Roland Clark is the voice of house music
Clark learned on vinyl and played his first paid gig in London with Sting International. The year and club name are hazy, but Clark remembers his nerves. “That day I went to Defective and bought a box of records. I didn’t even listen to them. I just put records in the crate and said ‘Okay Simon [Dunmore], goodbye!’ then I left,” he says. “So I went to DJ’s, and I’d just put on a record and play it.” The reaction of the public? “They’ve gone mad!” Prior to the concert, Clark asked Sting to stay by his side in case things went wrong. “And I looked to my right, and Sting was gone,” he laughs. “I went, ‘What the hell!’ I was a little nervous, but every time I played a record more people came on the floor, and after about 30 minutes I was like ‘pewssh I get it’.
Clark would tour the United States, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe over the next two decades, between producing and writing lyrics and lyrics. As his profile grew internationally, Clark was not interested in just creating deep house and recording countless acapellas. “It’s very important for me not to stick to one genre. Unfortunately the way this industry is – and it doesn’t have to be – once you do one thing, that’s all you can do.
Clark is the antithesis of this structure. He feels that, in order to move forward and evolve, diving headfirst into other soundscapes like EDM is non-negotiable. He doesn’t understand why some deep house producers want their sound to stay underground. “Don’t they want people to hear their music?” he exclaims. Maybe they want to protect the culture of what they consider “underground”? “, I said. “So they want to pick their big hit,” he says. “That part that I never understood. That’s the whole argument I’ve had with somebody about EDM,” Clark continues. “They said, ‘Oh they [EDM producers] are ruining the house music industry’, and I said, ‘So you consider this house music?’ And they said “no”. So I said, ‘How are they ruining the house music industry? If you don’t even consider this house music, what’s your beef? ‘”
Clark explains how when house started in New York and Chicago, people – including him – wanted others to hear it and for the sound to reach Europe. When it happened, “Europe loved it,” he says. “And then it morphed and changed over the years. Then you have techno at what it is now and tech house at what it is now, and people who are still kind of underground, it’s like, well, what are you talking about?” he said as if addressing them directly. “You still have your underground, so stay over there. If you want only 10 people to hear your record, go for it.
True to his word, a slew of collaborations with artists from other genres, especially EDM, have a significant presence in Clark’s catalog. He was introduced to the kingdom by Stretch, the MC of TomorrowWorld — an Atlanta-based offshoot of Tomorrowland — when Clark was living in Georgia, and Stretch invited Clark to attend the festival.