House-music DJ/producer Josh Butler was a regular on the dance floor before moving to the DJ throne. For the self-admitted raver, his college experience in Leeds was of the six-year variety. Like the legendary house parties there, undergrad careers extend past the standard time frame. Swap Florida college football enthusiasm for house music — this is Leeds. The house parties have guest lists, security, and club lighting, and some DJs, like Josh Butler, graduate to world tours.
At Heart Nightclub Friday, November 10, he'll start and ride with proper house music — the Todd Terry, Kerri Chandler, and Chicago-inspired real shit. Techno gets most play lately, but this night will be for house heads. If techno and house music were humans, techno would be atheist and house music would be in a Southern Baptist church choir. Heart will fill with grooves and soul — it will be romantic. Then, perhaps late in the set/early in the morning, Butler will bang it out with more mechanical and tech sounds.
“I like to focus in on two people dancing near one another. I try to make them get closer and closer," Butler says. "This is what house music is about. It’s sexy and makes people move their hips and jack their body. It’s provocative.”
Listen to the sounds in Butler’s new EP, Sunday Club; hear the pumpin’ bass, slappin’ hi-hat, deep vocals, and soothing synths. The five tracks are dark yet fun — from time to time, the sun peaks out from behind black clouds. The bass line, the Michael Jackson sample, and the sound design from the song “Tracks” will spur dance-floor kissing. Butler the puppeteer will look on from his perch, progressive voyeurism.
At his core, Butler is a house-music historian. The genre’s roots and the legends who created the scene are important to the Sankeys Ibiza resident DJ. It is the spark for his label, Origins Rcrds.
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“I started Origins Rcrds with heroes of house to tell the stories of legends. I collaborated with Marshall Jefferson. We met and went into the studio. And then I did the same with Todd Terry and Kerry Chandler. To get confirmation from them was a big deal for me,” he says. “Over the years, they’ve become friends, and it’s the reason for the label. My idea was to spread the history; it’s a massive thing to understand that it came from Chicago and Detroit.”
Butler plans to further document house music’s origins in a documentary that will focus on the genre’s founding fathers. He is most interested in finding the shapers from the late '70s and early '80s who were there for DJ Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse in Chicago.
More respect was paid to legends when Butler remixed Carl Cox’s “I Want You (Forever).” It was a success and went to number two on Beatport's house-music chart. People often say, “History repeats itself.” If so, Butler has surrounded himself with the right people for a bright future.