Visionary artist and musician, D.J.C. delves into the creative process behind “Sexy House Thang,” a track designed to infuse positivity into the world. With meticulous attention to detail, the producer explains how he blended classic and contemporary elements to create a vibrant, genre-fluid experience.
The artist also discusses his influences, drawing from years of exposure to diverse musical styles and genres, which contributes to his unique sound as D.J.C. He shares insights into his label NexGen Music‘s approach, emphasizing trendsetting over trend-following, while also addressing the challenges and caution required in an environment of cancel culture and criticism.
“Sexy House Thang” exudes feel-good vibes, aiming to infuse the much-needed positive energy into the world. Could you share your approach to crafting the beats that drive this purpose and effectively transmit such uplifting energy to your listeners?
Great question, and a hard one to answer succinctly. There are over 350 channels of music in the DAW project with many different techniques and approaches applied. The original sketch for ‘Sexy House Thang’ goes back as far as 2008, and as I am sure you are aware the sonic imprint of what we currently define as house music today has “evolved” quite a bit since then.
As the years went on and I was (slowly) molding the idea of ‘Sexy House Thang’ into something tangible, I was very intentional about wanting the arrangement to pay homage to the roots of classic funky, Latin and jazz-infused house music, and intertwining the sound with a more recent take on genre without the some of the “EDM-style” sounds that I feel is very common in the genre today.
So, I guess you could say that I wrote the track to appeal to house music purists that dig that funky house vibe, while also appealing to house/EDM music lovers that perhaps aren’t as in touch with the more musical side of the genre. I would say that the vox, bass, and synth elements keep it sounding “fresh” and more in line with today’s house music production techniques.
I actually created a walkthrough video on our YouTube channel of my approach to the musical production of ‘Sexy House Thang,’ where I cover some of my techniques, plug-ins and tools. Interested readers and music production nerds should definitely check it out!
Given your exposure to a diverse array of musical genres and scenes, from the early days of UK underground music to the present, how have you harnessed these influences to shape and evolve your own signature sound as D.J.C.?
It is evident that our influences shape our reality and interests. As a music artist in some ways being “genre fluent” is a blessing and a curse. Being about to write music in so many different ways, genres and styles that can fit any style or mood is awesome, but at the same time – and speaking strictly for myself but maybe this will resonate with others – it seriously can hamper creativity when you want to move fast, as you can end up overthinking!
Here is an example: I am currently working on a remix for an up and coming R&B artist (Semaj Dee), and we decided that we wanted to do it UK Garage (UKG) style. I spent several weeks going down a path that I was really enjoying and then all of a sudden, I hated it. I sat on it for several weeks and then jumped back in, deciding to rewrite the drums and bass entirely from scratch. Now, we are talking about tossing a good 50+ channels of musical arrangement and doing it over.
So, I got to work deciding to rework those elements in a different style of the same genre, however, avid listeners of these different styles do not necessarily like both styles, but I was determined to write this track in a way that will appeal to both sides, and also to the R&B listeners that will be tuned into the original mix. So, after changing things up I am now properly in love the track. If I didn’t have the influences of these genres and subgenres plus the knowledge and know-how of how to cross these genres together, I would probably still be pulling my hair out!
As far as my “signature” sound goes, after 30 years of creating music, I can honestly say that I don’t think I have really figured out what that is yet…
NexGen Music, your record company, takes pride in embracing diverse musical styles. Can you highlight a particular encounter with an exceptional musical style or artist that defied your expectations and eventually became an integral part of the label’s portfolio?
This is a tough question for me right now… This is really only one encounter I can think of where an artist group that REALLY piqued my interest in recent years, which is a super hip, soul, funk and R&B band with its roots based in Russia. After dropping a series of exceptionally well-received releases, we have unfortunately had to put all of our plans on ice with this group due to the war and political tensions involving that country. These are just a bunch of young hip music kids that are caught in the middle, and everyone loses, which is mostly the fans that are being starved of the artists’ creativity and vibes.
What’s your perspective on contemporary Pop culture? And how do you envision your music aligning with this perpetually shifting and vibrant landscape?
I am probably the last person in the world that you should ask this question to. Why is that might you ask? Well, mainstream Pop culture is not something I am really immersed in too much, and I think for good reason. As a label owner I live and feel that I have a duty to our group of extremely talented artists and creatives to help them push themselves to the outermost boundaries of what they can achieve, both sonically and visually.
For our artists and musicians, I have always had this feeling that I could potentially tarnish their ideas by suggesting or pushing them in the direction of another artist’s sound, by asking them to sound like ‘X’ or ‘Y.’ Every project that I have a hand in I approach with what I called “closed ears.” I don’t hear something and think, “this sounds like X artist” or “Y band,” I evaluate the music purely on the vibes that I am getting in that moment, and offer any creative direction based upon my personal intrinsic knowledge of music theory. If I am being perfectly honest, I would say that I get my Pop culture education and “fix” via my artists and living vicariously through their music.
Do you tend to follow current trends or lean towards a more traditional approach? In your opinion, should musicians reshape their sound, vision, or identity to capture the industry’s attention?
This may sound corny to some, but for the most part we – meaning myself and everything associated with our label NexGen Music – are about trendsetting, as opposed to following trends. If you look at some of our artists like Earth Leakage Trip, Rob Sparx and Undersound, who are considered by their peers to be pioneers of their respected genres, you will see what I mean. It’s the same with my track “Sexy House Thang,” which to me personally I think that whole vibe should have been done already, but it wasn’t – we did it. The projects that we put out are very intentional and we are never trying to follow the status quo.
I know lots of creatives across many different industries that believe the way to make it is to latch onto or in some cases mimic current trends, which I don’t have a particular negative opinion on as I think it’s more about how you go about it. If you are truly able to create a “product” that aligns with current trends and you are also able to do this in a somewhat unique and captivating way, fair play to you!
In today’s environment of cancel culture and constant criticism, do you find being an artist more challenging? Do you feel the need to be cautious about certain topics to avoid backlash?
Absolutely. A classic example of this being the Russian band that I mentioned earlier, that we’ve had to essentially put on ice (indefinitely). There is no way we can continue working with them for fear of being criticized or as you say “canceled.” This is the world that we live in right now, and a world where one has to operate with a certain level of fear and trepidation. I will say though that in my mind, music will always possess the ability to heal and bring people together, and it’s up to us to want to pursue a path of harmony and well-being for each other.
Listen to “Sexy House Thang” here:
See the video for “Sexy House Thang” and Behind-the-Scenes footage below: