Sunday, 20 April 2014

CVNT TRAXXX Cannabis Kitsch EP OUT NOW on Knightwerk




IT'S HERE! 5 brand new tracks! 5 incredible remixes! Awesome sleeve by Craig Parker and Yarinka Collucci! GET. THE. FUCK. IN.


So pleased with this, some of my best work to date and the remixes are FENOM! You can buy the whole thing over at the Knightwerk Bandcamp.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

MASTER BALLSTAR WEEKEND (NYC)

Props to ARIKA and VOGUE'OLOGY for this event, looks incredible!




From the Facebook event page:

BALLROOM HAS SOMETHING TO SAY!!!
Master BallStar Weekend
April 16-21, 2014

The Vogue’ology collective and the collaborators involved in bringing all these events together are concerned with the history and collective power of the Ballroom scene as well as what the scene has to say about issues of fundamental concern to the liberation struggles of our era, such as poverty, racism, sexual and gender oppression, and access to housing, healthcare, education and food. The collective’s overarching goal is to establish the Ballroom Freedom and Free School, a venue within which the Ballroom community can investigate and respond to the intersection of oppressions that affects its members as well as many other communities. This series of events are being organised to help formulate an initial set of propositions for the Ballroom Freedom and Free School’s curriculum and structure. Come and join us.

Wednesday 16th April 2014
Transmen in Conversation - BY INVITE ONLY
Talk The Walk: Transmen and The Ballroom Community Union Theological Seminary
6-9pm
Sponsored by Destination Tomorrow

Thursday 17th April, 2014
Ballroom Town Hall Meeting - OPEN TO ALL
The New School, Lang Café, 65 West 11th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues
Community meeting to discuss some of the prevalent concerns impacting the ballroom community. The community has experienced tremendous rates of death over the past 7/8 years. This meeting is the first in a series of national community conversations regarding future of the Ballroom scene.
7-10pm

Friday 18th April, 2014
Literary Reflections of Ballroom - OPEN TO ALL
The Orozco Room, The New School
Rm. A712, 66 West 12th Street
Featuring Marlon Bailey, author of the ethnographic study, Butch Queen Up in Pumps, Gerard Gaskin, author of the photography book, Legendary, Dominique Jackson aka Tyra Allure Ross, author of the autobiography, The Transsexual from Tobago, and Douglas Says, author of The Red Dress, conversations with the women for whom he has designed.
4:30-6:30pm
http://bit.ly/1ipSiFm

Saturday 19th April 2014
Icon Dinner - BY INVITE ONLY
Holiday Inn
Honoring Icons from Ballroom’s Red Era (1986-1990). This is the era when Ballroom expanded out of New York to Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC; new houses were established; and, many elders were lost to AIDS.
6-11pm

Sunday 20th April 2014
Respect the Runway: The Red Carpet to Mastery
OPEN TO ALL - TICKET REQUIRED
The Dome, MoMA-PS1
22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City
Who is called to walk? The list is revealed.
12 noon-6pm
http://bit.ly/1gHXi7e

Sunday 20th April 2014
The Road to Mastery Rumble Ball
OPEN TO ALL
Club Escuelitas
301 W. 39th St
The battles for mastery begins.
Doors Open at Midnight
http://on.fb.me/1lI4B4d

Monday 21st April 2014
Vogue Knights
OPEN TO ALL
Club Escuelitas
301 W. 39th St
The Master Class
http://on.fb.me/PM50aE

Collaborators: Arika, Vogue’ology Collective, NY Black Pride, MoMA PS1, Georgeous Entertainment, Issue Project Room and Destination Tomorrow2


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Mind to Mind feature for THUMP UK, inc interviews with MIKEQ, DJ SLIINK and KINGDOM

Got this piece together for Thump, featuring some of my favourite DJs out right now. I'm pretty fuckin proud of this piece tbh:



