interview ~ rick wade


michigan born rick wade might not get the headlines of his more celebrated peers, but few have done as much to contribute to the house cannon as he. for nigh on two decades ‘big daddy rick’ has consistently turned out deeply channeled grooves that need every second of their often elongated lengths to have best effect. peppered only lightly with strings, the odd breathy voice or some other delicate hook culled from the funk and soul sounds around which he grew up, wade’s style is the perfect embodiment of minimum effort, maximum impact.

a famously rapid and prolific producer who is candid about balancing the need to earn money with a desire to maintain artistic integrity, wade is also the force behind legendary imprint harmonie park, which has released classics from peers like mike huckaby amongst others. his owndiscography stretches to three pages and is a pure gold mine for house heads, with each track sounding as timeless as the next. over the years, regular outings have been on quality imprints like yore, moods & grooves and most recently seuil & le loup’s hold youth, and, thankfully for us, shows no signs of letting his foot off the pedal as the man’s next full length is already finished.

how are you, how has your year been? what’s been a highlight, what’s kept you busy?

i’m good. the past year has been pretty busy with projects and travelling, but the highlight has to be my fiancé getting approved for the k1 visa and coming to live with me in the united states.

one thing that stands out about your music is the long, often un-interrupted groove. if that’s fair, i wonder why that is the case. how did you come to be that way? was it the music you grew up around or is it made purely with a dancefloor in mind or?

growing up i always loved disco tracks with lots of melodic orchestration and funky, soulful lounge style tracks, like the stuff coming out of italy in the mid-70’s and the kpm library stuff. in each of those tracks it always seemed like there was always one really sweet part of the track that i liked more than the rest of it and i always wished that they would’ve made the entire track just consisting of that sweet part. so today when i make my tracks, i follow the philosophy that each track should be built using only the sweet part.

how hard is it to get into the headspace to produce, does it come naturally or do you have to wait until the feeling takes you?

producing comes naturally to me. i love creating music. some people like to watch sports or play video games, i love to make tracks in my spare time.

mike huckaby says you are a lightening fast producer – why is that? is it the way you prefer to work, or are you generally someone who does things in the moment, in a flurry?

i’ve been fortunate in that, when it comes to music production, my mind is constantly thinking of rhythms and melodies. even now there are melodies playing in my mind that are wanting to be brought out and manifested into reality.

out of interest, what’s the quickest you’ve ever got a track done in, and what’s the longest a tune has ever taken you?

just sitting down and going from start to finish, the quickest i’ve ever done a track is probably around 30 minutes and the longest time is about 48 hours. that said, i do have tracks that i’ve started years ago, but have never gotten around to finishing…yet.

how do you know when enough is enough when making a track?

i make tracks that i’d personally like to listen to and again, i only like to use elements that i find personally appealing. so i guess it doesn’t take much to please me when it comes to a track. lol!

you release a pretty constant stream of material. do you ever look back, or are you all about the future? i wonder how you feel about your back catalogue?

i rarely look back when it comes to music production. typically if i re-release older material, it’s because a label or distributor has contacted me and worked out a deal.

are you still learning, do you still surprise yourself and feel challenged when producing? it must be so natural by now?

producing tracks is second nature to me now. my production process is very fluid and natural for me. however, i am still learning and constantly trying to push the boundaries of grooviness.

although it never full went away, how do you feel about vinyl being fully back in vogue again? is the medium important to you; is it integral to the scene or just a historical relic?

fortunately, when vinyl sales started to go down it never really affected sales of my productions. so throughout the years, my tracks have seemed to hold their own and sales have remained consistent. when it comes to discussing the philosophy of vinyl vs digital, or vinyl’s place in historical context, that’s a question best answered by someone like huckaby. i honestly don’t think about it. i just do what i like to do and it just so happens that vinyl is my preferred choice of medium.

you used to delete all old releases once they’d sold out for financial reasons i understand. how do you feel about it now? do you think limited releases, rarity and such are cool, or should everything be pressed for all?

my views on such things are pretty basic. i feel that if you are financially able, then you should press as many records as possible so that everyone has a chance to pick up your release. however, i don’t see anything wrong if an artist feels more comfortable making a release limited. that’s artistic integrity.

you make no bones about selling tracks to anyone who can pay – are you happy doing that or do you wish it wasn’t so?

yes and no. on one side i’m happy because there seems to have been a consistent demand for my tracks, but on the other hand for financial reasons, i’ve had to sell many tracks that i truly wanted to keep and release on my own label. i hated to see them go, but at the end of the day i still have to pay rent, buy lunch for my kids, etc.

does the money aspect dirty the art for you at all or is it a necessary evil? does it ever inform your decisions on who to release for, what to release etc?

personally, i hate the business side of music. i much rather prefer making tracks and wish that i had someone else to handle the other side of things. when it comes to deciding who to release for, as long as the company has the money and they don’t have a bad reputation for screwing people over in the industry, then i’ll sell them some tracks.

tell us about your sample packs… why do you do them? is it an altruistic thing, financial thing, enjoyment thing?

throughout the years people have asked me from time to time to do a sample pack and when mike huckaby did his and i saw the success he had, that inspired me to do my own. it wasn’t an altruistic thing though. i did it strictly to make money. nothing more, nothing less.

some might argue that finding out for yourself is the best way to learn… you must disagree.

at one time i agreed with that and i remember when huckaby released his first sample pack, i told him that i thought it was a mistake and that he was giving away “secrets” that took us years to learn and discover and now everyone will be making stuff that sounds just like us, but he wasn’t worried and said that the sounds are but one part of the deep equation. he said that everyone is different and has different life experiences and that more than anything will influence the end result of a person’s track. huck was right.

so how did you come to hook up with seuil and le loup – how did the hold youth release come about?

they contacted me and said that they were big fans and would love to release some of my music. i sent them a link to check out some of my unreleased material and they picked out what they liked the best and what they felt fit best with their label’s imprint.

and is there anything special about the tracks you made them – were they inspired or influenced by anything in particular?

i remember the night when i made those two tracks i was just letting emotions flow into the music and those tracks were the end result.

finally, what you got coming up/what are you excited about?

i have an album coming out for harley and muscle called “with me” and it’s got some of (in my opinion) my best material to date. also, i’m excited to be marrying my lovely italian fiancée at the end of this year as well :)