Artist Interview v.2
Where to Find Worship
Recent Music Releases
Nested off the Delaware Avenue waterfront, within the Fishtown area of Philadelphia, rhythmic bass-lines can be heard rattling the windows from outside of the venue. Once a month, Worship Recordings takes over this spot to throw the Shakedown, one of the longest running house music events in Philadelphia. Since its inception in 2002, the Shakedown has become a musical landmark for the house music connoisseur and is notorious for raising the air temperature of any venue to a, move your body, sweat your ass off and like it, level.
As early as I can remember traveling into Philadelphia to go out with my dance crew, I can recall attending the Shakedown. It’s where I got to know many of the friends I have today, met new dancers, practiced and of course heard great music. Part of my development as a dancer is attributed to being exposed to Worship Recordings. It was therefore my humble pleasure to be granted an interview with the guys who made the Shakedown possible and are indelibly a part of Philadelphia’s electronic dance music history.
Worship Recordings, as described in their company bio, “was established in the summer of 1998 by Rob Paine. The concept was simple at first: they just wanted to put out their own music their own way. After the first few releases it became clear that they had dropped in on a genre of house music that has slowly but surely come to fruition, now being labeled by the massive as "dub house". They knew they were not the first to use the influence of Jamaican reggae music as a foundation for their house productions, but they definitely wanted to continue to push it to new heights in both the house community and progressive reggae scene.
What started out as an in-house production label, Worship soon started to sign like- minded artists such as: Garth, Chris Udoh, Pete Moss, Solomonic Sound, Hakan Lidbo, Jay Tripwire and Grant Dell- just to name a few. Some Worship releases are more dub than house and vice versa - but all releases are pure quality. From the music’s production quality to the legendary KLH art work and right down to the packaging, Worship Recordings is never slacking. They continue to explore new methods of using reggae and house music side by side to reach lovers of both sounds and to unite them in the dance hall as ONE.”
CR: Let’s start with some introductions. What are your names, aliases and AKAs?
RP: Rob Paine is my real name, with production/remix aliases under Rob Paine, Solmonic Sound (House and Reggae), Trinity AllStars (with Halo & Hipp-e), Kidz on Christian Street (with Chris Udoh), Stick and Move (with Jon Gunshor) and Divine Conception (a house alter-ego of mine).
WP: Will Putney is my given name, aka Willyum (an old DJ name that stuck from the time when Tide boxes were worn on people’s backs :) and have done remix/production work under the Willyum & PhillySoulCollective aliases (PSC is with Carl Michaels and Jamie Johnson).
CR: Describe your style of music for the label/s.
RP: I would definitely put these four words in the description: Deep – House – Dub – Tech. Not in any particular order, one release might be more techno oriented while the next might be more housey- but all of those elements would be included for sure.
WP: Primarily deep house with a touch of funk and a sprinkle of dub here and there.
CR: Your label is well known for The Shakedown, a monthly House Music event in Philly. Can you tell us a little about that event?
RP & WP: We are quickly approaching our 10 year anniversary of the Shakedown, a monthly party (currently usually 2nd Saturdays at The Barbary in Philadelphia) started in March of 2002 at the old Silk City. When we started the party it was intended as a Worship monthly event, one where we could promote the label and all DJ together. Another passion of ours that we quickly integrated into the monthly (out of necessity) was that the party should be built around a quality sound system. So many of the clubs here just sounded plain bad! Therefore we wanted to take control of that aspect and ensure the dancers and club goers a top notch sound experience. When the party gained steam so did our ideas to grow it, so at that point we came up with a vision to start a new sub-label of Worship called Shakedown, a little more on the jazzy/funky side of the genre, and basically have a ‘raise the EP’ party each month where the label’s artists would come play the event. We pulled this off a few times, but with the death of the vinyl industry and the explosion of the digital download age (which brought a flood of new labels) we felt the need to more laser focus on just one primary label/brand and at the same time open the scope of the Worship label’s sound more. The Shakedown sub-label faded away, but of course the party remained and we opened up the sound system and DJ booth to a wide range of the DJs/artists in the underground house scene that we both really respected and played at our other gigs- the makers of the tracks we prefer as DJs.