If I were to ask you what your favourite dance labels are right now, I wouldn't be too surprised if you mentioned LA's Fade To Mind and London's Night Slugs; two closely-related club imprints who have been setting the bar very high as a network of DJs throwing some of the best parties on the planet.
Now, you can add Mind To Mind to that list too. Mind To Mind is a new Fade To Mind offshoot, which - as label boss Kingdom and producers MikeQ and DJ Sliink explain - is influenced by Night Slugs' Club Constructions, yet with its own, unique outlook.
THUMP: What made you want to start Mind To Mind?
Kingdom: Will and I who run Fade To Mind had been thinking a lot about what is at the core of what we do; what would be a category of music that our artists generate that doesn't get released, or that doesn't make it onto EPs usually. We came to see that a lot of that stuff is casual collaborations, and improvised music that our artists make together, so our concept was to create a release series that is specifically for collaborations.
Those collaborations can be one off - like, if I happen to be in London for a few nights, and I make a couple of tracks with Bok Bok, or whatever the case may be. It's basically to have a space where people can make tracks together without having to form "a band", or have to say "We're a duo, we're now called this".
Will Mind To Mind have a similar club-based/DJ tools approach as Night Slugs' Club Constructions series? 
Kingdom: Mind to Mind is only really comparable to Club Constructions in the way that they are both side releases. Sonically, we're hoping to push an entirely different direction - although, these tracks on the release from Mike and Sliink are very rhythm-based and drum heavy, like Club Constructions. But, in general, this stuff is going to be very free-form. Some stuff will have no drums.
We are keeping it really open format, though. We don't want it to be just club music. It can be more experimental forms too. Also, you can't really know what to expect based on who is collaborating. Massacooraman and L-Vis 1990 have been making a lot of tracks together, and those are kinda of grimey, but also quite sparse and a-rhythmic. Very creepy, industrial, dark stuff. 

Mike and Sliink, how did you guys meet? Did you know each other before Mind To Mind?
MikeQ: Sliink and I met online first. I already knew of him and his music being from New Jersey. I always played his music when I played here in the past, and we had a few gigs together. 
DJ Sliink: I met Mike from this video interview and mix session program in NYC called Noise212 with JP Solis. Mike did his slot before me, and I was on the next week. I pretty much saw he was from Jersey and messaged him. Everything was pretty organic. The first remix I did for him was the 'Ha Dub' remix on Fade To Mind. 
How did you start producing music together? 
DJ Sliink: After Mike and I met, we found out that we lived around the corner from each other. We have a lot of tracks together. We both really dig each other's style, and have a culture behind what we do. I'm all for the culture.
MikeQ: Well for my debut EP I asked him to remix a track, and then the Mind To Mind release idea didn't even come until after we were done with the tracks. For this project, we were just fucking around and had this idea to clash ballroom and Jersey club. We passed tracks back and forth and met up a few times at my house, and this release was born.
DJ Sliink: Mike and I both use Sony Acid Pro and FL Studio. It's amazing that we use the same thing, as it makes the process that much easier. We would email demos over and review them, and see what might work in the club. When we both were home, that's when we would grab some studio time. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

BOYFRIENDS Vogue mix

This is awesome!! Big shout to Saul Mojca or this killer mix:


Intro
RuPaul - Covergirl (Boyfriends Ratchet Ass Donkey Booty Remix)
Robbie Tronco vs. Trina - C.U.N.T. (Boyfriends Red Bottoms Edit)
GTA - Booty Bounce
2 Chainz - Birthday (Boyfriends DJ Snake Vogue Edit)
Azealia Banks - 212 (Boyfriends RUIN YOU CUNT Remix)
GTA - Hit It (Boyfriends VOGUE Edit)
Tony Quattro - Ray Ray
Chelley - Took The Night (DJ Sliink Remix)
Red Foxx - Silly Bitch
Melocah - Lola
French Fries - Yo Vogue
B. Ames - The Bump
Versace Spice - Versace Hottie
Doortrax - Presto Change-o
Sugur Shane - Buddah vs. Sugar
Madonna - Vogue (Boyfriends Remix)
Dai Burger - Big Boob Bitch
Submission - Women Beat Their Men
M.I.A. - Y.A.L.A. (MikeQ Bootleg)
GTA - The Crowd
Lady Gaga - Aura (Boyfriends KILLED THE VOGUE Remix)
Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding - I Need Your Love (Boyfriends Remix)
Cathy Dennis - Touch Me (Vices Remix)
Drunk In Love vs. Boss Ass Bitch (Byrell The Great Remix)
DJ Funeral - Shutterbug

