. We came together to create music that we weren't hearing, highly influenced by the Early Chicago Era and our own influences from the East coast defines the sound.
Why do you think the Basement Boys grew to be so successful?
Because through many changes through the years we remain true to ourselves... and it didn't hurt to have produced one of the biggest dance records in the world, Gypsy Woman.
Since the group’s inception, you’ve gone on to do some incredible remixes... most notably Crystal Waters, and then there was Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul, is there anyone you’d like to remix that you haven’t had a chance to?
Chaka Khan PLEASE CALL ME!
So you’re pretty much one of the founding fathers of Soulful House, the music that we at Groove hold close to our hearts. In three words, what does the genre mean to you?
Expression Musical Freedom
You have a reputation as an avid record collector; roughly how many records do you have in your collection right now?
Over the years the collection has survived basement floods, storage units... you name it. I've managed to maintain the collection. It's probably around 9,000, roughly.
Do you have a favourite?
No not really..but I love my Disco and Jazz collection.
And what's the most surprising record you own that none of us would ever be able to guess?
The most surprising record I own would probably be Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention "One Size Fits All" LP.
Now you’re marking the start of the New Year for us at Ministry of Sound, what can we look forward to from you in 2017?
I'm looking forward to the party at Ministry of Sound. Look forward to hearing classic B boys tunes some and unreleased tunes coming in 2017.
And finally can you run down your top ten most inspirational tracks of all time?
1. Jakki "Sun Sun Sun"
2. Chaka Khan "I'm Every Woman"
3. The Chi-Lites "My First Mistake"
4. Pam Todd & Love Exchange "Let's Get Together"
5. Marshall Jefferson "Move Your Body"
6. Loletta Holloway "Love Sensation"
7. Isaac Hayes "I Can't Turnaround"
8. Jermaine Jackson "Ecuru"
9. Atmosfear "Dancing in Outer Space"
10. The New York Community Choir "Express Yourself"