Houston Music

Houston House Music 101: An Extended DJ Summit

Recently, I blogged about two brothers who are professional accountants by day and amateur electronic dance music producers by night. It was a story about doing something outside the box and finding and fostering the creativity within us, no matter what we do to pay the bills. It was about how music brings people together, which should generally be celebrated.

I was a bit surprised when my quaint little blog brushfired with heated vilification normally reserved for stuff like Mein Kampf and that poetry book Jewel wrote. Some people were unnecessarily rude in their critiques of the brothers' work. Some were at least funny -- no, the McFadden Brothers aren't my coke dealers. And at least one offered a serious invitation to learn more about EDM in Houston.

That invitation came from Josh Dupont, a fixture in the local dance-music scene. He agreed to arrange a summit of sorts, a sit-down with some of the city's most successful DJs and producers. Since I'd already covered the exploits of a pair of upstarts, I agreed it would be good to know more about the people who have toiled to establish Houston's electronic-music scene.

"We're the underdogs here and we've always been the underdogs," offers Dupont. "Being in the South and being in Texas, we're even bigger underdogs."

"I think we all kind of like that," says Eddie Spettro, Dupont's partner in Extended Play, their joint production effort. "The challenge is cool."

The work they've done, along with their peers, has resulted in regular gigs and exciting special events, including two this weekend. Tonight, they'll play sets, along with fellow DJ Eric Salzman, at Grand Prize Bar. The event is a fund raiser for Workshop Houston, a local program offering youth-development classes, including a music-production course Extended Play instructs.

Saturday's event is Praia Urbana, the long-running house-music fest expected to draw thousands to Last Concert Café. Extended Play will spin a couple of sets in advance of headliners Riva Starr and Ellen Allien, from Italy and Germany, respectively.

According to Dupont, Spettro and fellow DJ James Reed, these visitors will be greeted by a growing Houston scene that literally has yet to find its groove.

"It's a big city," Dupont says. "The scene is smaller than it really should be, but there's a really good, loyal, quality scene here. Houston is a very international city. That really helps with house music in general because overseas in Europe, and in South America, house music is normal."

"You hear it in McDonald's and random places like that," adds Spettro.

"Here, it's still very underground," Dupont explains. "When a lot of these people come to Houston to work for companies like Shell, on a two-year contract, they'll stumble into one of our parties and be like, 'Oh my God, we're so glad we found you guys.'"

It's getting increasingly easier to find this trio; all have standing gigs. Reed and Dupont oversee Kinda Super Disco, a last-Friday-of-the-month party offering nu-disco and deep house at Boondocks. Extended Play teams with Praia Urbana's Bobby Blyss for La Pista, a monthly at Jet Lounge that focuses on the darker side of deep house. Dupont holds court Sunday-afternoon day party on Royal Oak's patio.

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.