Thursday, 10 April 2014

'ONE NIGHT ON THE PIER' vogue documentary 1990

Major props to Tony Radovich at Bottom Forty for forwarding this gold dust to me - some pretty amazing footage of kids voguing down at the NYC piers in the late 80s. From the YouTube page:

Filmed at the Pier on the West Side Highway at the end of Christopher Street in New York, April 1990
Features Shartavia LaBeija, Denis St Laurant, Bianca Xtravaganza, Muhammed Omni, ROBBIE ST. LAURENT, KAREN SMILEY PRADA COVERGIRL, DAVID DEPINO XTRAVAGANZA, ANDRE MIZRAHI, ANTHONY RILEY XTRAVAGANZA and many other Legends with a soundtrack of the day supplied by Dj Biggy C

Monday, 7 April 2014

Night Slugs x Fade To Mind pres ICY LAKE



Props to Fade To Mind and Night Slugs for digging out this gem - a lost tibal house jam from the mid/late 90s that Juniour Vasquez would play at the Palladium, as a call for the New Way voguers to get out on the floor. The track itself sounds like it could have been made yesterday, and it's pretty obscure - Vjuan Allure didn't know it, but Aviance Milan testified to it being a vogue anthem at the Palladium.

Here's a lil film made by the labels about the track's making and legacy:

Friday, 4 April 2014

Thursday, 3 April 2014

NICKY SIANO on FRANKIE KNUCKLES (for Thump)

Nicky Siano was one of the original NY disco DJs, setting up and spinning records at the legendary Gallery club from 1972 onwards. He taught Larry Levan how to DJ, and also Frankie Knuckles. Major h/t to Thump for getting him to write a piece about his friend, the man who gave us house music.



Frankie Knuckles (center, in hat) blowing up balloons at the original Gallery location in NYC

Meanwhile, Larry’s career had taken off. The great sound-man Richard Long hired Larry to play his house parties at a spot called the SoHo. And Frankie had taken over Larry’s spot as DJ for the Continental Baths. As Larry blew up, Frankie felt he needed to make his own mark, and an opportunity to move to Chicago unfolded. His life unfolded perfectly when he got there, and he would soon outgrow his role as Larry’s sidekick to become the undisputed Godfather of House music.
It was already 1978. I was playing at Studio 54, then took a few gigs at an after-hours clubs called the Buttermilk Bottom. A year or so went by and I heard that Frankie had secured a job at a new club in Chicago called The Warehouse. But disco was seeing hard days, and many people were crying, “Disco is dead!” I was one of them. The record industry had taken a pure loving idea, and turned it into their cash cow, ruining all its credibility along the way by pushing bad songs with disco banners across their record jackets.

But Frankie was playing a new type of dance music - house. In Chicago, disco fans began a new trend by investing their own money to record a more stripped-down, funkier style of dance music. They immediately brought their records to Frankie, who had a great ear for music, and he picked the hits from the beginning. Sharing them with his NYC counterpart at the Paradise Garage, Larry Levan, the two of them made house music the dominant dance music of the 80s and 90s.

One of Frankie’s production hits was “The Whistle Song,” a house music monster.  His name circulated in the industry as “the man with the new sound.” He went on to mix songs for Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and his version of “Unbreak my Heart” by Toni Braxton has always been my favorite. His name was everywhere, and everyone started calling him - and rightfully so - the Godfather of House. He introduced the world to artists like Jamie Principle and his song “Baby Wants to Ride,” then in 1989 it was Frankie Knuckles presents Marshall Jefferson’s “Move Your Body” - now that’s house music at it’s best!

