Tony Humphries has been one of the most committed house music pioneers for more than a generation, commencing his DJ career at Zanzibar in New York in the early 80s before becoming ‘remixer of choice’ for acts such as Soul II Soul and Chaka Khan.
As this interview from I-D Magazine in 1992 points out (taken from Apiento’s collection on the excellent Test Pressing blog), Humphries has also long been a champion of the little guy, as evidenced by the range of unknown artists he broadcast on his former show on Kiss FM New York.
“We’re here to take care of the UK and the independent companies ‘cos the majors can really make a record a hit by themselves – we’re worried about the small guy, the really obscure or local records that won’t get any play or regular radio. Somebody can give us a tape that was done two days ago and it’s on. Definitely.”
He’s also one of dance music’s unsung heroes – shunning the limelight in favour of getting the job done right. As the interviewer discovers, his choice of residence (New Jersey, instead of fashionable New York) underlines this.
As Humphries explains, “A lot of people say, ‘he’s not sociable, he don’t hang out, he doesn’t rub shoulders with anybody’. I just try to stay away from all that. I have three, four, five friends and that’s it. That way I stay honest…”
[Kudos to Test Pressing for publishing the article, photo by Matthew R Lewis]