Ahead of what is sure to be an epic night of music, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley spoke with us about what we can all expect from Red Bull Music’s QUEEN! coming to METRO on June 22nd at 9pm.
Dennis: Good day Steve, how are you?
Steve: Great Dennis, just enjoying the summer!
Dennis: Thanks for your time today, I greatly appreciate it! So, we’ve got a rather big event here coming up, QUEEN! What can you tell me about it?
Steve: It’s a great party that I’ve done in the past, but it’s usually at Smart Bar, which is the smaller club in the lower level of The Metro. So this time it’s in the bigger Metro Venue, which also has a stage. This will be great because CeCe Peniston is my special guest performer, and she really knows how to command the stage! We love doing shows together. I play my DJ set, and then she comes up and I spin for her show.
Dennis: When this started in 2013, what was the hope (or expectation) for these events?
Steve: Michael Serafini could really answer that better than me, since this was his vision. However, I can say that my observation is that it’s definitely about the music and the freedom to enjoy the party regardless of race, way of life or sexual orientation. Frankie Knuckles played at this event when he was still with us, so it was an honor to play this event a few years ago, since Frankie and I shared a place in history as House music pioneers and old friends.
Dennis: How (or when) did this event get linked up with Red Bull?
Steve: Serafini already had a partnership established with Red Bull for this event, and he thought it would be great to collaborate with our company S&S Chicago and wanted me to spin with CeCe as my guest…especially since I’ve produced so many of her records.
Dennis: Had everyone known each other prior to QUEEN! And you just decided to work on this event? Or was there anyone with whom you had not worked with before this first event?
Steve: Mike and I go way back. He has been one of the biggest supporters of my music throughout the years, so I’m always going to try to make something work out if he comes to me!
Dennis: What was the initial reaction to the first event? How did it become a regular event?
Steve: I noticed a lot of excitement due to the quality of the music. I believe it became a regular event due to the demand for this type of event.
Dennis: With your (over) 30 year background, how does QUEEN! Fit in with you personally; what does QUEEN! Mean to you?
Steve: For me, Queen has a double meaning. A singer that commands the stage is referred to as “The Queen” at times, and the openness of sexual orientation at the event with no judging gives a great energy, that attracts the “Queens” of all types to the party for a great time.
Also it’s no secret that House Music has been embraced by the LGBT community since it was established by us here in Chicago in the early 80’s. So I love the crowd that comes out for the events. Also this is Pride weekend, so this party will no doubt have many “Queens” in the House enjoying great House Music!
Dennis: In your opinion, how vibrant is the Chicago house music scene?
Steve: It’s very vibrant , and diverse. There are places you can hear deep house, tech house, gospel house, Jackie house, and ghetto House / Juke. Whatever tickles your fancy…
Dennis: Veering off subject a bit, but with having received four GRAMMY® nominations in the ‘Remixer of the Year’ and ‘Best Remixed Recording’ categories, what, to you are the key elements that make a great remix?
Steve: A great remix can take a song from one genre and make it fit another, without losing the integrity of the original song.
The drums should move your feet, and the music should move your soul.
And there should be something contemporary that makes it sound like today.
Dennis: Do you already have planned out what tracks you’ll be spinning for this Friday, the 22nd show coming up?
Steve: I never make that decision until I have my equipment set up and have already spent some time studying the crowd. I like to figure out what they NEED to hear to take their spirits higher and that’s what I will give them. It’s never pre-planned. Always organic… All Love!
Dennis: The show starts early, at 9pm, is now at Metro with its 1,000 person capacity and will also be open to people 18+ and all this combined with all the talent scheduled, I expect will be a stellar night! Aside from great music and great times, what else might people be able to expect?
Steve: I see an unexpected bond being formed between the younger crowd and the more mature audience. This is possible because of the power of the House Music to unite!
Dennis: Is there anything more you’d like to share with us about this event or going on with you at the moment?
Steve: I’m really excited about the new music my partner and I (Shannon “DJ Skip” Syas) have been releasing globally on S&S Records Inc. (Chicago.) Also I’ve been busy in the studio doing some great surprise collaborations, plus a greatest hits of my productions is coming. Stay tuned to www.snschicago.com for details!
Dennis: Well Steve, I sincerely appreciate your time again and am happy to promote QUEEN! For you. All the best to you and everyone involved with it!
Steve: Thanks, Dennis!
Dennis: You’re most welcome Steve!
About the event
Since 2013, the resident DJ’s at Queen! – which included the recently passed Frankie Knuckles, aka “The Godfather of House Music” and a pioneer of the Chicago house sound – along with Midwest house heads, the drag community and weekly regulars have kept the flame of house music alive in the vein of old school, underground 90s house parties. Red Bull Presents: Queen! will be the first time that Queen! will cater to a younger 18+ audience and will take place at larger sister venue The Metro (3730 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613) where its 1,000 person capacity will make this a crowning moment for the weekly party.
About Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley
Truly a man of all musical seasons, Chicago-based producer / remixer / songwriter /DJ, and now four-time GRAMMY® Nominee Steve “Silk” Hurley has more than proven in his 30-year plus career that he is a musical force to be reckoned with. His 4 GRAMMY® Nominations are just another testament to his longevity as a producer, and yet another confirmation that “Silk” is here to stay. Having spanned the sometimes-limiting borders of contemporary Black music, moving freely from his Club/House music roots to his R&B/Funk roots, his musical scope as a producer has thus far remained unrivaled.
Spending his childhood as a devout radio listener & worshipping musical giants from The Jackson 5 and Quincy Jones to Parliament, he developed not only a love of music, but also a keen sense of melody. Initially developing a strong reputation early on in his career as one of Chicago’s hottest DJ’s, “Silk” was known for his signature mixing skills and diverse mixing style. It was through exercising this creative expression that he eventually released his first single entitled “Music Is The Key”, which soared to the #9 position on the Billboard Dance Chart, establishing him as one of the pioneers of “House Music” and validating him as a producer. At the time, J.M. Silk was Hurley’s DJ moniker, but with the success of “The Key”, it became the name of a bonafide singing group consisting of seasoned vocalist Keith Nunnally and Hurley, who was a newcomer to the stage. J. M. Silk successfully toured the US, performing “The Key”, “Shadows Of You Love” (#3 Billboard Dance) and Hurley’s solo track “Jack Your Body,” which reached #1 on the U.K. National Chart for 2 weeks, a feat which at that time, was accomplished only by the Beetles.
Hurley quickly intensified his credentials as a producer and artist when his group, J.M. Silk was signed to the RCA Records label, and astonished the industry with a string of #1 dance hits, including “I Can’t Turn Around” and “Let The Music Take Control.” As J.M. Silk’s records stormed up the charts, the industry took notice of Hurley and hired him to remix their records. Some of his earliest remixes, including “Good Life” by Inner City and most of Ten City’s singles, including “That’s The Way Love Is” also topped the charts. This lead to “Silk” pioneering “reproduction”, a then new form of remixing, where the original music track is completely replaced with a brand new composition and rhythm track. This method of remixing has become industry standard all over the world today.
Hurley’s productions and remixes managed to catapult him to the forefront as one of the hottest talents today. In fact, his ability to musically embellish a song and take it to new dimensions has earned him the well-deserved title as one of the world’s all-time top remixers. This is evident insome of his most prized works, including: Michael Jackson’s” Jam” and “Remember The Time”, Prince’s “Gett Off”, Crystal Waters’ “Makin’Happy”, Yolanda Adams’ “Open My Heart”, and Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make LoveYou”, as well as songs by Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Mint Condition, Sounds Of Blackness, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Bob Marley, Brandy, R. Kelly, Kelly Rowland and many others.
“Silk’s” passion for music does not end, however, with remixes. His freestyle creativity expands to that of a notably outstanding songwriter / producer, penning most of his chart-topping hits. Hurley has had a pivotal hand in the success of many artists with his writing & production on such projects as CeCe Peniston’s “We Got a Love Thang”(Top 20 Pop, Top 10 U.K. National Chart) “Keep On Walkin’ & “I’m Not OverYou”(Gold & Top 10 R&B), Kym Sims’ “Too Blind To See It” (Gold, Top 10 U.K.National Chart), Ann Nesby’s “Can I Get A Witness” (Top 10 U.K. National Chart) & “Hold On”, Chantay Savage’s “Betch’all Never Find” (Top 10 R&B), Tene Williams’ “Give Him A Love He Can Feel” (Top 10 R&B), and Tanya Blount’s “I’m Gonna Make you Mine” (Top 40 R&B Chart). His highly acclaimed production of Chantay Savage’s “I Will Survive” (Gold, #2 Billboard R&B Chart) was one of the biggest records of the mid 90’s. Steve also wrote and produced songs for Ann Nesby on her 1st and on Rahsaan Patterson’s 2nd and 3rd albums.
Hurley also added yet another dimension to his creative repertoire by producing 2 songs for the movie and soundtrack, “To Wong Foo”, on which he was afforded the honor of working with one of his idols, Chaka Khan. The song, “Free Yourself”, which became the feature track from the movie, was the result of this truly awe-inspiring collaboration. Steve also co-wrote & produced the end title song by Donell Jones entitled “I’ll Go,” for the “Love & Basketball” movie and soundtrack, and still continues to write and produce for TV and Film.
