BOO WILLIAMS with PETER & TYRONE, ION, MARCO MARQUEZ & MARTINO LOZGE and ROB DABOOM at Red Square (47 Duncan), tonight (Thursday, May 22). $10. 416-593-6660.
Always ready to talk to a fan, and usually out on the dance floor shaking it to the opening DJs, Chicago house DJ Boo Williams seems genuinely grateful to be making a living spinning records.A few years back, though, he was actually considering giving up the life of a relentlessly touring DJ.
"I was going to, but too many people have told me that I inspired them and influenced them, and after a while of hearing that, well, it just brought tears to my eyes and made me think I should stay with it."
Williams is serious about his house music, even if, as he admits, it's just about a having a good time. He's passionate about that good time and bewildered by people who come to clubs without that intention.
"Nowadays it seems like a lot of people just come because it's a fad or a fashion. You see them stand against the wall and look, and it takes them a long time to get into it.
"Then you have the dedicated people who really come to hear you and are dancing their hearts out, but they've got people looking at them like they're crazy."
Williams has been DJing for more than 20 years, but he didn't start producing records until the early 90s. Tired of having to go down to Glenn Underground's studio whenever he has an idea for a track, he's currently putting together his own studio.
"Back in the 80s I was doing some tracks with a drum machine, but I didn't start doing real production until I met up with Glenn Underground. I thought I was really getting down with my one little drum machine until I heard his stuff; he had keyboards and all this other stuff going on."
The two realized they had some common ground and decided to pool their equipment and work together. Over the years, both have built names for themselves as soulful but open-minded producers. Both have deep roots in house's disco and soul origins, and they share a knack for dance-floor-filling but also musical tracks.
Together, they record as Strictly Jaz Unit, but Williams has a few pseudonyms of his own to allow him to explore all his sides.
"When I do the Moon Man stuff it's more tech house, tech jazz. When I do the Willie Snickers style it's the old-school disco loops. When I do Mandrake it's more like old Chicago, like the stuff I used to do on Relief.
"Willie Griffin is actually my real name. Originally, I wasn't too fond of it, but then someone told me that it sounds like a musician's name. The Boo Williams and the Willie Griffin names are universal music, all styles, but within the house style."