Raised by a Father and Mother who were a musician & abstract painter, respectively, Eric Welton AKA Emmaculate was groomed for the arts. As a child he dug into his parents’ and older brother’s record collection spanning from The Beatles & James Taylor to Run D.M.C. & The Fat Boys. Growing up on the outskirts of Chicago, he was exposed to the sounds of House Music in the late 80’s as a young teenager. In 1990, Eric started collecting House & Hip Hop records and learning how to blend. One of his close friends had an older cousin who was a DJ with an extensive record collection, but was incarcerated. Eric’s friend brought this collection over to his house, which turned out to be a treasure chest of 80’s House Music. The obsession began. Eric’s mixtapes quickly caught the ear of some older guys in the area. They took him in under their wings, taught him much more about the music & culture, took him to legendary record stores Importes Etc & Gramaphone, & introduced him to a professional recording studio. This all led to Eric starting to DJ basement & house parties as a teenager, some thrown by a budding young promoter, Julius the Mad Thinker (co-founder of Mi Casa Holiday), who is one of Eric’s high school friends.
Eric was nicknamed Emmaculate as a play on words because of his immaculate attention to detail & quality. He developed his DJ’ing & production skills in House Music & Hip Hop, and became one of the go to producers and sound engineers in Chicago. He has worked as a producer and mix engineer for many top Urban Music artists in the US, as well as DJ’d countless events. Over the years, Emmaculate forged relationships with some of the Chicago legends of House Music, giving him an invaluable education and mentorship.
2017 marked the year that Emmaculate began releasing music as an artist himself. His break out single, “Do It” ft. vocalist Kaye Fox, was released on Terry Hunter’s T’s Box Records and reached the top 10 Soulful House chart on Traxsource. Since then he has released several singles, remixes & an EP on T’s Box, Dopewax, & S&S Records. He has played live sets at Mi Casa Holiday in Mexico several times, as well as Amsterdam Dance Event in 2017 & 2018 for T’s Box & Chosen Few DJ’s. His sounds are eclectic... sometimes hard, acidic, dreamy, jazzy, funky, & soulful... a cosmic slop of organic technology". I first spoke with Emmaculate two years ago (Check out my first conversation with Emmaculate here). Since then, his career has grown rapidly. I recently had a chance to speak with Emmaculate for a second time about his continued growth, his new projects and playing this year’s Chosen Few Picnic and Festival!
Black Widow: It’s been two years since my last interview with you and quite a bit has happened with you and your career. What has that journey been like?
Emmaculate: It has been an amazing journey. I’m very happy I made the decision to change the route of my career. I spent many years working in the studio producing other artists; predominately R&B and hip hop artists. I wasn’t just producing music for them, I was helping them with their marketing and promotion and helping them manage their business and the decision to put that same effort into myself, by releasing my own music under my own name and working on branding myself…was a great decision. I’m also glad I made the decision to start working with Terry (Hunter). It has been such a blessing. We’ve developed a really good, reciprocal working relationship. He’s done so much to help me and provide his platform for me to release my music and more. It’s all happening faster than I expected honestly.
Black Widow: I know! Just two years ago, we met and I recorded vocals for your re-release of your song Fenix. You have quite a few releases since then with Kaye Fox and others, remixing and of course producing. You’ve been very busy.
Emmaculate: Yeah, I’ve released three records with Kaye Fox, done some instrumental tracks for the 2087 project, remixes packages on various things and the Glenn Underground remix of my track, The Light did excellent. I’ve been able to work with quite a few incredible artists, Mark Demayo, Mike City, Alex M. I have an EP coming out on Youruba records with Osunlade. Even on the DJ side, I’ve been able to play ADE twice, SouthBySouthwest, and it’s just been one thing after another and I’m very happy with the momentum. I’m just keeping my nose to the grindstone.
Black Widow: What do they say, “Booked and Busy”!
Emmaculate: Absolutely, it’s all about focusing on the work, the creativity and putting blinders on the distractions. As long as you stay focused on creating, all the other stuff lines up on its own.
Black Widow: What have been some of the best lessons you’ve learned over the past two years?
Emmaculate: There’s a lot of noise and negative noise if you choose to listen to it or give energy to it but like I said earlier, I’ve learned to just focus on the work, the music, the creativity. I’ve learned to stay focused on what we do it for; it’s about the love of the music; the creative and personal artistic expression. Its fun…you have to remember to have fun with it. It’s not supposed to be stressful. This is art. It’s supposed to be what we love and it’s a choice. Staying focused on creativity and treating people well, that really sums it all up.
Black Widow: Has your creative process changed? Do you approach making music differently now?
Emmaculate: I’ve learned quite a bit over the last few years. For the people who read the credits, you can see I do a lot of remixing, editing and final mixing of records. I’ve mixed the majority of Terry’s records over the past few years and by working with him and seeing his process, I’ve learned. It’s always something new to learn and watching him and how he builds records has been a great learning experience. He’s a master at his craft and it’s led to me working with other artists and watching how they do things. As an engineer, working with Joey Fernandez has been great. He’s another master at his craft. He’s taught me some tricks of the trade in terms of mixing and things like that. We just all have a good synergy because we always bounce ideas and critique one another. Even as a DJ, watching great DJs do their thing is very inspiring. There are always takeaways from being in the midst of fellow creatives. I’m a sponge, I love the experience of being around some of the greats and observing what they do and taking that influence and applying them in my own way.
Black Widow: I definitely relate. I remember not knowing much about songwriting and song structure because I was a poet. Being around Terry and Mike was great because I was learning how they put my words to music and how they place them and even now over the years, connecting with other songwriters and vocalists is so inspiring to me. It’s nothing like sharing space with other creatives. You just learn so much.
Emmaculate: I love drawing inspiration off of what other dope people are doing. Competition can be positive and fun or it can be negative in spirit. I believe iron sharpens iron so you want to be around people who are great at their craft. It can’t be ego based, fragile, and paranoid and negative spirited.
Black Widow: I agree there are so many artists in this scene and there is space for everyone.
Emmaculate: There’s enough opportunity to go around for sure. Every success from any artist here draws attention to our city as a whole and makes it more likely for all of to get more opportunities. That’s how I approach it.
Black Widow: Building those relationships and connections with others in the industry is important. It helps because it’s another form of support. I remember my 1st performance and being so scared. After I performed, I remember Terisa Griffith being so complimentary to me. It really did something for my confidence and it was such a small thing but it meant a lot. I remember thinking Terry threw me under the bus [laughter] when he asked me to perform with such an incredible lineup of experienced talent but he really did it to make me better and it was a huge learning experience for me.
Emmaculate: I have a similar story. At the T’s Box party, ADE in 2017, Wayne (Williams) and Alan (King) were doing a tag team at the T’s Box Party. I’ve been DJing professionally since 1990 but it was my first time DJing in Europe. I remember Terry saying; hey…get in on the tag team! That was my first time playing with Wayne and Alan [LAUGHTER] So here I am, my first time playing in Europe and I’m in a tag team with legends. [LAUGHTER] You know…you have to get uncomfortable in order to grow. Being nervous and uncomfortable is a good thing. It pushes you to the next level.
Black Widow: I completely understand that! Every experience is a learning one; good and bad!
Emmaculate: What you said is key…stay focused on improving your craft. You have to always push yourself to improve and be better.
Black Widow: My dad would always say, whatever your art is, it’s a muscle and you have to work that muscle every day. You have to make space for your craft. I think I’ve really come to a greater understanding of that since “Fenix” honestly.
Emmaculate: You know what’s funny about Fenix? Terry never told me what he had up his sleeve when he was doing that version. Julius and I had done the song on our own label years ago. One day he called me and asked me why I called it Fenix. I explained it to him and he said ok and that was that. When I heard what you wrote, I was like, WOW, that’s perfect! It’s amazing that we never had a conversation about this when you wrote it because you articulated exactly what I wanted the song to say. That’s the way the universe works.
Black Widow: My dad call’s that the “collective consciousness”
Emmaculate: Exactly! Your dad is a wise man. That’s exactly what it is and we just happened to be tapped in…all three of us. It worked.
Black Widow: I loved that opportunity so much because after making Rough, I wanted to do something different and show a different side of me. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Rough” but…
Emmaculate: I think you made it clear in the song, how much you love it Rough! [LAUGHTER]
Black Widow: [Laughter] True, but it was just a piece of who I am and I wanted to share another side and Fenix gave me that opportunity!
Emmaculate: Absolutely! I still play it and the acapella version all the time.
Black Widow: We are totally getting off topic! [Laughter]
Emmaculate: I know! But it’s all good!
Black Widow: What was your reaction when you got the call to play this year’s Chosen Few Festival?
Emmaculate: Terry called me a few weeks before the official announcement and tricked me. I honestly never expected to get booked to play this year. I thought it might happen one day but I never thought it would be this year. Terry says, "What are you doing on July 6th"? I remembered that date but said," Whatever you got for me". He says, "Does that date ring a bell"? I’m like yeah that’s the day of the picnic. When he called my daughter’s mom was around and he said to put him on speaker phone. He tells her not to make plans for July 6th and told her I was playing the picnic this year! I was like WOW! That’s crazy! Thank you! It was such a pleasant surprise.
I’m so honored to have that opportunity. A Friend of mine said it best; The Chosen Few Picnic is like the Superbowl for us. I feel like I get to play in the Superbowl! I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it and I’m a bit nervous too but it’s a good nervous! [Laugher]
Black Widow: Have you thought about your set?
Emmaculate: I have but I never pre-plan a set. I call it “Planned Improvisation”. All Djs have a glossary of blends that they know work. I’ll usually create a separate crate for a gig and put a collection of records together that I think work for and then wherever it goes…it goes. I’ve learned to just go with the flow and the mood. You think you are going to approach a set one way and it goes a different way. I have a few different thoughts on how to approach it so you’ll just have to see. I have a diverse musical palette so it will definitely be interesting.
Black Widow: I’m sure! I can’t wait to see what you do!
Emmaculate: I’m looking forward to it! I’m grateful and humbled that they thought of me. I can’t wait to take it all in and hear the other DJs too! It’s just a great time!
Black Widow: I agree! There’s nothing like it. My only advice would be to take that moment in. That moment on that stage…It’s going to be incredible! Thank you for speaking with me today!
Emmaculate: No doubt! I definitely will! It’s always a pleasure.
You can catch DJ Emmaculate this year at the Chosen Few Picnic and Festival on July 6th, The Groove Society at Celeste Every Tuesday and the Soulnic Experience at Pier 31 on August 3rd. He will also be at the Amsterdam Dance Event and Mi Casa Holiday this October!!
Instagram - @djemmaculate
Twitter - @djemmaculate
Mixcloud - https://www.mixcloud.com/djemmaculate/
Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/djemmaculate
You can find Emmaculate’s latest releases on Traxsource! https://www.traxsource.com/artist/327722/emmaculate
The Countdown is on! See you at the Picnic!