Charles Feelgood, as legend has it, put the rave scene in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. on the map all the way back in 1990 – a time when many readers had barely graduated from elementary school. Feelgood put on the club Fever, and through his weekly house sets, his popularity quickly rose. Now, Feelgood has released two full-length deejay-mix albums, a handful of house singles, and he’s coming tonight to a club near you … for real. Artsweek got Feelgood on the phone and hit him up with a few questions.
Artsweek: What initially drew you toward house music?
Charles Feelgood: When I was younger, my parents used to listen to a lot of disco music, so when I started getting into playing records, I was playing disco house and house records that had disco influences in them.
As a deejay, what are the major differences you encounter in spinning for a club audience as opposed to the crowd at a rave?
I think that the club audiences are generally a little bit older and a lot of times everything associated with playing at an event generally runs a little bit smoother when you play at a club. A lot of times the scheduling [at a rave] is a little more confusing, you have to perform with a lot of other performers, whereas at a club, a lot of the times it’s just you or maybe one other person. It’s just a more controlled environment.
Is there an audience you prefer to play for?
Not really. I mean, most of the people are into it and the music. I don’t really have any preference. As long as the people are there to listen to what I’m doing.
Have you played for Santa Barbara before?
Actually, no. This is my first time in Santa Barbara, so I’m kinda stoked I’m actually coming up in a couple hours.
Are you looking forward to the show?
Yeah, definitely. Because I’ve never been [to Santa Barbara] before and I heard [Zelo] was a small club. I like playing small venues, you know, getting a break from the bigger venues. It’s just a tighter vibe.
You’ve released some house singles. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in producing and writing your own music?
Definitely all the technological advances and trying to keep up with what’s going on with the music technically and just trying to stay ahead and trying to figure out what’s happening.
Are there elements of production and music writing that you prefer to deejaying?
Actually, to be honest with you, if I had to chose between the two, if someone said, “You’ve got to do one or the other,” I’m sure I’d deejay.
What do you wish participants in the club or rave scene would bring to their respective scenes?
I guess more of a knowledge of who they’re coming to see and why they’re coming to see them, and don’t let the music be secondary to drugs or, you know, other outside influences. Or come trying to be educated.
You run your own label and release albums through Moonshine Music as well. What advice do you have for aspiring deejays and musicians when it comes to releasing music?
Be professional with your presentation, and maybe do a little homework because it’s very difficult when you’re dealing with distributors. If you’re not presenting your product professionally, if, you know, you don’t have the sound quality great on the record – your first release is one of your most important ones because if it doesn’t sound good, when it’s time to send distributors the next record, they may not pick it up. That’s something that, well, like anything, of course you get better with time, but you have to start out really good in because it’s an uphill battle from there if your first record isn’t good.
Do you have any funny stories of something that’s happened to you at a club or a rave, like a funny instance?
I’ve had people come up to me who were under the influence or something and, you know, mess with my record while it was playing – I’ve had a couple people do that. I’ve had a couple people ask me to autograph really personal places. (Laughs)
If you could be reincarnated as anyone, who would you be?
You know, I’ve been asked this question before, and what did I say after I thought about it? Probably the president of Warner Bros. Records.
What’s the question that you wish interviewers would ask you that they never do?
That’s a new one. (Laughs) That’s a tough one, you’ve stumped me on that one. (Thinking) When my next CD’s coming out?
When’s your next CD coming out?
Are you excited about it?
I have your old CD, and I think it’s fabulous.
The Can You Feel It one. What about the new one is different from the old one? What do you like about it more?
The new one’s, well, the track structure is a little more varied because I got the first one – I’m sorry, I have two albums out right now, so this is going to be the second on this label, Moonshine in L.A., and it’s probably going to be a little harder. A little more conducive to how I play in a nightclub.
What’s your favorite color?
Did you have anything else that you wanted to add?
No, just tell them I’m looking forward to coming up there.
Charles Feelgood, along with other fine deejays, will spin tonight at The ZOO at Zelo, 630 State St. 18+. If you miss this opportunity, you can catch Charles Feelgood and a plethora of other excellent hip hop and electronic performers at Audiotistic, April 14 at the Long Beach Fairgrounds.