When discussing his life as a DJ, Dallas’ Prince William aka Will Boston makes a strange observation: That if it hadn’t been for another well-known artist leaving town, his career in music might have turned out differently. “I began DJing publicly when I was 18, right after DJ Nature left for Puerto Rico. If he didn’t move I don’t know that I would be here now,” says William. Such was the power of who was once arguably the most important figure in Dallas dance music. Before leaving for Puerto Rico, Nature, along with his equally influential cohorts in The Party, had taken different styles out of the street and into some of the most diverse and regularly well-attended events in DFW nightlife history. Says Boston, “The Party, well they owned the city. Any DJ wanting love in Dallas had to work with them. I still to this day love club music and they truly broke that here.”
Nature may have been a king as far as dance music royalty was concerned, and it’s a point to which William modestly concedes. “…The energy that Nature brought to Rubber Gloves back in the day, was a huge inspiration to me and I can’t say I have ever had a response on par with the one he would regularly draw.”
That could all be changing. Though he himself has been a fixture in local clubs, gallery openings, and parties over the years, Prince William has been breaking through in a way unseen even in the early-to-mid 2000′s utopian DFW dance scene from whence he came. He recently partnered up with Brooklyn-based, Fool’s Gold recording artist Kingdom, to start a bass-heavy label called Fade To Mind. The label launch was announced in June, and quickly drew attention from Fader, Pitchfork, and perhaps most importantly, XLR8R, since it has already hosted a couple of exclusive mixes for the imprint and its artists. One of those artists was NGUZUNGUZU, who toured with Gang Gang Dance over the summer.
Which leads us back to those aforementioned “utopian” days of local dance music, where bands and DJs, punks and club kids all got along quite harmoniously in Dallas for a time. William himself remembers once opening for Gang Gang Dance and he creates a more nuanced picture, one framed with a touch of the confusing culture clash occurring at the time, where bands were increasingly abandoning noise for the beat. “When I opened up for Gang Gang Dance in Denton like almost 10 yrs ago, I remember the band getting very frustrated because I was too experimental,” he laughs. “They came up to me and said, ‘We aren’t into experimental music anymore, we are making DISCO now.’”
But The Prince was regularly known to perform with some of the stranger or even dance-tinged acts that were still predominantly tied to the rock genre and all that implies. “I was very involved with Faux Fox and Night Game at that time so it all seemed very natural.” Now days, however it seems that either the music scene or perhaps the artist himself has changed. Maybe both. “Now, I kind of hate playing with bands…the energy is so different.”
When I ask about playing the now-legendary 8th Continent venue on behalf of myself and a collective of other music bloggers back in 2007, however, Prince William seems to have fond memories. It was an event that was doomed from the beginning; a “music awards celebration” that was shut down by the police twice; first at Denton’s Fra House and then at the 8th Continent. In a symbolic gesture of solidarity that was always in the air at the time, two different venues, including the now defunct Secret Headquarters stepped in to host the temporarily homeless acts. This was despite the fact that neither establishment had booked, or even would have booked the talent otherwise. Prince William’s lineup was understandably stopped by the unfortunate timing of some bottles thrown at a moving train, surely violating several state and federal laws in the process. Somewhat foolishly, I ask if William even remembers. “I think that set that night at 8th Continent was one of the best nights I have ever had DJing; of course I remember it. Everyone left that party soaking wet.”
Boston is also something of an unheralded figure in local hip hop as well. With his collaborative production work in The Krispee Ones, Prince William was able to showcase the talents of Hawatha Hurd, a confidence-exuding act that is still one of the most direct rappers with the cleanest delivery I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing perform live. As so often is the case in local music, I kept waiting for more recordings to materialize, but little trickled out. After several years, I finally get my update. “Hawatha took a hiatus to focus on the streets, and his money. He is in LA now recording with some dope people and some top notch producers are sending him new s***, so hopefully I will have something to play you soon.” Fair enough. Like with everything else lately, William seems mostly interested in his current life as opposed to the past. Hip hop is no exception. “I just finished a huge project with an artist named Tarzzahn. He is truly a genius and I don’t say that lightly. He has an insane photgraphic memory, and a hefty vocabulary that play nicely against his unbreakable street cred. Look out for his album Jungle Muzik.”
As fun as the underground might have been almost half a decade ago, there seems to be an unspoken understanding with some artists that they’ve hit an invisible wall and it’s time to get out a little bit. With Prince William’s new label venture, it seems he has found the perfect avenue for doing just that. Fade To Mind recently started their own attention-garnering mix series, and there in giant letters on the cover is one of Dallas’ own. But this time it wasn’t about Dallas, as William closed out a successful September with his first-ever appearance in Los Angeles, appearing in front of a sold out audience. An audience in fact, that “sold out at 10 o’clock” with “a line around the block” according to the artist. As LA Blog called Global Dance Electronic reported:
Though the mix he released recently was on par with some of the best that have come out this year, it was still an absolute treat to watch as he seemingly came out of nowhere with his well timed flow of heavy beats and club shaking grooves.
…it was a set that cemented Prince William as an artist ready and able to take the main stage in any setting.
So though there are many of us who know that Prince William didn’t exactly come “out of nowhere,” it is certainly satisfying to see where he has ended up. No longer playing his way out of anyone’s shadow, no matter the royal distinction.
The It List:
The Angelus/Eyes, Wings, Many Other Things/The Black Dot (Good Records): Free in-store performances marking the release of The Angelus’ new record, On a Dark and Barren Land. Here’s hoping that a select track will make its way to becoming a theme song on one of the countless new reality shows about the band’s hometown. At least the mood would be more aptly set.
It should be noted that Eyes, Wings, and Many Other Things are also preparing their own release, the equally subtly-titled Napalm Beach.
Big Bang (Beauty Bar): Unreleased shout-out for Sober from the interviews conducted with Prince William above:
I think dance music in Dallas is pretty much at the same place it was 10 or so years ago….You basically have this large population of DJs that pander to their audience, so they can pay the bills. We used to have Dub Assembly. Which was really cutting edge and profitable for a long time but now Dubstep has been ruined by Skrillex, or Britney Spears, or Rihanna; whomever you want to blame. Then of course you have Sober doing quality events, but he has transitioned to more of a rap vibe.
Sober is still one of my closest homies and is one of the hardest working and most professional musicians in Texas period.
Discipline (Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios): No guests tonight. Just the excellent taste and completely unpublishable fliers that we’ve come to expect from this bunch.