Hear the 1995 Midwest Mixtape That Introduced America to Daft Punk
Terry Mullan's 'New School Fusion Vol. 2' lit The EDM Fuse 20 Years Ago
In his oral history of Daft Punk's first U.S. show—which took place, surprisingly, deep in the American Midwest—author Michaelangelo Matos repeats an assertion that the pre-helmeted french duo was first brought to the attention of the Midwest rave scene thanks to one mixtape—New School Fusion, Vol. 2 by Chicago via St. Louis DJ Terry Mullan. The tape, released several months before DP's booking at Drop Bass' annual Furthur festival in rural Wisconsin, closed with the b-side to Daft Punk's second single for Soma records, "Da Funk." Tacked on to the end of the cassette at the last minute by Mullan, the track (and tape) became so ubiquitous that regional rave zine editor Matt Bonde (Matt Massive) told Matos, "People called it "That Terry Mullan song."
This might make Mullan a mere mention in the meteoric rise of Daft Punk, but at the time of the New School Fusion's release in 1995, Daft Punk were two untested producers from the as-yet inconsequential Paris house scene, while Mullan was something of Midwest rave royalty, releasing mega-selling mixtapes (10,000 copies sold, with hundreds of thousands high-speed dubbed), and running with Chicago heavy-hitters such as Derrick Carter, DJ Sneak and Green Velvet (all of whom merited mention on Daft Punk's callout tribute anthem "Teachers").
New School Fusion, Vol. 2 was the follow-up to the 1993 original, but the cassette eclipsed anything of that era in it's masterful mixing and top-shelf track selection that helped to power millions of miles driven by regional ravers as they road-tripped to weekly events across the Midwest party circuit that stretched from Detroit in the east and Louisville in the south to Kansas City in the west and Minneapolis to the north (with Chicago, Columbus, Milwaukee, Madison and more towns in the middle).
The cassette starts with the self-titled monster jam by little known Dutch producer Essit Muzique, a track that manages to pack three ear-worm 303 lines into a single side, and is followed by "Deeper - Cano Bros.," released on Green Velvet's seminal Relief Records label by two even lesser-known Chicago producers, Reginald Rodgers and Solomon Bramlett, under the name Random Access (seriously). The track lifts an instrumental loop from the 1978 disco cut "Fly With The Wind" by Peter Jacques Band and uses it as a bed upon which to cut up Barbara Tucker's vocal from her Masters At Work-produced song "Beautiful People," released on seminal NYC house label Strictly Rhythm (although most would recognize the "Deep inside" lyrics from the Harddrive record—another of MAW's production alias—of the same name).
The re-use/recycle method of production utilized here ran rampant across the American electronic music scene in the 90s, a form of pre-Ableton mega-mashups, committed to highly-limited vinyl, and available only to the elite DJs who clocked hundreds of hours in the aisles (and behind the counters) of infamous record stores like Chicago's Gramaphone.
Masters At Work make a proper appearance on the b-side of New School Fusion with their other most-recognizable tune, "The Ha Dance," along with a global collection of classic acid rave tracks from Germany (Ian Pooley, Mike Ink), Sweden (Cari Lekebusch), London (Neil Landstrumm), Toronto (The Stickmen) and Australia (Vitamin HMC), demonstrating just how far records had to travel in these pre-Internet days to end up in a Gen X raver's cassette deck. Worldwide access and easy-to-use software are two of the factors that lead to the Millennial love of EDM, but the idea behind such borderless beeps and beats is captured right here.