“We’ve always kept it organic…” 909originals chats to house duo Iz & Diz

Production duo Iz & Diz (aka Dwayne ‘Diz’ Washington and Joshua ‘Iz’ Michaels) have been turning out quality house music since the early 90s, with releases on labels such as Classic, Silver Network, Seasons, Vizual Records, Tweekin’ and OM.

The duo have just announced the re-release of their upfront 2003 track Strong on a new, London-based label, What Goes Around, with the release backed by a remix from INSTINCT, aka James Burnham/Burnski. You can purchase/stream it here.

909originals caught up with the pair.

For our readers who aren’t familiar with you, can you please introduce yourselves and give some background of your music career?

Diz: I started playing records in 1985 – mostly borrowed soul from family members – and the love grew from there. Going to jams and just immersing myself in the music, not to romanticise things.. lol.

The past year has been a strange time for everyone with the effects of the pandemic. How have you found things and what have you been doing to stay focused and busy?

Diz: For a time, things were a bit tough, we were adjusting to not seeing friends and just assessing what we were all going through – but it brought into focus what was important. Having to pivot in order to just live has had it’s challenges, but I’m thankful for the time I’ve gotten to reflect and also forge new ground for the future.

What Goes Around has just released Strong, which was originally out on Seasons Recordings in 2003. Can you tell us about the track, was it well-received when it was first released?

Diz: For me, it was a tribute to Caroline Crawford’s Coming On Strong – a record that was played on many house music dance floors in Chicago in the 80s. It banged on so many levels. I felt we were paying tribute, while bringing it into the present. Thankfully it was well received.

The release also features a remix from James Burnham aka INSTINCT. How did the remix come about?

Diz: I’m not really sure, but I totally feel INSTINCT did us proud. Great take on it, indeed!

You have released on labels like Silver Network, Classic, Seasons Recordings, Tweekin Records, Aesoteric Records and have toured all over the world. Do you prefer DJing or production?

Diz: Djing and Producing are two completely different disciplines. I enjoy them both as I feel we’ve both logged the hours for mastery but have left room for growth.

Your first single for Classic, Wiggle While We Work, featured the seminal track Mouth, which was comprised entirely of your vocal snippets. Can you tell us more about how this came about and the production process?

Diz: Iz and I both prefer to just go where the moment takes us in regard to production. What simply started out and me making sounds on the mic soon morphed into a feeling which we then chipped away and the tune emerged.

That’s at least how I remember it – there was no planning. We went where the moment took us.

Can you tell us what it was like to be involved in the music scene in Chicago in the 90s?

Iz: Being friends with and being surrounded by the likes of Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Chez Damier, Cajmere, Sneak to name a few, Chicago in the 90’s was bliss for an aspiring DJ/producer.

Just a bunch of young adults finding themselves musically and getting shitfaced while we did it.

Do you have any new musical projects you can tell us about?

Diz: There are a few Iz & Diz projects that are in the skeleton phase, which will indeed make their way to the dance floor at some point. We’ve always kept it organic. Working and releasing when WE want – not how the dancefloor market dictates. It’s kept us honest with ourselves I think.

What are your thoughts on the electronic music scene at the moment and do you think it will be different post pandemic?

Iz: Sadly, streaming is the only outlet and that’s where ‘the scene’ lies. I don’t prefer it but it’s what we have currently, but the dance floor in coming back with a vengeance

What are your passions outside of music?

Diz: Cooking is big for me. The pandemic has allowed me to hone in on that. There is indeed a pleasure I get from it. I also find that I’m reading more. I’m diving in at each turn of an actual page. I’m currently re-reading Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.

[Thanks again to Iz & Diz for chatting to us. New release Strong has just been released, and can be purchased/streamed here]

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