Tam’s Dancefloor Flashbacks: James Curd


If you’ve been paying attention for awhile then you know that the Roots & Future section of the Soul Clap Blog is a place where we share our version of dance music history. So in that spirit, today it is our honor and pleasure to kick off a new feature! You may remember a few months back over on thump, a story about how I love my virginity at a rave, and you probably asked the question, who would Eli feel comfortable enough telling this embarrassing story to? Well the answer is our long time friend and dancefloor buddy Tamara aka Tam Tam or Tam for short. Tam is an industry insider who, like us, started raving in the 90’s and more recently has been travelling the world collecting Dancefloor Flashbacks from some of her (and our) favorite DJs and producers and the best part is from now on we’ll be posting them exclusively here on the blog. So with out further ado let’s kick this party off with another Tam Dancefloor Flashback…

James Curd (Greenskeepers Music, Favored Nations)
Producer, DJ, Label-owner. Has released music on DFA, Permanent Vacation, Exploited, Eskimo, ETC ETC, Om & many more…

I’ve known James for 10 years, and helped to release his albums “Polo Club” and “Pleetch” when I worked at Om Records. I personally think that a Dj that doesn’t werk it in the booth can’t be trusted. James, is not one of those Dj’s. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching him perform – He’s got this tight back & forth jerky-dance style in-booth, that screams CHICAGO from all angles of the dance floor.

Tamara: How long have you been Djing again?
James: I mean, since 1995…so almost 20 years. Shit man, that’s longer than I’ve done anything else…I didn’t even go to school that long!

Everyone has the same story: You tell your parents you’re going one place…And then you go somewhere completely different. It was 1995. I was 15, living in Chicago and I was a skateboarder. And in the winter, if you skateboarded you were fucked. There’d be two feet of snow outside and nowhere to ride. But…I heard about a club called Medusa’s that had a half-pipe inside the venue. Only catch was, you had to be 17 to get in. Add to that, Chicago had a curfew for anyone 16 and under. I was like, ‘fuck that!’ I had a YMCA membership, and I knew a girl that worked there and I got her to make me a fake YMCA card that said I was 17.

Back then they would open the club to all ages from 6 – 10 PM and at 10:00, they’d kick everyone out, and make them line up again for the 17 & older crowd. The promoters liked having us there because we looked cool riding the half-pipe while people danced. I wasn’t even into the music at first, I just wanted to skate…But while I was there I heard people like Derrick Carter and Mark Farina, and I started to get into the sound. Pretty soon I started buying records (the only format you could find that style of music on back then) and I was hooked. I knew this local Dj who made really good mixtapes, Mark Almaria, and he basically taught me how to Dj.

I hadn’t Dj’d out yet, but one weekend a girl I knew invited me to an outdoor festival called “Even Further” in Wisconsin (and booked Daft Punk for the first time). I of course told my parents I was staying with a friend, hopped in her van (see photo) and we drove like, 8 hours to get there. It was a huge festival that lasted 24 hours for 2 days straight.

When we got there, I realized that outside each tent was a board with Dj names and timeslots. Basically, for the off-peak set times you could put your name on the list and Dj – So ridiculous! I’d like to see somebody try that shit now!

I walked into the first tent I saw, went to the booth and asked the Dj what I’d have to do to play. He said, “Dude, I’ve had to take a piss for 20 minutes…Next record, YOU’RE ON.” I ran back to the van, grabbed my milkcrate of records, and back to the nearly empty tent. I had just gotten this new record that I loved, Romanthony “The Wanderer.”
I put that record on…

And suddenly…Slowly at first, but then by the middle of the track my tent went from completely empty to about 400 people! It was crazy. It felt amazing. I started to really get into my set…And it was the best feeling in the world.

It turned out that in the crowd, were tons of promoters from Chicago, St. Louis, and other places in the Midwest. While I was playing, this promoter, Terry Martin, came up to me and said, ‘What’s your Dj name?” And I said, “Um…I don’t have one.” He said he wanted to book me to Dj at his next party.

A couple weeks later Terry met up with me to give me the flier for the first party I’d ever gotten booked to play, it was called “Submerge” (see image). The lineup was sick! Afrika Bambaataa, Miss Lady Kier from Deee-Lite, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, and Derrick May…And waaaaay down at the bottom of the lineup Terry had written, “And introducing fresh from planet Mars…Dj Jimminy Cricket” – The Dj name he’d given me.

And from there I just kept Djing. I was too young to get into most of the parties legally so promoters had to sneak me in.

J: It was a lucky, fortunate sequence of events.
T: You were fearless.
J: I mean, I really love it. How could I ever stop?