Boy's Own legend Terry Farley on his new project The Spaces Between and their spoken word outing 'Ghosts'
Who are The Spaces Between? That would be UK house DJ/producer Terry Farley, author Ian Snowball and producer/DJ Wade Teo. The latter two are the co-owners of the Club Chi’ll record label, and collectively the trio are behind Ghosts, a new release that also features original Chicago producer and lyricist Harry Dennis – who formed fledging house group The It with Larry Heard and Robert Owens, before recording for Trax with Marshall Jefferson as Jungle Wonz. Add in remixes from the newly resurrected Black Science Orchestra, whose singles Where Were You, New Jersey Deep, Save Us and album Walter’s Room set the highest standards for UK house in the 90s, and you’ve got something of an ‘event’ release.
Luckily, the music is as good as you would hope, with the original a jazzy, jacking excursion over which Dennis pays homage, in his spoken word vocal, to a series of inspirational musical heroes. The Black Science Orchestra remixes are fire too: you get two main remixes – one funky, one deep – plus a brilliant dub, two beatless versions and instrumentals as well. This first outing for the current incarnation of Black Science Orchestra – who now comprise Ashley Beedle, Rob Mello and Darren Morris – offers a classy, updated take on their highly musical, highly danceable version of deep house.
We thought we’d ask Terry to tell us a bit about how the track came together, and to dig through his record collection and recommend some of his favourite classic spoken word tracks…
First off, tell us how this track came together?
“So Ian Snowball and Wade Teo, who I collaborated with on Ghosts, put out a long lost Jungle Wonz record that Marshall Jefferson had rediscovered in his mum's garage, called Human Condition. Human Condition was my fave track of 2020 and featured one of Chicago’s legendary icons Harry Dennis. So I asked could we do a track with Harry, and Ghosts was born!”
Do you know if Marshall has got any more lost classics-in-waiting in his mum's garage?
“Who knows! These kids were making music every day and much of it never made release. There’s a fantastic Mr Fingers unreleased 12-inch that has just been put out. I would imagine all those Chicago legends have treasure troves lurking in dusty corners!”
When it came to getting the vocal, what kind of direction did you give to Harry Dennis?
“A basic idea of linking jazz music’s legacy with today’s dance scene – a few names but not much more. Jazz and Chicago are as integral to each other as house and Chicago are.”
Lots of house records feature spoken vocals, but not all of them are great! What does a spoken word house track need in order to work?
“A wonderful voice will seal the deal. Lyrics you can feel or ones that tell stories also work well, but it all comes back to ‘the voice' itself. And Harry is THE spoken word voice of house.”
What's your approach when you go into the studio: do you have a clear plan for what you want to achieve musically, or are you more of a 'happy accidents' kinda guy?
“I think when you hear a vocal you immediately have a style in your head. That can be limiting, though, as the best remixes are those that go against the grain. Sometimes a simple sample or bassline can change a direction completely.”
What do you think of the Black Science Orchestra remixes of Ghosts?
“The BSO mixes are wonderful. The stripped vocal is my fave, it’s very spiritual.”
Obviously it will depend on covid, but do you have many DJ plans for this year?
“DJ-wise it’s crossed fingers for Faith’s 21st party at The Cause, Defected festival in Croatia, Up On The Roof at the Prince of Wales in Brixton. In fact, most of 2020’s summer bookings are rescheduled. Let’s keep the faith and be positive!”
Finally, the history of house music has many great spoken word tracks. Give us six of the best, your favourite classic spoken word tunes…
1. Richard Harris – MacArthur Park (RCA, 1968)
"Brilliant song and vocals by the actor Richard Harris – covered by Donna Summer in the style of disco in the 70’s."
2. Matrix – Get Out (Madhouse, 1992)
"Kerri Chandler's brilliant early 90s NY garage anthem – full of fuck-off attitude."
3. Bobby Konders – The Poem (Desire Records, 1990)
"More classic New York house feat Jamaican poet Mutabaruka, big across all scenes worldwide."
4. Marshall Jefferson presents Truth – Open Your Eyes (Big Beat, 1988)
"An iconic acid house sunrise anthem, with Marshall himself providing the vocal for this original deep house classic."
5. Jungle Wonz feat Harry Dennis – The Jungle (Trax Records, 1986)
“Harry is the voice of Chicago spoken word house – he really is the man. Again, Marshall Jefferson on the mix.”
6. Ron Trent – Morning Factory (Prescription, 1995)
“The wonderful Laura Gavoor’s spoken word telling us to step into the flame is just beautiful.”
Words: Harold Heath
Ghosts by The Spaces Between is out now on F*CLR – buy it here.
Tags: Terry Farley, The Spaces Between, Ian Snowball, Wade Teo, Harry Dennis, Black Science Orchestra, Ashley Beedle, Rob Mello, Darren Morris, Marshall Jefferson, Jungle Wonz, Kerri Chandler, Bobby Konders, Ron Trent, Larry Heard, Robert Owens, house, jazz, spoken word