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Basement Boys

10 most memorable moments, by DJ Spen and Teddy Douglas

2015 Dec 19     
2 Bit Thugs

As the Baltimore veterans release the 'House Legends' retrospective, we asked Teddy and Spen to cherry-pick some stand-out memories from a career spanning 30 years

Formed in Baltimore in the mid-80s by Jay Steinhour, Teddy Douglas and Thommy Davis, Basement Boys have been a US house institution ever since, producing countless club classics both under their own name and for other people. Even the most casual of dance music listeners, to whom the name Basement Boys might mean nothing, could probably hum you Crystal Waters' Gypsy Woman, while they were also responsible for introducing the world to Ultra Nate and have remixed everyone from Paula Abdul and Erykah Badu to Michael Jackson.

Over the years, members have come and gone, with Davis leaving in 1989 to be replaced by DJ Spen, and the line-up augmented by Karizma in the late 90s/early 00s. But they've stayed true to their soulful, gospel-rooted sound throughout, and are still going some after some 30 years behind the decks together.

With the career-spanning House Legends: Basement Boysin stores now, we asked Teddy Douglas and DJ Spen to pick their all-time Top 10 Basement Boys moments.

Teddy Douglas

1. Driving to New York, 1985

Teddy: "Late in the fall of 1985, the three of us - Jay Steinhour, Thommy Davis and myself - drove to New York City to meet Cynthia Cherry, A&R at Jump St Records. We didn't have a name, so we came up with it on the three-hour journey. The studio was located in Jay's basement and we were 'boys' for sure... the name just rang!"

2. First trip to London, 1989

Teddy: "My first trip to London was to meet Peter Edge and Cynthia Cherry at Warner/Eternal records to sign Ultra Nate. This was a magical time in London. The house was being built by Norman Jay at High On Hope, Danny Rampling at Shoom and Paul 'Trouble' Anderson at The Loft, just to name a few."

3. Playing Gypsy Woman in a club for the first time, 1991

Teddy: "After mixing Crystal Waters and doing about 30 passes, I had a residency at Club Fantasy in Baltimore where we premiered all the latest tunes. When I put in the cassette and mixed it in, the crowd went mad! I had to play it twice in the night and the second time, people were throwing paper and balloons into the booth in a frenzy. I will never forget that night."

5. WMC Miami, 2001

Teddy: "In 2001, we celebrated 10 years of the classic Gypsy Woman at WMC, with my friend Danny Tenaglia as our special guest. Before his set, he got on the mic and said some amazing things about our contribution to the dance music community. It brought tears to my eyes."

5. Basement Boys Reunion feat Jasper Street Company, Southport Weekender, 2014

Teddy: "After many years of break-ups, new members, individual projects etc, the four of us - DJ Spen, Karizma, Thommy Davis and myself - along with Jasper Street Company came together for what was easily the most electric performance I've ever been apart of."

DJ Spen

1. Basement Boys/Yellorange Party at the Bar Room, WMC Miami, 1998

Spen: "It was our first party at Winter Music Conference, and we had the pleasure of doing it with Tony Humphries and his crew. The party was phenomenal, the people were amazing, and so many industry people were there watching us do what we do. We were all on point DJ-wise that night!"

2. Basement Boys Reunion feat Jasper Street Company, Southport Weekender, 2014

Spen: "The really cool thing about this was that we worked behind Jasper Street Company as they performed many of their dance hits. It was truly a night to remember."

3. Recording Praising His Name with Ann Nesby, 2002

Spen: "This session was truly mind-boggling. I remember Ann walking into the studio not feeling well, and we all weren't sure the session was going to end up being like. But as soon as she walked behind the microphone, she sang the song completely with just one take. We were still testing the microphone levels when she did the recording that everyone knows!"

4. Working with Karizma on Smile, 2000

Spen: "This was another great studio session! Everybody knows the vocal version, but my favourite version happens to be the Deepah Dub. This was back before we had full automation in the studio and I was running the board, while Karizma was doing his thing with the filters coming out of the ASR 10. We ran through it a few times but the end result was pretty amazing. The sessions were the foundation for how Karizma and I are able to DJ together as well as we do today."

5. The first time Teddy and I played Ministry of Sound, late 90s

Spen: "This was my first performance outside of the United States as a DJ. We worked behind Carl Macintosh and what a night that was! Years later I saw a man who was there that night and he remembered that I played U Can Do It Baby by Nuyorican Soul ft George Benson. He was going on and on about how amazing that record sounded on that soundsystem. I'd almost forgotten about it until he mentioned it!"

House Legends Vol 1: The Basement Boys is out now on Groove Oydssey