For a man who's still receiving accolades for his innovative approach to dance music in the '80s and '90s, Nathaniel Pierre Jones, aka DJ Pierre, remains a humble and evolving artist in the changing scope of electronic dance music. Born in Chicago and raised during the windy city's first wave of techno and house music, Pierre is often pegged as the pioneer of acid house — deep and synth-heavy psychedelic permutations of house music. Through local club play and releasing the "Acid Tracks" 12-inch (Trax Records), under the name Phuture in 1987, Pierre unwittingly created a global dance music phenomenon.
Twenty-seven years later, DJ Pierre now calls Atlanta home, and this Saturday he's kicking off the next chapter in his decades-long career with a new monthly club night, dubbed the Phutur3.
When Chicago's warehouse party scene peaked in the early '90s, Pierre hoped to move beyond the glass ceiling of his hometown's dance music industry and relocated to the one place where house music was shining even brighter in the '90s: New York. He spent 15 years there doing A&R work for Strictly Rhythm, a label that served as a stronghold for progressive house music. There, he worked alongside some of dance music's most notable figures, such as Pet Shop Boys, Louie Vega, Josh Wink and others, catapulting his career toward even greater opportunities. With regular appearances on BBC Radio 1's "Essential Mix" and frequent trips abroad to perform, Pierre earned a nickname as the Don in the house music world.
The grooves he created more than 25 years ago forever changed the shape of electronic dance music, and they remain infectious to this day. Even almost three decades after its inception, new generations of DJs and producers cannot escape Pierre's early influence.
Twenty-seven years have gone by since Trax Records released "Acid Tracks," and despite pioneering a genre, Pierre hasn't let any one style of music guide his career path. A quick search on discogs.com reveals more than 600 credits to his name — including a remix of Chic's "Everybody Dance."
As the aughts drew to a close, Pierre set his sights on Atlanta, and moved to the South circa 2010 to be closer to his family. "My wife's family, mainly her brother and his kids, live in Atlanta," Pierre says. "We started discussing our kids growing up with their cousins and one thing led to the next. So this move was more of a personal reason — family."
When asked what he missed most about Chicago and New York, Pierre reminisces about his old neighborhoods, but mostly he misses the pizza.
Conveniently, the Phutur3, his new monthly night with Keiran Neely, is taking over the Music Room underneath Old Fourth Ward's Pizzeria Vesuvius, on the third Saturday of each month.
When the night kicks off on July 19, it won't be the first time Pierre has played Atlanta, but it will be the first opportunity he's had to get behind a meaningful club night. "The moment I moved here I did a few select events where I was co-promoting myself, bringing in friends like Tommie Sunshine, Angel Alanis, Doc Martin, and Green Velvet," Pierre says. "The issue I had with those events was that they felt forced — not organic — like something we slapped together," he adds.
When the prospects of crafting the Phutur3 with Neely came up, Pierre jumped at the chance.
The night takes the name "Phutur3" from Pierre's most acclaimed production, and the music and atmosphere will draw heavily from his musical legacy. He's quick to add that the DJs involved are as much a part of the residency as he is, however, and says, "It's a concept that the artists are in charge of."
For the Phutur3 launch party, DJs Ajhenda (Dee Washington) and Corey Von Waters are spinning, and Pierre will act as less a promoter than a talent coordinator. "I show up when they need me to, but for the most part, the focus is on the concept, which aims to allow Atlanta DJs the chance to shine," he says.
Pierre recognizes the passionate involvement of Atlanta's house music scene and wants to see it push further into the future, challenge audiences, and break new musical ground. The concept is essentially a musical environment in which the character and the musical style are developed organically, from the inside out. "I'm all for that," he says. "A new venue with new energy. I dig that." C
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