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Jay Denham

Black Nation, Tresor

Jay Denham
Jay Denham

Jay Denham is one of the second generation Detroit techno pioneer - musician, dj artist and producer from Kalamazoo, Michigan - city right in the middle between Chicago and Detroit. His style is a unique blend of these two worlds - chicago house and detroit techno, with a kalamazoo thouch. He stays true to the underground, makes the music for the art of it and always remembers where he comes from.

 

Denham's solid musical background takes its roots in 70s, when little Jay opted for a four-string bass guitar over a six-string electric. By age 17, Jay has been playing high school party gigs with his rock band. During these teenage years, he developed a taste for punk and New Wave, though still influenced by funk acts like Rick James, Parliament, Cameo, Zapp, and later Prince and The Time, as well as by electronic music of Kraftwerk.

 

With the arrival of the 80s, Jay Denham moved on to the early detroit techno and further on to the chicago house, when he came across "Chicago Hot Mix" tapes and the revolutionary Farley Jackmaster Funk and the deep Frankie Knuckles. Immediately blown away by these new sounds, Jay started his pelgrimages to the Cradle of House music in search of records, religiously tape-recording the local radio shows he couldn't receive in his home town, Kalamazoo. A chance encounter with the legendary early House producer, Chip E inspired Jay to try to make this new music himself, and eventually to create his own sound.

 

The next significant encounter marked another step in Jay's career. At the Western Michigan University he befriended a certain Anthony Shakir, aka DJ Shake, who now runs Frictional records. Shake had a keyboard, Jay had a drum machine and it wasn't long before they were jamming together. Finally a breakthrough - full dedication, hard working and sacrifices payed off - Denham's early works captured the attention of Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson who released Jay's first EPs on Transmat off shoot label, Fragile and KMS label. The track "Rituals" which Jay released as Vice on the Techno 2 Next Generation album was quickly followed by the classic track, "Insync" released as Fade II Black.

 

The fruitful collaboration came to an end when growing stack of tracks eventually hit against the labels' limitations on releasing and Jay decided to go back home to his roots in Kalamazoo, where he worked with local producers and DJs, and continued to develop his unique sound.

 

In 1992, Jay Denham struck out on his own. He founded Black Nation Records and launched it with his seminal "Birth of a Nation" E.P. (allusion to the infamous and subversive Ku Klux Klan propaganda film of the same title), featuring tracks by Denham himself and as well as his colleagues - Fanon Flowers, Tony Ollie, Brett Dancer, and Chance McDermott. Black Nation's philosophy: driving underground grooves for the funk-conscious record buyer.

 

With the success of Black Nation relentless releases of pure Detroit techno, Jay was able to refine his sound to what he describes as the funky techno sound.

 

After a while Jay decided to set up shop in Munich, Germany, where he worked with a local label Disko B. The label gave him carte blanche to express his creativity beyond the sound he was know for at the time, which gave the world the classic album "Synthesized Society", #2 album of the year 2000 according to the Groove Magazine.

 

Moving on to the European scene Jay continued to develope his sound as a DJ. With more than Over 35 years of career, Jay is also well known for his dj skills, rocking 3 decks back in the day, performing at the Movement Detroit, Awakenings NL, Time Wrap music festivals, as well as at Tresor Berlin, Rote Sonne Munich, Lost London, Sonar, Time warp, Nature one, and many other clubs around the world with his brand of hot mixing.

 

Over the past two decades, Jay has recorded under aliases Blackman, Constant Ritual, Defenders Of The Ghetto, Fade To Black, Formula, The, Psychic Warfare, Que Sera Sera, and Vice, and has releases on numerous labels such as - Transmat, Fragile Records, KMS records, 430 West, Cosmic Records, Disko B, Federation Of Drums, Virgin 10 Records, Tresor Records, Cosmic recordings, Drought records, Parasound records, Sessions recordings, as well as on his own labels - Black Nation Records, sector 616 and slavery 2000.

 

The last few years Jay has concentrated on his productions with the release of several projects under the names Jay Denham - "Illustrate" E.P, "Jackulate" E.P, and Defenders of the ghetto - "Jump out boys" E.P, "Garden Of Eden" E.P.

 

Celebrating 20 years of the label, Black Nation Records is relaunched with D.G. Hubbard as its manager, promoting younger generation of artists like Billy Johnston & Gennaro Mastrantonio, Tony Kasper, Jody Molina, Ray Nicoles, DJ Nova, Means And Ends, Cisco Arias, Luis Rosario, to cite but a few. With this fresh start the label will focus on the development of this generation of techno artists to insure the future and forward progression of this great art form.

 

Jay Denham is currently working on his new album and about to take off to spread his art and love of djing all over the world.