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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, ya know?

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 thing.

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 about that?

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.

Frankie Knuckles A New Reality is out now...
click here to listen & buy the CD


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