Vinyl Vault and New Mural for Frankie Knuckles in Chicago

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When the Bronx-born Chicago house legend Frankie Knuckles passed away last year, he left a big empty void behind. Of course, the music he made will never be forgotten, but now it’s looking like his legacy will be taking some other forms as well, particularly in his adopted hometown. For one thing, the new Stony Island Arts Bank, a center for African-American art on the city’s South Side, will be the new home of the house pioneer’s vaunted vinyl archives. The Arts Bank’s founder has said that the center, which is scheduled to open its doors on October 3, will be “a hybrid gallery, media archive and library, and community center.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Chicago an effort is underway to recreate the Frankie Knuckles memorial mural that was just removed from a building in Logan Square due to water damage sustained by the structure. Word has it that the mural may be duplicated in Rogers Park. The public art organization Mile of Murals may be involved in the project, which has been successfully crowdfunded to the tune of $2,000. So Frankie Knuckles’ corporeal form may no longer be in Chicago, but it seems clear that the spirit of his music will continue to be celebrated there for a long time to come.

Satoshi Tomiie On ‘New Day’ & Why He Released It On Cassette

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Currently dividing his time between New York City and Paris, and living the musical life he dreamed about when he was an aspiring musician growing up in Japan, I ask Satoshi Tomiie during an afternoon Skype session about what inspires him. Since breaking big on the global dance floor in 1989 with his timeless track “Tears” cut with Frankie Knuckles and Robert Owens, the man who has risen to artistic sensei doesn’t think twice about his reply.

“I love what I do. I love making music and discovering,” Tomiie says. “I make what I want to make and it’s personal. After more than 25 years, I find music really interesting. It’s never tiring. That’s the music force for me: to keep doing it everyday.”

Having taken time to build his dream project studio after issuing his 2000 full-length debut Full Lick — which featured his massive crossover hit “Love In Traffic” featuring Kelli Ali from Sneaker Pimps — his meticulously crafted second full-length album, New Day, isn’t afraid to think beyond the dance floor. During our conversation, Tomiie spoke about the long and winding road to realizing New Day, why creative innovation is important and what led him to release the album on cassette. That’s right, cassette! Continue Reading

Satoshi Tomiie: Frankie Knuckles Changed My Life

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Over 25 years ago Frankie Knuckles met a young Japanese producer in Tokyo named Satoshi Tomiie. Add legendary Fingers Inc. vocalist Robert Owens into the mix and the house-music classic “Tears” was born. In the annals of house music, few songs are as impactful and impervious to the test of time as “Tears.”

Talking to Tomiie about the details of his upcoming second album, New Day, due out May 20 on his Abstract Architecture label, Tomiie recalls how he learned about the Godfather’s passing a year ago today.

“I was at my friend’s house in Buenos Aires just chilling out,” Tomiie remembers of the say day. “Hector [Romero of Def Mix] called me. Nobody really calls me on my phone, except for a few people. I thought it had to be something urgent. The news was quite shocking.”

How did Tomiie deal with the loss of his mentor? “I didn’t,” he says flatly. “I couldn’t deal with it, basically. There was no way. It was impossible. I hadn’t spoken to Frankie in years, and that made it more difficult. Nobody expected this news.”

The globetrotting Tomiie says putting together an event last May at Air in Tokyo allowed him to keep busy and pay tribute to Knuckles in his own personal way.

“One way to ‘deal with it’ was with the party I did in Tokyo, which is where I met him,” Tomiie says. “His performance in Tokyo changed everything for me. I wanted to do a party in Tokyo to pay my big respects for what he’s done and what he did for me. He changed my life.”

Tomiie called upon DJ friends DJ Nori, Ko Kimura, Kenji Takimi and DJ Kent to spin at the party. Robert Owens, who also played a pivotal role in Tomiie’s early career, flew in to perform with Tomiie. (Listen to a podcast from the event here.)

“Some of the classics I listened to at his first performance in Tokyo from Fingers Inc., well,  nobody had the instrumental,” he says. Tommie spent several days recreating the songs so Owens could perform the songs at the event.

“It was a part of the process of dealing with it,” he estimates.

All these years later, how does Satoshi Tomiie, who went on to craft future club classics like “Love in Traffic,” look back on “Tears” and the impact of his debut single?

“It’s my first record and my starting point. It came out in 1989, 25 or 26 years ago. My attitude to music is to look forward and do new things. I’m not someone who looks back a lot but this was a whole different time to make music. It’s a symbol of when house music was introduced to the world. It was a symbol of a good time for that style.”

Look for an in-depth interview with Satoshi Tomiie about his second full-length album publishing next month. Listen to Cevin Fisher’s exclusive Big Shot Guest Mix tribute to Knuckles here.

Big Shot Guest Mix: Cevin Fisher (Frankie Knuckles Tribute)

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Big Shot Guest Mix: Cevin Fisher (Frankie Knuckles Tribute) by Big Shot Magazine on Mixcloud

On March 31, 2014 our heart was broken. Frankie Knuckles, the Godfather of House and one of the nicest men to walk the earth, left us. He was 59, and he passed way too soon.

