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Derrick Carter | Interview

With a new DJ mix for the Fabric series, we talk to the Chicago legend Derrick Carter about his music, his art and his little dogs.

Photograph: J. Mould
Derrick Carter

Ever since his high-school days sneaking into the city to go to clubs, Derrick Carter has lived and breathed the Windy City’s biggest contribution to dance music: house. Many hold him to be Chicago’s greatest living DJ. Fabric, the famed London club and record label, asked him to contribute the latest volume of its mix-CD series. We caught up with the 41-year-old to talk about his loyalty to the city, his love of art and his little dogs.

You are only the second Chicago DJ to contribute to the Fabric series.
I know, tricky, huh? Whatever. It’s nice to be thought of, I’m not going to stand on a soapbox. It’s cool.

Did you make a conscious effort to rep for the city on it?
There’s a good bit of hometown pride. There’s a Lego track on there. There’s a bit of Cajmere. There’s Iz & Diz. You can’t get more Chicago than fucking Diz and Cajmere.

I like how you emulated a live set. It’s much more dynamic than your average DJ mix.
I have a couple of CDJ-2000s, and I just hooked them up and set the recorder going. When you’re doing that, you get a bit more dynamic because you take the ride, too. What you hope you’re capturing when you’re recording is the journey that you’re taking through these tracks.

You’re doing a night with Cajmere at the Mid to celebrate the mix’s release. Are you guys close?
Not like I talk to him every day, what color should I paint my bedroom close. But I’ve known Caj for nearly 20 years, so we have a cool thing.

So you’re looking forward to doing this night with him?
I am! Last time we did one together, which was Christmas the year before last, it was mental. It was bangin’. So I want to get on that bang again.

You’ve said that if your DJ career ever fizzles out, you’ll support yourself on your art collection.
I’ve got loads of Cody Hudson. I got a lot of Chicago everywhere. I’m not rolling though.

Are there any local dudes that you’re feeling?
Local dudes that I’m feeling? I thought this was a family magazine.

Artwise. I’m trying to keep it above the belt.
Cody did a sleeve for one of my records that came out on Greenskeepers. I’ve always had an affinity for his stuff. I have a couple of Ray Nolan pieces around. He did some of Obama’s campaign specials. I like that he’s in there mixing it up.

You make a lot more money deejaying overseas. How come you never moved?
The best version of me that I know how to be lives in Chicago. This is where I find my groove, even when it’s freezing. Walking six little dogs in the aftermath of 20-something inches of snow is no joy. But whatever, battle scars. Chicago, gimme some.

Derrick Carter plays the Mid with Cajmere/Green Velvet on Friday 8.

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