Interview: Todd Terry

American DJ, producer, and label boss Todd Terry is one of the most respected selectors to ever stand behind a set of turntables. His early releases in the mid to late ’80s still stand out today, and were a key part in bringing house music to New York and further afield.

Fast forward quite a few decades and Terry’s name still holds weight in every corner of the industry. Having released music on labels like Defected and Hot Creations, alongside his own InHouse Records, which launched back in 1999.

His latest record comes on InHouse Records in the form of ‘The Sound’, a robust and groovy house anthem which features a soulful top line from Leia Contois.

We recently got to talk with the New Yorker about his new single, how he remembers the early days of house music in his city, and what he might have coming in the near future. Get the full discussion with Todd Terry below.

You’re from New York, how did growing up in the city shape your approach to music, and who were some of your biggest influences?

I grew up influenced by funk and soul music artist like James Brown and Quincy Jones. I always loved the way their sound made an impact on the song, that is how I always wanted my records to sound. So that’s my approach, I love for my records to stand out like this sonically.

And how would you compare the New York scene of today to how it was back then?

New York used to be the shittt, but then good old greed came into play and the parties weren’t the same anymore. It seems like the clubs started picking so-called stars to play, so they could make money. That messed everything up. But then Europe took over and made house hot again.

Your latest single ‘The Sound’ dropped on InHouse Records last month. What was the inspiration behind the track, and how did it come together in the studio?

This song had 10 different singers on it, so I ended up mixing some of the singers together, but Leia stood out to be the best lead. The track is from the session me and Riva Starr worked on for ‘This Is The Sound’. I kept going with the idea and added some new elements, plus the vocals, and the new mix to make it more like the song it is now.

Who else might we see releasing on InHouse in the near future?

I have a track with DJ Rae coming out at the end of May called ‘Don’t Wanna Fall In Love’, a rework of the Jane Child track from the early 90’s. There is something new cooking with Lee Wilson coming out as well. I’m trying to make more songs this year, we need more songs right now, it’s too techno and not enough vocals. To control the night, club nights need to be more memorable, more songs.

You’ve released music on labels like Defected, Hot Creations, and Armada Subjekt more recently. What do you look for in a label partner, and how do you decide which labels to work with?

It’s all over the place. I can’t really tell what to do sometimes, so I just go with the flow. Releasing music on different labels teaches me what to do with my Freeze, InHouse, and Terminator labels. So it’s good to mix it up with everybody.

You’ve worked with some big names in the industry over the years. What are some of your favourite memories and collaborations across your career?

My memories of working with Jocelyn Brown and Martha Wash were the best experience. Putting the songs and the vocals together with great artists like those ladies was a treat for sure. I never had them in the same room, even on the duets, but it came out amazing.

As a successful and established artist, what advice would you give to anyone that’s just starting their journey in 2023?

It’s tough out there now to start a career, and I will say social networking and posting pictures and videos all the time is a real hassle to keep up with, but it’s part of what you have to do. Remember to always stay true to your sound and don’t sound like anyone else. In the end, it’s the best way to go I think.

And what’s next for you in terms of releases, gigs, and other projects? Can you give us a sneak peek into what fans can expect from you in the coming months?

I’m personally working on new tracks that could be very song related but also have a banging track to back it up. The best of both worlds is always what I want to give. Touring, touring, touring, clubs, festivals, parties. It’s that time of year and I will perform more than 40 shows between the opening and closing parties this season.

Todd Terry – The Sound is out now on InHouse Records.