Shakedown at the Barbery
CR: What other events do you put on?
RP: I wish we didn’t do any so we could just focus on our studio productions but we can’t just sit around waiting for something to happen, especially since we are very particular about the production quality and energy of our events. I am also very active under the Solomonic Sound name in the reggae and dub communities here in Philadelphia. We have our monthly first Wednesday at Silk City called Session and a weekly roots & culture night @ Kraftwork called Livity. We also put on up to 5 one-off concerts per year and I work together with Electric Factory Concerts to bring in some of the bigger acts like Damian Marley & Nas this past month. I am also involved in the Bass Culture events we started back in 2008, which focuses more on dub, dubstep (the original dubstep. Not brostep!) & dancehall. We also hold down a monthly residency at Eric Hilton’s (Thievery Corporation) club Patty Boom Boom in DC every 3rd Saturday of the month which has been going extremely well. Will also touches on some other events below I am involved with.
WP: I don’t really put on any other events on the regular anymore besides the monthly Shakedown, but we have put together a couple ‘Shakedown Live’ parties as well- last one was in May of 2011 with local Philly live acts Prowler and Pink Skull. We also did one a few years back with Lady Alma live, who is always a treat see and hear. I also DJ and host a weekly internet radio show called ‘SoulGlow Radio’ now– every Thursday from 6-9pm ET on DeepHouseLounge.com
CR: You just dropped some new tracks. Tell me about them.
RP: Yes we are extremely excited to get the label back in a forward motion. I took some time off to get a family started with my wife so the one aspect in my career that suffered was the label and my productions. I didn’t completely stop producing. It was just more remixing for other labels and reggae production & engineering for other people. Had to pay the bills! The newest release slotted for a September 26th release date is by myself and Sean Oneal (aka Someone Else) entitled Blazin’.
This 5 track EP brings back that signature Worship sound that is very much the sound of today’s tech house scene with some dub elements mixed in. Sean & I work very well in the studio together. The only thing that kept it on hold for a bit was that he lives in Berlin and I in Philly. You can definitely hear both of our influences clearly on this EP. We kept it in the family and had Philly native Jay Haze touch it with a proper tech house remix from down in Peru. Sean Thomas sealed up the project perfectly with a super deep Drumsong remix that goes straight to the head. Also, be on the lookout for another EP I did with long time bredren Charles Lazarus & my favorite Philly female diva Lady Alma. We are looking at a release date of Nov 1st for that one. There are a few other releases on the board for Worship but I am not going to spoil all the surprises yet!
WP: I’ve recently released some remixes on DJ Dennis’ Selekta Recordings label with Jesse Merlin and PhillySoulCollective:
I also have plans to compete a solo EP for the label, with one track already finished and waiting.
In addition to the Selekta remixes, I’ve recently released a remix of Persons of Interest’s “Drumline” on the Warmth label which is available at: https://www.stompy.com/wp/Ep/238979.
Carl and Jamie of Persons of Interest worked on it with me under our PhillySoulCollective moniker. I’m also very excited to work with Jesse again in the very near future on a remix for an upcoming Worship release. It’s a great original so the remix should be a pleasure to work on.
CR: You have brought in some amazing talent into Philadelphia. Can you list some of the artists who have played at the Shakedown and other events you have put on?
RP: Garth, Jay J, Josh Wink, Johnny Fiasco, Chuck Love, Joey Youngman (aka Wolfgang Gartner), Pete Moss, Rich Medina, Dubtribe, Lady Alma, Fort Knox Five, Jazzanova, Heather, Demarkus Lewis, Halo, Hipp-e, JT Donaldson, Kevin Yost, Jay Tripwire, Mazi, MKL, Fred Everything, Someone Else, Jon Howard, Onionz, Robbie Hardkiss, Joshua, etc etc etc & a slew of amazing local DJ’s that we always get in the rotation.
