By Lizz Spano
The Godfather of House Music. The first
thing that should come to mind is Frankie
Knuckles. For more than twenty years Frankie
Knuckles has reigned as the King of the
genre we so affectionately refer to as
house music. From "Tears" to
the quintessential "Whistle Song",
to "Keep On Movin" Frankie Knuckles
has been a staple on dance floors around
the world. In 1997, he was the first ever
recipient of a Grammy Award for Best Remixer
of the Year, and it's been full speed
ahead ever since. His win launched him
into a hectic touring schedule, with not
much time for anything else, but now the
album he envisioned seven years ago is
complete. A "New Reality" for
Frankie Knuckles has arrived, and he has
got a lot to say about.
LS: A New Reality is the first
Album you have produced in over seven
years? What was the most influential factor
in producing the album?
FK: I think the most influential factor
would be my colleagues and my friends.
The Soulfuric Boys- Brian Tappert, David
Morales, Louie Vega to name a few... they
have all been consistent throughout the
whole process. Over the last seven years
there has been a lot of touring, and little
production. I guess it all started around
the time that I won the Grammy. I started
touring so much, that producing was put
on the back burner. My friends really
pushed for me to start producing more,
so I figured I'd test the waters. I wrote
"People Are Moving", which really
got me going, so I decided it was time
to finish things... for everyone I had
to play for all around the world.
LS: How did you come up with the title
A New Reality? Was it something
that just came to you? Or did you give
it a lot of thought?
FK: When I had first approached doing
the Album, I was going to go with "Dub
J's Delight". I had to make the album
dance floor friendly and shift the focus
to how it's done now, and not how it was
done in the 80s and 90s when I had done
most of my work. September 11th changed
the scope of everything for me. After
that I thought this might be the only
opportunity I had to write songs that
actually meant something, and that weren't
just for the dance floor. I came from
a time when songs were made for the dance
floor - this isn't Disco. My approach
was to dive in and finish this for me,
and for my fans. When I got to the track
"Journey", I was in my house
on the floor, listening on the boom box,
playing it over and over. "Take me
away to another reality", that's
what came over me... and I said to myself,
this isn't Doug J's Delight... this
is a New Reality.
LS: The First single, "Back in da
Day" is the first time you and Jamie
Prinicpal have collaborated in almost
twenty years. How did it feel to be back
together and stylistically were you able
to pick up where you left off?
FK: It was absolutely wonderful. Jamie
is like a little brother to me. He's extremely
talented. There was some negative energy
that came between us in the past, but
bottom line, we love each other. When
I committed to producing the album, I
asked him to get back with me... How could
he say no? Time and distance has healed.
We moved back and reconnected, and it
felt natural to get back into it.
LS: The track "Hit the Floor"
was co-written and engineered with Satoshi
Tomiie. You two seem to work so well with
each other. Do you think this track may
follow in the footsteps of "Tears"?
FK: Hit the Floor is completely different
than "Tears", and I don't think
it will do what "Tears" did.
"Tears" is romantic. It's very
different, and beautiful in all of its
form. It's very rare when a song hits
you like that. Satoshi and I produced
that track years ago, when he was just
getting started in his career. We've taken
different paths. You need to follow your
dream. Satoshi is such a genius. Where
he's at right now is where he wants to
be musically, and I have a lot of respect
for that. It's better that way, because
he's a friend, and I can respect that.
Grow up and move on.
LS: Several tracks on your album feature
vocals by Nicki Richards. How long have
you been working with her, and will she
be touring with you?
FK: I've been working with Nicki since
1990. She was on Atlantic Records, in
1989. I did a remix of "Summer Breeze"
and she did the background vocals for
me. After that she was always one of the
people I would bring in. She's great,
and absolutely gorgeous! I always said
that I need to work on things with people
I really depend on. The first song that
Nicki and I tested was "Keep on Moving".
It was produced with her especially in
mind. It showcased her so well. She tours
with me, and she is the easiest artist
I have ever had the pleasure of working
with. She'll stay and work until we get
it right. She has an incredible work ethic,
which speaks volumes... it makes it easier,
LS: While we're on the topic of touring,
with the launch of the new album, you'll
have a pretty hectic schedule to deal
with. Which cities are you looking the
most forward to playing in?
FK: There are so many places I can't
wait to visit again. London, Midlands,
Ireland, Scotland... and I always loved
Italy. It's the best place in the world.
Italians adore beautiful music, so it's
easy to play for them; Japan... same
response. I'm really just looking forward
to touring the world, but its different
now, because of my new album in my pocket.
People will want me to sign autographs,
and play certain songs. Once the album
is out there it doesn't just belong to
me, it belongs to everyone else, and I've
got to send them home with something.
LS: Along with touring, you are pretty
active with charity work. What platforms
are you most passionate about?
FK: Children with AIDS, homeless children,
anything with children is really what
I am most passionate about. I just can't
stand to hear the sound of a child crying.
I do whatever I can do, though. Women's
charities for Breast Cancer awareness
is also something I support. I like to
stay away from politics; I don't like
it at all. I did some work for Bill Clinton
in the past, but that's about it. Some
charities I have worked with are God's
Love We Deliver, based out of New York
City, which provide meals for people with
AIDS. I've also worked for the Gay Men's
Health Crisis (GMHC), and I'd like to
continue with them. Most recently, I've
supported the Harvey Milk School. I think
a school for gay youth is such a positive
LS: Rumor has it that you might be involved
in a future benefit for Gay Marriage rights.
As an openly gay man, how do you feel
FK: I don't think that, in all actuality,
it takes the law for people to understand
how much they love each other. I think
gay marriage is extremely important because
I don't think that when two people love
each other they should not be denied of
the benefits of marriage. I don't think
that gay marriage is something that should
be judged by the government. They just
shouldn't have their hands in it. Would
I do it? Absolutely. The time is here.
It's not a mockery about marriage. When
two people love each other it's the next
logical step. These people want to share
in everything they have. If something
were to happen to one of them, they wouldn't
want to lose everything they have become
together to some bullshit family member
down the road. They don't deserve it.
That's why it's essential for these marriages
to be made. Most people in their life
just want to be happy. Most gay men don't
get this at home. Families have no right
to step in if they never supported them
in the past.
LS: Looks like you've got a lot on your
plate for the future. With so much going
on, what do you do to relax when you've
got some downtime?
FK: Oh wow. I stay at home, I cook, entertain
my friends. I have my goddaughter who
comes around from time to time from California.
I have a godson who is in high school,
we hang out. I love my family, they are
really great, and when I'm around it gives
them the chance to spoil me... because
I spoil them!
LS: Is there anything else you'd like
to share with our readers before you go?
FK: I am my own worst enemy when it comes
to talking about myself. Lots of people
have expressed thoughts on what I do and
what I should do. I want to live my life
the way I want. I want people to stay
true to me. People will always be judgmental.
Just don't spoil it for the next person.
Knuckles A New Reality is out now...
click here to listen & buy the CD