Felix da Housecat is indubitably one of the dance greats by now. Even before EDM exploded in the States, the Chicago house legend – the second wave of that generation – has led the charge in the scene, bringing his sound to European grounds and popularising it there. In the span of his 26 years long career, Felix has expanded the house canon, founded the blueprint to electroclash, and collaborated with Diddy on a hip hop-house hotchpotch – the man hardly remains static when it comes to his output. Recently though, he took a hiatus from making music to the concerns of fans. Luckily for us, the short sabbatical was really a soul-searching journey to get his mojo back, which based on the excitement he exuded during JUICE’s chat with him, is innumerable.
Hiya Felix! We read that you had a 4 year nomadic hiatus. What were you doing? Didn’t you release an album in 2011?
The album Son of Analogue in 2011 was old material recorded in 2004 in Australia that I had reedited, remixed, and gave away to Mixmag. So to answer your question, it has been 4 years since I was locked back in a studio with my mind back intact and mostly touring.
Sinner Winner EP is one of your planned series of EPs, which will lead up to an album. Was there something during those 4 years that inspired you to suddenly be active at producing music?
Yes. I was basically just burnt out mentally and creatively. I‘ve been going nonstop since 2001, not really having time for a break. I just needed time to sort out my soul, spirit, and personal life… once I did that I was ready to come back!
Is there significance to the name Sinner Winner? It’s almost contradictory… but some say you gotta sin to win.
It’s definitely a hypocritical state of mind and contradicts itself, that’s life. And that was basically the idea – to explain that nobody is perfect. That’s the reality and that’s the world we live in.
What can you reveal about the upcoming album?
It’s still up in the air, loads of materials just and just trying to piece the puzzle and work out the concepts. It’s like I have 2 albums worth of material, but I have to bring the story together. It’s sounding like Felix and I’m very happy about that, as before I had lost my mojo but now it’s back!
They say you helped pioneer electroclash – a genre name that you hate. We’d like to hear the story behind that…
There’s no story!
Okay then… you’ve mentioned that you were afraid people wouldn’t get ‘Sinner Winner’ due to the amount of ‘cheese’ out there. Do you think that dance has taken a worse turn since it got pop?
I think you have different genres under the electronic umbrella. To each their own, meaning if you like pop, great! If you like underground, that’s great too! If you like cheese… seek help and get educated. Great thing about being Felix is that I’ve been here 26 years, making records, music, whatever you wanna call it. So I was silly to think that people wouldn’t get it, because at end of the day it sounds fresh, it sounds like me, and it doesn’t fall into these silly genres or trends. I always say, “If you live by a trend, you’re gonna die with it.”
On that note, being a veteran, is there anyone in the commercial scene that you feel like is doing something right?
What is commercial? Music is music…kids make songs on their laptop thinking it’s underground, then it crosses over and gets a zillion YouTube hits, and now all of the sudden it’s commercial?! But then you have kids with the intent of sounding like everyone else making what they think is electronic music when it’s actually the same old sh!t you hear in every top 40 and this is called pop? Ridiculous.
In an interview, you said that Sean Combs made you more popular among black folks in the States. Is there a lack of representation of black folks and support from them in the EDM scene?
In ‘03, ’04, that was the case. To me it’s not a black and white thing, or colour thing even. My point was that we were the first to bring the music cultures together, with my background mostly being accepted and coming from England and his from hip hop.
By the way, black people love electronic music! Um, Detroit, Chicago, in ’83, ’84, ’85, ring a bell? Now I’m saying it’s on a global scale… great question!
We get you – pioneers of Detroit tech, house, etcetera. We read that you tested out ‘Sinner Winner’ to a European crowd first before bringing it to the States?
Actually, I tested ‘Sinner Winner’ to a USA crowd to be exact. It was tested at AVALON in Los Angeles and it went off! America has always had good taste in house, electro, techno. It was underground before the greedy sunk their corporate hands into it. Once that happened in mid ‘90s and also now… some kids just don’t have a clue, but to each their own. You have to remember, America – or shall I say Chicago and Detroit – invented 90% of these sounds. I will leave the 10% out of respect, but this is a fact!
Music Conference ASIA’s Global Sound System is more than just a festival, it is also about educating DJs, producers, and dance aficionados about the industry and the music-making as well. If there were one thing among the younger generation that you find wrong, and would like to correct it, what would that be?
I think I answered most of that already. I look at it all like this; we live and learn from our mistakes, which keeps the music evolving and reinventing itself. My only advice is to stay true to yourself and your sound, keep your integrity. Nobody can sound like you if you are yourself.
What can dance heads from here expect from you when you come down for Global Sound System?
Me, myself, and I. See you soon, can’t wait!
Felix da Housecat is set to play at the official festival of Music Conference ASIA, Global Sound System, on Saturday 27 April ’13.