Terrence Parker talks



As a DJ, Terrence Parker (known to many as “TP”) has become legendary for his turntablism style of playing House Music. With over 100 releases to his name and a career spanning 30 years plus – he’s shown himself to be a true perennial of the house music ecosystem. 
With a new LP ‘Life on the Back 9’ about to drop on legendary imprint Planet E, we caught up with TP to chew the fat on everything from golf to aquariums via his hometown of Detroit to current inspirations….
Hi Terrence 
Firstly thanks so much for your time in answering these questions for the Ransom Note! 

Am I right in thinking you started out DJing hip hop? When and how did you then get introduced to house music?

My parents always played music around the house as I was growing up. I started mixing music in 1979 around the age of 11. At that time I was mixing disco, funk, and soul music. In 1984 or 1985 a friend of mine when to Chicago and came back with a mix tape recorded from WBMX radio. My friend played the tape and I loved the sounds. I asked, what is this music called? and my friend responded, Its called HOUSE Music.
With a career spanning over 30 years what has kept you interested and inspired for all this time? Have you ever thought of giving it up or changing direction?
Yes there have been times when I was ready to walk away from it all. This is mainly because of frustrations with the music industry and the business of music. However I could not walk away from music. Its something that GOD put in me. Aside from this, another time I was going to give it all up because I was saved by JESUS CHRIST and thought DJing would be a huge sin against GOD. But GOD showed me through scriptures in the Bible and personal experience that playing music is not a sin. In fact there are moments in the Bible where GOD used music for amazing purposes. GOD also inspired me to use these musical gifts in a positive way.  
What made you choose this moment in time to work on a full length album and where did the inspiration come from?
The album came over a time of several years of making music and growing to mature in the music. The album just came together and I flowed with the creative direction of each track as I was lead in my spirit.
Explain a bit about the title of the album ‘Life on the Back 9’
The title comes from a conversation my father and I had during a very down and depressing moment in my life. My father told me a story about his golf game and used it as a metaphor to encourage and inspire me not to give up in life but rather to keep pushing forward. In short, my dad played a horrible first 9 holes, but then played an amazing 2nd (or back)  9 holes. The moral of the story is never give up because the 2nd half of your life can be much better than the first.
How does location feed into what you do and who you are? By this I mean you’re from Detroit but you also regularly travel the world taking your music to new people and into different cultures. How does this feed into your sound and your personality?
Growing up in Detroit has effected and shaped who I am just as anyone is shaped by their environment. The music culture as well as everyday living culture helped me form certain ideas about life and music. I take these ideas everywhere I go and share them with people. However I learn so much from each trip because I try to learn from the people and culture in every place I am blessed to travel.
What differences can you see between the locations in which you play? I mean, how does playing in the states differ, say, from playing in Europe, or anywhere else for that matter?
Each place is different with its own unique vibe based on geographic location, cultural history, etc. Because of this I personally try to avoid generalizing a particular area or region. I have found there are regions in the USA and other parts of the world which are quite similar while others are very different. At the end of the day I have found the love of the music is the common thread that weaves us all together. So I make that my focus everywhere I am blessed to play music.
How important do you think geography is in relation to ‘scenes’ today. Because with the internet and increased connectivity people can link up anywhere they are in the world but can this compare to the physical proximity of a local scene with local clubs and artists actually hanging out together and bouncing ideas off each other?
The world has become a much smaller place because of the internet. However online connections just cannot replace the direct interactions within a community. If you really want to experience the scene in any city or town, you need to physically be there.
What clubs or parties have meant the most to you over the course of your career?
Wow! Actually every place where I have played has had an effect on my career. However I will say The Velvet Lounge (which later became Tonic) in the city of Pontiac (just north of Detroit). I was the Sunday night resident DJ for just over 2 years during the boom of the rave scene in Detroit. I would DJ parties in Detroit or other parts of the world and return on Sunday afternoon to play a 4 to 6 hour DJ set in Pontiac. I developed a loyal local following during this time. I would also say Dockland Club in Muenster Germany. This was my first official residency in Europe and one of my favorite clubs in the world. At Dockland I played along side some of my musical heros like Farley JackMaster Funk, and Afrika Baambata.
What current artists are inspiring you? 
There are many artists who inspire me these days. I continue to be a huge fan of people like Derrick May, Carl Craig, Richie Hawtin, and others. I really like the music from cats like Delano Smith, Marcellus Pittman, Jason Garcia, Jay Ramsey, and Adam Francesconi. I also really like the music from labels like Vibes & Pepper (Paris) and Slow Town Records (Madrid). I am also very inspired by an artist I am working with named Merachka (who reminds me a lot of myself when I was starting out). Merachka has a very unique sound that is adding a new definition to Detroit Techno (amazing stuff). 
Tell us something about yourself, not necessarily music related, that we don’t know and may find surprising. 
When I was growing up I was really into fish aquariums. I had several from the time I was about 10 years old until I was 25 years old. I had everything from fresh water fish, turtles, newts, underwater frogs, crabs, and other types of cool animals. At one time in my life I wanted to open and own a pet store. Perhaps one day it will happen.
What advice would you give to the next generation of artists and DJs that are coming through at the moment?
Be true to yourself and the music you are passionate about. Do not compromise yourself or your sound.
Have the courage to be you!
Interview conducted by Joe Europe.
?Terrence Parker’s new LP ‘Life on the Back 9’ is out on PLanet E on 27th January. You can pre order the vinyl here.