When Paradinas put out Bangs & Works Vol 1 in 2010, it sent shock waves through dance music. Planet Mu’s landmark compilation introduced the world to a strange new sound coming out of South and West Chicago which, for all intents and purposes, blew minds. That sound was footwork, a descendent of ghettohouse which, as it transpired, had been around for years but had remained largely unknown outside of Chicago. Unknown, that is, until Mike Paradinas sorted through a few thousand tracks and selected his favourite 24 for Bangs & Works. Evolving out of 4/4 juke, footwork producers added manic syncopation and blitzkrieg sample-craft in a bid to create a music reflective of the increasingly intricate, trick-laden and aggressive dance moves displayed at juke battles.
The outcome was avant, abstract and, for the virgin listener, difficult to comprehend. Just for a moment it was as though the future was back, just when we were beginning to think that the “shock of the new” in dance music was a thing of the past.
Five years later, footwork continues to impact the British scene, but it’s no longer a darling of dance music journalism. As the Chicago scene faces trying times following the untimely death of DJ Rashad, one of footwork’s founding fathers, we talk to the man who brought the genre to Britain to find out where the future lies for the Windy City’s very most mind-bending dance invention.
Thump: Have you come across a footwork mini-scene of sorts, or even footwork nights and regular battles, either in London or farther afield in Britain?
Mike Paradinas: Well there’s that Dalston label, We Buy Gold. I DJ’d at one of their nights a while back.