Felix Da Housecat: Undomesticated

TEXT Hidzir Junaini
Interview courtesy of Avalon

Felix is one animated cat, on decks and in person. The firestarter has been an influential and perpetually moving figure in electronic music circles for two decades now and shows no signs of slowing down. The forward-thinking, youthful vigour found within his evolving sound and endless energy suggests that the man truly must have nine lives. But while he’s known for his seminal 2001 album Kittenz And Thee Glitz that kickstarted the electroclash revival and his second wave status in Chicago house, many don’t realise Felix actually got his start in the height of the English acid house era. Here, Felix fills us in on his unexpectedly British roots.

Hi Felix! What have you been up to lately?
Travelling the world and seven seas, and everybody’s looking for something. (Laughs) But besides Eurhythmics lyrics, I’ve just been travelling and focusing on my label and brand Rude Photo. I’m gonna launch a Rude Photo party night all over the night soon. Oh, and I made the switch over from Serato to Traktor.

Wow. From what we’ve heard you weren’t a big fan of Traktor or Ableton…
I was a non-believer until I saw Luciano play! I mean, everything he played sounded out of this world, so I got closer and I saw that he was on Traktor. And I’ve seen a lot of folks on it and I used to despise it, I was like a hater. (Laughs) But after Luciano, I came around real quick. I just picked it up and this Avalon show is only my sixth show on it, but everyone’s said my live mixing sound like my productions now. So that’s what I’ve been up to, trying to reinvent myself as a whole.

You’re known as an early Chicago house guy but surprisingly, you got your start in the UK initially. How did that happen?
This dude DJ Pierre asked me to go to London to make my first record, but at the time, I said I couldn’t because I had final exams in school! But then I realised it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just went. My parents didn’t even know I dropped out of school. (Laughs)

How different was the British electronic music scene from the American scene at the time?
I loved London right away! That’s where Felix Da Housecat was born and they accepted me. As soon as I got off the train I saw all these punk rockers and all that stuff and I just knew it was different and it was the place for me. America just didn’t understand my sound back then.

Why do think the English clubs accepted your sound quicker than Chicago did?
They’re so open-minded. And I was also with DJ Pierre, who was big there. I got a door slammed on me one time at a studio and I quickly shouted, “I’m DJ Pierre!” Then I said, “Oh, I’m not DJ Pierre but I’m with DJ Pierre.” (Laughs) Once inside they asked me to play on a track called “The Dawn” on Guerrilla Records, this was William Orbit’s label.

Was that your first big release?
Yeah, and big in terms of money too! When they wanted to pay me, I didn’t even know how much I was supposed to get paid. So I just said $3000! That was a lot of money to advance a track back then! And they asked me for my name, so I said, “Uh… Felix Da Housecat.” Then this rumour spread that Felix Da Housecat was DJ Pierre under an alias. It was so funny! But that worked out really well for me and everything took off from there.

Speaking of first times, tell us what your first DJing experience was like. Were you nervous?
They were throwing bottles at me, booing me. It was at the Hacienda in Manchester. (Laughs) I wasn’t discouraged though, in fact all it did was encourage me to get better… and here I am today.

Log onto myspace.com/felixdahousecat to check out this cat’s meow!