Teddy Douglas and DJ Exclaime talk this weekend’s Respekt party at Paradox
Back in February, long-running Baltimore club The Paradox reopened, after months of renovations, with Respekt, a party that brought together hometown dance music icons like Teddy Douglas and Karizma with DJ Exclaime and DJ Fleg, who’d been making noise in recent years with the Four Hours Of Funk party at the Windup Space. The first Respekt was wildly successful, and the DJs behind it are hoping to make it a biannual tradition. This weekend Respekt will return to the Paradox in time for Halloween with a theme party at the Paradox. I recently sat down in Charles Village with Teddy Douglas, Graham “DJ Exclaime” Hatke and Karizma as they were planning the big night (although Karizma opted to let his friends do the talking):
City Paper: So let’s talk about Respekt.
Teddy Douglas: The resident DJs are myself, Graham, Fleg, Boodamonk, Karizma, Spen and myself, and we’re doing Halloween theme, Willy Wonka theme this time around.
CP: How far are you going with the theme, are there costumes and decorations?
Graham Hatke: [holding out a card] So basically, like, these are the flyers for the party, which are essentially ‘golden tickets.’ It’s actually worth a little bit of something because it’s like three dollars off. We’re gonna be having some chocolate bars with Respekt wrappers that are in the same sort of design scheme, stuff like that.
TD: It’s Halloween weekend, it’s not actually Halloween, so but we’re sure people gonna dress up in the theme of the party, so with the club we’re basically gonna turn it into a chocolate factory. The Four Hours of Funk guys are gonna have their room, and Spen and Karizma and I have the main room.
CP: So you’re already looking forward to making it a tradition of doing this twice a year?
GH: Yeah. It makes it a pretty good thing to just sort of gather up everyone.
CP: Had you done anything together before that?
TD: Yeah, actually, what really spawned the whole thing was they invited me to do a Four Hours of Funk party for them, about six months prior to the first party. I’d also been talking to Spen and Karizma to doing a party, and I came up with the idea to do our party all together, and it’s been a brilliant collaboration between the parties involved. Our communities are working together really really really well. I don’t think Baltimore has anything like it. And you’re gonna hear all different kinds of music, there’s gonna be breakers.
GH: A lot of the different dance crews from Baltimore and D.C. come out, and that’s, which is different. You would think that would sort of be a daunting thing, but people feel welcomed by it, actually. These are people from their 40s to teenagers.
TD: We’re looking at a big age demographic, that represents the party, I’m the oldest of the guys, so you’re gonna get that demographic of the kids who want to know about the history, and then you have the house heads that are gonna be there because they know what they’re gonna get.
GH: The thing of it is that with house music, it’s really hard nowadays to get really good stuff, or to experience it with other DJs.
CP: As far as finding a venue for the music?
GH: It’s everything, finding new music online or new records, finding a party that might play it.
CP: Is it because people aren’t making it as much or it’s not as popular?
TD: It’s the way we obtain music, there’s no stores, there’s no one champion saying “You should buy this.”
GH: People, especially younger people, especially kids that are dancers, are very captivated by house. They might’ve grown up breakdancing, but now they wanna get into something that’s a little more soulful and a little more free in certain ways. Being able to be in the loop of a party like this gives them an opportunity to experience the real thing, which is very hard to come by.
TD: Which is reminiscent of when I first started DJing in the ‘80s, there was all kinds of music being played in the club, there was Sugar Hill Gang, there was house music, there was all kinds of music. So when I started DJing there was a mesh of music, I played everything from Kraftwerk to Trouble Funk, everything in between, Depeche Mode.
CP: Yeah, I’ve read about how back then guys like Afrika Bambataa would have eclectic tastes just because they would be willing to play anything dance-ready, because there was so only so much music geared toward DJs at that point.
TD: At the clubs I hung at like the Paradise Garage, if it was danceable, it was played.
CP: Now there’s a hundred records in any specific style, so if you want to play a really narrow spectrum of music, you’ll never run out.
TD: Right. And this party represents that. The name came up, Respekt is actually, we kinda played off of our initials, like S is for Spen, T is for Teddy, and K is Karizma – we don’t have any initials for [the Four Hours of Funk] guys!
GH: It’s ok, it’s ok. (laughs)
TD: Karizma actually came up with the name, and it is basically about respecting the origins where all of this is coming from. We were just talking about bringing in international guest DJs maybe once a year to even give the party another little layer of spice.
CP: What is the generation gap here? How old are you?
GH: I’m 30.
CP: And how old are you?
TD: I’m 48.
CP: So it’s a big gap.
GH: But it all comes together as one.
CP: I’m the same age as you, and I think it’s all about whether people of our generation have some respect and curiosity for what came before.
TD: There’s something to be said for that, because I think a lot of kids really wanna feel that, because everything comes from something. I just think it was a brilliant idea for us all to join forces. When I went to the Four Hours of Funk party, these guys are playing music that I used to play when I was a young DJ, and I was like hey, these guys are searching and they got a heavy collection. And then they have this audience, the 20-year-old audience, I thought that was interesting.