Marea Stamper ambitiously squeezes several lives into one single existence. After dropping out of school to sell mixtapes from the trunk of a car in the blossoming rave scene of the US-American Midwest, she became a part of Chicago’s House community, passing through pretty much every field of the music industry imaginable. After two years as talent buyer for the town’s very own Smart Bar – the oldest existing dance club in North America – she has now become its music director while co-running the club’s newly found vinyl imprint North Side ’82. She also works as a secretary for the recently founded Frankie Knuckles foundation, an organisation dedicated to preserving the late House legend’s legacy and tours the world as The Black Madonna, a pseudonym under which she has released several records on labels like Argot and Home Taping Is Killing Music amongst others. On top of that, there are rumours according to which she sometimes even sleeps.
As with her Disco-leaning productions, The Black Madonna’s highly energetic DJ sets combine an unrelenting passion with a profound knowledge of all things Dance Music. Finally receiving the recognition she deserves, Stamper nowadays travels the world extensively, heating up Berghain’s Panorama Bar on one night and dropping ecstatic tunes on Japanese dance floor on the next. Despite her recent success, she hasn’t forgotten about her roots though: Not only is Stamper vocal about dance scene’s hypocrisies and, as she puts it, the »gentrification of the dance floor« – she also makes sure that its history as a queer scene founded by people of colour is reflected in her own sets and music. For us, she has listed ten classic tracks which she considers to be pivotal for the 90s Midwest rave scene. It’s both a door into another time and place as well a personal document.
1 – »R.I.P.« by Remarc
taken from the EP »R.I.P.«, Suburban Base 1995
I can’t overstate how important jungle was to my early musical development. One time, I took too much acid and ended up in the Drum’n’Bass room at a party in Ohio and it split my head open when this came on. Jungle was a whole new dimension of thinking.
2 – »What To Do« by Thomas Bangalter
taken from the EP »Trax On Da Rocks«, Roulé 1995
The »Trax On The Rocks« EP was pound for pound one of the most dominant documents in the House music corner of the Midwest rave scene. Every cut found fame in the crates of Terry Mullan, Paul Johnson and the other kings of the sound. I loved the way the big hard drums inspired by Dance Mania melted into that delicious French style.
3 – »The Bomb« by The Bucketheads
taken from the EP »The Bomb! (These Souds Fall Into My Mind)«, Henry Street 2015
Find it at hhv.de on ###HHV: 408762:12inch###
Look, I know how big this record eventually became, but you have to understand that when it broke in the Midwest underground it was SUCH a moment. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard it, the sense of anticipation as the drums built and then finally that perfect loop dropped. Still magic and perfect.
4 – »Facc« by .xtrak
taken from the EP »I-Node«, Peacefrog 1995
Sometimes I look at how unsophisticated the bulk of the American rave scene has become and I kind of mourn. There was a period when tracks like this one were the jam of a lot of sixteen year old girls. It just isn’t like that anymore, is it?
5 – »I Need Your Love (Real Hardcore Mix)« by N.R.G.
taken from the EP »Feel The Fury Remix«, Force Inc 1992
I was sitting in Barcelona and this weird video channel was playing in the hotel restaurant and the song that this samples, »Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime« by The Korgis, came on and I almost started crying. When I was 14, I would knock someone over trying to get to the speaker playing this jam. It’s such an emotional link to that time, which was still so hopeful and fresh.
6 – »I Halcyon On + On« by Orbital
taken from the LP »Orbital 2 (Brown Album)«, Internal 1993
With its blissed out sample of Opus III, this song is emblematic of the brief moment where it seems like dance music could be popular and good at the same time. That didn’t really happen as it turned out, but a lot of Ohio raves ended with this record on the turntable last.
7 – »Come On Clap Your Hands« by The Magi
taken from the EP »Excursions«, Bomb 1994
I’ve been playing this one a lot lately. It returns me to the period in time where a lot of us went to raves for the rave music and ended up finding Chicago house far more compelling. Midwest raves ended up being dominated by the sounds of people like Boo Williams, Glenn Underground and of course Derrick Carter and this record reminds me of that special period.
8 – »Close Your Eyes Remix 1 (Optikonfusion)« by Acen
taken from the EP »Close Your Eyes (Optikonfusion!) (Remix I) / Close Your Eyes (The Sequel) (Remix II)«, Production House 1992
The first time I heard this song, I was getting ready to drop out of high school to sell mixtapes. We were selling a lot of stuff like this, UK Hardcore, pre-Jungle. Listening to this now, I still hear all the sounds from this world finding their way into dance music’s collective consciousness. It had more staying power than we’d imagined then.
9 – »20 Hz« by Capricorn
taken from the EP »20 Hz«, Total Recall 1993
I think this was the first record that I ever asked a DJ to identify for me. For whatever reason, it took me 10 more years to think about buying any record, including this one, but when I started DJing I found it real quick. It’s as good today as it was when I was a 14 year old raver in homemade fat pants.
10 – »Preacher Man« by Green Velvet
taken from the EP »Preacher Man«, Music Man 1993
Green Velvet – “Preacher Man”
I have a real clear memory of Traxx playing this in Astroboy’s loft after a particularly badly busted rave in St. Louis. I later learned that the sampled preacher is no less than Aretha Franklin’s father, the goo Reverend CL Franklin. This record always brought the party to halt, when played right, and then restarted things in total frenzy
Ultimate Bonus Jam:
»Life?« by Blair
taken from the EP »Life?«, Mercury 1995
20 years ago, a DJ called Cyberjive (now John Larner) made a mixtape in tribute to a friend from the scene who had recently passed. Starting it off with the a capella of Blair’s »Life?«, this tape was an utter sensation and a healing point for many of us just becoming aware that we weren’t going to live forever and the world we’d created wasn’t entirely rose colored. If you didn’t know about this tape, you weren’t really down.