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Frankie Knuckles, Derrick Carter, Ron Carroll, Ron Hardy, Steve Silk Hurley.
Chicago has produced its share of deejaying and production talent. Now, to add to the ever-growing list of House Music mix masters, is DJ/Producer Leonard Part Sixx!
From his talents as remixer on artists such as Linda Clifford, Question, and Sean Smith to his weekly Heart & Soul parties and his weekly radio mixes on WCRX & WKKC, Leonard has been able to reach a new generation of dance music lovers, while staying true to the foundations of Black Underground Dance Music. I like to think that my mixes keep the musical vision of an artist intact, but also helps give it a new life of its own, through the positive energy that I put into it, Part Sixx said. While his mixing style is geared towards todays Deep House Music scene, his musical roots goes much deeper.
His uncle, Rudolph Browner, was a songwriter for local R&B legend Garland Green. I was around musicians all my life. He made it a point to make music a part of my life. My grandmother was a big Jazz buff, so I developed my love for the art of free musical expression," he said. While attending Chicagos Mendel Catholic Prep, Leonard caught the D.J. bug. Life began for me at the sight of two turntables & a mixer. It was a mind-altering experience. And going to clubs like the Warehouse and the Music Box opened up my world to underground dance music and its culture, he said. At that point, deejaying became his obsession. He did what he could to raise money for equipment, from shoveling snow to mowing lawns. He was about to dip into his college fund, when his mom came to the rescue & gave him her own money to purchase his equipment.
Self-taught to spin, he jumped into it with both turntables at hand. He began spinning anywhere he could, from high school functions to private parties & such. Some of my first parties I thought sucked, but I enjoyed watching the people dance to my music. It was audio magic & I was The Magician, he said. While playing at a private party, Leonard met one of the top local club jocks of that time, the late Michael McNeal, who spun at some of Chicagos underground Gay dance clubs, such as The Bitter End, Carols Speakeasy and the Music Box. Quickly recognizing his potential, he took Leonard on as his protégée, as well as becoming his best friend. Michael was my big brother. He not only taught me about the basics of turntabling, but of life. I considered him family, he said.
He introduced Leonard to underground club life. Some of my all-time favorite dance songs were, First Choices Let No Man Put Asunder, Black Ivorys Mainline, & Loose Joints Is It All Over My Face? These songs were part of the fabric of House Music and became staples in my repertoire, he said. In the late 80s, while attending Northern Illinois University, he began spinning at some of the local clubs, as well as doing mixes for the universitys radio station.
A fan of Leonards, who also was a musician, invited him to a recording session at a local studio. That ignited his love of studio mixing. While I loved deejaying & still do, theres only so much you can do with two turntables & a mixer. So, when I went to my first recording session, I fell in love with the art of studio mixing. Thats when I realized that this is what I wanted to do, he said.
After transferring to Columbia College, he continued spinning part-time and devoted most of his time developing his mixing skills. He studied music theory while attending Columbia. And that knowledge came in handy when he re-edited a song by the group, Magnum Force, called Cool Out. He remembered, One of my teachers, who was the producer of the song, played it in class to explain how a full production was done, step by step. And I got it in my mind to do a re-edit, to make it more club-friendly. After finishing the re-edit, I submitted it to him & the group & they adopted some of my ideas on a re-mix of the song.
As Leonard continued to further his exploration of the remixing world, he began learning to program synthesizers & samplers. Hip-Hop was making headway as the hot new music form. It caught Leonards attention, too. I started going to hip-hop parties at the Blue Gargoyle, a coffee house run by the University of Chicago. I met Geoffrey Watts, a/k/a Dr. Groove, who was the first to start an independent hip-hop label in Chicago, called Rap Army Records. I enjoyed the freedom of musical & lyrical expression that was happening that that time, Leonard said.
Through Dr. Groove, Leonard got his first engineering job at B.M. Recording Studio, on Chicagos South Side. One of my first sessions was with a new rap group called C.D.R., featuring a writer & MC called Common Sense, now known as Common, he said. He was gaining a following within the local scene, due to his magic touch on hip-hop and house.
Adventures in the recording studio led Leonard west to Los Angeles. While there, he redefined his mixing style. He arrived as West Coast Hip-Hop was coming into its own. He cut his teeth on engineering & programming for numerous groups such as C.O.D., Arabian Prince & others. When his grandmother became ill, Leonard returned to Chicago. I missed Chicago, but by this time, the music scene had changed. House became worldwide and Chicago was left behind. I was getting calls from R&B and hip-hop producers for work. I worked on remixes for Subway, Adina Howard, 702 and others. My rep for hot drum programming & sampling has kept me busy ever since, he said.
But Leonards love for House Music remained. I felt that a lot of the younger DJs werent give people the experience that I felt, when I was going to the clubs. Some of the essence was missing. I just want to do my part to bring it back, he said. He started his own party promotion company, Good For Da Soul Promotions, and began throwing his own parties. His weekly DJ Free-4-All and Heart & Soul parties have been the talk of Chicagos reemerging House Music scene and are a staple on House Music websites worldwide, such as Deep House Page.com and Bring The Heat.com.
Leonard Part Sixx. Deejay, remixer, producer, engineer, promoter. Hes becoming a force to be reckoned with in the House Music scene.