When thinking about Tony Humphries, you might be minded of his epic stint at KISS FM as one of its greatest Mastermixers; or of his residency at one of the greatest US clubs, The Zanzibar; or, even, the walls that are lined with gold discs, from Indeep to Janet Jackson; or even his legendary eclecticism. Tony is all of those things and more. But then, there's the Tony of today, restless, questing, searching for new challenges. Which is pretty much how Tony has always been.
Few people realise just how deeply steeped in performing Tony Humphries' family is. His father, Rene Grand, an émigré from Colombia in the 1950s, was a prominent bandleader in New York, alongside peers like Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri. Plus he has a raft of cousins, uncles and aunts who have forged a career in the performing arts. Tony was born to it.
Tony Humphries has been DJing nearly 35 years, an incredible achievement that in any other industry would have been rewarded with a carriage clock or service medal. His big break came through a chance meeting with Mastermixer Shep Pettibone at the offices of Prelude Records. Tony handed the maestro a tape and the rest is history. Humphries' star rose as his KISS FM show (and later HOT 97) lasted for decades.
Although Humphries was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, he has long been associated with New Jersey and the reason for that is his long-held residency at Club Zanzibar in Newark that began in 1982. Zanzibar became synonymous with a new soulful electronic sound, labelled the Jersey sound, but with Tony's hands at the tiller it was a vastly more varied menu than that suggests. "It wasn't like going to a house club, everything was intertwined," explains Tony. "The hours were long, so obviously you didn't want to hear ten hours of straight house music. If you're going to pay $15-20 to hear this guy, you want to hear the whole damn spectrum. You had to come with everything possible. Talking Heads and The B-52s don't sound like Zanzibar/Garage records, but they were. I think that's what the Zanzibar's appeal was."
Although Tony is often seen more as a DJ than a remixer, his forays into the studio have always been productive. His remix of Mtume's 'Juicy Fruit' has been sampled on several big hip hop and R&B hits and Fresh Band's 'Come Back Lover' is rightly regarded as one of the best disco songs of the 1980s. He has gone on to remix scores of artists from Soul II Soul to Janet Jackson (which earned him a gold disc). Poignantly, Tony was enticed back into the studio in 2013 by Frankie Knuckles who asked Tony to do a swap mix for a track he'd been working on. As Frankie told Tony, "You're a great remixer. I just thought folks needed to be reminded."
His reputation in Europe, established via illegally copied tapes of his KISS shows, grew hugely after successful jaunts to influential parties like Danny Rampling's Shoom & Norman Jay's High On Hope in London. He was coaxed back to Europe in the early '90s for residencies at both Ministry of Sound in London and Echoes in Rimini on the Italian Riviera.
Tony's first label venture Yellorange was launched in 1998 and ran the gamut of styles, from the soulful vocals of Mel'isa Morgan, Miguel Plansencia's Afro-Cuban flavors, through to Soweto Funk's Italo-grooves. His latest venture, Tony Records is, "showcasing younger artists and producers doing soulful music in a modern form." Check Tony's own recent release Housework EP, which fuses blues, gospel and worksongs into a brilliantly contemporary setting (or even his new mix compilation with DJ Spen, Quintessentials, demonstrating his expansive style).
In 2009, Body & Soul promoter John Davis brought Tony together with 'Little' Louie Vega and David Morales for a ten-hour session at New York's Webster Hall that was appropriately dubbed the Kings of House. Little did any of them anticipate the success that this would be, turning into a worldwide phenomenon that has straddled continents and cities, as well as regular trips to the likes of Pacha Ibiza.
What strikes anyone when meeting Tony Humphries is not what he's done or where he's been, but where he's going. ""Growing up in Boston, our biggest influence was the New York house scene and no one embodies this spirit more than Tony Humphries," explains Soul Clap's Eli Goldstein. "For us, the gospel, deep, tribal sound he created at his Zanzibar residency reached us through the many remixes and tracks named after the legendary club. We finally had the honor of opening for Tony this year and we were blown away by his ability to represent the old, while pushing a unique, modern house sound. There is clearly only one Tony Humphries!" Amen to that.
Miguel Migs stands at the forefront of electronic music's soulful realm. Whether tackling his original productions or remixes, he achieves an organic-soulful sound by combining the best of both the electronic music world and live instrumentation.
For many years, Miguel's productions have been included on countless compilations and his records have slid into the crates of top DJs across the globe. His music has also landed on numerous TV Shows, including Six Feet Under, Sex in the City, and MTV's Road Rules and Real World.
Contrary to many of his club-centric DJ/producer peers, Miguel is not always concerned with the potential dance floor appeal of his soulful tracks. "It's music you can enjoy and listen to at home, in the club, or anywhere. Not necessarily just to rock the dance floor." explains the Northern California native, who grew up with a true love of reggae, soul, classic rock, jazz, hip-hop and just about everything else.
Over 100 Original Productions and Remixes
His impressive discography includes more than 100 original productions and remixes on seminal independent labels such as Salted Music, Naked Music, Astrelwerks, Yoshitoshi, NRK, Black Vinyl, Large, Chez, Transport recordings, Om Records, Defected Records and many others. His recordings have consistently made waves in the underground circuit and have landed on DJ hype charts internationally. He goes highly regarded when it comes to remixes, having worked with major label artists such as Macy Gray, Lionel Ritchie and Britney Spears. Miguel additionally has released numerous mix CD compilations on labels including Defected, Naked Music, Southport Weekender and NRK.
Never one to sit still, Migs started his own label Salted Music in 2004. Having been associated with an extensive number of labels throughout his career, he came to realize a desire to have his own base, a vehicle for building his own catalogue of quality material. Salted Music is a foundation for Migs to choose and release music that inspires him, as well as release his own productions and compilations.