I took a long break from the music industry to work with People with AIDS from 1984 to 1996. When I came back to play records for Larry Levan’s birthday party at Body and Soul, Frankie was one of the first people I spoke with. We started our friendship up all over again. When he couldn’t play a gig because he was booked too heavily, he would recommend me. By then, he had won a Grammy award for Mixer of the Year, which he would keep out o -  the table at his loft in Manhattan. I remember going over, and asking, “Can I hold it for a while?” We laughed hard.

Read the whole piece here. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

RIP FRANKIE KNUCKLES Godfather Of House (for Generation Bass)

What a sad loss. This man started it all, this whole culture we're so involved in. I wrote this piece about him for Generation Bass, quoting extensively from Tim Lawrence's Love Saves The Day to explain to younger readers just why Knuckles was so important. Rest in Peace, I hope he's going one on one off with Larry Levan and Tee Scott in Heaven right now!

Frankie Knuckles

Dance music moves pretty fast, and unlike genres like rock or jazz, can lack a solid connection to its past someitmes. I guess that’s to be expected from a genre that’s all about living in the now, pushing things forward, the shock of the new, etc. All these things are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it would benefit us to stop and appreciate where we have come from as we move relentlessly forward.

Frankie Knuckles passed away on Tuesday, a sad day for house music, and indeed, electronic dance music in general. Knuckles was known as “the Godfather of House”, and for good reason. There is perhaps no other figure who has had as much influence on the electronic music we dance to, and how and where we dance to it. There have been a couple of “who?” style comments about Knuckles since his passing, so Generation Bass asked me to put together a little something about the Godfather of House for the GB site. It’s gonna be hard to sum up in words how important Frankie Knuckles is to this culture, but I’m going to give it a shot.

OK, let’s start with the basics. Have you ever wondered why “house music” is called “house” music? Yes, the word sounds cool, but where does the term comes from? It comes from Knuckles, and his time as resident DJ at Chicago’s Warehouse club in the late 70s/early 80s. “Warehouse” was shortened to “house”, and the term was used to refer to the music Knuckles played at the club.
All good, but what about house music? It’s one thing to give a genre a name, but what about its trademark sounds? Again, you can thank Knuckles. He established the early Chicago house aesthetic not just with his unique dj mixes of electronic disco and synth-pop/new wave, but his early experiments cutting up well known tracks over a 909 drum machine beat (live, right there in the club) set the template for Chicago house and a technique still being used by producers to this day. And that’s not even mention his real production work and remixing, most notably his work with the vocalist Jamie Principle. Your Love, Baby Wants To Ride, Bad Boy – this records might be nearly 30 years old, but they set the benchmark for raw, sensual, funky house music and still sound immaculate and dance floor destroying to this day. These were also some of the first ever crossover house “hits”, taking the sound from the Chicago underground out into the big, wide world.

OK, so, we all know house music is not just a sound or a word, it’s a full-on culture, a way of life. But where did this way of life come from? Look, I’m gonna pull out the big guns here. The following is made up of two transcript from the book Love Saves The Day by Tim Lawrence, a book about the roots and birth of dance culture that I highly encourage anyone interested in music to read:

Over in Chicago, meanwhile, Frankie Knuckles was looking for some change to come from without. “By the middle of 1978 I was thinking “We’ve got to get some more people around here.” says the DJ. “I was born and raised in New York City and was used to a much more diverse mixture on the dance floor, so I started hanging out at some other clubs and a few people began to trickle down.” Around the same time the predominantly white gay Carol’s Speakeasy offered the Manhattan DJ a weekly spot, and before long he was playing four nights a week, including Saturdays. “I was thinking if this takes off, I can get these people to follow me down to the Warehouse, too. Eventually they did.” In an unlikely twist, college fraternity boys also began to flock to hear Knuckles. “We rented out the space on Friday nights, and college fraternities were always having parties there. Some of the guys started to come by on Saturday nights and check thugs out. Initially they were appalled but they always came back.”