For a full listing visit: http://www.worshiprecs.com/events/archives
WP: Some of my favorite personal legends to grace the decks at the Shakedown include: Mark Farina, RaSoul, Rithma, Garth, Jay-J, Hipp-E, Halo, John Howard, JT Donaldson, Fred Everything, Rithma, Joey Youngman (now aka Wolfgang Gartner), Chuck Love, Joshua Iz, Dubtribe, Johnny Fiasco, Jay Tripwire, DJ Buck, Demarkus Lewis, Andy Compton of The Rurals – these are all guys who totally shaped my ear and DJ style with their productions and labels. I’m sure there are a slew of other guys I am forgetting unfortunately- no disrespect of course! I can’t forget to mention all the local Philadelphia DJs/artists as well, again too many to mention, but all have been good friends and mentors over the years- not to mention very talented as DJs and producers!
CR: Can you describe the local scene you play for in Philadelphia? Has it changed over time? How?
RP & WP: It’s always changing really. We’ve been DJing in Philly for a collective 34 years now, so there are relatively very few people from our very first initial years DJing that come out as “regulars” anymore. We certainly are super blessed to have our core Shakedown crew, who have been there since day 1 through this 10 year journey- we can’t thank them enough, and can’t stress enough how the party would be nothing without them- but you definitely start to see faces less and less on the regular out and about as the years go by, for good reasons mainly: career, family, other life goals. But at the same time, new fresh faces do appear and plug in these gaps. House music has a nice sort of ongoing community like that. We are always pretty sure we can expect about a 200+ person Shakedown these days.
CR: How about you two personally? What got you both into DJing and producing? When?
RP: I DJed on a radio show in 1990 at my first college, where I majored in music. My plan wasn’t to DJ but it has always been to engineer & produce. I started messing around with my buddy Jon Gunshor’s set up. He and I grew up in this culture together since day one. When another friend dropped off two turntables and a mixer to my house is when I feel it really started for me. I started buying my own records and then had my first gig outside house parties in 1993. From 1993 until 1996 I spent building my own studio and by 1997 had two releases out: an original on a label Jon and I started called Vurt Audio and a remix I did for Hollis P Monroe aka ‘DJ Decent’ on Stickmen Records. In 1998 I started Worship Recordings. During this time I was Djing out at least 3x’s a week and traveling 3 out of 4 weekends a month on gigs, as well as producing events with my crew Circle Productions, sometimes on a very large scale. The experiences I had in these early years of my career and my passion for the music is why I still do what I do and I feel have constantly found a way to reinvent myself and stay current while staying true myself & others.
WP: I was always a music fanatic, right from the cradle, and listened to a wide variety of music from classic rock to Motown to reggae growing up as a child. Music was and still is a daily constant in my life. I can’t go a day without it- no chance. I stumbled upon electronica when I was in high school and was instantly mesmerized by its unique sound and by the way the DJ would manipulate and blend the music. Hearing seamless sets by guys like King Britt and Josh Wink back in the early 90’s made me determined to learn how to do it myself, so I pieced together some totally bare bones turntables and a cheap Radio Shack mixer in my childhood bedroom, made trips to the city to find some 12” records and just hunkered down and experimented. I had no clue what I was doing, but I knew it would change my life forever. Getting into production and remix work was just sort of a natural progression for me as I grew my DJ career into a full time thing all through my 20’s. I was DJing about 3-4 nights a week, working as house music buyer for 611 Records and as label manager for Worship Recordings. While working for the label at the Worship Studio, Rob was kind enough to show me around and allowed me to explore it on my own and that totally expanded and enhanced my knowledge and passion for the music and how it is created.
CR: What drives you both to continue mixing and making music? What inspires you and influences you?
