When Chicago house meets classic pop...
Tevo Howard

In celebration of Clash’s current pop-themed issue, we’ve unearthed a very special diamond-dusted treat from an unlikely source, allowing you to hear what happens when Chicago house meets classic pop.

Tevo Howard is primarily known for crafting stripped-back house tracks, bubbling with killer grooves that showcase his Chicago heritage, but after listening to the latest Clash mix – put together by Tevo – it seems (at least at first) that the producer also has a penchant for pop.

Between 2005-2009 Tevo ran a club night at the now-defunct People Lounge bar in Chicago with fellow DJ Johnny Fonseca. As Tevo explains in the interview below, the night was a tribute to pop music in the purest sense, take it or leave it.

The ‘Extreme Pop Mix’ we present to you was recorded by Tevo in 2010 at his studio during the height of his and Fonseca’s time at People Lounge. It’s a pure vinyl mix and was meant to showcase the kinds of sounds you could hear at the club, but it never got used and has barely been listened to since 2010. It’s now been dug out, dusted off and is ready to go.

Fair warning: the sounds of Rick Astley may be heard within Tevo’s mix. But then so might Depeche Mode, Talking Heads and Beastie Boys, so just deal with it, y’know.

Here’s Tevo to put this strange, grinning beast into context.

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Where did you record the mix?

This mix was recorded at my personal studio in Chicago, which is also called Beautiful Granville Studios. 

What was the aim behind it?

Fast and up-tempo song connections with no blends, for the sake of pitch and tempo, while revealing the fun-packed quality of the 7” 45rpm vinyl records used. 

Please give us a few examples of why you chose a few of the specific tracks:

Some of the tracks were only popular in Chicago, and appear strategically throughout the mix... Examples like ‘Diamond Girl’ and ‘I Want it to Be Real’ appeared at the top of top 40 charts in the ‘80s in Chicago, but not many other places in the world, which makes this particular pop mix unique to a time period as well as to a place. 

The mix was recorded a club night that you and Johnny Fonseca ran in Chicago. Tell me more about the night. 

Johnny and I packed People Lounge every week with wall-to-wall people … It was a time not to be ashamed of one’s guilty pleasures... Sometimes the crowd hated us, and sometimes they loved us, but all the same we surpassed genre with the evening, playing tunes from Toto’s ‘Africa’ to Pineapples’ ‘Come On Closer’, which was also a monster hit in Chicago. 

Did you have guest DJs doing pop sets at the club?

Melvin ‘Traxx’ Oliphant was one of our brilliant guests, as well as the well-respected Diz from Iz & Diz.  

A pop night must have been quite a contrast to other club nights in Chicago at the time. How did it go down?

The people embraced us and it was very, very fun. It was a time to feel free, with a whole newfound freedom in DJing. Once heard a re-edit of The Doors played at Panorama Bar in Berlin, and I remember thinking – the world is starting to come around to what Chicago has been on for quite a number of years... It is about freedom and honesty, as well as about an open mind... The people juked to us. 

The Extreme Pop mix is obviously quite different to the music that most people know you for. Are you a big fan of pop music?

Not really, but I did have fun playing New Wave pop for the events. I have always enjoyed playing the one specific track that forces someone to come to the tables and say ‘who are you?’ and ‘I haven’t heard this in 20 years’. That was an enjoyment. 

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Listen to it now... Grab it HERE.
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1. Simple Minds - Promised You a Miracle
2. Human League - Seconds
3. Berlin - The Metro
4. The Gap Band - Party Train
5. Rockwell - Somebody’s Watching Me
6. The Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way
7. Beastie Boys - (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)
8. Stevie Wonder - Do I Do
9. Talking Heads - Burning Down the House
10. Kano - Can’t Hold Back
11. Prince - Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?
12. The Time - I Don’t Wanna Leave You
13. INXS - Original Sin
14. Cherrelle - Saturday Love
15. Teena Marie - Square Biz
16. Alicia Myers - I Want to Thank You
17. Swing Out Sister - Breakout
18. Hall & Oates - Method of Modern Love
19. Joe Jackson - Steppin’ Out
20. Mary Jane Girls - Boys
21. Cherrelle - I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On
22. Nice & Wild - Diamond Girl
23. M - Pop Muzik
24. Cameo - Candy
25. Stevie Wonder - Part-Time Lover
26. Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up
27. Soft Cell - Tainted Love
28. Peter Gabriel - Big Time
29. A Flock of Seagulls - Wishing
30. John Rocca - I Want it to Be Real
31. Pet Shop Boys - It’s a Sin
32. Depeche Mode - Behind the Wheel
33. Cameo - Back And Forth
34. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule The World
35. Rose Royce - Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

Words: Tristan Parker

‘Secromance’, the debut album under Tevo Howard’s synth-loving electro alias, Sequence Report, is out now on Tevo Howard Recordings.

The latest issue of Clash Magazine is available to purchase online - click HERE for details.


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