Over the years, Silk has managed to amass a great catalog of music, building the brands Silk Entertainment Records, ID Records, Echotron Records, and DJ World Records. “The Word is Love” by Voices of Life featuring Sharon Pass, was an international hit, (#15 Italian National Chart, #25 U.K. National Chart) selling over 2 million copies. Other releases include titles by CeCe Peniston, Ann Nesby, Chantay Savage, Jamie Principle, MeLi’sa Morgan, Chance, Gordon Chambers, Sharon Pass, Bob Marley, and gospel sensation Vernessa Mitchell, among others. Silk’s labels have attained major international success with several of their releases.
In 2005, S&S Records, Inc. (and S&S Chicago, Inc.) was established by Hurley and global DJ/Producer Shannon “DJ Skip” Syas. Merging Hurley’s worldwide commercial success and Syas’ strong global following, the dance label has become home to numerous house music legends. The label has released several compilation albums featuring original songs from a large roster of Chicago greats, including the recently released “The Chicago LP”, featuring an all-Chicago, all-Star cast of house music pioneers and Hip Hop stars. S&S records has accumulated a catalog of over 500 records and album projects from artists such as: Syleena Johnson, CeCe Peniston, Ann Nesby, DJ Skip, Paul Johnson, Kym Sims, Chantay Savage, J.M Silk, Jamie Principle & Steve “Silk” Hurley, just to name a few. In addition to new signings, they have utilized Hurley’s catalog and Syas’ PushPac Records catalog to become a major player in the international dance market. S&S has also been responsible for major house music events in Chicago that have averaged an attendance of over 4,000 people.
Staying loyal to his passion as a DJ, Hurley has always taken time out of his hectic production schedule to showcase his talents on the turntables. Silk appeared at BET’s Soundstage, on BET’s “Planet Groove” TV Show as a guest DJ, The Ministry Of Sound in the U.K., and at hundreds of other venues, festivals and events worldwide. Silk has plans to embark on a full DJ Tour all over the world to promote his forthcoming Artist project on S&S Records.
Silk’s “OLD SKOOL / NEW SKOOL REMIX” has been heard every Tuesday and Thursday on the Nationally Syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show”, which is broadcast on 128 stations in the U.S., to 8 million listeners. In 1994, Silk created this new format of mixing for Syndicated radio where a new song or composition is created by blending two or more songs, but in a very musical way. The two songs would be from distinctly different genres and eras of music, but would still generate a harmonious blend. This style of mixing is now referred to as a “Mashup.”
On June 1, 2016 launched his highly anticipated Internet Radio Station, MashUpFM. He is now be able to continue bringing his unique brand of mixing to the masses, on a more global level, 24 hrs per day. MashUp FM presents fans of Steve “Silk” Hurley as well as fans of other popular DJ’s with the opportunity to access with one click at www.MashUpFM.com and eventually purchase their favorite mashups. In addition to Mashups, he is also satisfying the musical palettes of house music fans by broadcasting the segment HOUSE MUSIC ALL NIGHT LONG on MashUpFM, presented by S&S Chicago / S&S Records, Inc.
Hurley’s TV Appearances include ESPN’s “30 for 30”, TV-One’s UnSung!, and several appearances on The Oprah Show as a member of Oprah’s “Dream Team” for the Pop Star Challenge Contest. He also produced the entire “Oprah’s Pop Star Challenge” album, on Epic/Sony Records, which was released and launched on the Oprah Show. Now considered an expert in his field, Silk has appeared in countless documentaries. He also has appeared as a speaker at dozens of Schools, on Industry Panels, and served 2 terms as President of the Chicago Chapter of NARAS (The GRAMMY® Organization).
Through this journey, Steve “Silk” Hurley has managed to parlay his love of music into a career as a producer, remixer, and DJ, and in the process, has garnered more than a few impressive accolades. In addition to countless awards as a DJ over the years, he received ASCAP Writer’s Awards for “Keep on Walkin”, “Too Blind To See It” and “I’m Not Over You”. Further, Billboard Magazine recognized him as one of the top producers , which was an honor he shared with L.A. & Babyface, R. Kelly, Teddy Riley and Jam & Lewis. “Silk” has also received the British Charity Awards-U.K. “Remixer of The Year” Award and the Winter Music Conference “Remixer of The Year” Award among others.
Without a doubt, however, the most prestigious honor ever bestowed upon him has been his 4 GRAMMY® Nominations in 5 years (Remixer Of The Year Category / Best Remixed Recording ). Hurley notes, “To be honored by my peers with four GRAMMY® Nominations is the pinnacle of the dream.”
STEVE ‘SILK’ HURLEY: