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Chicago MOVE! House Music Festival Special Part 2: The Interviews

Author: Alys Clare Francis
Thursday, November 2, 2006
While researching her feature on 'Chicago MOVE! House Music Festival' Alys Clare Francis had the opportunity to interview some of the luminaries of the house scene including the legendary Frankie Knuckles. While not all of their answers were included in the feature, we decided that the transcripts were worth printing in their entirity as they add to house music's rich history. Whether enlightening, entertaining or tongue in cheek, you can be assured that all responses come straight from the horse's mouth.

The term 'house music' covers such a broad spectrum of music. How would you explain what it is to someone who knows nothing about house music-
Lady D: House music is characterized first by the four-to-the-floor 4/4 beat, and furthermore by the tempo, generally riding between 114-134 bpm, but not without exception. In general that is the basic definition of house music. Then you can talk about the other things, like house being a feeling and that sort of thing.
Frankie Knuckles: I sometimes have the same problem. There was a time when it was fairly simple to understand, but I think that once the Brits got a hold of HOUSE MUSIC, everything kind of snowballed out of control. They looked at HOUSE MUSIC as an invention, therefore constantly trying to re-invent the wheel. Hence, Techno & Trance. And because most young folks new to the scene, if they haven't done their homework, or those folks from Middle America who rarely go out automatically assume that what they hear at their local "raves" when DJs like Sasha & Digweed or Paul Oakenfold come to town are playing, is called HOUSE MUSIC. Trust me, IT AIN'T!
Ralphi Rosario: Listen....And don't speak.....

Roughly how many different genres of house music would you say there are-
Lady D: Just one...and I don't mean to be cheeky. I just think there is only one house music...the genres you speak of are all variations on the same theme and there are at least 20 if not more.
Ralphi Rosario: Too many! But offspring is a great thing

What is your signature genre of house music-
Lady D: I play everything under the sun. I keep my tempos in house range and I will play anything rhythmic or melodic. My style of play is tech-- I scratch just a bit, I backspin, I pull tricks with doubles...but as far as what I play, I go through Chicago house, techno, jack trax, vocals/garage, electro, retro, anthems, disco, bootlegs, you name it! You will find elements of all those things and more in my sets. I tailor my sets to the environment, but I never play just one singular house sound, like an entire set of vocal house for example. I blend it all up, smoothing my transitions, programming the music so each selection gets showcased.
Frankie Knuckles: Classic. The REAL THING. The music I play (stylistically) is what spawned this whole genre. Everything else that came after is an off-shoot or, what was inspired by THE REAL THING
Ralphi Rosario: Tribal, Latin, semi progressive house..

What does this style mean to you, in terms of the music and your attraction to it-
Lady D: This style I play, of playing all styles, means that anyone can hear my sets and feel related to the music. I liked radio more when it was more diverse too. When I could turn from the urban station and look for a different sound, maybe ending up at a rock station, or a jazz station, or a classical station, you know, anywhere. For me, what I play is a reflection of what I love about music...that you don't have to choose sides. I am on the side of good music and that's all.
Frankie Knuckles: It's everything my life is all about. It is as much a part of me as my name. People around the world know and put my name to this music. If you ask the right people, HOUSE MUSIC- My name, if not the first, is one of the first names to come up.
Ralphi Rosario: Rhythm....