The Basement Boys is an American House music production team that was formed in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The founding members are Jay Steinhour, Teddy Douglas and Thommy Davis. Current, the members are Jay Steinhour and Teddy Douglas.
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GO BANG! Magazine: When and how did you first get an interest in the DJ’ing and the music industry?
Teddy Douglas: My interest began as a DJ as a high school senior, in 1982. Already a massive record collector, I was a part of a crew that snuck into the most famous nightclub in Baltimore, “Odell’s.” That was the inspiration that lead me to wanting to be a DJ. The resident jock was Wayne Davis. My first gigs were mainly at house parties. I joined a DJ crew that did private events, etc. That is when I knew I had something special. Soon after high school, I landed a gig at a bar called “Hats.” This was where I learned how to program records.
Jay Steinhour: I really started to DJ in about 1974. I got interested because I enjoyed going to the club, and had an ear for good music. So it wasn’t long before I wanted to be the DJ, programming the music. By the late 1970s, I was playing in a few DC clubs (as a part time gig) and joined Eardrum’s record pool in DC (Tables of Distinction). As I became more involved in my side job of DJ’ing, I started to learn more about the music industry. In the early 1980s, I started going to the New Music Seminars every summer in NYC to learn more about the industry and meet people.
GO BANG! Magazine: What influence, if any, do you feel you have brought to House music and how has House music influenced you?
Teddy Douglas: The influence I feel like we brought to House music is live instruments. Ultra Nate’s “It’s Over Now” had a live sax player on it, a heavy bottom and gospel influenced lyrics. House music has not influenced me, but it has changed my life.
Jay Steinhour: Not sure it is my place to judge what Basement Boys have brought to House music. But, from my perspective, I feel we brought a lot of soul to House music. We always tried to incorporate live instrumentation and soulful vocals in practically everything we produce. I love House music (along with other genres like jazz, soul, and R&B), it is such a misunderstood genre of music. It is energetic, uplifting, often soulful, and you can dance to it, how primal is that!
GO BANG! Magazine: You’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world, in the name of House. How would you describe House’s acceptance in other countries, in comparison to here in the States?
Teddy Douglas: Wow, it is like the disco era that was here in the states, late 70’s into the early 80’s. (There) Everyone’s excited to come out and dance until 6am in the morning. Here in the states, that does not happen much anymore.
Jay Steinhour: I have traveled some, in our early years as producers. I was slowly retiring from DJ’ing, leaving that to my superstar partner Teddy. My skills could not stand up to those of Teddy or our other original partner Thommy Davis (both outstanding DJs). Though on one trip to London, near my retirement from DJ’ing, I got to play a set in the bar of the Ministry of Sound. It was a high point in my DJ career. But to answer your question, from my perspective, as most of my travel was only to London and Paris, House music seemed much more accepted overseas, especially in London. It’s not a big surprise.
GO BANG! Magazine: When did you know that you wanted to be a producer?
Teddy Douglas: The day I knew I wanted to be a producer is after doing two live shows to promote our first record on Jump Street Records entitled “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” I was the lead singer. (lol) I sang the demo, the record company loved it, and insisted that I sing the record. After doing two shows, we knew that we needed to find singers to sing the songs, and the production company was born.
GO BANG! Magazine: When did you know that you wanted to be a composer/producer?
Jay Steinhour: I started to know in the late 70’s as I started to play with the studio equipment and utilize modern sampling techniques to create ideas. I do not feel I could be a totally independent composer/producer, but what I do can contribute to a creative team. Starting off as more of a tech guy, it was in the context of that niche, where my creativity intertwined with others. Teddy is definitely more of the concept guy, the creative source of what we do.
GO BANG! Magazine: Over the years you morphed from being only a DJ. You’ve accomplished great success as a producer. You’ve worked with many icons in the music industry as well, including Micheal Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Crystal Waters, Erykah Badu, Martha Wash and Ultra Nate.” Please describe what it felt like to produce songs for artists of this high caliber?
Teddy Douglas: I feel incredibly grateful. I feel really proud to have discovered two dance music icons in Ultra Nate and Crystal Waters.
GO BANG! Magazine: You’ve accomplished great success as a composer/producer. You’ve worked with many icons in the music industry as well, including Diana Ross, Crystal Waters, Byron Stingily, Lady Alma, Ultra Nate, Tony Humphries, and many more. Please describe what it felt like to compose/produce songs for artists of this high caliber?
