When I first walked into Dish in November 2008 for the monthly music event Convection, I knew there was something special about DJ duo Sean O’Daniels and Chad White. Not only was the energy crackling and the music hot, the two DJs put on a show behind the turntables, entertaining the audience.
“Convection just ran its course,” O’Daniels said. He and White started the event at Dish in October 2008, and have held it monthly ever since.
When I sat down to chat with White and O’Daniels, I was happy to hear that while Convection might be over, both DJs have big plans, and more Memphis appearances, in their future.
“We are still planning on doing events,” O’Daniels said, “We are hoping to bring in more outside talent, both local and national. Bringing other DJs into the mix will bring more variety.”
The history of house music unashamedly goes back to the era of Saturday Night Fever. Essentially, when disco music started to die out in the late ‘70s, house music was born, and it became popular in large cities like Chicago and New York before spreading to Europe. Today, the genres of house and electronic music are ever-evolving, and sub-genres like techno house, deep house, and fidget house continue to widen the fan base.
“It’s hard to tell if the audience for house music is really expanding here in Memphis,” O’Daniels said. “There is definitely a lot going on.”
Music fans not savvy to the house music scene in Memphis may not realize that one of the genre’s legends now lives here. Larry Heard, originally from Illinois, produced Chicago-based house music in the 1980s. Today, he still produces, tours, and works with other DJs, like White.
“I met Larry in a record store near the University of Memphis campus,” White said. “I walked into the store singing, completely unaware that a dance music legend was digging through records. My friend, who worked at the store, introduced me to Larry.”
The friendship grew, and in 2007, White released the EP Sun Can’t Compare through Alleviated Records, Heard’s record company.
White remembers first meeting O’Daniels. “He was playing at some party, and I thought, wow, I really want to work with that guy,” White said.
Not long after that, White ran into O’Daniels at a park.
“He came up to me and told me he wanted to sing on one of my tracks,” O’Daniels said. “I told him to come by and sing for me sometime.” White didn’t miss a beat, and started singing for O’Daniels, right there in the middle of the park.
“I have always been a songwriter, but the more I got involved in the culture as a DJ, the more I became interested in production,” White said. He studied music at the University of Memphis and used student-loan money to purchase his first production equipment.
White is currently working on a full-length album. Asked when it will be finished, he said, “I’ll know when it’s ready.” Meanwhile, he is gearing up for a tour in France, including his Paris debut on October 17th.
Originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, White got his start in music at a young age, listening and learning from his father, who was a church music leader. White also participated in musical theatre, jazz combos, and rock bands since he was a teenager.
O’Daniels hails from Memphis, and works at Lokion as a web developer during the day. He got his first taste of electronic music at age 18 and very soon after that he was mixing his own music. He spent six months beat matching in his living room before venturing out to play for a live audience.
At the moment, he is logging in hours in the studio, writing music and lyrics.
“I’m looking for vocalists for some of my new stuff,” he said. He is also working with a couple different labels and doing some remixes, including one for Alleviated. He also plans to release a full-length album at some point, but like White, is taking it slow.