Dallas Observer Mixtape with Brian Knolley: DJ Duke, Atjazz and More

Brian Knolley had a calling to house music 25 years ago. Over that time he has witnessed the highs, lows and heavenly blows of Dallas house music culture, from the glory days of Starck Club to playing parties nowadays with his mates in the Our House crew — a crew that has been responsible for some of the best afterparties in recent memory. This Saturday, they are bringing in the infamous DJ Duke. For this week's mix, Knolley drops a handful of jackin' house tunes, including a track from the Duke to help the groove impaired. 
Dallas Observer: How did you get started DJing? How long have you been at it?

Knolley: I was introduced to house music by my best friend Luan when he purchased turntables and set them up in his bathroom in the tub on a table. [Laughs] This was way back in 1990. We learned together and have been playing house ever since. House music and being around other like-minded people was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was nonjudgmental and everyone was there for the same reason — house music — and I’m still friends with a majority of the people I met then.

How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?

This was recorded for DC9. There is no theme, I just played what felt “good” while I was dancing and mixing in Joshua Kynds' studio. House is a feeling!

How did you start getting involved with Dallas DJ culture?

My friends and I started clubbing while still in high school, [around] '89 to '90. I started out at Starck Club, Metropolis and other various Dallas and Fort Worth clubs in the early '90s.

What was your best Starck Club memory?

I would have to say walking into the club for the first time with my friends Chris and Maida. The white cloth that separated each area and the rail that was in the middle of the floor with lights coming out of the floor and hearing bass so loud you could feel it in your chest, then walking down the stairs onto the “cave of lights” dance floor was like sensory overload. Definitely one of the best times of my life.

Who are some of your favorite old school DJs or producers? 

808 STATE, MAW, Pepe Bradock, Joey Negro, Vikter Duplaix, Needs, the Orb, MJ Cole and Supreme Being of Leisure, just to name a few.

Who are some of your favorites, current or up-and-coming?

Always have love for my hometown heros: Demarkus Lewis, Brett Johnson, Steven and Scotty of Multipass, Paul P, Brad, JV, Chris Lund, Jimmy from Audiophile, KATALYS, Phooka. As far as up-and-coming, I’m a pretty big fan of POMO and MYLNY (Andy Hart) [and] Todd Terje right now. I could keep this list going for a full page, so If I didn’t mention you, sorry.

Do you still buy vinyl? If so, do you have a favorite record store, online or storefront?

I just switched over to digital this year, so up until then it has been 100 percent vinyl. And yes, I still play it and purchase it. Josey Records is my vinyl candy store. Thank Waric and Luke and all the staff that make that place wonderful. For online shopping, I stick to the big three. You know who they are.

What has been your favorite release out of your own catalogue?

I would have to say the collaboration with Orly Angelo of Black & Tan out on Audiophile Deep, called “Holding On.” This track was so much fun to make and the remix from Demarkus is amazing. I got some things in the pipeline to be released, so get ready for some original hotness soon.

How did you get into production?

I started producing about a year after I started DJing. I purchased a Roland JW50 sampler workstation in '91 or '92 and built up a nice collection. (I still have my Emulator II.) But when I had my daughter, Gray, I put producing away and just recently picked it back up about two years ago. I partnered with local house head Orly Angelo to create the production Duo of Black & Tan in 2014. I’ve released tracks on Grin, Audiophile Deep (Black &Tan), Casa De Disco, Guest House and have two about to come out on Boogie Basics.

What gigs do you have in the near future?

Being a member of Our House is a great privilege that gives me the opportunity to play outside the normal club and be creative with my mixes. I will be playing the Our House New Year's Eve party in Dallas.

1. Fox Tooth – Atjazz
2. Closer – DJ Duke
3. What’s that beat – Kevin Yost
4. This is why we do this – Unknown
5. The Hip – Luca Bisori
6. Empty – Jerome Robins
7. MYLNY– Andy Hart
8. What I love – Arturo Garces
9. Shadow Play – Ben Delay
10. Unknown
11. Unknown
12. Foremost Poets – Open Season