On July 22-23, Northerly Island will definitely be rockin'. You see, it is the site of the Move! Chicago International House Music Festival, which will feature legendary singers such as Dajae, Barbara Tucker and Jamie Principle.
The event will also spotlight several iconic DJs. Nightspots conducted e-mail interviews with three of them: Ralphi Rosario, Steve 'Silk' Hurley and Frankie Knuckles. Each week leading up to festival, Nightspots will spotlight one of them.
First up is Mr. Knuckles.
Nightspots: What do you remember about the first time you DJ'd at a club?
Frankie Knuckles: Apart from being very green around the edges, I felt like it was the first time I fell in love. Like food to an obese person, music is lover. Music is my friend. It's taught me a lot and helped make me who I am today. I listened to the lyrics of some very prolific songwriters throughout my career. Their words inspired me and carried me to this station in my career.
NS: When did you know you had hit the big time?
FK: Have I hit the big time? Here in America? I don't quite fare the same as everyone else. My musical work is my life's work. It's as much a part of me as breathing. My friends and family ( as much as they never make a fuss over my celebrity ) see me more as a 'Big Thing' than I do. I guess I'm just too busy doing what I've always done: staying committed.
NS: You're a Grammy winner, you've had a street named after you and you've been inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. Does it all seem surreal sometimes?
FK: Extremely—especially if I have to put any thought to it. These are trophies and accolades that help to round out the chronicling of my life. When I'm forced to stop and take notice, it is surreal.
NS: How do you respond to critics who say that house music peaked in the '80s and early '90s?
FK: I don't respond to critics. Good music is a constant—and house music has been a constant. However, audiences change. All the people I played for in Ibiza last summer, for the most part, will not be there this summer. People grow and change. They have lives to live and dreams and goals to fulfill—and some have nothing else better to do than sit back and make up stories like this to fill up space on a page in a magazine or newspaper.
NS: What's the biggest change that's taken place in the music world since you got in the game?
FK: It's the advent of the technology that's made it possible for anyone to make and produce his or her own music. When my production career took off in the late '80s, I was among an elite group of DJs/producers/remixers who was still working in live recording facilities with real engineers and who was recording everything to tape.
With Pro Tools, every kid who wants to be a major hip-hop star or house-track producer can do it in their bedrooms, alone—without the help of a professional engineer. And they don't realize how important these guys are; that second set of professional ears is what separates shit from shine-ola.
NS: The best part about performing in Chicago is... ?
FK: Chicago is home. I have a lot of friends and family here. If it were left up to them, I'd be playing here all the time—and I'm cool with that.
NS: What does it mean to you to perform at the International House Music Festival?
FK: It means that I have lived a long time. For this whole genre to come full circle here in Chicago is like watching your child grow up and become a beautiful and staunch member of society. To have the city government get behind this music the way the rest of the world has for many years now is a blessing. I don't think there ever could've been a better time to embrace it.
Tickets will be $35 for one day and $60 for both. See www.ticketmaster.com for passes and www.chicagohousemusicfestival.org .