Million Dollar Contract Didn't Go Knuckles Way...
DMC Update: Frankie Knuckles
DefMix House From New York City... Southport
Weekender, here we go...
Yo Frankie, been a while - too long dude.
You are without doubt one of the biggest superstar DJs the world has ever
seen. So what the hell where you thinking pursuing a career in textile
design at FIT in New York?
"Funny! Whatta-ya-think? Think I can't do it!? I can walk and chew
bubble-gum at the same time you know. All joking aside, it was my original
desire to pursue a career in costume design for stage & screen and
ultimately do men's sportswear. Fortunately, music got the better of me."
Who were your first Band/DJ heroes that got
you into this all dance music madness?
"David Mancuso, Nicky Siano and Tee Scott."
Where does the surname Knuckles come from?
"Well, I could take you thru my whole family lineage here, but It might take
up too much space on the pages and put your readership to sleep. But to
condense it all, I'm named after my father Frank Knuckles Sr. Perhaps one
day I'll be able to show you my family tree."
The Southport Weekender coming up, our best
UK weekender - have you played here before?
"Yes, several times over the past 18+ years. I love it."
Larry Levan - what were the tunes that made
your spine tingle when he played them?
"'Love Is The Message' by MFSB, 'Free Man' by Southshore Commission, 'Your
Love' by Jamie Principle...and the list goes on..."
Best EVER New York club that a) you have
played at and b) you partied at?
"Best club I ever played was The Sound Factory Bar. Best club I ever
partied in was David Mancuso's original Loft at 637 Broadway, circa 1972."
Finest DJ that you have ever played with?
"Larry Levan, David Morales and Danny Krivit, oops you only asked for one.
Sorry but these three giants have had the greatest impact on my career as a
How did you feel winning the 1997 Grammy
Award for Remixer of The Year - where were you when the award was announced?
"I was sitting in the audience when the announcement was made. There was so
much pressure on me for weeks I couldn't eat or sleep. Plus, with having
Morales in the same category I just knew that he would win it. But I was
completely blown away. Thrilled to no end!"
What one artist in the world that you
haven't made a tune with EVER, would you sit down behind a sound desk
happily tomorrow and make happy music for us all?
"Miss Gladys Knight..."
Most special Pacha Ibiza Saturday night
"I can't say I have any one night more special than the other. I spent 10
summers playing there with my fellow DefMix partners and had the best time.
I hate that those days are gone. But I miss the days of SFB and The
Warehouse also. I just have to enjoy the memory and move on."
Big up 5 USA DJS...
"Danny Tenaglia, Louie Vega, Kenny Dope, Danny Krivit and Mr Morales."
Two tunes that I play into the night in my
bedroom from what are obviously from your soul are 'Tears' and 'Your Love' -
monsters on a global stage - but what do you think is the best record you
have ever made?
"'Tears' and 'Your Love' have by far had the greatest impact globally, but
for me personally, 'Keep On Movin' - the La Famiglia20Mix".
What are the big tunes
in the Frankie DJ box at the moment that are rocking the floors...?
"My remix of Whitney', 'Million Dollar Bill', my remix of The Jackson 5's
'Forever Came Today' and Kim English's 'Nothing Impossible'."
Billboard Magazine's Larry Flick wrote that
you are the "best dance music producer we have in America - "he understands
the groove but he gets the whole picture." - Thoughts...
"Larry Flick is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and, I could say that
he's biased because of our friendship. But there was a time when we didn't
know each other and I was a fan of his column. It's great to be recognized
by the industry and my peers. These are the things that's made it easy for
me to survive in this business, whether my music sells or not."
How proud are you of
the new, healthy Whitney Houston?
"I have to admit, I've never been a big fan of Whitney's but I have learned
to appreciate her here lately, especially after all she's endured and making
her way back to where she belongs. Her voice is a national treasure. So
when she was about to launch this new album I knew I wanted to be involved.
When the remixes for 'Million Dollar Bill' were being contracted and the
contracts were only given to The Freemasons, I was a bit disappointed. Not
at the Freemasons, but to the idea that only one conceptual set of remixes
was being done. I felt that a 'distinctively American Remix' needed to be
done as well. Therefore, I reached out to a friend connected to the project
and asked for the stems so that I can try it out myself. I finished the mix
and it came out FLAWLESSLY! Now the song will be well represented from a
commercial side (with The Freemasons Mix) and from the urban/dance/house
music side with my DIRECTOR'S CUT version."
What was the first club you ever played at -
and how much were you paid?
"The first club I played was The Better Days Bar, NYC in 1972 and I was paid
$50 a night."
What one record will you hold to your chest
to your dying day?
"'Let No Man Put Asunder' by First Choice. Why? This tune is the first
record I captured the people of Chicago's imagination with. They
automatically related this song to The Warehouse. There wasn't a night that
went by that I couldn't play this record. And after playing it for so many
years bringing so much attention to it, I was given the opportunity to remix
it. This was my first professional remix and it was a major hit. And this
is the one single tune that launched the whole HOUSE MUSIC MOVEMENT."
What are your thoughts on the death of
Michael Jackson? What do you think really happened?
"It's not important what I think happened. But losing him has been the
single greatest loss the world will know to this day. Everyone knew him.
Everyone knew his music. He wasn't just Michael Jackson, "The King Of
Pop". He was Michael. We all connected to him. Especially those of us in
the music business. He was genius and we all benefitted from his genius."
So, it's your birthday - what one Soul, Funk
or Motown singer do you ask to stand on a table and sing 'Happy Birthday to
"Again, Miss Gladys Knight."
Best "moment in time, in a club you have
ever played at?
"Easy, The Sound Factory, in the Summer of 1991."
What is next production wise from one of the
superstars of dance music...?
My new partnership with Eric Kupper, DIRECTOR'S CUT has gotten off to a
great start. We've hit the ground running with remixes for Hercules & The
Love Affair, BLIND (unofficially), Depeche Mode's, WRONG (unofficially), The
Jackson 5's, FOREVER CAME TODAY and Whitney Houston's, MILLION DOLLAR BILL.
Currently we're wrapping up production on Director's Cut debut album
featuring Jamie Principle and the re-productions of YOUR LOVE & BABY WANTS
TO RIDE, dropping at the end of the year.
Frankie Knuckles will be performing at The
Southport Weekender 45 Festival, which kicks off on 6th November 2009.
1 OCTOBER 2009