JAMIE 3:26: AN AFROPUNK DJ MIX
May 8, 2020
The world is on pause but the party doesn’t have to stop — even if it only happens in our homes and hearts. South Side Chicago’s own Jamie 3:26 is one of the DJs helping to keep vibes going in our current world in crisis. With three decades of experience rocking parties around the world and creating dancefloor-ready edits, Jamie is a Chicago house music veteran, global ambassador, and historian.
In late March he released his album A Taste of Chicago, a compilation of classic house edits via BBE Records. The comp is transportive; it takes the listener underground to a seldom explored part of Chicago’s house music history and gives the listener a new appreciation for what happened then and what’s happening now. When we heard it we knew we had to get a custom mix from the man himself. We spoke with Jamie about his mix, house music’s present, and past, and what it means to be a DJ during the COVID crisis.
First off, how are you? How do you feel emotionally and physically? It’s important to talk about this in these times of crisis. How are you coping?
Heyyy. thanks for asking. It’s undoubtedly challenging times…. It’s especially hard because I was due to visit my family back home in Chicago but had to make the difficult call to cancel those plans. Also having gone through depression, these are times that can get on top of you so it’s particularly hard for people with mental health issues especially if they’re alone.
I’m very grateful to have a support system with friends here in Rotterdam and family abroad. It really helps and we’re all supporting each other. But of course, there’s good days and bad days, but I’m accepting what’s ahead and I know that there’s better times around the corner. It’s just a total mind-fuck to see your entire work year-end in a matter of a month . . . Even though I braced for it, many people and artists have just had their worlds turned upside down in an instant. But it’s about how you put a positive spin on such things. So I’m also using this time to finish some projects and self-improvement!
How do you think this era will impact dance music and culture in the future?
I’m already seeing creative’s get knee-deep in it. I’m expecting some good music to come out of this since the world has gone full reset. That’s what my focus is on, even through the challenges. Nightlife and mass gatherings will suffer the most sadly of course. Financially speaking, venues and festivals can not survive much longer with taking such huge losses and hits. It’s going to be very interesting to see how gatherings can begin to happen again with social distancing and insurance fears now so heavily in the mix. But there are some incredible and innovative minds within the industry so I still believe things will hopefully return to the state we hope next year.
What’s the best way to support DJs and musicians like yourself right now?
Right now, purchasing music and merch thru Bandcamp and direct from the artists. Just support your artists by purchases… which should be done anyways, ya dig!!!
Talk about some of the music on the mix you did for us. What does the music mean/represent for you?
I made this mix right after the hard decision to not go home and my business basically folding right in front of me. Everything that was unfolding regarding the pandemic, I just needed some uplifting and music with a message. That’s the direction I went for the first half, then took it in another direction towards the end. There’s a message in the music and I wanted to share that energy and vibe.
How did you first get into DJ’ing, and who are some of your DJ’ing influences?
I first got into from our family events with DJs, then the DJs on the radio and those I saw at neighborhood parties… then I graduated to the house scene as a dancer, then DJ. There’s so many Chicago DJs who were pioneers in this culture, known and unknown. I’ve been inspired and influenced by many. I can’t list them all, but to make a shortlist: Ron Hardy, Lil Louis, Frankie Knuckles, WKKC Friday Night Audio DJs, Andre Hatchett, Pharris Thomas.
You have earned a reputation as a master of edits, what in your opinion makes for a dope edit. What makes it work?
My approach is more of an old school approach. Clean edits, groove focused. Learned a lot about edit structure from Leonard Remix Rroy. He’s a Chicago pioneer and we had access to all of his tapes, records, and edits as teens. I studied those tapes. I started off on tape decks. I can do frenetic Chicago-style edits or just clean extensions. It’s what just hits me at the time. There’s no real formula…. just focus on the groove and making people dance!!!! What makes an edit dope to me, finding grooves in a record that works for the dancefloor . . . or taking a song and totally recreating something from the original and making it yours!!!!
You’re a house music OG, what do you think of the new takes on house music coming from young Black artists like Nez, Galcher Lustwerk, and Channel Tres?
I ain’t that old . . . lol. I like Channel Tres and I’m also down for the fresh and new. I’ve always embraced younger talent, DJs, and producers. It’s also what has inspired me and made me feel that there’s still a future in this culture. I’m not going to be the old man yelling at a cloud.
I can’t expect a new generation to do things like my generation did. I can only share wisdom and love to them and let them do their thing. If I Dig it, I dig it. If I ain’t feelin’ it, I ain’t gonna shit on it. I’m just glad to see black youth doing their thing, because this is a Black art form and originated with us. Y’all keep fucking shit up!!!!
Your new project, A Taste Of Chicago, features edits of songs by Braxton Holmes, Jungle Wonz, Chip E, Quest, what was your intention for the listener? Did you want to remind them of the past or bring them into the future of house — or both?
The project’s main focus is on the non-typical side of Chicago house. It’s usually only focused on the early days and mainly some more commercial sounds. The Chicago underground had a sound and it was — and still is—deep. That’s what I wanted to share…. the sounds that moved the Chicago Underground from the ‘80s-’00s that I was active in. So it’s just another narrative of the story, from a Black and underground perspective. It’s also a tribute to my family who Inspired me. My late grandparents are featured on the cover at a basement party.
Are you planning on doing any live sets on IG or Twitch? If so, when?
I was debating on jumping in the fray . . . lol. I’ve done a live stream from a club here in Rotterdam, Bird. Right now, most streaming interfaces are sold out everywhere . . . so I’m waiting anyway . . . I just personally don’t feel the need to do something weekly. I know during these times, it’s been therapy for DJs and people in general. I ain’t tripping on anyone . . . do you and your thing. It’s helping someone. Music has and always will heal.