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Carter was born in Compton, California and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. After practicing his DJ skills for a number of years as a teenager in his bedroom (bedroom jock), he then made the definitive step into the Chicago house scene.
In 1988, he released an EP with Mark Farina and Chris Nazuka as the group Symbols & Instruments. While the record wasn't a huge commercial success, it did have a strong influence on the burgeoning ambient techno movement in England. This established Derrick as an international figure in the underground house scene.
Carter rarely gives extensive interviews and has kept a low profile since his rise to fame. He famously ran a record label named Classic Recordings that (as planned ten years before) ceased to exist after its hundredth release. The 12"es start at CMC100 and run backwards, the LP's & CD's start at CMC100 and run forwards. Above all, Derrick is still respected by some as one of the best house music DJs in the world. His dj-sets are firmly rooted in black music of the 1970s, frequently giving nods to old school disco, soul and jazz.
As a remixer, he has worked for a diverse range of artists includingThe Beloved, The Human League, Ricky Martin, Boris Dlugosch, Modjo, DJ Sneak and Röyksopp. After a brief hiatus, he has recently returned to production, remixing artists like Rosie Brown and Truman Industries.