Being known as an enigma to the international techno and house scene – releasing two outstanding EPs on his cousin’s Omar-S FXHE label – Big Strick is going to drop his trailblazing debut album „Detroit Heat“ on his own label 7 Days ENT soon. digitaldisqo got a chance to catch up with Motor City’s very own Leonard Strickland…
digitaldisqo: People may know you from your EPs on Omar-S’ FXHE label. According to the very little information that can be found about you on the internet – you’re his older cousin. Can you describe what growing up in Detroit was like and how you two got along in the early days?
Big Strick: Growing up was cool in Detroit I mean there was always something to do. He and I always got along fine. We spent a lot of time together at our Grandmother‘s house.
I would be getting ready to either be on my way to D.J. a party or just go party and he would call me ask “can I come a spend the night“ and he would be up all night working the 1200’s. This was like 1985-86 he was still to young to hit the party with us.
Detroit’s decaying industry sector and the mechanization of production seems to be an obligatory attempt at explaining why Techno became so huge in Detroit. Did you relate to those developments at all and do you think that they had an influence on your music as well? Because those points seem to be brought up by the first generation of Detroit producers, while the 2nd and 3rd generation does not seem to talk about them very much.
Well, I definitely can relate to the industry decline in the city but Detroit has always been known for it’s unique sound and raw talent so Techno was just another form of the city’s underground talent. My musical influences came from a range of sources from the early Motown sound to Parliament Funkadelic, Cybotron, and my father; he was a jazz man, you should see his collection! As far as the city‘s decline influencing my music I guess in a way it does because I am Detroit that‘s why there is a song on my album called State of Emergency because that’s what my city is in right now to this day.
When did you start producing your own tracks? Were you DJing before you got into producing?
Man I’ve been doing tracks for over twenty years! Some R’n’B, Hip-Hop but House is something that you never stop working on. I have an archive of old school joints but mostly pre-production work. I’ve been spinning since 1984-85 back then the turntable’s were Technics B-100’s. (laughing)
Listening to your EPs on FXHE and your album „Detroit Heat“, there are quite a few influences: Techno, Chicago house and a lot of Deep House from the late 80ies, early 90ies era. You have released two DJ mixes as well – both sticking to the years 1989 and 1992. What would you consider as your most important electronic music influences?
Yeah, those mixes! (laughing) Those are some old joints but Omar insisted that I put them out so there they went. I have a lot of mixes nowadays I’m working on the website www.detroitundergroundmusic.com , so in the near future they will be some on there as well as some on-line stations. Well at this point and time I would consider my most important influence to be my cousin Omar-S. He has me back feeling the groove and he has some hot shit!!! In the early 1990‘s I started a family, so I had to put my music on hold. But now I’m back and better than ever!! But outside of Omar I would say Africa Bambaataa and Kraftwerk just to name a few.
Any influences besides electronic music?
My father, my uncles, Bootsy Collins and a host of others. Too many to name.
Speaking of your album, which features 14 tracks: Have you recorded it in a specific period or is it a compilation of tracks recorded over a couple of years?
I worked on the CD I would say since after the release of the 100% Hustler release. So that os 2 years.
The whole album got that deep, dark but also very warm – very analoge – atmosphere. Is it all analogue? Do you use software?
Strickly analogue baby!!! I have some computer software but to me it just doesn’t sound the same. Not phatt enough.
What hardware do you use?
Ancient Chinese secret :)
Speaking of producing: You did use any samples, did you?
1 or 2 but that’s about it.
“Detroit Heat” will be the first release on your own label „7 days“. Any future releases planned yet? Are you going to release your own stuff only or do you consider releasing tracks from other artists too? If so – any new cats we have never heard of?
Most definetely I’m going to release some of the CD on vinyl first, then be looking out for the nile to flow from everything from new artist to some more of my long awaited collection. And I promise you – you will not be disappointed.
Apart from releasing music on your own label – any other plans on releasing music on other labels?
No direct plans, but it depends on what the future holds, who knows?
Are there any modern techno or house artists you’re listening to right now? Do you follow the international electronic music ‚scene’?
Oh yeah no doubt! I play my man Patrice Scott, who I’ve known for over 25 years, we used to throw gigs together in high school. Theo Parrish, Kyle Hall, Rick Wilhite whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for 25 years as well. And a host of others. Oh yeah, much respect to the International scene! I love different vibes that’s what‘s so beautiful about Dance music there’s no true barrier except bullshit music that clog up the air waves that makes it hard for the underground sound to flurrish. Too much commercial bullshit in the game not enough raw uncut, you know?
Any chances to see you playing in Europe this year?
Hey man it would be my pleasure working on booking so gig’s now. If any promoters are looking to book me, I can be reached at Bigstrick1@yahoo.com.
What are your favourite 5 house records of all time?
That’s a hard one! If your talking strickly house:
1. Mr. Fingers – Beyond the Clouds
2. Jack Master Funk – Aw Shucks
3. Phuture – Acid Tracks
4. Adonis – No way back
5. John Rocca – Want to be real
I just want to thank my creator for giving me the talent and Omar-S for giving me the chance. Thanks, PEACE !!!!