‘Looking Past the Pandemic’ with Chip E from Chicago, Illinois

Keeping travel dreams alive and setting goals has never felt more important. We can all agree that 2020 has been an unfortunate year so far, and almost every facet of daily life has been wrought by this ongoing global pandemic, the start of which now feels like forever ago. The arts has been one of the hardest hit areas, so The AU Review has kickstarted a Q&A series “looking past the pandemic”, encouraging creatives from around the world to share their travel hopes, dreams, and the thoughts or things that are getting them through 2020, while also highlighting essential experiences in their own country.

Chip E (Chicago, Illinois)

There are few figures in the history of house music as bright as Chip E, an architect of the genre in every sense, and a major reason why the sound will forever be rooted in his home city of Chicago. A reference point for house heads the world over, the stalwart DJ and producer is an eternal presence on the scene, so who better for this Q&A series then someone who can frequently be found hopping across international festivals in spots like Japan, Thailand and Vietnam? That was before 2020 hit of course, but we have no doubt he’ll be grinding on the circuit soon once we get past this pandemic.

We caught up with Chip E to look past the pandemic.

When travel opens up completely, the first place I’m going is…

When international travel opens up, the first place I’m heading to is Asia. I had tours lined up for clubs and festivals in Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. I love the warm climate in South East Asia, but especially the warm reception I always get from my fans there. So much energy and passion for my music and performances.

Chicago is a must for anyone visiting the USA / Adam Alexander Photography / Photo Courtesy of Choose Chicago

Three spots in the USA I think everyone should visit at least once in their life…

If there are 3 spots in the USA that everyone should visit in their life, the first is Chicago. It is the absolute birthplace of House Music. And it’s not just me hometown, but the hometown of all the original pioneers of House Music. It’s also a city full of great culture, food and architecture. There’s an energy in Chicago that can’t be matched anywhere.

Second on my list would be NYC. The hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, the way the city never sleeps, and the melting pot of cultures is something everyone should experience.

Last but not least, Miami, Florida. Miami has an awesome Caribbean feel to it. I have fond memories of playing one of the biggest festivals in the world there, the Ultra Music Festival. I can’t wait to start traveling again!

Whenever I have a visitor in my city and I want to show them a good night out, the first place I take them is…

Whenever someone visits Chicago, I take them to one of my favourite small venues, Spy Bar. It has one of the best sound systems in the city, and offers an opportunity to hear some of Chicago’s best talent as well as DJs from around the world.

We’d end the night at…

When I’m in Chicago, we often end the night at a great greasy spoon restaurant that’s open 24/7. White Palace Restaurant on Roosevelt Road has been a staple in Chicago for as long as I can remember. I love that I can go there anytime of day and have an awesome breakfast. Anytime is a great time for bacon, and waffle covered with strawberry jelly.

Most memorable thing I’ve eaten on the road…

My friends will laugh and know this is completely true. I’m a picky eater, but I love experiencing KFC around the world. It might have the same logo and similar menu, but each country has their own take on the KFC recipe. I think Pattaya, Thailand has the spiciest KFC; Barcelona KFC plays some great House Music; and the KFC in Central Amsterdam is right in the centre of awesome architecture, and close to some great music venues.

The one international venue I’ve always wanted to play…

Many people are surprised when I tell them I’ve never played at Ministry of Sound in London. I’ve visited there and hear good friends play there, but due to scheduling conflicts, I’ve never been able to play there…yet. Oh, another great venue I’d like to play is Berghain in Berlin. I’ve played a few clubs in Berlin and Germany, but still looking forward to playing Berghain.

[caption id="attachment_185875" align="alignnone" width="703"] Chip E’s favourite film, Casablanca, is one of the reasons he has always wanted to visit Morroco

The one international destination I’m yet to visit but have always dreamed of…

I’m a huge movie buff, and Casablanca is my all time favourite. Someday I hope to visit Morocco and tour the city of Casablanca. Now, if I happened to have a gig there, that would just be icing on the cake. I ever kind of borrowed a line from the movie for the title of my documentary on House Music. There’s a scene where the French hear that a German courier was killed. Because they wanted to appear to be vigilant, the French officer tells his team to “round up the usual suspects.” When I made my documentary, I wanted to be truly vigilant, thus the title is “The UnUsual Suspects
– Once Upon a Time in House Music”

The three things or thoughts that are getting me through this pandemic…

The 3 things that help me through the pandemic are my family, my friends, and constant contact with fans around the world. It’s great to be able to do video conferences with anyone at anytime, and almost anywhere in the world. Throughout this pandemic, I’m reminded of a quote by Helen Keller “ Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”


For more on Chip E check out this recent Red Bull Music Academy article on the long history of house here. And for more on the places in Chicago he mentions head to choosechicago.com.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy-Editor-At-Large of the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.

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