Interview: In the Studio

Interview with Peter McLean

Interview with Peter McLean

1. Why did you start a dance label?
First of all – dance music should make people feel good. If you’re down it lifts you up – if you’re up it lifts you higher. I enjoy dance music because of the unity it creates at a party or on a dance floor – no matter what size, nationality, or sexual orientation of the crowd. I try to make the kind of music I would like to hear and that I feel there isn’t enough of in the marketplace – catchy, melodic, with an interesting blend of musical styles, stellar performances, and top-quality production values…so here ’tis – D1 Music.

2. How will D1 Music be different from the other dance labels (i.e. Subliminal Records , Robbins Entertainment, Ultra etc.)?
D1 Music is a fully self sufficient production house. We are committed to writing, producing, and recording the best of the best. D1 Music is also equipped with top-of-the-line production and post production facilities. We don’t want to churn out questionable product on a hit-and-miss basis. We want all of our music to have chart appeal, strong crossover potential, and great international appeal. We hope D1 Music releases will become classics over the years.

3. What kind of artists will you be signing to your label?
An artist’s appeal can be a very difficult thing to put your finger on. We all know recording artists with great pipes, but not much else. On the other hand there are some fantastic artists who may not have the chops technically speaking, but who have tremendous appeal to broad audiences. We’ll be developing and working with vocalists that have both great vocal ability and great “star quality.” We’re also looking at up-and-coming DJ’s with unique style to carry the D1 Music banner at the hottest clubs and dance parties here in the US and overseas. For DJ’s and vocalists, the ability to perform in front of a live audience is crucial. It’s always disappointing to an audience when an artist doesn’t sound as good live as they do on record, or if they can only lip sync.

4. What’s more important – slammin’ beats or wailing vocals?
Both are important! In the best of dance music you don’t have to choose. I think the best tracks combine an irresistible groove that gets under your skin and makes you want to move your body with the universal appeal of the human voice. The beats speak to your body – the voice speaks to your heart and mind. The best vocal performances have an undeniable emotional content or truth – even if the emotion or truth is being consciously manipulated by studio techniques. A true diva singer should pour his or her soul into the performance to make whatever emotion they are communicating immediate and utterly believable. That said, we also work with some of the hottest beatmeisters in the business, including DJ Juan Valentine and producer/engineer Keith Kemper from 2 Da Groove Productions. We think the beats and arrangements on The Music Is So Beautiful are great examples of the marriage of instrumental tracks and vocals – like finely crafted settings for the shining, soaring, jewel-like vocals of the D1 Music artists.

5. How did you find Wanda Houston and Lisa Hunt?
I first met Lisa Hunt when she was touring Australia about ten years ago. It wasn’t long before we were in the studios recording and creating what would be the future seed for D1 Music. I still remember the look on the face of the engineer as Lisa began to open up that powerhouse voice of hers that made the whole studio jump. Australia’s top DJ/Producer Pee Wee Ferris did a great remix of some of our work. Soon Lisa and I had a national hit on our hands in the clubs and on the charts. Felipe Rose of the Village People was touring with ‘the boys’ in Australia and invited me to come to America to work with some artists he was developing at his label, Tomahawk Records.

I first met Wanda Houston while she was touring Australia with a stage musical called Sisterella. It was ‘love to work with you at first sight’. We clicked straight away. Soon after, I left for the US, and when Wanda returned to the US she also settled in New York where Lisa and I were also living. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had a vision of ‘Two Tons o’ Fun plus One’ which evolved into the creation of the band D1. After a brief time in the studios and playing live around the New York club scene, it was obvious the group D1 was a great combination. The tracks we recorded during this time became the current D1 Music album The Music Is So Beautiful. D1 Music was born.

To find one singer like Lisa or Wanda is a treasure. Two is a divine blessing.

6. What D1 Music releases are scheduled for 2004?
Our compilation The Music Is So Beautiful is just out and we couldn’t be more pleased with the response it’s getting from club crowds, DJ’s and critics. We wanted this release to establish D1 Music in the market place and to remind people how good dance music can be – sexy, fun, always with a surprise and a fresh point of view. The first single release “The Joint Is Jumpin” slams out of the gate with a bumpin’ two-step beat and diva vocals by Lisa Hunt. She sounds like a cross between Loleatta Holloway and Martha Wash – she’s going to be huge and we are overjoyed to have her.

There are several other strong tracks on The Music Is So Beautiful that we are considering for a second single release in the summer. Presently we are talking to DJ’s and artists about various remix opportunities and are we busy in the studio with our newly signed D1 Music artist Supanova, whose first single is due out later this year leading up to our next full length CD release. We feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented people and to have so much really great material. In addition, of course we have our ear to the ground to hear what record buyers, club crowds, and DJ’s tell us they want to listen to.

