Nightspots: OK, first things first... How did you get the nickname 'Silk?'
Steve 'Silk' Hurley: Back when I was about 14, I was part of a dance crew and they called me 'Silk' because of my wavy hair. Once I started deejaying, I used that as a pseudonym to reflect my smooth mixing style. I guess it just kind of stuck with me through the years!
NS: What do you remember about the first time you DJ'd at a club?
SSH: Before I started deejaying at clubs, I had been doing a lot of house parties, so I was eager for the opportunity to play for a larger crowd. I just remember that when I first DJ'd in clubs, they were DJ battles. I also recall the battles making me feel like I had been begging the coach to put me in the game, and now I finally was thrown out there in the 4th quarter and expected to win the game. I loved the pressure!
NS: When did you know you had hit the big time?
SSH: I guess some of the moments when I felt like I had gone to another level would be when I got the Remixer of the Year Award in 1991 at the Winter Music Conference, getting the opportunity to do the Michael Jackson 'Remember The Time' remix, my first Grammy nomination and being made part of Oprah Winfrey's 'Dream Team' for her pop star challenge contest. However, I never will have that feeling that I've 'made it'THAT'S THE KISS OF DEATH FOR AN ARTIST, PRODUCER, DJ... ANYONE!
NS: How do you respond to critics who say that house music peaked in the '80s and early '90s?
SSH: Well, I think house was a more pure genre of music during that time, but now you have so many offshoots and subgenres out there that it's hard to nail down what's out there. To answer the question, I disagree. House music is stronger now than ever; it's just spread out into so many genres.
NS: Is there anyone with whom you would like to collaborate, musically speaking?
SSH: I've always wanted to work with Mariah, Celine and Whitney because I am in love with the female voice, and it doesn't get much better than that. I also would love to work with Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton and several other producers from the '70s and '80s.
NS: The best part about performing in Chicago is... ?
SSH: The history that I have with my Chicago people! Their memories are my memories, so it feels great to be able to strike a nerve with the crowd you're playing for, and to know what that nerve is. I always watch a crowd when I play, but to know what their experience was through the years kind of puts me at an unfair advantage. I can always take them back a little bit when they get a little restless from too much new music; it's a great secret weapon, but not a crutch.
NS: What does it mean to you to perform at the International House Music Festival?
SSH: I'm honored to be one of the DJs chosen because I know that Chicago is full of great DJ talent. The competition here is FIERCE! I'm glad that my emphasis on hard work and on quality have been appreciated, and it will be rewarding to play for the people who have kept me in the business for so many years. It will also be great to reunite with some of my Chicago peeps from back in the day, to take them back and 'MOVE!' them forward!
Tickets will be $35 for one day and $60 for both. See www.ticketmaster.com for passes and www.chicagohousemusicfestival.org .