Shonky Interviews Larry Heard, Delano Smith And The Martinez Brothers

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Real Tone Records recently dropped a nice little remix package for “Le Velour” by the French Berlin-based producer Shonky (also the man behind the imprint Apollonia). Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers, The Martinez Brothers and Delano Smith each turned out quality interpretations of Shonky's tune, receiving early support from talent like Damian Lazarus, Deetron, Soul Clap, Ellen Allien, Steve Bug and Jimpster to name but a few.

In celebration of the release, Shonky rounded up Larry Heard, Delano Smith and The Martinez Brothers and tossed out a couple of different questions to each of them. Insight given, artistry discussed. Enjoy the chat….

Shonky: When you were in your 20s, while creating music for the first time, what kind of music did you first intend to create? House (acid house, deep house…), that "new sound" or was it a different sound?

Larry Heard: I started off writing all kinds of styles until I did the "mystery of love" prototype in around '84 and so many people expressed that they liked it. Once I found out that DJ's playing around town were open to the idea of playing music off of tape that was not released and that was appropriate for the dancefloor setting, then there was a reason to focus on the dance genres. I re-listened to disco and early electro records that I had, even doing re-works of some to understand more about how they were constructed. The gear, or lack of gear for most of us played a role in the "rawness" of the creations.

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Mr. Fingers or Larry Heard? How should we interpret the difference between the Mr. Fingers or Larry Heard? Should we feel a different way when listening to the two?

Larry Heard: Looking back, I guess the Mr. Fingers name and other various monikers were used to hide behind initially since I didn't have a clue what I was doing and if the whole thing would turn out to be an embarrassment down the line. If the whole thing turned out to be a disaster, I could develop a case of amnesia if anyone asked about it. The varying names were also used to differentiate some of the more experimental or abstract stuff from the more straightforward things which the Mr. Fingers name was initially attached to. I just started using my own name with the Sceneries Not Songs - Vol. 1 release because the different monikers were getting a bit confusing to even myself after a while. I was following in the footsteps of James Brown and George Clinton with the different artist names for the same basic personnel performing.

I'm holding the vinyl right now in front of me and I'm so honored to have my name on the same vinyl as the legendary Larry Heard. I think I was about five years old when Larry released his first record! What a career! How about you guys, how old were you?

The Martinez Brothers: When Larry Heard released his first record, we probably weren't even an idea in our parents’ heads yet! But it’s definitely an honor to be on the same vinyl as himself as well as Delano and Shonky, who are great producers as well!

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"Le Velour" was my first release with Real Tone and now I'm working on a new project for Real Tone again. What's the relation between you guys and Real Tone? Is this remix you've produced the only project with Real Tone at the moment? And how would you feel if I asked you to remix my next project as well, which will be ready in the next six months, would that be ok?

TMB: It's funny because, us and the Real Tone guys have a similar background when it comes to music, we've known each other for a long time as we come from the same scene, which is more the traditional, soulful type house. So it’s great to see that we've all evolved in the same direction, and it's great to be working with them after all this time. Besides this remix, we also have an EP coming out with Real Tone, which I think will be out after the summer, and if you want us to get down on another mix for you, we'd be more than happy bro!

Right now when speaking about Delano Smith, people are under the impression that you are a new rising DJ/producer from Detroit that's attracting a lot of hype, but in fact this is not right, as you have been around for quite a long time. How do you feel about this? Why are the public led to believe this?

Delano Smith: True...I've been around DJing in the Detroit area for a very long time. Before house and techno even. It doesn't bother me really that people don't recognize that—it's up to me to see that they do, by having good DJ sets, good taste in music and producing decent tracks. It's all about hard work and the desire to be successful at what you choose to do in life. When people mention Detroit, the focus has always been on the Belleville 3, Moody or Carl Craig. That's ok... because they paved the way for us all, made Detroit a respectable place...musically.

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Sometimes in your DJ sets you play some vocal tracks. When will we be able to hear a vocal track produced by Delano Smith ? Or better yet, a track produced featuring vocals by Delano Smith?

Delano Smith: Well, it really depends on where I am in the world whether or not I play soulful/vocal tracks. In some markets, I don't play any vocal tracks. I actually did a vocal track on my album An Odyssey entitled "I Wonder" in which I did the vocals. I like to stick with what works for me though, should I be given the opportunity to produce a vocal track with someone else, I would surely consider it.