The days go slowly. The years pass quickly….
I remember it like it was yesterday.
Living in Melbourne Florida. Just having recently quit a dead end restaurant job with a very angry and oppressive boss.
Feeling borderline suicidal, and thinking that I was going to go all out for the music. Do or die style. Literally.
It had already been six years that the entity known as Vanguard Sound had been in existence. But now it was time to “level up” and truly make a mark on and in the international dance music scene/culture (as it were).
Those who really know, know that Vanguard Sound started as a website that chronicled the historical aspects of DJ culture beginning with Francis Grasso. The man who invented “slip cueing” and beat-matching.
Moving on to David Mancusso and what he did at “The Loft” NYC.
Both foundational giants of what has become a multi-billion Dollar/Euro/Pound Sterling industry that is now a worldwide phenomenon that is as mainstream as it is underground. Perhaps more, as Electronic Music and DJ/Club sounds are now the prevalent sound(s) of all popular music, but I digress….
The chronology moved on from Francis and David onto Larry Levan. resident DJ of the infamous Paradise Garage.
Going westward with DJ Frankie Knuckles who took the burgeoning sound with him to Chicago as the resident DJ of The Warehouse. “House” as it became to be known as legend has it.
And of course to mention the birth of Chicago House Music proper, is to mention Robert Smith. The owner of the legendary Warehouse and The Muzic Box. The club where the mighty Ron Hardy really came to prominence.
I chronicled the fact that the sound continued to migrate westward. And how it was adopted quickly by the pioneering DJs and Producers of the Detroit scene. The city that gave us Techno. *(interestingly enough, to this very day, over 40 years later, Wikipedia still mis-credits Europe in general and Germany in specific as the region where techno came to be. Which to me is quite astounding. They have a sub-categorical listing for “Detroit Techno”. Which is nothing short of a crime against facts, historical accuracy, and the legacies of the Founders of this transcendent genre, scene and culture).
George Baker (owner). Derrick May. Juan Atkins. Kevin Saunderson. Alan Ester. Alton Miller. and Anthony Pearson aka Chez Damier were the key players associated with The Music institute Detroit. A legendary Club that gave birth to Techno’s first wave. Of course, Detroit’s early club scene can never be mentioned without including the impact DJ Ken Collier and the legendary “Electrifying Mojo” had on every Detroit Techno and House Music legend to come after them. And of course, I noted that the legendary “Belleville Three” were actually four people. Because that particular story cannot be told without including Mr. Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes. Once again, those who know, know.
So this is what Vanguard Sound was originally. A place to archive the history of the culture along with mixes from these legends. And also a humble platform for my own mixes as I worked my way up the ranks of the ultra competitive Chicago DJ scene. (“The City of Haters” as it was made known to me when I first arrived there by a fellow Chi DJ/producer who was born there). But once again, I digress…..
Going out several nights a week, playing every party I could, paying hella dues, and eventually hitting the “glass ceiling” after gaining a “DJ Watch” feature in Chicago’s legendary 5 Magazine alongside DJ G. Marcell back in the days of actual printed on glossy paper, real magazines eventually led me to focus on “going international” by getting serious with my production in order to circumvent the Chicago DJ Politics rat race.
Interestingly enough, it was G. Marcell who “put me on”. As this was still a thing back then before the internet became what it now is. Old school paying of dues and putting in werk.
After seeing G. Marcell’s DJ watch feature, I was very curious to know who the artist I shared the DJ Watch feature page with was. That very same week I saw his timeless classic “Dance With Me” record on the wall at Chicago’s legendary Gramaphone Record Store on Clark Street. Needless to say, I was blown away by what I heard.
Very soon after, on Thanksgiving day 2005 or 2006, I met G. in person at the legendary “The Note” Club.
The place the “Dancers” went on Wednesday nights in the “City of Wind”.
We became fast friends and would talk on the phone daily. I was hungry to get my music out, but I never sent demos to my label owning friends. As I felt that when the time was right, they would request some music from me.
And sure enough, a couple years later, G. did just that. he hit me up for some tracks. As he was looking to expand the roster of producers on his label Bearatone Recordings.
G. would often visit me at my job where I worked as an automotive technician (mechanic) in Chicago’s busiest “Firestone” Auto Care (the busiest in the Midwest as well as the 5th busiest in the entire US but I digress…).
One day he came on my lunch break to play me a couple new tracks. “Breathe” was the name. Two versions.
I loved them of course. And told him that I had just finished a track the night before and that I would link him when I got home from work. That track was called “Necessary Sanctuary”.
Apparently G. was as blown away by my track as I was by his tracks, so he proposed the idea of us doing a split EP together. This EP would become my first ever vinyl release. The Experience EP. A split with G. on the A-side and yours truly on the flipside (I had done a few digital EPs that are no longer available because the perfectionist in me was unhappy with the mastering and mixdowns), and the rest is kinda history.
We put the record out and never heard anything about it for over a year. Then suddenly, I discovered that the record had been played and charted by several DJs in Germany. DJ Sammy Dee and the Perlon Boys had discovered what was then being called a “Sleeper Classic”. Funny how these things work, huh?
This record “put me on the map” as it were. And ALL thanks and respect goes to G. Marcell for recognizing my potential as an artist, and giving me a chance to get my sound out there.
