In Interview: NYC ’90s House Legend Tommy Bones Shares His Love For Vinyl

Making moves on Kwench Records, Cassy’s club-steady record label, is New York-based DJ and producer Tommy Bones, and he brings in renowned US vocalist and regular collaborator Lydia Rhodes who’s known for a string of seminal club anthems through the ‘90s and early ‘00s.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Tommy Bones’ fixation on house music and dancing would pull him to the heady lights of New York in the early ‘90s. Rubbing shoulders with living legends Lil’ Louie Vega, Kenny Dope and David Morales, and hitting hallowed institutions Limelight, Sound Factory and Tunnel, he’d thrive in his environment. DJing led to producing in the 2000s, with his tracks landing on coveted labels Nervous Records, Dopewax, Strictly Rhythm, Defected and King Street. After over 20 years in the industry his passion continues to burn brightly, whether that be through his productions, behind the DJ booth or via his now renowned weekly DJ broadcasts, 4-4 Sessions.

“I’ve had a go-to stash of Tommy’s tracks in my collection for years. His productions are vitalising, packed with energy and they absolutely lift a crowd. I actually met him at ADE last year while I was playing one of his tracks and hadn’t realised he was in the booth behind me. Fantastic to finally have a moment with him face-to-face and thank him for his music. I’ve road-tested his EP for Kwench and it is fire.” – Cassy

His two-track dispatch kicks off with engrossing title track featuring Lydia Rhodes, and we cut straight to the heat, with Bones’ blistering bassline and Rhodes laying it on thick with feverish vocals. ‘Acid Rain’ steams in second, relentless and uplifting, with all horns blazing.

As we premiere ‘Acid Rain’ from the release, we also grabbed a chat with Tommy to talk all things vinyl.

How many vinyl records do you own?

I did own at one time have over 5,000. I recently went through and sold a few that I felt I could do without, but I would say what I have is the best of the best when it comes to solid classic house music. You can find anything from Larry Heard, Blaze, Nu Groove Records, Kerri Chandler, Jazzanova, Warp Records, Ron Trent, Frankie Knuckles, classic jersey house, rare remixes, test pressings, imports and everything in between!

How old were you when you started collecting records?

I’d say aged five. I was influenced by my neighbour who played the guitar, and gave me my first drum set. I played the drums to Kiss, AC/DC, Van Halen… mostly rock music. I collected some hip-hop vinyl as a child but I wouldn’t say I started collecting music to DJ with until I was 13.

The first record you got with your own money?

Hmm… This is hard to say as my mother actually bought me my first records. When I was a kid they actually sold records at department stores. I would go to that aisle and tell her the records I wanted and she would buy them. When I started DJing I lived in the suburbs of Connecticut and I would cut grass to buy vinyl. My neighbour would pay me 20 dollars and I would run to the store and buy four to five records. I remember my first records were Kid N Play ‘2 Hype’ and Eric B & Rakim ‘Follow The leader’.

Second-hand dig you’re most proud of?

It’s hard to recall because I was buying so much in the ‘90s and early 2000s. I did a lot of catching up on records I missed since I started playing house music around 91/92. I was always looking through the older bins for classics I had missed.

What is the most valuable record in your collection?

Probably one of my own, ‘Black Concept’ on Strictly Rhythm. It was a limited pressing while Strictly and Defected had a partnership. I believe only 300 copies that were stamped TEST. Now I’ve seen them sell for as much as 60 dollars on Discogs.

Your favourite vinyl artwork?

Mr. Fingers ‘What About This Love’ “12”. It was one of the first records I saw on the wall when buying house music. It was Larry Heard’s style of dress… I was a dancer and we all dressed that way in the early ‘90s. A lil bit of afrocentricity.

The record shop you’d blow your cash in?

Back in the days, the stores were mostly in Manhattan, like Downtown Records, Rock & Soul, Dance Tracks, and Cutlers in New Haven Connecticut.

A record that never leaves your bag?

Probably Frankie Knuckles ‘The Whistle Song’… To this day it is like a breath of fresh air. I remember being on the dance floor with no air conditioning and feeling the record go through me as the Bertha bass bins played that bassline. Goosebumps every time!

Tommy Bones’ In The Night EP is out August 23rd on Kwench Records and available HERE

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