On Tour with Marshall Jefferson


Having produced the first house tune to use piano and then embark on "the first ever house-music tour" thirty years ago, Marshall Jefferson has more than earned his title as the "Father of House". He was part of the pioneering house and disco scene in Chicago, so it's no real surprise he's also responsible for one of the most iconic house tunes ever made, 'Move Your Body', that can still be heard pounding the dancefloor today.

So why all this talk of the Father of House? Well, he's going to be gracing the decks at no other than Seth Troxler's Acid Future, at Tobacco Docks, this Saturday 8th August. With a healthy serving of house, BBQ'd food and party vibes, it's one shindig Idle HQ can't wait to hit up.


Keep up to date on all of Marshall Jefferson's movements on his Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

What’s in your DJ bag?

Headphones, CDs and a charger for my phone because sometimes I video the crowd and it’s just a necessity nowadays.

What can’t you be without when you're touring?

My Computer. I like to make music sometimes and it helps to kill some time.

What do you listen to on the way to shows?

A big mixture but a lot of rock. I don’t listen to a lot of house music when I’m travelling becasuse that’s what I’m going to be playing and listening to for the next few hours in the clubs or wherever I’m playing. Just lots of alternative stuff.

What music are you listening to before you hit the decks to get inspired?

It’s mostly 70s stuff, 70s rock; Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath. Sometimes I listen to some 90s stuff but I just don’t think the drumming is up to par, it’s a lot heavier but it’s less dynamic than the 70s sound. They only do the hard styles but not the soft er stuff to break it up. They’re using their elbows rather than the wrists.

Best in-flight snack?

Shit, I’d have to say M&Ms peanut butter, I’m not a big fan of aeroplance food but I’m cool with it.

Best film for a long haul flight?

I liked Project Almanac a lot and Unfinished Business was ok, they’re the most recent ones I’ve watched.

Do you manage to sleep on a long flight?

Well I’m scared of flying so every flight for me is pretty terrifying! I’ve been scared of flying for 35 years or so now so every flight I get I can’t sleep.

Best thing about touring?

Oh god, I guess it has to be the girls. I mean, I don’t do anything anymore because I’m with my lovely girlfriend but the attention is always nice (laughing).

You guys are the modern rock stars so I’d imagine you get quite a lot of attention...

Well the Rolling Stones are getting about 60,000 people turn up and we’re getting about 5000 so it’s not quite the same but it’s definitely good enough!

Worse thing about touring? Not getting any?

Not getting any at my age ain’t a thing, I mean, shit, I’m getting on a bit so that stopped a while back! But the worse ting about touring just depends how you tour. I only spend one night everywhere so that’s pretty annoying because I’d like to spend a couple of months in these places but I’ve gotta move onto the next show pretty quickly. Most of the time I just see the ceiling of the hotel and the walls of the club.

What's a typical day like for you when you're touring?

I’ve gotta get to the airport at least 3 hours early. I get to the airport, walk about, do a bit of shopping. Then I catch the flight, I’m terrified, so have 2–4 hours of terror, I’m hating on the flight attendant’s jokes, you know “it’ll be alright”. I’m just thinking “oh fuck you” (laughing).

Then I get picked up and you have all the small talk with the drivers “are you looking forward to it” and I’m like “oh yeah can’t wait,” most of the time I have no idea where I’m even playing until I see the fucking sign outside. But I’m like “sure, I’ve been looking forward to this for months, even with the 30 gigs in between, I’ve been looking forward to this particular gig”.

Then they play some crappy-ass house that I pretend to be really into all the way to the hotel. Then I get to the hotel and they wanna go to dinner but I’m too knackered nowadays so I just sleep until the gig. Finish the day off and play the gig then go straight back to the hotel and sleep some more. Not very rock 'n' roll but I’m getting on a bit now!

Whats your routine when you get back home?

Fall face first into the bed, sleep, then eat.

You're playing Seth Troxler’s Acid Future, what are you looking forward to?

It’s always good hooking up with the other DJs, we always have a good laugh and they’re always really funny. It’s great to talk about your summer and what you’ve been up to. That’s what I like about playing these sorts of shows, it’s a bigger crowd, more energy and just a lot more fun.

I know some DJs say they prefer playing to bigger crowds, I could imagine David Guetta saying “I just played to 250,000 people but I’d rather play to 250”. Yeah sure you do, get real. Not me, it can’t come big enough.

Who’s the biggest character you’ve met on tour?

God, that’s hard, they’re all pretty funny. I’d probably say Derrick May, that’s my guy right there, he is so funny. I mean consistently funny, he just has me in stitches.

You’ve been around for 30 years now and you’re penned as the first guy to make piano house. How have you found it’s all changed in that time?

Those days we had a blank canvas and we could do whatever we wanted but nowadays things are more formatted. You’ve gotta have something that fits into this bracket or this style and we didn’t have that back then. Also, we used to play a lot more new music back then and I feel like people are far less innovative now because things are so formatted. It feels like today the scene is exactly the same as it was 5 years ago.

Have you had any touring nightmares?

I’m sure I have at some point but I can’t really think of anything major in my case. I always make sure I’m paid before I play so there’s nothing wrong there. I won’t even get on the plane before the money’s in my account! I guess there’s been some weird stuff like girls waiting in my hotel room and stuff, they’re saying they’re my wife to the hotel and getting themselves into my room. That’s not the worse thing in the world but you know, it’s pretty weird.

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