Chicago Files: Spirit of the Black 808


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Chicago Files 002

Episode two of our Chicago Files is a bit of an X-file. Last year Spirit of the Black 808 suddenly emerged from the depths of the electronic scene, but despite speculations the  true identity of this mysterious entity has yet to be revealed. These are the facts so far: Spirit of the Black 808 is 1. from Chicago. 2. responsible for some great records that were released on Chicago labels Synapsis, Eargasmic and Episodes last year and 3. the work of a seasoned veteran.

Can you tell us a little bit about the man behind the machine?

SB808: “Well, I can tell you I started this project for a few specific reasons. One is inspiration. I am really inspired from what I hear from Gifted & Blessed, Floating Points,  Flying Lotus, Archetype, the Detroit brothas and all the new Chicago guys. I especially love the fusion of sounds that hold no boundaries. All these guys are extremely artistic and talented without it being a farce. The second would be experimentation. I wanted to try an experiment that I have already seen done, where guys are using names for something they do not know about, such as a cold American city or color to showcase some sort of integrity.  I wanted to be the guy that does know about the places or people shown on the face of those record labels. Another reason is because I need a bit of sonic freedom to release music I would normally sit on. I have a vast catalog that continues to grow and it must be heard.”

As Spirit of the Black 808 you’ve released anything from jazzfunk inspired deep house to UR-style Detroit techno. What sort of stuff do you normally make?

SB808: “Under my original persona I create the deepest of deep techno, house, breaks and other sounds, but it is normally filed under deep house for some strange reason.”

Do you feel connected to the new generation of Chicago guys you just mentioned? Are you happy with the way the Chicago scene is developing right now?

“I do feel connected somewhat because of the nature of the imperfect sounds and freedom and roots style being created.  I think I’m happier now since everyone is getting better.  Before it was just super basic tracks that have been overdone for years.  Nothing fantastic.”

No one should get a free pass just because  they’re from Chicago.

“That includes myself.  The hype should be equal to the releases. Not over, not under.  I do love that these new guys have brought back excitement to the party scene.”

Are you planning on revealing your identity anytime soon?

SB808: “Maybe after the new Dirty Jointz record.”

When’s that one coming out? Do you have any other records planned these coming months?

SB808: “I am currently setting up a distribution deal to release the next Dirty Jointz on my own label SB808.  I have at least two ready to go but that should take about two months to arrive.  If any international labels are ready for me they can let me know if they want music.”

Is there any message you want to get out there?

SB808: “I really appreciate the support I’m receiving from people who enjoy music from other walks of life. Creative artist all over the world – put your artwork first.  Make your voices heard.”

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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.