Little White Earbuds Presents Norm Talley


One of Detroit’s finest purveyors of house music, Norm Talley has been around since the early days of the city’s DJ culture. He came up in a time of fierce competition, when the cream of the Motor City DJs and future pioneers of techno and house were getting their start as well. Talley had been DJing for more than 15 years already before his first record came out on Eddie Fowlkes’ City Boy Records label in 1997, the Alexander Robotnick sampling Grove Street Shuffle still sounding as fresh today as it did nearly 20 years ago. With his Beatdown Brothers Delano Smith and Mike “Agent X” Clark he helped coin the term beatdown for the particular style of music you could hear at their legendary parties, a sound that was brought to greater attention outside of Detroit by the Third Ear Recordings Detroit Beatdown compilations. Though Talley’s output slowed in the 2000s due to his increased DJing, he hit the studio again in earnest towards the end of the decade and started releasing a steady flow of work for domestic and international labels. LWE got in touch with the veteran DJ to talk about his upcoming projects and the incredible amount mix tapes he has recorded over the years. He also kindly gave us an exclusive mix of some of his favorite producers from Detroit and around the globe.

Hi Norm. How are you? What have you been working on lately?

Norm Talley: All is well in Detroit! Working on a few new projects for Mixmode, Sushitech, KMS, Detroit Wax, Release/Sustain, Discover, and Traxx Underground, to name a few, as well as my first album and new label called Upstairs Asylum Recordings.

We interviewed Delano Smith a couple of years back and he talked about Ken Collier who was a massive inspiration for both of you (and many others too). What was the thing that really struck you about Ken as a DJ and how did he shape you as a DJ?

For one it was his music knowledge, as well as his DJ skills as far as blending and EQ work.

I was pretty amazed to read about the amount of mixtapes that you have made over your career. Do you still have copies and would or have you considered uploading them to make them available?

I recorded mixtapes from 1985-2000 and I still have every master copy. I began recording mixed CDs in the year of 2000 through the Roland VS-880 and burning them with the Roland CD burner, which is over 600 CDs to date! I have transferred about 50 mixed tapes or so to digital for listening purposes and in the future I may make them available.

I know you use a mixture of types of equipment in your studio these days but over the years would you say your approach to making music has changed?

No, I still have the same equipment I used from my very first track which was released on Eddie Fowlkes’ label City Boy Records. But within the last year I have acquired one piece of equipment that I like to use and that is Maschine and I got that through a good friend, Mike Huckaby.

What is the most indispensable tool you have in your studio?

Roland TR-909 and Juno-106.

To my knowledge I don’t think I’ve ever heard you work with a vocalist. Is that something that appeals to you or do you prefer to let the vibes do the talking?

I like vocal projects as well as dub mixes and have worked with some vocalists, including Miyon Bryant, Arnold Jarvis, Bill Beaver, Quinton McCray, and John Sinclair. But I do tend to release more of a trackier sound.

I read somewhere last year that there may be a Norm Talley album in the works. Has there been any development on that?

I am working on an album which is about 50% done, so it will be out in the near future.

What can you tell us about the mix you put together for us?

The Mix I put together is a collage of tracks from friends I have in Detroit as well as worldwide. Some of the artist included are Kai Alce, Jeremy Ellis, Delano Smith, Rolando, Scott Grooves, Nick Holder, and Roy Davis Jr.

Download: LWE Presents Norm Talley (64:00)

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01. Sandman & Riverside, “Into Your Story” (Kai Alcé DISTINCTIVE Vocal Mix) [FFWD]
02. Kerri Chandler, “Sunday Sunlight” (Delano Smith Remix) [Apollonia]
03. Nick Holder, “The Love Frequency” [DNH]
04. Shlomi Aber, “Foolish Games” [Be As One Imprint]
05. Hyenah, “The Wish” (Manoo Likes Apfelschorle Remix) [Freerange Records]
06. Eric Ericksson, “Yuki” (Deeper Dub) [Swedish Brandy]
07. Roy Davis Jr., “Mega Beatz” [*]
08. Ethyl & Flori, “Shelter” (Rolando Remix) [Secretsundaze]
09. Karim Sahraoui, “Stella” [Transmat Records]
10. Scott Grooves, “Untitled” [unknown]
* denotes tracks which, at the time of publishing, are unreleased

Andrew Duke  on October 1, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Great to have this interview and mix; keep up the great work LWE! :)

Pelski  on November 15, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Great mix. Anyone know which Scott Grooves release that final track comes from? Cant seem to find it.

stef  on February 3, 2015 at 3:07 AM

great mix!


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