Paul and Al Farrier, the guys behind Shadow Dancer, explain why they see comparisons between Chi-town and their home city of Manchester UK.
What does Chicago mean to you?
Al: Chicago is one of my favourite cities. As a kid growing up in the UK I only knew it through films like The Untouchables and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Then as a teenager listening to the sounds of Ron Trent and Phuture I discovered another side to the city. When I was finally able to go, I loved the city itself and I was made to feel so welcome by the people there. It being the 'Second City', I feel it has a bit of a connection with Manchester in the UK especially in terms of the sense of pride Chicagoans have, so it kind of feels like a home from home.
Paul: Having only visited the city briefly (as in for less than 24 hours), I can't form a true impression of the place. I will say that I get kind of "homesick" for Europe and - especially - the UK when visiting the US but, in Chicago, I felt a lot more at home. There's something about the architecture, the atmosphere and - of course - the weather that seemed very comforting. In terms of music, it means a great deal to me. As teenagers, we started listening to these fantastic records from Relief, Trax, Armando, Phuture, Larry Heard, Ron Trent, etc, without necessarily knowing that they all originated from this one place. Those labels have influenced us hugely, so I guess Chicago itself has too.
What's your favourite Chicago house track, and why?
Al: Mr. Fingers - Can You Feel It. It's not just my favourite Chicago house track, but one of my favourite tracks ever. Makes me want to dance and cry at the same time.
Paul: 'Can You Feel It' by Mr. Fingers. I still remember the first time I heard it, and it still gives me the same sensation when I listen to it now. A joyful, melancholy, perfectly-structured, beautiful track, and one of my all-time favourite pieces of music, electronic or otherwise.
How has the sound of Chicago influenced you, and shaped your output?
Al: You can hear the DNA of Chicago house in our new EP, Second City. Just check out the jacking beats and basslines of the title track and Jamma. And the title!
Paul: There's a rhythmic element to Chicago House that's instantly identifiable, a "swing" and spacing of sounds that have always fascinated me because it's so easy to get it wrong. Some of our stuff, like 'Silver' or 'It's The Everything' a hugely influenced by the Chicago sound. Other times we're more subtle. Whether it's a more soulful, melodic house record or raw, jacking track, there's always a definite human "feel" to Chicago tunes, as opposed to a robotic, machine-driven plod.
Do you have a favourite Chicago label or DJ?
Al: It has to be Trax (predictable, sorry!) Favourite DJ/producer is Green Velvet - we probably spin at least one of his tracks every time we DJ!
Paul: Trax. Simply because they provided my introduction to the music, and - for me - their output defines it. If someone wanted a starter course in Chicago House, I'd just recommend they look into the Trax back catalogue. My favourite contemporary producer from the city is Gianpaolo Dieli, who records under the name Savile. His output is consistently astonishing.
What's your favourite story about the city?
Al: Over a hundred years ago the city changed the flow of the river that runs through it. I can't remember why they did it, but that sums up the innovation and off the wall thinking of Chicagoans that led to things like 'Acid Trax'.