In Conversation With: Todd Terry
Closing out our coverage of last month’s Ceremony Festival, our third and final interview was with legendary New York DJ and producer Todd Terry.
A key component of the East Coast house scene for the best part of 25 years and early purveyor of the hip-house sound, Todd is a prolific producer with a substantial back catalogue of solo material, collabs and an incredible 500 remixes to his name. Of those, his dancefloor sighted reworkings of The Jungle Brothers and Everything But The Girl are two of house music’s most successful crossover hits ever, the latter having sold over seven million copies.
More recently, Todd has hooked up with long-term friend DJ Sneak (who we also chatted to) and his I’m A House Gangster showcases and it was with that crew he was playing at Ceremony. We caught up with Todd shortly before his set to hear what he’s been up to this summer, his thoughts on grime and trap, and what House Gangster really means to him.
I heard you were coming over on the plane with Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, Jesse Rose.. Where were you coming from, Ibiza?
A plane of stars haha! It never happens, it’s always good hanging out with your peers, goofing around. It’s always funny.
Where were you playing there?
Sankeys, Glitterbox, Amnesia, Privilege, I’ve been playing everywhere this summer. I’ve been doing a residency at Redlight this year. The crowd’s cool – the best mixture of old school and new school. A school of House music, educating me even, we’re vibing with each other.
The lineup that night had Lethal Bizzle, Mat Jam Lamont, Preditah.. These are people you wouldn’t normally be on the bill with..
I mix it up too. I play new school House and old school House. It’s just Garage but slower. What was 127 bpm is now 124.
What do you think of grime?
I’m getting into it, I gotta learn shit just like they had to. I’ve been checking out loads of people, trying to keep up!
I heard recently Annie Mac calling Todd Edwards ‘Todd The God’. What do you say to that?
It’s fine you know! Todd can be a God too. He’s made some interesting stuff so it’s all good.
It’s my first time in Ibiza soon, any tips for a novice?
Try to go to three clubs a night, four is overdoing it but three is the sweet spot. You should go to Balafia, they do great lamb there. There’s so much good food there.
How’s your summer been this year? Obviously Ibiza’s been kicking off, how about London?
I was hanging out with Jesse Rose at fabric and we went to go see Derrick [Carter].. the whole summer has been good. I’ve been to Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, just rocking out. It’s been the biggest summer ever for me.
And how is your sound still being represented in the US itself?
People keep going back to the sound, I was lucky to be dead on to what they were appreciating so I could just keep coming back.
You’ve done a whole bunch of remixes in the past – do you know how many?
Yeah maybe 500 [!] My remix of Everything But The Girl – ‘Missing’ is my favourite. The song was already so powerful, I just added a beat and a bassline. It sold nearly 7 million copies. It put me in the ‘mainstream pot’, which was cool but I like that mixture off soft tune with hard beats. I’ve always felt that House music has both a radio and club feel simultaneously. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
“I’ve always felt that House music has both a radio and club feel simultaneously. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
I was listening through Todd Terry Presents Sax again the other, that one always seems to come back around. Is there any chance of that being revived?
Every five years we seem to put it back out again and it sells! Even vinyl-only. I always put my old stuff out again and again because there’s always kids who discover that sound for the first time.
How long have you been affiliated with Sneak and the House Gangster movement?
Me and Sneak have been dabbling with each other for twenty-odd years, he has a movement going that I’m down with. We all support each other, we’re always in the studio together. We’re like family.
Perhaps the House Gangster vibe can be misconstrued at times, but what’s it all about for you?
It’s about music and strength, for you to have your own power. It’s not no street game shit, just be creative with your music and be positive. But don’t go crazy cos’ Sneak will come and get you!
I hear you’ve even been getting into Trap lately?
I get into a little bit of anything. I’m the type of DJ Producer that doesn’t care what anyone says – I’m gonna do Drum & Bass, Trap, Pop, love songs. If you can produce something just do it you know. I’m still gonna produce house but sometimes I like to do other stuff just to free my mind.
Your set here [at Ceremony] is shortly. Any bangers in the bag we should know about?
I like to mix it up, I’ve got remixes, drumrolls, acapellas. I like to make a mess out of it.
And finally, where’s your favourite place to play in London?
Playing at Ministry maybe six months ago was really key for me, it brought me back to the real feeling with the kids appreciating it. Good to turn the clocks back thirty years and appreciate where it all came from.