Truck driver by day, house music record label owner and beat producer by night. That’s how House of Rose Recordings’ owner Herman “R.E.D.” Orphey spends his days.
“We are here, house music is here, and Jacksonville is where it’s at,” Orphey says.
Music has always been a passion of Orphey’s, and his love of the house genre stems back to his childhood in the Chicago suburbs. At age five, he found himself drawn to his parents’ living room record player, where he especially loved the funky, faster-tempo music and disco beats.
“I knew I wanted to be involved in music, but I just couldn’t figure out how,” Orphey explained. “In Chicago there were two radio stations that would play house music at the time. I didn’t know what kind of music it was, but I liked it cause it was different.”
Orphey says listening to these stations is what taught him that music producers can play one song and blend it into another without stopping the sound — a basic effect in house music.
Aside from radio mixes, Orphey’s next experience with DJs and house music came at age 10 during a grammar school luncheon. Two DJs had set up their equipment in the gymnasium, where he became fixated on their work.
“From the beginning [of the set], I stayed by the DJ table and didn’t move,” Orphey said. “I watched everything these guys did. Looking back on it, they were not good DJs, but that’s when I decided I wanted to be a DJ.”
And he did just that, adopting the name “DJ R.E.D.”
“ stands for ‘Real Every Day,’” Orphey said. “I tell people my name is not just a color, it’s a way of life.”
From 1989 onward, Orphey DJed parties for friends and associates, playing some hip-hop and R&B, but with house music as his primary genre. As time went on as a DJ, Orphey wanted to learn how to produce music because he was told that being a producer, in addition to a DJ, leads to “bigger things” across the music scene.
“I started learning how to make beats,” Orphey said. “Around the mid-’90s I met a guy by the name of Paul Johnson who was big in house music. With I was able to release my first and second vinyl releases on what is now a legendary record label in Chicago, Dance Mania.”
Years later, in 2012, a job transfer from Atlanta and a desire for a change in pace brought Orphey to Jacksonville. At the time he had no idea if house music had any representation here. As it proved, finding this representation was no easy feat.
“There actually is a very sizable scene here, but what I have noticed is that there are two issues with the scene,” Orphey said. “One is that most people don’t know where to go to find, the other is the treatment of those in the scene. Here in Jacksonville, unless you know someone who knows someone,, it is hard to find out where to go to get your ‘house fix.’”
Thus, three years ago, Orphey decided to help pave the way for other house music lovers like himself by establishing House of Rose Recordings. Named after his mother, Rosa, who is his inspiration, Orphey is now able to sign artists who produce house and techno beats.
He and his significant other, Dakiesha “Diamond” Threatt, the CEO of RedDiamond Promotions, currently seek out local talent across northeast Florida. Orphey says their mission is to give DJs a chance to be heard. He says the only rule is that all DJs must bring their “A” game: show up and show out.
“If it sounds good, I’ll sign,” Orphey said. “I try to be as open-minded as possible because I know new subgenres of house are coming up every year.”
Now 47 years old, Orphey has transformed a love of house music into a way to bring together the greater house music community. Plus, he’s the only Black-owned house music record label in Jacksonville.
“The most challenging part [of the business] is promoting the label and searching for artists, especially local talent here,” Orphey said. “[It’s especially tough] when you work a full-time job, produce, and are an active DJ. However, I would not change it for the world; it’s a labor of love.”