In the weeks leading up to the first anniversary of the Godfather’s passing, I thought about how best to pay tribute to this amazing man, one who I had the pleasure of interviewing many times over the years. How do you pay homage a DJ/producer giant who toured the world for much of his life, bringing joy to so many people at clubs and festivals? The answer was right in front of me: You celebrate his eternal spirit by honoring the legacy of the music.

Enter Cevin Fisher, the famed NYC house DJ/producer. Back when I was running Mixer magazine, I cajoled Cevin into mixing United DJs Of America Volume 11. It was Cevin’s first mix CD — a deep session of soulful, energetic house that still holds its weight since its release in 1999. Since Cevin took a few musical cues from Frankie, I reached out and put forth the idea of him creating a commemorative DJ mix of Frankie’s seminal tracks. Cevin immediately and enthusiastically agreed.

“I honestly felt like Frankie was in the room with me when I did the mix…. At some point the sadness turned to happiness. Frankie’s music does what music is supposed to do: It’s beautiful music, so when I hear a song by Frankie now, I just smile.”

“I was in the studio when I logged into Facebook and saw the news,” Cevin remembers of that sad day one year ago. “I was devastated. I just sat at the computer and looked at all of the messages about Frankie. I felt so bad for David Morales, Judy, Hector Romero and the whole Def Mix crew, because I knew this was a tough loss for them as well as for the whole music scene, especially for the dance music community.”

“Frankie was a huge inspiration to me and definitely a big influence,” Cevin continues. “Frankie’s music and DJing style inspired me in a soulful, gospel, hands-in-the-air shouting kinda way and his productions were always crisp and polished. There are very few DJs where I can tell who it is playing before I even see them, and Frankie was that kind of DJ. He was 100 percent unique and his music will live on forever.”

Listen to Cevin’s brilliant tribute featuring classic Frankie Knuckles productions and remixes including “The Whistle Song” and “Tears.”

As the hashtag says, #FKAlways.

Artwork created by Christian J Petersen of I Want You Studio.

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Underworld and Heller & Farley Cover Frankie Knuckles For AIDS Charity

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Underworld and Heller & Farley have recorded a cover of Frankie Knuckles’ 1987 Chicago house classic “Baby Wants To Ride” to be released via Junior Boys Own on March 31, 2015, the first anniversary of the legendary DJ/producer’s death. The release follows an array of artists, including Def Mix partner David Morales, Tony Humphries and  Jimmy Edgar, who have paid tribute to the master since his passing.

The interpretation of one of Knuckles’ signature tunes will be released digitally and on limited edition 12” vinyl by Junior Boys Own/Caroline International. All proceeds of the record will go to the Frankie Knuckles Fund, which is part of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

“As the creator of house music we owe Frankie a huge debt. Karl and I have always seen Frankie as the source and, as Underworld, we’re always swimming in his river,” said Underworld’s Rick Smith.

“My relationship with Frankie goes back a long way. Twenty-five years ago, Frankie championed the early music Pete Heller and I made and many of the first releases on Junior Boys Own. He helped turn a group of suburban London music fans into DJs and producers who could travel the world, simply by his patronage,” said Terry Farley.

Sir Elton John said of the release, “It’s fabulous. I have always LOVED Underworld. This is a great track and tribute to Frankie. Thanks to everyone involved from me and everyone at the Elton John AIDS Foundation.”

You can buy the track digitally now at babywantstoride.com, ensuring all proceeds go direct to the charity, without any retailer margin deductions. The limited edition of 1,000 vinyl 12″s and the digital bundle are available at as “Pay What You Want” (subject to a minimum of £12 plus shipping for the vinyl and £3 for the digital bundle).

Stay tuned for an upcoming tribute to Frankie Knuckles publishing next month.

Dada Life’s Olle Cornéer Diagnosed with Cancer

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Some worrisome news from Dada Life’s Olle Cornéer. In a candid post on Dada Life’s website and Facebook, Cornéer has revealed that he has cancer. “The only word I could hear was ‘cancer,’” says Cornéer. “It kept bouncing inside my head and I don’t think I heard what the doctor said for the rest of the visit.”

In the past few months, Cornéer has not been touring as he was diagnosed in September and immediately sought treatment. “It was a Monday. On Wednesday I had surgery (moving fast is important). Since then I’ve been taking blood samples, going through X-rays and talking to doctors. And now I’m in chemotherapy.”

Reading Cornéer’s concerned but resilient words on the subject is reassuring – this has been a particularly heat-wrenching year for the DJ community. We lost both DJ Rashad and Frankie Knuckles unexpectedly, and it’s great to hear that Cornéer has caught it quickly and is doing what’s needed for a full recovery.

In addition to his treatments, Cornéer is still making music, having just finished tracks under his Night Gestalt moniker. He describes the project as the sounds he hears in his head “after the lights go dark at a big show, alone winding down at night,” which will be particularly intriguing to hear considering his recent diagnosis. He is also excited to work on new Dada Life tracks soon, which is great to hear.

Read Cornéer’s full statement here, and watch a clip of Cornéer directing a choir for his experimental New Flesh Network project.

New Flesh Network from Olle Corneer on Vimeo.