Derrick Carter is widely acknowledged as one of the best DJs in the world. With innovative productions, flawless technical skills and an effortlessly joyful attitude of rocking a crowd, his influence has infiltrated throughout the spectrum of dance music.
Although known as one of the key players of Chicago’s house music wave in the ’90s, Derrick Carter began DJ’ing at the age of nine, spinning disco records at family reunions. Raised in the western suburbs, Derrick was into music from a young age; during his teens Chicago’s house scene sucked him in for good and before long he became a strong presence in the city’s underground dance scene. “When I got my driver’s license at 16 my sneak ability was validated,” he laughs. “I was a fierce bedroom jock for a long time. After you mix for the love of it for six or seven years, you get it pretty tight and you can take it on the road.”
He got by working at dance-music specialty stores like Gramaphone and gigging at parties, later landing regular DJ stints at Shelter, Foxy’s, and Smart Bar; though he doesn’t often spin locally, his unannounced appearances at friends’ parties leave people queuing around the block.
Derrick’s sets are rooted in house, but he freely travels outside conformative club tastes, seamlessly incorporating old-school disco, soul, jazz, and whatever else catches his fancy to jack the beat and rock the party.
By refusing to accept conventional standards and instead choosing to simply do his own thing he has built a worldwide reputation as one of the underground pioneers, becoming a major celebrity among dance-music aficionados. “So many people come up to me and say, ‘Man, I had the worst day. My girlfriend left me, I locked my keys in my car, but you turned me for two hours, and that made me able to get up in the morning.’ That’s the best thing going.”
In 1988 Derrick, fellow DJ Mark Farina, and friend Chris Nazuka released an EP as the group Symbols & Instruments. The record had a strong influence on the burgeoning ambient techno movement in England. While it wasn’t a commercial success, it established Derrick as an international figure in the underground dance-music scene. Since then he’s been involved with a number of recording projects, firstly his solo project Sound Patrol under whom he released his first album ‘Sweetened -No Lemon’ which exuded a soulfulness and low-key grittiness that resonated beyond the infectious grooves and made a departure from the machine-like quality of the dance music fare of the time.
Since then the pioneering, innovative tracks and consequent critical acclaim have marked Derrick out as one of the most important players in dance music – most notably through his releases on Classic, the label he founded with Luke Solomon. Derrick’s first release was as Rednail with ‘I Think of You’, followed by ‘Nu Pschidt’ and ‘Hope’ under his own name. ‘Nü Pschidt’ combined woven scatting with sleepy minimal beats on ‘Dreaming Again’ and skillfully cast his own low, sexy drawl over his trademark Carter grooves to form ‘Boompty Boomp Theme’ – a name which has become synonymous with Derrick’s sound since his mom’s critique of his music reached the press!
Seminal EPs such as ‘Where U At?’ and albums ‘Squaredancing In A Round House’, alongside guest compilations for the best underground house labels have consolidated his standing as one of the legends of scene.