The straight college contingent was re-enforced when Jesse Saunders and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk. two DJs from a mass-advertised party called The Playground, started to take their student crowd to the Warehouse after their own gatherings wound up for the night at 1:30am, and it continued to grow when the punk oriented clique Medusa’s and the new wavers form the Space Place started to dance at the South Jefferson venue in 1980. “I had a 45″ out called “Bad Influence” and someone told me that Frankie Knuckles had done a mix of it,” says Screamin’ Rachel, one of the organisers of the Space Place, which was situated two blocks away from the Warehouse. “I went to find out what was going on, and it opened a whole new door for me. It was a cathartic, wild, tribal experience. People were stripping off their clothes and jacking their bodies. It was like being in bed standing up.”

Robert Williams was relaxed about the shift in demographics. “At some opine in the beginning the Warehouse was a black, gay party, but by the late 70s it had become really mixed. People were travelling from all over the Midwest, and I didn’t mind who was coming as long as they were having a good time.” The mogul’s decision to convert the previously disused basement into a lounge and refreshment area significantly expanded the club’s capacity, which now ran across three floors. “We were getting fifteen hundred into the club at any one point, although two to three thousand might pass through the door on any one night.” The parties nevertheless managed to retain a level of intimacy that, according to Williams, was second only to the Loft. “Everyone knew everyone at the Warehouse, which wasn’t the case at the Paradise Garage. I started to go to the Garage during this period, and I thought it was kind of commercial. You would be in there and you might only know ten people, whereas at the Warehouse it was much more family-orientated. Anyone who was not a regular was nicknamed a visitor or a tourist.”

Having given himself five years to get the Warehouse off the ground, Knuckles was able to congratulate himself on completing the job in two. “Everybody was saying “Are you going to the house” – the Warehouse – “on the weekend?” says Knuckles. “The Warehouse became the thing to do for all these high school kids.” Their integration was relatively smooth. “It was a little difficult seeing men dance together, but then again, there were all sorts,” says Andre Halmon, who first went to the club in 1979. “It was dark in the club and you could lose your sense of time. You could never tell if it was gay or straight. It was very hard to say who was who.” The music programmed the dancers to transcend conventional experiences of sexuality. “I was swept away by the music. I already knew people in the industry so I was familiar with some things. But it was also really underground. The music made everyone bisexual.” Club kid Byron Stingley agrees. “I always thought it would be strictly gay, but in reality it became a place to break down homophobic barriers. No one really cared about sexuality. everyone was just into having a good time.”

Knuckles watched Steve Dahl’s Disco Demolition rally from the comfort of his own front room. “I watched it on television, and I remember it being pretty intense. He just blew up these records, and then they said “That’s the end of disco!” People were telling me “I guess you’re going to be out of work now!” and I said “No-ooo!” It didn’t affect the Warehouse because the Warehouse was not a mainstream discotheque. It was an underground club.” Williams was equally unflustered. “You couldn’t call the music Frankie played “disco” ” he says “If you went to the Warehouse and then to a bar it would be a completely different experience. We were dealing with grassroots music and grassroots people. The Warehouse was completely void of the disco stigma and because of this we bypassed the disco era. As a matter of fact we thought Steve Dahl was hilarious.” The American judiciary, media, radio and suburbs might have conspired to write disco’s death notice, but the mixed urban crowd kept on dancing, and, in a strange twist of history, the Warehouse took off at the very moment disco was supposed to have died. “It all kicked in around 1980,” says Knuckles. “Enough new people had discovered it and were turning new people onto it. The Warehouse became the next big thing.”