So this is what it was like in those days when Vanguard Sound! was a baby. Pre-label, but post website.
Way before the Chinese bootlegging and copyright infringement of my label’s name.
Since I am and have always been “small budget”, I never had the funds to pursue an international copyright infringement lawsuit. Which I think the thieves knew before they decided to steal my idea. YET, the internet records the fact that I originated the name and had been using it for a few years before they came along. But enough about that.
13 January, 2012. The label Vanguard Sound was born….
By this time, I had a few releases out and I was beginning to make a few waves internationally. The “Vanguard Crew” had been formed. Which was a DJ/Producer collective whereby I sought to emulate The Wu Tang Clan and San Francisco’s The Wicked Sound System/Crew. My idea was to assemble a crew of standout, All Star artists who could be a Michael Jordan type of premier artist in their own right. The Techno X-Men, if you will.
Through cross promotion, collaborations, and releasing projects on each other’s labels, we harnessed our collective influence and power to all break out internationally.
I am eternally grateful for the knowledge, wisdom, and experiences I gained and shared with these amazing artists.
And despite us all eventually exploring our own individual paths as powerful solo entities we all were and are, I have nothing but love and respect for each of them.
The crew membership roster included Chris Mitchell, G. Marcell, Hakim Murphy, DJ Spider (NYC), Dakini9 (aka Lola), Traxx, and even Lady Blaktronica at one point or another. But it was the six “core” members who really made the impact we collectively did during the “Deep House Revival” years of 2010-1014-ish. (Chris, G. Marcell Hakim, Lola, Spider, and myself Amir Alexander).
To introduce the world to the name Vanguard Sound!, Hakim Murphy came up with the brilliant idea to do a series of V/A (Various Artist) EPs by crew members on the different labels members owned. The first of which was “Vanguard Sound Vol. 1” on Machining Dreams. The second EP was Vanguard Sound Vol. 2 on Lola and DJ Spider’s Plan B Recordings NYC. These two records were well received and highly regarded in the underground by the time Vanguard Sound! released it’s debut EP “Vanguard Sound Vol. 3” on of course Vanguard Sound!
We collectively released two more “Vanguard Sound Vol. EPs Vanguard Sound Vol. 4 on Anunnaki Cartel, the “Sister” label of V.S. Chris and I formed to expand the sound and roster of the O.G. And last, but by no means least, “Vanguard Sound Vol. 5 on DJ Spider’s Sublevel Sounds.
Ten years later, the label Vanguard Sound! is still going strong and releasing “left of center”, forward thinking electronic music forms. Always staying true to the original ethos, while expanding the depth and range of the types of beats, and overall message. What a wild ride this past decade has been.
Click the image to link to the playlist on YouTube.
Much love and respect from me to All of you….
All the artists who ever released on V.S. or any of it’s sister labels, the record distributors, the mastering engineers, the record stores and online retailers, the DJs and vinyl buying fans of our work, anyone who ever purchased or wore and of the shirts, hoodies, beanies, and other merchandise, the promoters who booked us, and of course the dancers who rocked out to our vibes and beat patterns. Vanguard Sound! would be nothing without you. x
A great problem to have…
So apparently the Podcast/Mix I uploaded in order to commemorate the ten year anniversary of Vanguard Sound! has reached it’s 100 free download max. Many of us have encountered snaffus and such dealing with that particular platform. And thus most users let their “Pro unlimited” accounts lapse back to free ones. Me included. Therefore, I am once again circumventing the limits imposed upon me by the industry apparatus by creating and offering a free download link here on My platform so that the people who wish to download the mix without headaches can.
I am quite grateful that the mix has been received as well as it has. I was also quite impressed by the download to listens ratio before it capped off. Pretty high. Which is very humbling.
I felt like this mix in particular was befitting of what the label has achieved, become, and represents. So of course I wish it to be heard, shared, and saved in hard drives around the world. This is to give honor and thanks to the people who heled make this ten year landmark possible.
You can find the download link below.
Vanguard Sound! Ten Year anniversary Mix/Podcast. “Live From The Main Floor in Stockholm December 31 2019.
So there you have it…
A brief historical account of what Vanguard Sound! is, was, how it came to be, and a few noteworthy mentionables that took it from it’s VERY humble beginnings through ten years of evolution as it gained it’s place in the history books of “the culture”. And how it has left it’s indelible mark upon the hearts, minds, and souls of the true underground fans of DJ/Dance music Culture world wide.
Perhaps i will do another one of these when Anunnaki Cartel reaches its ten anniversary. Who knows?
Dreams do sometimes come true. So be careful for what you wish for. Because you just might get it.
Never in my wildest dreams as a rave kid coming up in the early 90s and then onto being a nascent producer cutting his teeth in the trenches of Chicago would I ever have dreamed I would have accomplished even ten percent of the things I have been so fortunately blessed to have achieved.
I always just lived the music, and tried to stay true to my vision as a dancer, a clubber, a DJ, label owner, and a producer. Hoping to “give back” and contribute to the lexicon of the international culture.
Always and underdog and “outsider” looking in. Yet somehow tapped into the nucleus of what the modern scene is and has become.
I thank The Most High God for using me as the vessel and conduit by which the message could be delivered.
The Saga Continues….
As always. From The Beginning, until eternity. With love and respect. From me to you x.