Ron Carroll described the roadblocks early house artists faced as they tried to amass radio plays even in their own city, saying that radio stations and the wider public “viewed house as a lower form of music. Remember, music is promoted by one’s interest and their ego. So house music was seen as the maverick, gay sound – at the time they didn’t want it on the radio because they thought it was bad, they thought you should start taking drugs from it. They all thought this, that’s why this country has never been locked in. Whereas in Europe you didn’t just see it in one sect – bottle service clubs, regular clubs, they played it. When I was growing up, you had to find it.”
Detroit techno has had a movement since the turn of the millennium, so why has it taken so long for Chicago house to reach the important (yet arguably fundamental) milestone with an event like ARC, which aims to empower the founding fathers of house music in a globally competitive festival setting? Amid longstanding, systemic barriers, particularly for black performers, in the American music industry, including the struggle for the broad reach and perceived legitimacy that radio play afforded in the ’80s and ’90s, Chip E offers an analogy for how all the innovations that house gave the world may have taken for granted in the genre’s country of origin.
“I’m always talking to people about Mrs. Fields’ cookies. If Mrs. Fields were your mom, people would say, “Oh yeah, your mom makes good cookies,” but people who actually buy them say, “These are the best cookies in the world.” But for you, because you’re Mrs. Fields’s kid, you think, ‘They’re just cookies. She bakes cookies on Sundays. It does not matter.'”
When you attend ARC you will experience different qualities of the music and the surrounding culture, which started here near this festival site: the ethos, the sound and the message have spread all over the world, and after being reinterpreted, flipped and sampled, it reverberates back into the city during this event. The truth is that now that house music has become so deeply entrenched among audiences around the world, many of whom have taken it in countless new directions, there’s still a little bit of Chicago everywhere. No matter how far the sounds themselves have strayed from the swayed 909 patterns and sultry, powerfully emotional vocals, by listening to house music in any form, the audience is paying tribute to what has emerged from Chicago, whether they remember it or not. realize or not. Many of the Chicago DJs billed at ARC have routinely thrown their own parties in Chicago for decades, disregarding the waves of ephemeral mainstream attention that cyclically flood the genre and the city.