Knuckles began to work some old connections in order to supply his dance floor with fresh sounds – and stay one step ahead of his Chicago rivals. “I used to fly back to New York every two or three months. I would do my record shopping on Thursday and Friday then hang out at the Garage on Saturday.” The visits provided him with advanced access to the hottest new vinyl. “There might have been eight killer records that were buzzing on the underground. I managed to get my hands on all that stuff cos everybody would be at the Garage. They were bringing acetates and promos to Larry and they would give them to me as well.” Assuming the role of the good godfather, Knuckles also started to re-edit existing material on a reel-to-reel in order to feed his kids. “I taught myself how to edit. I would rerecord, reedit and extend existing records. I would take the break section and make a new intro with it. I would re-structure the song in the middle, change the break around a little bit, and up the tempo via the pitch control.” Knuckles was driven by a general fall in the output of dance music – especially by the major labels. “It was the only alternative I had. There wasn’t enough stuff coming out to keep the dance floor interested and for the most part what did come out was downtempo. The crowd was still coming to the Warehouse, but I had to give them something to latch onto.”

Halmon latched on right away. “It was only when I tried to buy the records Frankie was playing I released I had heard an edit,” he says. Frankie would mix, but editing became his signature. He was really into reconstructing records. He would cut out the boring parts. It was all reel-to-reel. I remember he did one that started off with the opening bars of Shannon Redd’s “Beat The Street”. It really got the crowd going.” The response of the dancers was accentuated by the paucity of club life in the city. “There were so many venues to choose from in New York,” add Halmon, “but in Chicago we weren’t getting anything, so there was a real sense of urgency.” Williams, who had once wondered if Chicagoans would be too conservative to adopt Knuckles, was taken aback. “It was a new thing to them and they just went wild. Frankie and I were like “Hmmmm can you believe this?” Sometimes he would accidentally take the arms off the record that was playing, and they would go mad because they thought it was a sound effect. We would laugh.” Knuckles made the most of the situation. “There was double the energy at the Warehouse. In New York everybody was pretty much educated about the music and the sound. They would give you an air of “well, we know!” whereas in Chicago everybody’s approach was “it’s new, it’s great, it’s fun, let’s make the most of it!” New York had the better sound systems, but the energy and the crowd were definitely better outside of New York City, and this was what was going on at the Warehouse. It was the newest thing.”

… the DJ’s huge influence on the Chicago scene was unofficially recognised when his musical selections were given the unique label – house (short for Warehouse) music. Knuckles traces the designation to the turn of the decade. “I was going with a friend of mine to his house on the south side of Chicago, and we left the expressway at the 95th Street exit” he says ” We came to this stoplight, and there was a bar on the corner with a sign in the window saying “We play house music” so I asked “What’s that?” My friend said, “All the stuff that you play at the Warehouse!” I said “Reeeeally?” he said “Everybody goes to the Warehouse on the weekends, and these kids are saying that they play the same music as you.” I was like “OK.” This was in 1980, 1981.”

But it wasn’t just Chicago in the 80s that Knuckles helped influence. He was right there at the birth of disco culture in New York in the 70s, too. Best friends with Paradise Garage’s legendary Larry Levan, Knuckles got his break after learning from legendary first generation DJs like Nicky Siano and Tee Scott:

“Larry [Levan] and I would blow up the balloons, set up the food bar, prepare the punch, and give out acid, but we also spent a lot of time hanging out in the booth, watching Nicky [Siano]‘s every move,” says Frankie Knuckles. “He pretty much taught us what he was doing.”

Biding his time, Levan eventually persuaded Knuckles to hang with him at the [Continental Baths]. “He was always trying to get me to go down, and I refused to go,” says Knuckles. “I finally decided to go for the Fourth of July weekend and ended up staying for what I thought was three or four days.” With no natural light, the bathhouse had played tricks with time. “It was only when I went outside I realised I’d been there for two weeks.” During this and subsequent stays the duo made quite an impression. “Larry was hanging out on a regular basis as a customer, and then Frankie started to come along too,” says La Torre. “I remember them sharing a room and sleeping there. In fact they practically lived in the Baths, to be honest. I don’t know if they didn’t have a place to live or what, but they would come for days on end.”

