The Transplant mini-series will explore those concerns by asking the people who have already done it. From rural areas to citified hysteria – this interview may answer your questions.
From releasing wax to throwing down tracks, Pat Nice is notorious for his producing and DJing skills. So it’s not surprise that this Chicago transplant is doing just fine. Continuing on with the transplant series, next up to plate is former-KC-hometown hero, Pat Nice. Having moved to Chicago, then back to KC, then back to Chicago, Pat is finally fitting in nicely with his house-laden surroundings. A trip I took up to Chicago over the winter found Pat lounging at Zentra amongst some of the who’s who of Chicago house music, so I thought he’d be a “grade A” candidate for imparting some advice on us . . .
Tell me a little about your story - where did you grow up, did you move around at all and where do you live now?
I was born in Brownsville, Texas. My father was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot. I moved to Kansas City in 1991, just shy of my 21st birthday. KC is the longest time I've spent in any one particular place. I now live in Chicago. I actually moved here once before, but that didn't work out. I moved back here in the summer of 2004.
Where did you live when you first started DJing and what drove you to take DJing and producing to the next step?
I lived in Dallas when I first started toying around with records. There were several great shops there at the time. I moved to Wichita, KS when I was 16. I was into hip hop at that time, just playing at neighborhood gatherings and all that. I later met some kids from school who were from Chicago. They would let me copy mix tapes they had of Hot Mix 5, and I was feelin' it right away. I was buying house and disco records anywhere I could get my hands on them. I didn't really start taking it too seriously until 1990, when I played my first large-scale party. There were 1500 people in the spot just going nuts, and that single event is what inspired me to take the next steps. I didn't start producing until around 99. It's the next logical step for any DJ with a decent amount of dance floor experience, but I always told myself that I'd get around to it when I felt comfortable. For me that time came later rather than sooner.
So at one point you lived in a smaller metropolitan area with an electronic music scene. What motivated you to move to where you are?
Sure I could've moved to plenty of other cities, but this is the birthplace of the music that has changed my life. I love Chicago, honestly it's the best city I've ever lived in, and for a lot more reasons than House. It's an enormous city, yet the people here have a "Midwest friendliness" about them. No complaints. Kansas City is where I learned just about everything I know about DJ'ing and producing. And it will always be my Hometown! But I feel comfortable and quite at home in Chicago now that I've been here a while.
So when you moved, what was it like? Did people in the music industry take you seriously since you were from a smaller scene?
I think leaving people behind was the hardest part of all. I've made some lifelong friends in KC, people who will always have a special place in my heart. I didn't really have a hard time meeting people here, as I've been playing raves parties and other gigs in the Midwest for a while now and have a lot of friends here. Having records out helps a lot as far as people taking you seriously or whatever. If people have heard of your records, that lifts some weight off your shoulders. I feel pretty lucky that things are going smoothly. I am fully aware that's not so easy to come by here. Loads of people here spin records and make beats.
From a career standpoint - was it hard finding a job to sustain the higher cost of living?
It wasn't hard to find a job at all. It doesn't pay anything though (laughs). But it pays the rent. I don't have a car here, which rids me of a lot of extra expense. I love that. Plus my job is only about a 20-minute walk from my apartment. It's working out.
How is your music career now? Are things the way you envisioned them to be before you moved to Chicago?
Things are picking up nicely. I'm doing a lot of remixes and working on some new tunes. But not any more or less than I was doing back home. I do play on a pretty regular basis around the city, and have a new residency kicking off this spring. Nothing is ever the "way you envisioned it to be,” but it's close enough (laughs).
What advice would you give to people who are considering a transplant to pursue music more fully?
Basically just do your homework. Make as many trips there as you can before you decide. Try to have a job as soon as possible. That's pretty much it.
Alright, I think that's good. If you have anything else you would like to say, please do so.
Acid House makes the Baby Jesus Dance.