One of house music’s most definitive characters, Terry Hunter, still packs a punch
Born and raised in Chicago, Terry has lit up dancefloors across the world with his distinct soul-infused house sound. Having remixed everyone from Kanye West to Janet Jackson, the guy is in high demand. His imprints T’s Box and T’s Crates saw a slew of soulful house releases throughout the year, culminating in one of 2016’s best soulful house releases, The Remixes, where he remixed tracks from neo-soul legend Jill Scott’s latest album.
We had the absolute pleasure of catching up with Terry ahead of his set for Groove Odyssey at Ministry of Sound on 25th March, and here’s what went down.
You were born and raised in South Chicago – the home of house music. What age were you when house music really started to kick off there?
I was about 10 years or so when I got introduced to House Music.
Who were the first house DJs you really looked up to?
The first DJ I ever heard live as a kid was Frankie Knuckles & right after that DJ Brett Morrison from Chicago. After seeing the both of them it change my life from that moment I knew I wanted to do music.
Your father owned a bar and used to DJ, right? – What kind of music did he used to play?
Yes, he owned a small bar called the family lounge on the west side of Chicago. He wasn't a traditional DJ, mixing & blending records, he was more of a selector. He played all kinds of music Soul, Funk Disco & Blues.
Did your father teach you how to DJ?
No, he didn't teach me he had no idea at the time that I was interested in DJing but he knew I loved music. I learned from Brett Morrison. He was DJing at my aunts house for my cousin's birthday party and after I asked him to show me, and he did. From that point I was at his house almost everyday learning and practicing.
What did you first learn to play on?
I had to earn my way, so my father had some very old record players that didn't even have a pitch control on them... it was the old records player where you sat the record on top & hit had to doing around to make the record drop on the platter. I got creative & removed that stem & replaced with a pencil that I had cut small that would fit in the whole. You get creative when your young & have no money.
Now you’ve played in London quite a bit, how does the house scene in London compare to that of Chicago?
I love London, it's a home away from home, London is more dance music based meaning there are magazine companies, PR companies and of course the club catering for House music is huge! In Chicago we don't have the press outlets like London does, but the culture started in Chicago and the house music scene is way of life for some. Musically both places are strong & thriving in my opinion.
As well as DJing, you founded and run your own label, T’s Box – can you tell us a little bit about why you started T's Box?
I started T's Box in the beginning with my then partner George Andros AKA Georgie Porgie. It was time for me to take the next step in my career and really get in the business. I wanted to start a label for music that I thought was missing at the time.
You recently did Jill Scott’s remixes that totally blew up on Traxsource – how did this come about?
Jill's manager contacted Wayne Williams because she wanted to get proper remixes done on her latest album & they agreed that I would be the person to do it. It started off as one song; "Can't Wait" and we end up doing three more. One of them, myself and Mike Dunn did under our House N' HD name, so it was a great remix package. It's an official one and I'm proud of that.
What other upcoming projects can we look out for on ‘T’s Box’?
I'm working on a EP titled Imagine No Music which is also the title of my weekly radio show on www.housefm.net every Friday night. Also a House N' HD album, a Chantay Savage project, and a new Terisa Griffin record. Also The original demo of Grammy Nominated single "It's Your World Jennifer Hudson. Song was written & sung by R Kelly. Also Mya remixes songs from Kelly G, Ron Carroll, Salah Anaze to name a few.
You’re returning to London in March, when you’ll be joined by the incredible Julie McKnight and DJ Spinna. Now I heard you worked with Julie McKnight in the past – how far back does your relationship go?
Yes I'm looking forward to playing Ministry of Sound for Groove Odyssey on 25th March. Julie and I met some years ago, but we never actually worked together. We always talked about it, I think we need to make that happen. Trust and believe when I see her in London we're going to have that conversation again and I believe it will happen this year... right, Julie, I know you reading this!
If you can describe your music in three words, what would they be?
Something you feel!