Known as the Silent Warrior of the deep and funky sound of dance music, no one is as consistent as Norm Talley. A master of locking you in a groove,the Detroit born and raised Talley has plenty of tricks up his sleeve and offers up an authentic window into the past, present and future of the finest house and techno. He calls it, “great music that goes from Motown to Tech Town” and always plays it with real passion.
As part of the West 6 Mile Detroit breed,Talley was born in the late 1960s and came of age during the last days of disco and spent his teen years revelling in the New Age that was the early 1980s. Soon after he finished studying at Cerveny Middle School then Cooley High School, he was an active member in the Detroit dance music movement and has roots in jazz, soul, funk and disco which make his DJ style one of deep house, with soulful and vocal melodies laced over infectious percussion, and those undeniable basslines, all with the occasional Afrobeat rhythm.Talley began generating this sound alongside many peers during this era not only by frequenting dance clubs, but also by frequenting local record shops, such as the favourite Buy Rite Records, Detroit Audio and Professionals in the neighbourhood.
Famous for a deep, tracky style of DJing and production,Talley puts this down to only having a limited selection of gear available when he first started out. “You have to work with what you got,” he explains. “In my opinion, sometimes less is more. At times a track can have too many things going on when really the best part of the track was the raw elements without all the extras.”
It is this approach that means his expertly reduced yet still mind-melting and hypotonic tracks take you deep into your own psyche and keep you there, mesmerised by a simple but seductive synth or cosmic sense of mood. More than 30 EPs since 1997 have come on a range of venerated labels from Landed to Sushitech, NDTAL to Third-Ear. Most recently he’s linked with Omar S’s FXHE and put out 2017’s spellbinding debut album Norm-A-Lize, which explored a range of textures and flavours from soulful to disco, jazzy to tribal all underpinned by the sort of drums that lock you in for the duration.
His eclectic always outlook came directly from the one and only Ken Collier, a legendary Detroit selector who lived just a few blocks away and served as a mentor for the young Norm. At first he only had one deck, but was so consumed by making his friends dance till they sweat that he put in the extra graft required to a second, plus a mixer and tape deck. He went on to play high school parties, backyard get downs and in various rental halls from 1982 onwards and soon progressed to assembling a full set up and doing his own parties.
From there,Talley spun at a few of the most legendary dance clubs in Detroit, including The Loft. He was also skilled enough to open at the home of Detroit House Godfather Ken Collier, namely his club Heaven. Club 246, Club Taboo and Onstage in Motown also saw decks graced by the Silent Warrior during their heyday and when radio began to kick in, Norm influenced the airwaves in Detroit and Windsor on stations CJAM 91.5FM, WDTR 90.9FM, WJLB 97.9FM, WGPR 107.5FM, and WHPR 88.7FM over the course of 15 years.