A Musician At Heart
A musician at heart, Miguel's professional career started at age 18 as songwriter and lead guitarist for Santa Cruz local dub band Zion Sounds, whose Jamaican and African rhythms earned them gigs with globally known reggae outfits Culture and Burning Spear among others. After the disbanding of Zion Sounds in the mid 1990's, rather than form a new band, Miguel put his focus and creative energy into experimenting with the production of electronic music. As a producer, Miguel realizes a strong connection between his electronic music productions and live musical background. He writes his own lyrics and plays his own instruments, be it guitar, bass, percussion or keyboard. As a DJ, Miguel maintains the same approach to his sets as to his productions, combining a variety of influences and styles fused together. The result is funky, deep, soulful, bumping house music. "I like to mix it up and keep it moving smoothly, taking the dance floor through a very spontaneous mix into the realms of quality, deep house music depending on the mood in the room", says Migs. "But, whether it's vocal, tracky, dubby, moody, percussive or broken beat, the sound always remains soulful and funky.
March 2007 saw the release of 'THOSE THINGS', Miguel's sophomore album released on his very own Salted Music imprint. "Those Things represents an open-minded musical spectrum that can have multi-meaning and definition combining forward thinking electronic music elements with live instrumentation inspired by old soul, funk, reggae, jazz, rock and hip-hop," states San Francisco-based Migs about his follow-up to his 2002 debut album 'Colorful You' (Astralwerks/Naked Music). ). The album received massive acclaim and support worldwide and features Sadat X from 'Brand Nubian', Lisa Shaw, LT, Fred Ross from the legendary 'Family Stone', reggae heavy weight Junior Reid, and Tim Fuller.
2007 also saw Miguel launch his eight piece live band "Petalpusher" which fuses electronic inspirations with organic musical elements. The band consists of eight top notch musicians, who have worked with the likes of Prince, Spearhead, and Tower of Power. Lisa Shaw and Tim Fuller are on lead vocals. It is a unique and diverse blend of old school funk, soul and current dance rhythms that result into a unique and intoxicating live experience. With an arsenal of material to choose from, the band has been focusing on performing new and old songs from Miguel and Lisa's extensive catalogue. The band played the Virgin Festival in Baltimore in 2007, the San Jose Jazz Festival as well as all the major cities in North America with resounding success. A work still in progress with much more in store so look out.
Miguel can be found regularly traveling the globe as one of the industries top-leading DJs, as well as at home in the studio writing and creating music, which is his main love and passion. "It's all about the balance between the touring and traveling, studio work and everything else in life." Miguel says, " Music has no boundaries and I get inspired by everything around me." Migs certainly draws no limits to his artistry.
Julius Papp is one whose dedication to music has propelled his career as a producer and DJ in the electronic music scene. His dance music roots lie in Disco of the 70's and New Wave of the 80's. Presently living in San Francisco, he was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and got tuned into dance music through the city's flourishing club scene and diverse radio broadcasts. He started collecting vinyl records in the mid 70's and took to the turntables in 1985, scoring his first major club gig two years later.
Hearing the non-stop flow of music and observing the booth where the DJ seamlessly blended each selection were early influences for Julius. Later influences included reading about parties that were piloted by talented music programmers that even today, influence the youngest of aspiring DJ's - legends like David Mancuso at The Loft & Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage in New York City to Frankie Knuckles at The Warehouse in Chicago and Tony Humphries' weekly at Zanzibar in New Jersey. Always inspired by the music listed in those articles, Julius would shop for those titles that would later become classics, worshipped by their discerning audiences. To this day, his goal is to keep expanding his foundation in music by being open-minded and eclectic in absorbing the music that truly touches him.
That open-minded attitude is what Julius uses to fine-tune his musical palette, which gives him a dominant sound that exudes a deep and soulful perspective. That dominant sound is House Music – which to him, is about an uplifting positive message. People coming together in unity, with no barriers or restrictions, but rather, with tolerance and the spirit of music, unifying everyone on the dance-floor. That being said, he blends various musical styles together -including Soul, Latin, Afro, Disco, Jazz and Electronic sounds with such fluidity, that it is difficult at times to put a defining stamp on his sound. Contributing to that is his willingness to take a chance. He always tries to push the envelope by introducing music that deserves exposure, taking his audience on a musical journey with various mood and energy changes.
Not content to limiting his ambitions in the DJ booth, Julius began producing music in 1994. The studio was another outlet for Julius' creative ideas to flow. His first release was a down-tempo project on the Acid Jazz tip. He also drew attention as part of the jazz and funk scene in San Francisco via the Mushroom Jazz parties alongside resident Mark Farina.
As Julius' production catalogue grew, so did the amount of labels he released music on including – long tenured labels like Nervous Records (NYC), King ST (NYC), Large Music (Chicago) and OM (SF), to signings on Soulfuric Recordings (FL) and Kenny Dope's "Dope Wax" (NYC) label, as well as Bob Sinclar's own
Yellow Productions in Paris.
He also ventured into the label arena with his own "NeoDisco Music" imprint. Named after the sound that continues to inspire him – the label offers him an alternate outlet to release his own productions.
As a veteran in the club scene, Julius has refined a style of dance music that has taken him beyond the boundaries of San Francisco to global praise and recognition. Being nominated as "Most Innovative Producer" at the 2004 House Music Awards is a perfect example of that. Putting him in the company of other nominated producers like, Joey Negro, Osunlade, DJ Gregory, DJ Spinna and Ben Watt was an absolute honor for him.
In January, 2012, Julius's collaboration with Lisa Shaw entitled "Way Back" (DJ Smash Brooklyn Tech Remix), was featured on the CBS crime drama, CSI: Miami.
Let the sun shine!