FoHDiary Day 10: I'll Take You There
"Everybody wants something"
"That's just my opinion"
"Take everything with a pinch of salt"
It seems reasonable to assume everyone has an agenda. I've been warned in numerous interviews by participants telling me to question what I'm being told, and in the other half of interviews I'm given views/thoughts/opinions and expected to treat them as fact. Where do you draw a line between opinion or conjecture and what actually happened? As a researcher how much trust should you put in your participants?
I've been given many conflicting accounts of just what's important here as far as history goes, where the focus of interest should be, and even differing notions of what is considered to be house (culturally and musically). How do you select which accounts are trustworthy? Or do you try to find some middle way that satisfies all/none and barely follows the narrative at all?
From all accounts it seems that's what other researchers have done. It seems like Reitveld got the closest to any true ethnography of the scene, but that was nearly 30 years ago now and things change with the benefit of hindsight. The more middle ground accounts (Pump Up The Volume seems to have offended absolutely everyone with it's simplistic interpretation) are incredibly unpopular with no one singing their praises. No one even agrees on who gets the moniker of "God Father of House". Is it Frankie? Is it Ron Hardy? Is it Chip-E? Is it Jesse Saunders? Everyone has an opinion. Everyone wants to push their experiential preference or some kind of personal agenda that establishes something in the flexible and arbitrary canon of the scene. To be honest it's pissing me off trying to wade through the noise.
I met Duane and a few of his friends at Boleo. He was DJing to a room of business men and people more interested in drinking over-priced whiskey than wondering what label this mix was released on. Duane was actually really insightful, kind, and very frank about just what was happening in the scene. If he had an agenda it wasn't obvious, he just seemed interested to speak with me and share his opinions. We even got into a bit of a debate about what can happen next. I'd gone out specifically without my recorder to have conversations rather than interviews. It felt more natural and much less formal. And I feel like I understand something that's difficult to articulate about how people feel about house in this town.
I also met Abra (who was the catalyst behind me seeing Duane @ Boleo) and Jo De Presser. Both warmly and openly shared their opinions and recollections of the scene and offered great background. As researchers also their areas of interest was very clear and prominent in the discussion. Abra's focus looks heavily at the Black, queer and female experience. It's great someone is doing it! But whilst we circle the same territory, our prey is very different.
I'm starting to get on board with that thing I hate: when researchers recognise and almost celebrate their own bias in research. We'll see. One more day in the Chi.