Jay Steinhour: Well it has just been amazing. Someone like Crystal Waters, we basically discovered her, and our collaboration was very successful. The same can be said with Ultra Nate, who was our first discovery as producers/song writers. It is always exciting creating and working with other creative people, icons or not. It is such a high honor to work with people who are at such a high level. It feels rewarding to be working with successful artist, who you look up to and are fans of.
GO BANG! Magazine: After working with such high ranking artists over the years, are there any other artists, current or classic, that you would love to work with?
Teddy Douglas: Oh wow! There are two artist that I would love to work with, Chaka Khan and Patti Labelle.
Jay Steinhour: I have to leave that question up to Teddy. It is always so exciting to work with other creative people, and there are so many who would be great to work with. I would hate to start rattling off names.
GO BANG! Magazine: The Basement Boys primarily consists of yourself and Jay Steinhour. How did you guys meet and why did you decide to form a company?
Teddy Douglas: The original members are Jay Steinhour , Thommy Davis and myself. After Thommy left the company in the early 90’s, Dj Spen joined the production company, and then Karizma. These days on the road, Karizma and Spen are often with me .
GO BANG! Magazine: The Basement Boys currently consists of yourself and Teddy Douglas. How did you guys meet, why did you decide to form a company, and why name it Basement Boys?
Jay Steinhour: As I started to build a home studio, Thommy Davis, our former third founding member, and I were both DJs and friends. Thommy was a good friend of Teddy’s, so he decided to bring him around. Both Thommy and Teddy were record salesmen, so I knew Teddy from the record store. The three of us got together, not really thinking of starting a production company. We were three DJ friends creating tracks we could play in the club. We had no idea, until Cynthia Cherry, A&R at Jump Street Records in NYC, heard one of our rough tracks and asked what we wanted to do with it. We were not shopping for a record deal, it is a long story how she got a hold of the tape. One day she called me, out of the blue, at my job at the City of Baltimore. On our drive to NYC to meet Cynthia, we decided we needed to have a name. Many were batted around the small car we were in. Since our studio was in my basement (besides our music was kinda underground), and of course we were all boys, Basement Boys just seemed to resonate. That is what it had to be, it was unanimous. I designed our logo. As our first record deal with Jump Street proceeded, we started to have a vision of becoming a production company. To do business, you have to become legit and form a company. Through other contemporaries in NYC, we found a good music lawyer who was heavily involved with dance music creators and who was key in making many important business decisions.
GO BANG! Magazine: Having two international music industry moguls working together has got to be an exciting venture. How does the individual notoriety of each of you complement each other and enhance your business?
Teddy Douglas: Well from day one, we all have roles. I am mostly the creative concept person and Jay runs a lot of the business. So I would say we complement each other very well.
Jay Steinhour: We have been in business over 30 years, an especially long time for a creative partnership in the music business. Just as your question implies, we complement each other. We are on the same wave length, when it comes to taste in music and musical goals. I greatly respect Teddy’s musical creativity, as well as he respects my musical taste and the skills I bring to our business. We work well as a team and have mutual respect for each other. I also do the promotional videos.
GO BANG! Magazine: What are the Basement Boys currently working on?
Teddy Douglas: Right now, we have an LP coming out, “Monday Night Studio Sessions.” It’s a compilation of artists that performed at my Monday Night Studio Sessions @ Rockwell, an event here in Baltimore. Every first Monday, we feature an artist to join my partner Dj Tanz and the band, Davon McCoy and Charles Dockins, for a jam session that is unique and super fun!!! (We’re) also working on a project for Quantize Label called “Baltimore Philadelphia International,” a collection of Philly Tunes performed by Baltimore artists.
Jay Steinhour: I will also leave this question for Teddy, as the creative director it is his agenda as to what we are working on. He can best describe our current projects.
GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off-guard. How are you dealing with it?
Teddy Douglas: For sure wow! All of my gigs have been cancelled. My studio sessions have been postponed. I am dealing the best way possible. I want to stay creative, so I am working in my home studio for now.
Jay Steinhour: Four years ago I moved to DC, and Teddy stayed in Baltimore, his home town. I felt I could move to DC, where I wanted to live, as our roles had changed when we had to sell our studio. We are still close enough to meet at least once a month. The restaurant where we have our monthly meetings closed the day of our March meeting. Now we are doing everything virtually, and through the mail. The studios Teddy works in are also closed down due to the pandemic. Business goes on, but projects have ground to a halt with studios closed.
YOU CAN FOLLOW THE BASEMENT BOYS ON FACEBOOK @BASEMENT BOYS
Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG! Magazine. Follow him on Facebook @Pierre Andre Evans, Twitter @Playerre, and on Instagram @Pierre_Andre_Evans.