Truancy Volume 104: Big Strick

Last week, Fact Magazine posted their much passed-around 100 underrated DJs list, which we were very glad to see included Leonard Strickland – alias Big Strick. Raised in an influential household that had the Motown sound on the hi-fi all day everyday, Leonard began DJing in the early eighties which soon followed with throwing his own parties and playing events around Detroit. Things slowed down at the beginning of the nineties with Big Strick moving most of his attention to raising a family, yet with some motivation from his younger cousin Omar-S around 2008, Leonard decided to give music another chance – resulting in his 7 Days EP and his debut release on FXHE. Since then, a lot of his time has been directed towards his own label 7 Days Entertaintment, on which he releases music primarily from himself but also offers an outlet for artists such as Generation Next and Reckless Ron. Alongside delivering us our 104th Truancy Volume, we caught up with Big Strick to chat about the label, playing in Europe with his son and making his first house track ever with Omar-S. 

Hey Leonard, just want to start with saying thanks for letting us host the mix, greatly appreciated. I wanted to start with something I read in a 2011 interview of yours, where you stated that the party scene had been taken over by the hip-hop scene. Besides the smaller clubs, there was really no major club venue for underground house and techno music in Detroit. Have things gotten better from your perspective, has there been any development in this aspect? “Yeah, things are looking up for Detroit as far as the club scene is concerned, although it is still a slow process. Let me explain – the club’s main focus is to make money and the problem here in Detroit is that there is a strict law in place where the clubs can’t serve alcohol past 2 A.M. This means that the bars and clubs always close around that time. There are a few after hour spots here and there, but they are here one day and gone the next. In most major cities in America alcohol policies are more lenient than here, and a lot of major cities can go till 4 or 5 o’clock, sometimes even longer. I see there is a German investor that is interested in building a major club here in one of our historical landmarks so maybe that is a sign of a change to come.”

I know you started mixing using one turntable and a tape deck at the age of thirteen. Could you tell us a little bit about the time between then up to your mid twenties? You must have lived in a real hub of musical creativity. “Yeah, it was my 8th grade graduation party 1983-84. I thought I was doing something! My father always had music around me, be it from records to 8 track tapes instruments etcetera. He was heavy into jazz and I remember riding around with him listening to Count Basie, Miles Davis and Art Blakey – you know, the heavy cats! My mom was the Motown sound kind of music lover so that would be on the stereo when I would come home from school and first thing Saturday morning. The scene was popping in the 90s, very diverse and not necessarily just dance music. All urban music had an impact on the scene in Detroit. You could go in the club and hear Blake Baxter and get in your car to listen to Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power”. You know, music with a message! Good times in the early 90’s for sure.”

For those not clued up on past Detroit nightlife could you tell us a little bit about the Music Institute? “The Music Institute was a one of the true spots where you could go hear some good deep house music and see the who’s who of the time, whether it was the big name cats or up and coming DJs like me in those days. My fondest memories of the Music Institute was when I got the chance to catch the late great Ken Collier. He played some real heavy shit. A lot of stuff I had never heard at that time and still haven’t heard since, straight up deep! Another time I got the chance to catch Farley Jackmaster Funk, a Chicago legend. His set too was a masterpiece. When I say you could see anybody on any given night that’s what I mean.”

I’m trying to put everything in a timeline but I understand you were also the DJ and producer for a rap called P Square in the 90s? At the time how did this come about?  “Yeah, P Square was short for the Political Posse that consisted of M.C. Stone, The High Priest Saint Nick, The Dam J.I.G. and myself. At the time my DJ name was DJ Delirious, haha! Our crew was and still is much deeper than that, though. We met through a mutual friend Marc Roberts also known as “The White Guy” (R.I.P) and they had just gotten rid of their DJ at the time and it kind of fell in place from there. We were heavy into making music and we had some dope shit! Music with a positive message.”

Can you tell us a little bit about Mark King too? From what I’ve gathered you recorded the first house track you did with Omar S in his studio. “Mark King, that’s my man! Funny you asked as I just saw him for the first time in some years at the FHXE studio. He’s got some music coming real soon. We did our first track at Mark’s studio somewhere around 91-92. It was called “ It’s A Party Ya’ll’. It was pretty good too! How ironic is it that he is now in Omar S studio doing tracks? Got to love it.”

Moving onto 7 Days Ent. Do you feel you’ve achieved what you set out to do when you decided to start your own record label? “No way, not even close! When you set out to do something like this, the sky is the limit so to speak. There is so much to do and not enough time in the day. You’ve just got to keep pushing and be ready when your time comes. You have to believe in yourself, keep a positive vibe and surround yourself with positive people. We have a lot of work to do but trust me we will make an impact in this thing called “the industry” in due time.”

Speaking of Generation Next, a lot is coming together for him with the Nocturne EP release and his big European debut at Panorama bar earlier this month. I noticed you were playing for Smallville a couple days prior to his own gig. How was that experience for you both? “Man, what a feeling to be able to fly to Europe with one of your gifts from God and see people show him so much love. Words cannot describe the feeling! Yeah the Smallville gig was a huge success. Shout out to those guys, they showed us mad love. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to catch him in action at Panorama Bar as I had to play the same night in Geneva with Oram Modular. So yeah, I missed him but from the response he has been getting it sounds like he left a good impression!”

What’s happening with Reckless Ron Cook? “Glad you asked as we have something new from Ron coming early 2015. We’re still trying to plan a 7 Days Ent. label night tour with Ron, Generation Next and myself for hopefully April 2015. If any promoters are interested in booking this event please visit our artist page. Had to get that in.”

Finally, what else can we expect from Big Strick over the next year? “More music and more traveling with Generation Next. Hopefully we will be in your city soon! PEACE!”


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