7. What direction would you like to see dance music move toward? More vocals? Heavier beats? Trance? Techno?
The great thing about the diversity we’re seeing in the dance music business music today is that everyone can find something they like. D1 Music will focus on dynamic big-room house music with uplifting vocals (maybe tempered with a few laid back instrumentals and cool raps). There are many people out there making excellent Hard House, Trance, Down-tempo, Techno etc. Although we may borrow a vibe or a musical texture from our dance music “cousins”, D1 Music will carry the flag for slammin’, butt-wigglin’, diva-lovin’ house music. But we are definitely open to the transformative power and crossover potential of remixes in other styles.

8. Who will distribute D1 Music?
D1 Music is distributed through dance legend Nile Rogers’ Sumthing Distribution. Nile’s company is one of the most successful and respected independent record distributors in the U.S. and serves all major outlets such as Virgin, Wal-Mart, and Sam Goody, as well as the small independent record shops and specialty dance music stores that many DJs favor.

D1 music is also available for download online at major outlets I-Tunes,,, and at our own web site What’s great is that you have a choice. You can listen to samples and download one or all of the tracks quickly and easily or purchase the actual CD.

9. How do you find new artists?
D1 Music is always on the look out for new talent – both artists and on the production side. We don’t want to sign too many people – only people we know we can work with to really maximize their full potential. We screen demo tapes, visit clubs and other live performance venues, talk to agents, search the Internet and track other record company artist rosters. It’s a real lucky dip but if it means finding the next Kristine W or Deborah Cox then we will take ‘the road less traveled’.

10. How do you plan to bring dance music to the mainstream?
The plan is very ‘Field of Dreams’: “Make it good and they will come.” I think dance music has always had tremendous appeal, but like everything else in modern society it can be subject to fashion’s whim. We’ve recently seen the rise of dance music artists in the pop ranks (isn’t Britney Spears essentially a dance artist?) and the importance of superstar producer/remixers like Hex Hector, Peter Rauhofer, Victor Calderone, Junior Vasquez, and the sadly departed Thunderpuss. So we think that the mainstream audience is ready to embrace dance music in a big way. Maybe an intermediate category for pop/dance will begin to differentiate itself in the maketplace. D1 Music will be out there with excellent product to help convince them.

11. How will technology play a role in the way D1 Music produces and distributes it’s albums?
Technology is integral to the recording business these days and it can be a help or a hindrance. Today’s recording technology allows a drastic reduction in production costs, but rather than using that advantage to turn out cookie-cutter product, we think the technology allows us the freedom to be even more creative. While three or two or even just one technician in a room with a computer can create a whole record, it’s important to remember that the technolgy is a tool and not the end in itself. We feel that live instruments and passionate vocals are the heart and blood of electronically produced music.

On the sales side, today’s technology also allows us to distribute the music anywhere and everywhere quickly and efficiently. If anyone happens not to be near a shop that carries the CD, it’s available for download conveniently and legally anywhere there’s an Internet connection.

12. How will D1 Music combat piracy?
Piracy is undoubted one of the biggest challenges facing the music business and all of the creative arts. It’s an ironic dilemma: how do you prevent people from trading free, perfect digital copies of the art you’ve worked so hard to ensure that they will like?

What we’re doing now is making sure the word is out that there is no need to bootleg D1 Music. You can get it quickly, easily and cheaply online – one track or the whole CD. D1 Music supports the efforts of the various performing artist and publishing societies and the recording industry to find solutions that don’t involve suing and prosecuting for illegal file-sharing. We’re confident that an equitable solution will be discovered that will allow people to enjoy the music they love and will reward artists fairly for making it lovable. In the end we believe that consumers want to support artists they like and want to do the right thing. We feel that making our music readily available though legal channels is the best way to combat piracy.

13. Who is your target audience?
Of course we’re targeting people who love dance music. It’s always a thrill to play back and hear at home those tracks that rocked the dance floor last Saturday night at the club or at a circuit party – but we’re also interested in reaching people who don’t go out, but who enjoy the infectious uplifting quality of house music from day to day at the gym, driving, or chilling with friends.

14. What popular artists have influenced your taste in music?
Here’s a mixed bag – Prince, Pavarotti, Abba, Missy Elliott, C&C Music Factory, Aretha Franklin, Meatloaf, Elton John, Judas Priest, Martha Wash, Outkast and of course Kylie!

15. Will music videos accompany D1 Music single releases?
We would love to have a video presentation for every single – but we don’t want to produce an inferior quality video just to have something to show. When you see a D1 Music video be assured it will slam as hard as the track. We’re talking to talented directors and photographers about creating images that will enhance the D1 Music experience.