Chicago Files:The return of DJ Skull

DJ Skull

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He’s been one of the true heroes of Chicago house music ever since he burst on the scene in the early nineties and achieved cult status with a series of now classic EP’s on the infamous Djax-Up-Beats label, but in the new century little was heard from Ron Maney alias DJ Skull. Well, he’s back! Maney’s just released a fifteen track album and two EP’s and introduced a new group called Skybox (with fellow former Djax-Up-Beats recording artist Terrance McDonald, aka DJ Metal X), all in the first two weeks of 2014. This will no doubt be Maney’s year. 

DJ Skull – The Graveyard Orchestra

You’ve gained notoriety with classics like ‘Stomping Grounds’, ‘Graveyard Orchestra’ and ‘Acid Wiss L’ and a handful of other records on Djax-Up-Beats and Majesty in the nineties, but over the last ten years your releases have been few and far between. What happened?

DJ Skull: “I guess over the last ten years I started to focus on learning. You have to remember I started producing at an early age. I was basically getting my act together. Reading, building PC’s. Least to say always making music.”

Did you get fed up with the whole thing or was it somehow more difficult to get your stuff out on vinyl in the new millennium?

DJ Skull: “I guess you asked the right thing. Yes, it did get too cheesy at one point. I felt a need to grow. When you don’t like a situation you best remove yourself from it.”

“I knew the scene would not make it from just twisting knobs or playing samples. I’m not knocking anyone, but you have to be an artist. I could have still put out loads of BS over the last ten years, but I wanted to get my act together.”

Is the situation better now?

DJ Skull: “Well, I think the music is much better now. I hear music that makes me want to make music. As far as new releases, last year was like a wakeup call. I was going to really kick it off in 2012. I put out the Chi Life EP on Wax Candy Records and it went well. I spent some time rehearsing with a band just to kind of brainstorm. I felt I was ready to go when I got a call from my sister that I lost my mother. I was so down and I didn’t want to put out anything that would reflect that, so I just started to practice keyboard alone. Last year I got a call from Roy Davis Jr. and he was like ‘what you got?’ Those are big words and I knew what he meant. He gave me a remix of him and Robert Owens and I’ve been recording ever since.”

DJ Skull -Chi Life EP

What can we expect for this new year?

DJ Skull: “The new EP on Sect Records called ‘Dark Knight‘ will come out next week. I have a digital project that is out now called ‘Chi Life: Live Project’ because I did all tracks in one day. Then there’s a double EP of my group Skybox. Next up will be ‘DJ Skull – The Heavy Thinker’. The rest is a surprise, but there’s plenty more music for this year.”

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Rogier Oostlander

Rogier Oostlander is the former editor-in-chief of Bassic Groove Magazine, one of the first magazines worldwide dedicated to house music culture in the early nineties. He now works as a record dealer and copywriter in Haarlem, the Netherlands.