Podcast 617: DJ Spinn
Footwork from the Teklife Head.
Podcast 617: DJ Spinn
Footwork from the Teklife Head.
It’s been a quiet few years for Morris Harper, the birth name of DJ Spinn. Alongside the late Rashad Harden (a.k.a DJ Rashad), who tragically passed away in April 2014, Harper began Ghettoteknitianz, a collective of like-minded producers which, in 2010, as the footwork sound was beginning to spill outside of Chicago’s boundaries, became Teklife, the now-global focal point for the footwork sound, with an extended family of artists positioned in all corners of the globe.
Harper has positioned himself at the helm of this expansion for over a decade, while also overseeing the Teklife label arm, launched in 2016 with a posthumous release of DJ Rashad. This doesn’t leave much capacity to release his own music, but the last few years have been especially quiet for Harper; he hasn’t shared anything new since two outings on Hyperdub in 2015. The loss of his debut album due to theft of course didn’t help, but Harper also required some time out to process Rashad’s death, the desperately unfortunate result of an accidental drug overdose. And, of course, there’s also his studio, which was broken into and emptied not too long ago—forcing him into a rebuild of sorts, which is now finally complete.
Alongside DJ Rashad, Spinn had contributed an XLR8R podcast, but this is his first solo effort, put together as a celebration of his latest effort. He compiled the mix in the wake of a Hyperdub showcase in London, and he’s filled it with unreleased and previously unheard solo cuts and many in collaboration with DJ Rashad. At one-hour in length, it’ a treat for footwork heads old and new.
What have you been up to recently?
Recently, I’ve been taking care of my business, you know, running a record label, and just keeping my head above water until the next releases were ready to come out.
How was your trip to London for the Hyperdub anniversary night?
The trip to London was awesome. I got to catch up with some of my closest friends out there, and we all had a ball. We killed the show. I didn’t get to see Scratch’s show as I had to catch a flight at 8am, but we all had a ball.
You’ve been off the grid for some time. Why the radio silence?
I had to basically take a sit down because my studio was broken into in 2017, so I had to get all my stuff back in order for the most part, when it comes to my recordings, and I had to take some time out to raise my kids so it wasn’t all bad.
What’s the story behind your new Hyperdub EP? Tell us about it.
The story behind my new Hyperdub EP, Da Life, is basically like me meeting a female at a show, getting to know her a little bit, taking her for a ride, she like the way I made her hot, and then at the end of it I have to ask her: Is you really about that? We’re from Chicago so I’m going to tell you that you aren’t about that life, but you gotta show me that you aren’t about that life.
When and where was the mix recorded?
The mix I did for XLR8R, I did it at the studio, the “Track Factory,” and I did it right after I got back from London. I was sick as a dog from sweating my ass off but I still got this boy done. I had to put something different together so I included a bunch of unreleased joints and lots of collaborations with me and DJ Rashad that I don’t think a lot of people have heard.
How did you choose the tracks that you included?
I wanted to do some hidden bangers that a lot of people ain’t heard.
How does it compare to what we’d hear you play in a club?
When I play in a club, I am going off the DJs playing before and after me. When I do mixes, I try to give people a lot of stuff they haven’t heard, so it’s very different.
What’s next on the horizon?
As Teklife, we are just working to keep promoting ourselves. We are working on shows for Chicago, Los Angeles, New York. I got another new EP that’s coming soon, and I’ll have that ready by the end of the year; and, other than that, I am staying in tune with the game and staying on top of the game.
01. DJ Rashad x DJ Spinn x Taso “Shine Box” (Unreleased)
02. DJ Rashad x DJ Manny “Over Ya Head” (Lit City Trax)
03. DJ Spinn “Freekin’ U” (Edit) (Unreleased)
04. DJ Rashad x DJ Gant-Man “Pullover Flip” (Unreleased)
05. DJ Gant-Man “Magic Werkz” (Unreleased)
06. DJ Spinn “Already” (Unreleased)
07. DJ Rashad x Chi Boogie “We Break It Down” (Juke Trax Online)
08. DJ Spinn x DJ Rashad “Manifest 13’” (Unreleased)
09. DJ Spinn x DJ Rashad “Take Her Shopping” (Unreleased)
10. DJ Spinn x Moondoctor “TekMoon” (Unreleased)
11. DJ Rashad x RP Boo “Burnin’ Everybody” (Unreleased)
12. DJ Spinn x DJ Rashad “Turn Up” (Unreleased)
13. DJ Spinn “Bang Bang Skeet Skeet” (Unreleased)
14. DJ Spinn “Knock A Patch Out” (Hyperdub)
15. DJ Spinn “The Future Is Now” (Hyperdub)
16. DJ Spinn “I Ain’t Playin’” (Unreleased)
17. DJ Rashad x DJ Gant-Man “Heaven Sent” (Planet Mu)
18. DJ Rashad “Here We Go” (Unreleased)
19. DJ Rashad “It’s Not Rite” (Planet Mu)
20. Dâm-Funk x Snoop Dogg “Do My Thang” (Teklife Remix) (Stones Throw)
21. DJ Rashad “8778” (Unreleased)
22. DJ Spinn x DJ Rashad x Taso “Consequences” (Unreleased)
23. DJ Spinn “Bootydoo” (Unreleased)
24. DJ Spinn “Feelin’ U” (Unreleased)
25. DJ Rashad x Freshmoon “All We Came To Do Is Party” (Unreleased)
26. DJ Rashad x DJ Spinn “Always Come Back” (Unreleased)
27. DJ Spinn “4 Da Ghetto” (Ghettophiles)
28. DJ Spinn “Make Her Hot” (Hyperdub)
29. DJ Rashad x DJ Spinn x Taso “She A Go” (Hyperdub)
30. The Era x DJ Spinn “Elevated” (Unreleased)