Footwork ambassador and all round gent DJ Rashad is a figurehead for the infectious, sample-flipping, BPM-blasting style.
Though 2010’s Planet Mu compilation Bangs & Works Vol.1 acted for many in the UK as an introduction to the sound, it was last year’s glorious solo LP Double Cup that cemented his position at the forefront of a wider movement. Through spates of humbled laughter and shout outs to his peers (Addison Groove, Mike Paradinas, DJ crew and state-of-mind Teklife; this one goes out to you), the man himself explains how saving to buy decks and breaching Chicago’s frenetic dance crews at age 12 led to operating within the apex of a genre’s trajectory. Here’s how DJ Rashad became footwork royalty.
1994: Meeting Teklife member and frequent collaborator DJ Spinn
I got involved with the house music scene at a young age. DJ Gant-Man and I used to do a Saturday morning radio show for teenagers called Soundwaves, we were 12, 13 at the time. I met Spinn officially in school but we were formally introduced in ’94 and he told me he was a DJ. I’m like ‘oh really? You a DJ huh? Let me hear some of your stuff.’ But he wasn’t a DJ at the time, back in the day people used to make tapes of other people’s tapes and I called him out on it. But after that I took him under my wing, showed him the ropes and we grew together.
1996: Joining Chicago dance crew House-O-Matics
Ronny Sloan from House-O-Matics, the president of the dance group that me, RP Boo and Spinn were in together, used to book us for these parties. Man, the parties was wild back in the day! We were so young though. A lot of these parties were successful but a few fights and shootings happened after the party, which made a lot of these spots close down, it sucks. But y’know, my main goal at that time was just to gain respect from the DJs that I admired so much; Chicago ghetto house pioneers that made me say, ‘oh shit, I have to get involved with this’.
2013: Release of Double Cup LP via Hyperdub
We met Kode9 at Boiler Room around 2011. From there he invited us to play a Hyperdub night, and from there he invited us to play Hyperdub radio. He was like ‘would you be interested in releasing some stuff for us?’ I was like ‘yeah!’ [laughs] Then, ‘do you want to do an LP?’ ‘Fuck yeah!’ I’m a big fan of Hyperdub, everybody over there is so safe and it’s an honour to hang out and collab with so many geniuses out there. For Double Cup I wanted to introduce the Teklife guys and do different takes on other genres that we like: trap, jungle, acid house. That’s why I called it Double Cup, because my first album was more uppity or hyper, and this one more relaxed, screwed up, like the drink.
September 2013: Forced to cancel European tour after debilitating car crash
I’m blessed to even be here today. Even though it wasn’t my fault it told me slow down, count your blessings, appreciate life and do what you got to do ‘cause you never know. The funny thing is I had no idea how serious it was until I left the hospital because I was so pumped up on drugs and shit! [laughs] I had a fractured hip and two bruised ribs and I’m like ‘I’ll be okay I can go on tour!’ Nah, that wasn’t happening, I had to sit down for a couple months. But I’m back and better than ever, feeling great!
Present Day: A figurehead for footwork’s wider movement
My proudest moment has been the intake on everybody else outside of Teklife that’s been doing footwork, such as artists like DJ Fulltone, Machinedrum, Addison Groove, Booty Call Records. Everybody who’s embracing it and not widening it but taking it and doing their own style with it and flippin’ it and making it go further. To see that happen and to see it grow is a feeling that I can’t even explain. To hear and see other people react and take it on, it feels good! As for Teklife, we’re busy. Everybody’s got something coming in 2014.