RP: I believe I covered that in the last questions answer psychically knowing that you were going here on this question. I still get excited about music and its healing powers every day. It almost feels like it gets even better every day. I do not find it hard to stay inspired. I also feel that because I am active in both house music & reggae scenes that it makes it hard to get burnt out.
WP: I guess on one level it’s just still a rush, plain and simple. To play for a couple hundred of people all enjoying and getting down to the sounds you select is quite the feeling!
Also, it really is a family affair at this point, when it comes to our monthly Shakedown at least- and that is very inspirational and personally almost vital to me. From Rob, Andrew, Jahkey and the rest of the crew that helps us put on the night start to finish, to all our friends who come out to enjoy the music and the vibe of the crowd, they really all are extended family to me and mean so much to me. Also, in a broader sense, I suppose I would like to leave some sort of musical legacy behind- to give back- as music has always been such a crucial and moving thing in my life. It feels very satisfying to be a part of Philadelphia’s music history in a small sense, to be someone who contributed something to enhance and expand the musical culture here.
CR: How do you feel about the trends in overall electronic music today? How about in regards to the genres you play and produce?
RP: Better than ever. I enjoy all genres of electronic music to a certain point, especially the live production side of the business. I enjoy seeing & hearing technology at work. But I never get bored or annoyed with the genres that I produce and DJ. It is good to see DJ culture really break into the main stream.
WP: I think it is great that electronic music has evolved and expanded over the years and generations- that is what is going to keep the culture alive and fresh for sure, and who wouldn’t want that? But, for me personally, house is always the sound that I identified with and I think over the course of the 15+ years I’ve been listening and playing it the genre has stayed essentially the same. Yes, certain sounds, production techniques, sub-genres and whatnot have become trendy here and there, but to me house is a classic genre, and for good reason: it’s simply simple, good music that moves the body and the soul.
CR: What are some of your favorite artists to listen to?
RP: I can never answer this question so I am passing on this one. How about I tell you what I was listening to today? Promo’s & mixes of tunes I am working on at the moment. I know. Boring. Sorry.
WP: I’ll take it then ;) In terms of house/electronica some standouts include: Mark Farina, JT Donaldson, Fred Everything, Jimpster, Chez Damier, Joshua Iz, Lawnchair Generals, Inland Knights, Vernon & Dacosta, Da Sunlounge, Miguel Migs - but again, it’s so hard to choose who makes this list! There are so many talented producers out there and part of what I really like about house music is that you can often find a track you love, that you think is perfectly produced to your taste, by someone you have never heard of before. These days when I listen to music to relax or hang out, I usually will be listening to more classic/indie rock. My all-time favorite artist is David Bowie, no doubt- I grew up with his music from almost day one of life and I’ve seen him over 30 times live since my first show in 1987. I’ve also been a big Beatles fan about 35 years now- they are truly the greatest band ever in my eyes, and the ‘Revolver’ LP was the first piece of vinyl I touched at about 2 years old. Big mistake for my father’s record collection! My iPod is so varied these days. It all just depends on my mood. I am definitely a self-confessed music hoarder. I’ll listen to anything really and find something, some element that deeply touches me.
CR: Any shout outs to people?
RP: RP: My wife Kelly and our seed growing in her belly, my son & daughter, my pops who is turning 70 this month and everyone that has enjoyed our works for the past 20 years.
WP: It would be way too difficult to name specific names, and the list would be way too long. I feel truly and deeply blessed to have such an incredibly positive, strong, loving and creative bunch of friends and family. I would be absolutely nothing without all of them and I thank each and every one for being there for me and for being a special part of my life. I know I can be a handful sometimes- I just hope that I have touched them in a fraction of the way that they have impacted my life and who I am to this day.
CR: Which are better: Legos or Lincoln Logs?
RP: Lincoln Logs
WP: Man- Tough question… but you have to go with Legos- right? They went from medieval times to the space age in seconds flat, and every point in between- just like all of our imaginations can when our minds are boundary free and inspired to create, and that’s a blissful feeling for sure.