DJ HMC and the Dirty House phenomenon
Strange as it may seem, Adelaide's DJ HMC [alias House Master C] is better known overseas than he is in his own country. It's a notoriety that has its foundations in the wealth of material he's produced and released through Adelaide label Juice Records and its off-shoot imprint Dirty House - these records are distributed by Richie Hawtin's Intellinet outlet in Canada, they'll more often than not crop up in the sets played by Richie himself, Claude Young, Justin Robertson, Carl Craig and Dave Angel, and the crew behind Dirty House were examined in a feature article in the August issue of UK dance culture bible Muzik magazine. With an increasingly higher profile in the local media and the release of the Dirty House compilation appropriately called 'Dirt', the label and its artistic stalwarts are set to make just as important an impact on their own country in 1997.
As produced by resident artists HMC, Cinnaman and Paddee, the Dirty House soundscape is typically portrayed by a grinding and grafting powerhouse backdrop accompanied by rhythm structures and frequencies that are invariably infectious and quite often cheeky; they seem to create effortless anthems with an underground appeal. "I don't think it differs that much from stuff that's coming out of Chicago or Detroit", HMC reflects, "in the manner that the sound is pretty raw and straight up. But it's definitely not in the same vein as some UK house labels where the sound works around that throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air mentality; it's got a groove." He puts it another way: "Dirty House does have its own definitive sound which encapsulates what we're all about - because we're so far away from everything here in Australia, we get influenced by what's happening all around the world from the UK to Europe and America, and all those influences mixed up together make up Dirty House."
HMC has been DJing around the traps for almost fifteen years now, leading the UK's DJ Magazine to dub him 'the godfather of the Adelaide scene'. He's the man who, inspired by producers like Larry Heard, Kevin Saunderson, Jeff Mills and Carl Craig, has produced one of this country's best-known dancefloor records in the form of 'Phreakin'. He's also a member of the Dirty House Crew in conjunction with fellow producers Cinnaman and Paddee, and together they're responsible for tracks already deemed classics like 'Disco At The Edge Of The Universe' and 'Internal Affairs'. "The Dirty House Crew is a matter of the three of us getting together in a studio and jamming; we'll play around with a sample, with keyboards, with whatever. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't!" He laughs.
Cinnaman himself puts it another way: "They're party records, but they're not cheesy. They're not handbag; they're not backpack either - that's a bit ravey. But I think that, as glam as Dirty House is, we've got the background to make it work and not sound shit. I mean we're an underground label and we've proved that already."
For five years Juice Records has been grafting away at its own interpretation of techno coming out of Adelaide, keeping an open mind towards all forms of music, trying to keep clear of stylistic perimeters. "We're all electronic musicians so that's basically the main thing, but it's not to say that's all we'll ever release", label head honcho Damien Donato declares. "So whatever sounds good to us is what it all boils down to; if it's different, then even better. We've never tried to stick with or copy a certain style, and we're pretty strong-minded about that policy."
These days Juice acts as the organisational umbrella beneath which Dirty House and its experimental sibling Aerial Recordings canTags