Detroit Hip-Hop’s Ambassador to the World, Michael “House Shoes” Buchanan has been an integral part of the long burgeoning Motown resurgence. Just ask anyone coming out of Detroit to confirm this.

As a DJ, ‘Shoes has toured extensively across the globe with artists such Guilty Simpson, Illa J, Exile, Aloe Blacc, Percee P, Phat Kat, Slum Village and Elzhi, to name a few, as well as on his own, gaining the respect of acts far outside the scope of Detroit Hip Hop.

As a producer, ‘Shoes has worked with the late and revered J Dilla and Big Proof, Black Milk, Danny Brown, Guilty Simpson, Roc Marciano, Chino XL, Invincible, Finale, MED, Nottz, Alchemist, Big Tone, Oh No, Elzhi, El Da Sensai (Artifacts), Black Spade, Now On (Mayer Hawthorne), and Moe Dirdee, among others.

Currently he lives and works in Los Angeles running his Street Corner Music record label, California. Constantly DJing at events and parties from LA to Europe to Australia, Shoes is revered as a world class producer and DJ. Just before touching down in Melbourne to start his tour Grindin’ caught up with House Shoes to talk about his new label, moving to LA plus more.

Who is House Shoes?
House Shoes is an asshole. Nah. House Shoes is just a real passionate dude who has dedicated his life to advocating for the greatest talents he has witnessed in his days on this planet.

What are you earliest memories of music?
My folks split when I was 4 or 5 years old. Mom always had music playing with the windows open when I would get home from school. From Miles Davis to Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder to Steely Dan. Moms loved it all. I would go to my Dad’s on the weekends and hit the record store.

When did you realise you wanted to make music as your career?
It wasn’t like it was an epiphany or anything like that. I just looked up one day and realized I had been supporting myself off music for years. So I continued to.

What are some of your most memorable moments coming up in Detroit?
Listening to rap music with my friends. Haha.

You previously had the House Shoes Recordings label back in the late 90’s and your releases included the classic indie Hip Hop record “Dedication To The Suckers” by Phat Kat with J Dilla on production amongst others. What stopped you from continuing to run that label?
I was too busy DJing all the time and honestly the 2 first records came out of my relationship with Jay Dee. I never was really thinking about the record thing until I heard those two projects, and I knew the world would fuck with them. I was tired of cats frontin’ on Jay.

Other situations came and went, the stars never really aligned for anything else like it did with the Jay Dee records.

Over a decade later you came back with Street Corner Music what was the reason behind coming back with a label now?
The world needs it. It’s absolutely mind blowing when you try to wrap your head around the fact that sooooo much music never reaches the ears of the world. And I was just really tired of all the soundcloud and bandcamp only shit. The kids had no idea that they could actually have a RECORD. That’s what I’m on. I’m a documentarian. An archivist. Recording the culture. Shit is like National Geographis but for beats.

What is the meaning behind the label’s name?
I was having a hard time figuring out what the name for the label would be. I just know I didn’t want it to be some “House Shoes” shit. It’s way bigger than me. Then, it hit me. Street Corner Music is the first store that gave me a budget and a platform to buy and sell great hip hop music. In 1994. I hit up Chris Flanagan, one of the owners, asked if he was down for me to use the name, and he said take that shit and run with it.

Aside from the digital age what are the main differences you see from when you first started releasing music to now?
Not much honestly. People wanted dope shit then and they still want it now. The majors are a cesspool, but that’s been going on for years. They just make it easier for me to do what I do.

What is Street Corner Music’s mission?
The truth in a world of lies. Fuck the image, Fuck marketing and promotion. I’m gonna find the heat and put that shit on the table. You can sit with us and enjoy the finest.

Having now lived in LA for 10 years what do you feel the move has done to further your career?
When I lived in Detroit I wasn’t interested in anything beyond the city’s borders. A honourable trait, but fuck that. The world is too damn big to spend it one place. I moved to LA and I’ve been to damn near 40 countries. Banging this shit. Doing ME.

What do you most miss about Detroit?
Lafayette Coney Island and my mother.

Do you see any similarities between the 2 cities?
Not too much.

Why do you think LA has such a vibrant beats community compared to other places around the world?
Because there are people in place keeping the scene constantly moving forward. People that care. That’s how the culture moves forward. When people are responsible for it and to it. That’s what I did in Detroit.

Are there any unknown artists we should be on the lookout for?
Just keep checking for who SCM is dropping. Who FreshSelects is dropping. Paxico Records, Cats are pushing out a lotta heat.

You are about to embark on your 6th tour of Australia and New Zealand to officially launch Street Corner Music which now has local distribution in this part of the world. What do you most enjoy about touring down here and what can people expect from your shows on this run?
We are gonna have a good fucking time. I’m rocking SCM joints, and all kinds of other shit.
Who knows what you’re gonna hear. You gotta be there to hear it.

What advice would you give to up and coming artists?
Find your own voice. No type beats. Don’t be a fuckboy.

What does the future hold for House Shoes and Street Corner Music?
Who knows. I got a 5 year plan to release 100 joints. I got 65 to go in 2 years let’s see if I can pull it off.

What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Doing the work. Nothing comes easy. Gotta get off the couch and get it poppin’.

Thursday 29th September – Section 8, Melbourne
Friday 30th September – Play Bar, Sydney
Saturday 1st October – Bloodhound, Brisbane
Sunday 2nd October – Lobrow, Canberra
Wednesday 5th October – Sugar, Adelaide
Thursday 6th October – Neck Of The Woods, Auckland
Saturday 8th October – Bodega, Wellington

Interview by Duggs.