Key Tracks: Ron Trent on “Morning Factory”

How The Sound Factory’s soundsystem helped to inspire one of the greatest house tracks ever made.

Ron Trent has always been identified as a product of the Midwest. He comes from Chicago, and some of the pioneering deep house work with Chez Damier on Prescription was composed in Kevin Saunderson’s studios in Detroit. What often goes underrated, as he reveals in his 2007 lecture at the Academy in Toronto, is the impact that a trip to New York in the early ’90s had on Trent’s music.

Chez Damier and Ron Trent – Morning Factory

When you’re listening to Prescription stuff, the old stuff, it is very soundsystem-oriented. You might not get all the elements of what it’s about, unless you listen to it on a really good soundsystem. We experienced really good soundsystems in our time. A lot of people nowadays, they don’t really get a chance to experience really good, hi-fidelity sound in the club. There’s nothing like it.

What’s happening on a real good system is that a lot of warm feelings happen, a lot of things are evoked. Your body feels good, you feel like you’re being massaged. When you’re feeling like you’re being massaged and you’re hearing quality music – presented to you in a quality way – a next level of euphoria happens. And when you experience quality, you don’t want anything else. Everything else is garbage.

The pinnacle was Paradise Garage. That was it, you know? From talking to people who have actually worked under Richard Long – the guy who developed the soundsystem in the Paradise Garage – the technology and the information that they synthesized at that time has not been beat yet. I got a chance to experience what probably would be The Garage on a smaller scale, which was The Sound Factory in New York. I went there in about 1991. Frankie [Knuckles] was playing there – he had moved back to New York City by this time.

Chez [Damier] has talked in interviews how we experienced soundsystems and came back into the studio and tried to synthesize that experience. Well, “Morning Factory” was just that. It was called “Morning Factory” because of the experience at The Sound Factory.

At that time we were going back and forth to New York, because I was living in Detroit. Junior Vasquez was playing at the time. Now, Junior is a different kind of DJ. [smiles] He would play stuff that made you go like, “What the hell is this? This is garbage.” But he had the power of the sound, OK? So, by the time he had played it two or three times, you would be in the middle of the floor, like: “This is great!” I mean, that’s how powerful it is.

That happened to me too. There was this record that I hated that was playing on the radio before I went to New York by Jomanda called “Got a Love for You.” I couldn’t stand this record ’cause they were playing it on the radio, and it had this cheesy saxophone on it. [squeaks] I couldn’t stand that shit.

Jomanda – Got A Love For You

We went to New York for the New Music Seminar, and I went to check out Frankie. This was when Frankie and David Morales were doing their Def Mix productions thing. He was playing “(What Is) This [Thing Called] Love” by Alexander O’Neal, and then he broke into Jomanda. I was staying to the side and looked and said, “This is garbage.” But he kept working the record, kept bringing it back, mixing it, mixing it. And man, by the time, like ten minutes later, I was all in it. [laughs]

That’s also about the power of the DJ, too. A real good programmer can get you really deep into a record. It’s not about a guy getting up there and tweaking on some knobs, it’s about a guy playing records and really caring about what he’s presenting to you.

So I bought a record while in New York and took it back to the studio in Detroit and cut it up in the MPC and manipulated the sound. At Prescription I was more or less the music guy, I synthesized the sound and Chez was more the spiritual philosopher. He really knew how to work the studio. We had Genelec Nearfield monitors and Tannoy speakers in the wall, an old analog board. Kevin Saunderson was always buying new equipment and experimenting with things, but he would get so much stuff he would never have the time to work with it. He was always busy, so me and Chez took advantage of that.

So that’s why “Morning Factory” is a hypnotic piece, very euphoric on the dancefloor. You don’t appreciate it unless you stand on the floor. It’s very dubby, but I was always a big reggae and dub guy. That’s always been my approach, like Lee “Scratch” Perry.

By Ron Trent on April 11, 2013

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