For more than three decades, DJ Spen has been a highly productive contributor to the world of club music, and in that time he’s seen his music come through top labels like Defected, Nervous Records, and Simma Black.
This year will see him and his team celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Quantize Recordings imprint, a label he’s built into an esteemed player in the house game, and one which has previously welcomed sounds from the likes of Carl Cox and Roland Clark.
We recently got the chance to chat with DJ Spen, where he spoke about his recent remix album ‘The Eye Of The Storm’, what he has in store for the Quantize anniversary, and how he thinks the scene has changed since the 80’s. Get the full discussion below.
Hey Spen, we hope things are good right now, what have you been up to this week so far?
I have been producing a record for Neil Peirce and Rhemi Productions. I have also been working on various projects for Quantize and Unquantize, one of which is a record by Geoffrey Cee which is called ‘This Is Hot (Yes Indeedy)’. Right now, I’m travelling back from Bognor Regis, UK, where I’ve just been playing at the Southport Weekender Festival.
You released a remix album at the beginning of the year, with edits coming from the likes of Kerri Chandler, Ralf GUM, and David Morales, how did you decide who would be on the release?
It was an easy thing to ask some of my favourite producers and remixer’s to be part of ‘Eye Of The Storm’. I managed to get Kerri Chandler, who I have been trying to work with for years, during the pandemic he had some time, as he usually travels a lot. David Morales is a no brainer, he’s just top of the game.
Actually, working with the likes of Roland Clark and Monique Bingham for the first time, it was just epic working on that song. It was all just pretty amazing, so deciding was easy. Reaching out to somebody like Ralf GUM who is one of my favourite producers was just what I was reaching for. The album also includes remixes from DJ Meme, DJ Spinna, Terry Hunter, Manoo, Mike Dunn, John Morales, Michael Gray, and many more, and every single one of them turned out to be something special.
The album came via your own Quantize Recordings imprint, where you have dropped productions from Roland Clark, Eddie Amador, and Carl Cox in the past, who might we see release on the label in the near future?
You’ll definitely hear more from singer songwriters, Tasha La Rae (Arrested Development) and Aaron K Gray. We are also looking to do more on our new Qu3 Recordings label, so you will hear records from the likes of Demuir, MDFC (which is one of Carl Cox’s aliases), and more. We’ve also got more music from Crystal Waters and more single’s from Teddy Douglas’ Philadelphia International project as well.
You’re celebrating the label’s 10th birthday this year, did you ever think you would hit such a milestone when you first launched Quantize?
When we first started Quantize, I envisioned that we were going to create something that was going to last a long time, so yeah this is just the first stop. I envisioned Quantize having a legacy like Motown, but with dance music.
And what do you have planned for the occasion?
We will be throwing several parties this year, the first one we just did last weekend which was Unquantize Your Mind in Baltimore. The Quantize Quintessential Soul Festival will be in September, and then we are going to be doing a big event in London on October 16th at Ministry of Sound, which will be a big part of our celebration, there are quite a few parties leading up to that event.
Among your own catalogue we have seen you sign tracks to Defected, Nervous Records, and Simma Black, will you be adding any other labels to the list in 2022?
Yes, I will be returning to Glitterbox with a record by The Absolute called ‘I Believe’ with Michele Chiavarini. I also have several projects with other labels, but the year is just beginning, so who knows how things will end up.
You’ve been DJing and releasing records since the 80’s, what’s something you miss about the early days of club music?
I think the biggest thing that I miss about the early days of club music is the fact that we had to physically go to a record store and spend time going through music, deciding what you’re gonna buy, versus what you’re not going to buy and find what it is that you want. These day’s it’s so easy to find what you want. I think I basically miss the hunt of figuring out which one’s I am going to purchase and play.
And one thing that you think has gotten better over the years?
I think that over the years the playing field has been levelled as far as DJ’ing is concerned. I like the fact that we all have the same tools to play with. The things that make us unique are our production skills and what we do with the tools in front of us. In the grand scheme of things, you can get the record you want, before only the elite DJ’s like David Morales or Louie Vega would have gotten records that myself and Thommy Davis just could not get, those things have changed immensely.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, is there anything else you would like to mention before we go?
The next releases we have coming up are various compilations that will focus on our 10th Year Anniversary. We have releases from Beloved, Gianni Junior, and Crystal Waters, as well as some new DJ Spen and Thommy Davis incoming.
DJ Spen – Eye Of The Storm is out now on Quantize Recordings.