Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to interview Felix Da Housecat, a House DJ based in Chicago who\’s been killing it for decades. Following his set at the inaugural Mamby on the Beach, I asked Felix a few questions:
Great set out there! What did you think of this brand new festival and the crowd?
Man, when I rolled up, I had no idea Farley [Jackmaster Funk] was playing before me [Note: Toyboy & Robin were scheduled to be before Felix, but cancelled last minute due to travel issues]. He was one of my heroes growing up and one of the reasons I started making house music. He used to come to England and we would hang out in the nineties. When I saw him, I was like \”damn, you still look good!\” I posted a picture on Instagram and Dubfire and all of them commented the same thing.
Set-wise, it was a tough crowd in the beginning. But hey, I just figured I would be patient and I\’d get \’em. The vibe ended up being incredible. It\’s the best feeling when you\’re at home, and you get to support your hometown like this. I love Chicago – I live in London right now, but I love coming out here. My mom wants me to come back to the states too. Everyone from Chicago, we all have chips on our shoulders because we have something to prove. If it weren\’t for here, I wouldn\’t be where I am.
(The interview was interrupted by Felix\’s sister and family members, who were making sure Felix would be on time to his mom\’s house tomorrow after his aftershow at Evil Olive. \”I\’m texting you at 1:55 to see where you\’re at!\” his sister told him)
How do you like living in London as opposed to here?
I love England. Chicago gave me my break when I was 14. I made my first record with DJ Pierre in like 1985 or \’86, called \”Fantasy Girl.\” Chicago gave me my break, but when WBMI and WGCI went off the air, house music kinda died and went underground. For someone like me, I couldn\’t go to the parties because I was too young. I went off to college to Alabama State and flunked out. Then I went to Columbia College, which a lot of people don\’t know. I called Pierre to see if he could hook me up when I flunked out, because he was at Strictly Rhythm. I sent him some songs and he told me they sounded like shit. He said I needed an MPC, which was about 2 grand. I couldn\’t afford that, so I took a pizza job and drove all the way up to Maywood every day. I would say to this dude \”if you give me free studio time, I promise if I ever make it big, I\’ll come back and hook you up.\” Which I did!
He gave me like two free studio days and gave the song to Pierre, who gave me like $1,500. That was all the money in the world to me. Then he was like…do you wanna go to England? So I jumped on a plane and went to London. Sleeping on the floor, walking in the rain and shit. Everyone I was hanging around with knew and loved Chicago, and I\’d be walking around to different record companies, doing demos. I had three days to move all of this music. The only company that let me in was Guerilla Records, who gave me like $5,000 for a track. I told them I was DJ Pierre, and then I told them my name was Felix. They asked for a name, and I came up with \”Felix da Housecat.\”
So I ended up making like $10 grand. I came back home with the money, and I told my mom no more school, no more pizza, and built a studio in the basement. I was like 22 or 21. That\’s when times changed. That song went top ten on the charts, so I ended up living in London and I\’ve been back and forth since the nineties.
What do you think a festival like this means to Chicagoans? Would you like to see more events like this?
That was the biggest tent I\’ve ever played in here! I thought it was cool, definitely good vibes. I\’d love to see it back again next year.
Your new album (Narrative of Thee Blast Illusion) came out recently. Was this set a celebration of the new album in a way?
Yeah, I\’m really happy. It\’s not like I\’m running around all excited promoting my new album like I used to, but I\’m still glad that it\’s finally released. I think it\’s one of those albums that will kinda grow on people. It might not hit them the first day. Right now, I\’ve been shooting videos for some songs and stuff like that.
How would you describe the music on the new album?
It\’s kinda like my narrative of the Illusion of the world. Music stems from the brain – it\’s not really you doing it, but your brain. It\’s hard to put into words.
Do you have a favorite track on the album?