Rick Wade is a name now synonymous with the deep house greats from early-90s Detroit. Despite this – and a now thoroughly-stamped passport – he remains a modest, devout creative who values a good laugh and the virtue of producing art over any romanticised notions of the past.
Inspired by the smooth blends of the late-night Chicago airwaves and the juggernaut style of Jeff Mills’ earlier incarnation – The Wizard – Wade developed a sound marked by sombre Rhodes keys, rich strings and well-worked, sampled material.
Previously known as ‘Big Daddy Rick’, he helped push the likes of Moodymann‘s early records on Motor City dance-floors and through his role at a once legendary Detroit record store – back when ghettotech was king.
Now featured on well over 100 releases – several on his own Harmonie Park imprint – Wade’s developed a global rep from humble beginnings despite having no initial aspirations to do so.
Following his recent release on Moteur Ville Musique, we caught up with him to talk about COVID-19, some hilarious early encounters with Theo Parrish, influences from 70s cop dramas and the systemic racism that pervaded America throughout the 80s.
Hey Rick, How’s it going?
Haha! Ahh, that’s a shame man! Sorry to have gotten you up so early in the morning. You’re not too tired?
Yeah, how are things looking in Detroit at the moment? Have you experienced much of a positive community response to the pandemic in Detroit so far?
That’s good to hear man! And you’ve just released a track on an up-and-coming Detroit label – Moteur Ville Musique. What was the approach to your track on that release?
Mike Huckaby described you as one of the fastest-working deep house producers from Detroit. He said you would always find amazing samples before anyone else and then have fellow producers trying to trade you out of them before you could whip them into a quality track. Do you have any particular memories of this happening back in the day?
Haha! How did that Record Time job with Mike initially come about then?
So, was that intervention by Mike quite a pivotal moment in your career as a DJ in Detroit?
And it was around this time that you first met Theo Parrish when Claude Young was spinning one night? I love that story.
Hahaha! That’s a pretty cheap studio rate.
I’ve read a lot of stuff about how some early Detroit artists were disheartened by the European circuit sometimes – with a hint of skepticism often noted. What were your first impressions of actually travelling to perform over here in the UK and Europe?
Ahhh, that’s awful! It’s such a shame to hear…
It’s great to hear it was such a positive experience! Has the feel of the international scene changed much since those early days? Are there any particular places that you have really fond memories of?
If you could work with one artist – or a group of artists – from the past or present who has significantly inspired and shaped your tastes as an artist, who would it be and why?
That’s amazing! It must be such a gratifying feeling to have realised that dream. So, now that you have such a massive reputation around the world for your music – as well as for your anime and other artwork – and with touring heavily perhaps not being as appealing, what can you see yourself being drawn to creatively in future?
Thanks Rick, that was a pleasure. Good luck with everything that’s going on at the moment.