“I’ve been a vital part of house music since day one, that’s what keeps my heart beating, I’m in its DNA”
Interviewer: Marcus Barnes (Deep House London)
Rick Wilhite has dedicated his life to the music industry and whatever you wish to know about Wilhite is conveyed through his music. His skill set includes DJ sets of R&B, Hip-Hop, Techno and Reggae but his “mojo” is House and Disco. Born, raised and still residing in Detroit, Rick learned at an early age that a career in music takes more than playing your favourite records. Multi-faceted crowd control, sound engineering and creative party promotion are what make him more than a Detroit DJ. 20+ years of DJ’ing clubs and parties 24/7 makes him one of Detroit’s most skilled and experienced craftsmen of his generation.
Influenced by Detroit’s legendary pool of musicians he entered production studios at the early age of eleven. He began remixing records in 1986 with the group NASA. Through the years Wilhite has established a bond with fellow musicians Marcellus Pittman, Kenny Dixon Jr (aka Moodymann) and Theo Parrish. Together with the latter two he has formed the 3 Chairs. The supergroup has an unbeatable reputation with the in-crowd and connoisseurs of underground dance music. Their music and sets are as eclectic as the sum of the three artists seperately, and are in high demand with the more daring bookers that couldn’t care less about the current hype out there.
This Sunday, September 28th, Rick Wilhite will be playing for the returning Rush Hour night “Somewhere In Amsterdam”. Wilhite will be playing next to Jovonn (NYC) and Specter (Chicago). So expect to be schooled in the very roots of dance music. SIA isn’t just a place to dance, it’s also a cultural and culinary gathering, where guests can indulge in some fine cuisine while enjoying some lush grooves by the aforementioned gents.
In the run-up to the event we briefly caught up with Rick Wilhite and asked him about his hometown, which artists we need to keep our eyes on and his relation to the Rush Hour record store/imprint.
We’d like to begin by asking you about Rush Hour. Can you tell us about your relationship with Rush Hour first of all. How did you first connect with the outfit?
Outside of first coming to the record store when I visited Amsterdam, I met Christiaan Macdonald of RH at the time and soon we discussed putting out my first Vibes New and Rare Music Comp. At a party I played with Juan Atkins that Sunday I was in town, and i believe that I met Antal, the founder, and San Proper the night I played with them at Trouw when it first opened.
What does the label mean to you? Can you recall when you first heard of it?
A good balance of marketing and distribution. But since they have so many releases of different artists I can’t really recall when i first heard of the label.
Speaking of first times, can you also tell us about your early visits to Europe? What was it like to leave the US and spend time on our continent the first few times?
I’ve been traveling for a long time through sports & music and the hardest thing for me was finding a big enough bed to sleep and finding some good fish & chips, oh and i can’t leave out the Lift’s they are way too little haha.
Where are some of your favourite places to play in Europe?
So many to name, so I’ll just say whoever has turntables that are not humming with a sound engineer that knows about vinyl DJs so I don’t have to argue about DJing.
Have you made any new discoveries (club/city-wise) recently that have really impressed you?
New artists in Detroit: Jon Easley, Sean Tate, Raybone, TJ Dumas just to name a few.
How’s everything, music-wise, in Detroit these days? Where’s good to go partying?
Detroit, music- wise is like no other, since the 70’s Detroit has been the music Mecca and you have to visit to really understand. Words cannot describe it, only experience. I go to plenty of gigs in Detroit but I real give my own parties to make the D the place to be for Music!
And how about outside of music… As we know it’s a place that has been through some hard times – what’s the city like nowadays?
Detroit is and always will be my home so anything that is said negative about it really get’s at me bad, so as the city goes I go. But thankfull there are always new things happening in Detroit, I love it.
Who were your local heroes when you were coming up in Detroit?
Heroes- Electrifying Mojo, The Wizard aka Jeff Mills and Family rest his soul Joe Louis, And my parents, of course.
Who there inspires you nowadays?
My brothers The 3 Chairs keep me inspired
And how about worldwide, can you list a few of the house/techno artists who really inspire you with their music/DJing?
Worldwide: Osunlade, Joey Negro, Louie Vega, Glenn Underground, Kerri Chandler, Josh Milan, Franck Roger, Ralf Gum, Ron Trent, all of the Basement Boys Karizma, Spen, Thommy, Teddy Douglas. It’s more to name but this should be a good start…
You’re known for being able to turn your hand to spinning a variety of music, but what is it that keeps your heart beating for house?
I’ve been a vital part of this music since day one, that’s what keeps my heart beating, I’m in its DNA.
You’ve been DJing for over two decades, how does it feel to still be in demand?
The People keep me in Demand, you know when you hear me anytime.
What are your plans for the future? Any big ambitions/goals?
Plans are coming along, maybe another record store or invention coming along the way..
Please finish the sentence, ‘Without house music, I would…
..create it with my brothers Kenny & Theo, Josh, Glenn, Ron, Karizma, Omar s & D May!
Rick Wilhite | Jovonn | Specter |