The aspiring DJs created a good impression. “They were very nice and very friendly, and I had gotten to like them because they had spent so much time at the Baths as customers,” adds La Torre. “I just thought they were people who loved to party, and I liked the way in which they were into music.” Eventually the defacto dance floor manager gave Levan and Knuckles a chance to play. “The Baths was open twenty-four hours a day, and it was usually quiet in the afternoon. The people who stayed there overnight usually checked out int he morning, and the people who were going to come in the evening usually didn’t arrive till four or five, so there was a period in the day when there was hardly anyone around, and that was when I let Frankie and Larry practice on the soundsystem.”

“I felt kind of used by Larry [Levan],” [Nicky Siano] says. I’d introduced him to my record company contacts, and when he got the job at the Continental Baths he went behind my back and used my name in order to put together a collection. He never came to me for help. I would have helped him, but he obviously had other ideas. Franki never did that. Frnakie was the exact opposite in that respect.”

Knuckles got his break djing behind the turntables thanks to Levan. “IT was just Larry at the beginning, but sometimes he would play part of the night and then he would give Frnakie a chance,” says La Torre. “He would would ask us if it was ok to Frankie play and we would say ‘Yes’. Larry had proved himself, and it made us feel more comfortable about letting Frnakie have a go.” Knuckles was subsequently offered a start of the week slot at Better Days. I kind of knew Frankie through various channels, but we became friends during this club boom, and Frankie was trying to play at the Continental Baths,” Tee Scott told Daniel Wang. “So one night I saw him sitting there with his head in his hands, and I said “I’m overworked with seven nights a week over at Better Days, so why don’t you have two of my nights there?” Knuckles told Scott that he wouldn’t – couldn’t – play, but he was persuading nobody. “Tee told me “Look you’re in this booth with Nicky every week, what do you mean you can’t do it?” He let me use his records, and I gradually built up a clientele of about four or five hundred. The run was short-lived. “Six months into the job I was told they were shutting the night down because they weren’t making any money. I thought it was doing well, but that’s what I was told.”

Luckily for Knuckles, Levan handed him his start of the week nights. “I played Mondays and Tuesdays” says Knuckles. “Larry played Wednesday through to Sunday.” The slow afternoon, however, remained the most important slot of all. “For the most part nobody was paying any attention to the dance floor, so we would just turn off the main system and use the monitors in the booth. We’d be in there smoking a joint, just playing records, feeding off each other.” Influences began to materialise. “Larry’s style was more David [Mancuso] and I was more Nicky [Siano]. I was into the mix, just like Nicky, whereas Larry went for the atmosphere and the feeling, which was more like David. Larry’s main focus was creating moods.”

Having learned their trade form the Italian-American pioneers of the early seventies, African American DJs were beginning to make an impact. “We were like a brethren back then,” says Knuckles ” There weren’t that many black DJs playing in New York City, let alone black gay ones, and you could pretty well count us on one hand. There was me, Larry, Tee Scott and David Todd. I guess we were like the second generation. We were the next wave.”

There you have it. You don’t have to take my word for it, it is literally in the history books. What Frankie Knuckles achieved in his life, and the influence he had on others, was immense. Your favourite genre? Wouldn’t be the same without Knuckles. Your favourite DJ? Wouldn’t be the same without Knuckles. Your favourite club? Ditto. Dance music culture in general? Ditto.

The next time you dance to a song you could categorise as “house”, or even the next time you dance to an electronic beat, give a little thanks to Frankie Knuckles. The next time you go to your favourite nightclub or discotheque to hear those beats, the next time you turn and raise your hand to the DJ, the next time you sing your heart out on the dance floor or share sweaty hugs with your friends, old and new, give a little thanks to Frankie. The next time you think “clubbing is so good” or “clubbing is my life”, give a little thanks to Knuckles. He drew up the blueprints, he laid the foundations, and he built up this world we know and love so much. May he rest in peace!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

FRANKIE KNUCKLES R.I.P.


RIP to the man who gave us house music and culture (image via Egyptian Lover)