A soundtrack to a sunset drive.
Last month, Ronald Lee Trent Jr., better known as Ron Trent, released What Do The Stars Say To You, a new solo album. It was his first full-length outing in more than a decade, and it arrived more than 30 years after he broke through with “Altered States” a raw, futuristic techno anthem that he produced and released while he was still in high-school.
Off the back of the track, Trent quickly established himself as a classy purveyor of soul-infused deep house, while running the mighty Prescription Records, one of the most influential deep house imprints of the ’90s. When he wasn’t making or curating music, Trent would be playing playing it out, as a staple in clubs across Chicago, Detroit, and New York, where he would host his own events at the legendary Manhattan nightclubs Vinyl and Shine. The foundations for his success came from his father, who ran a record pool in the late ’70s, and inspired in Trent a desire to diligently collect and eventually produce records.
On What Do the Stars Say To You, though, Trent looks back to a time long before “Altered States.” Before dance music became his life, Trent would indulge in the adventurous albums from the ’70s and ’80s, and appreciate how, with a rich musicality and a liquid smooth flow, great musicians could make seemingly sparse genres acquiesce. This is a side of an artistic repertoire that he’s rarely shown so, instead of making more music to make you move, Trent veered towards an album that prioritized collaboration, creating frameworks for some of his favorite musicians like Gigi Masin and Khruangbin to express their creative energies. The result is an album that traverses jazz-funk, new age, Balearic, Latin rock, and much more.
In celebration of the album, Trent has now recorded an XLR8R podcast, on which he underlines his rich musical knowledge and skills in curation—which is exhibited on WorldWideFM and NTS. Across its two-hour run-time, you’ll hear some of Trent’s favorite tracks from Larry Heard, French singer Isabelle Antena, and American pianist Rodney Franklin, plus several of his own works from the album. Expect a captivating sonic adventure designed to soundtrack a sunset drive, where hot nights cool down into slow cinematic moments.
01. What have you been up to recently?
I have been consumed in everything surrounding my new album project that was just launched, so lots of interviews like this one and verbal engagements. I am working towards my record release party set in Brooklyn in about a week from now.
02. What have you been listening to recently?
I have been listening to a wide range of music that includes revisiting my own album. In between my two radio shows, I am consistently keeping my ear out for inspiration. It’s non-stop really.
03. Your new album, What Do The Stars Say To You, has just landed. How are you feeling about it?
I must say I feel great about the release. My team and I did a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure everything about the project represents the quality of our intentions. The responses have been great and people are receiving the project with open arms. There’s more work to do though. This is just the start.
04. When and where did you record this mix?
This mix was recorded in my sound room in Chicago about a week ago now. I normally like to record my radio shows at night. This mix was done at night and into the early morning hours.
05. How did you go about choosing the tracks you’ve included?
The tracks selected are designed for the theme “sunset drive mix tape.” So there are sonic selections that go well with city life, sunset drives, and the rhythm the city. You can insert a bit of Miami Vice in there if you like.
06. How does it compare to what we might hear you play out?
Though most of what I play out is based on my own taste, every situation is different. There is not some sort of comparison to be made. Playing out is more based on the energy of the people and the room itself. Creating in my own space is an entirely different approach and sentiment. Two different worlds.
07. What’s next on your horizon?
The continuous mission of creativity. More projects that deal with sonics and other forms. Most definitely my live show. Stay tuned!
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Full XLR8R+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.