House Music History: A Conversation with Charles Feelgood

House-house is making some moves—at least some moves back in front of pulsating clubbers more concerned with getting down than jumping up. In our DJOYbeat series with some of the legends in the electronic music, we aim to highlight some of the scene’s OGs, the DJs who know where the land of raves spurrned the mega EDM festivals of today. Working their way on to the radars of new fans—and to the delight of long-term ones—the dope beats keep on bumping. We catch up with veteran spinner Charles Feelgood, the man behind the legendary Fever parties that birthed the Baltimore/Washington D.C. dance music scenes.

Let’s start with what you’ve put out recently. You remixed some reggae with The Simpkin Project. How did that come about?

My wife is a super big fan of The Simpkin Project and she’s been seeing them forever… I like reggae and I went with her one time to see them, really liked the guys and started to see them with her a lot. I took one of their songs, flipped it, and then sent it to them. They were cracking up because they were really surprised and blown away; “We never knew our music could sound something like this!” I just unofficially did it for fun because that was one of my favorite songs on their album.

I dug way back and found a 2003 interview with you and they asked, “Where do you see your career 10 years from now?” It’s 10 (technically 11) years later. Your answer was, “That’s a tough one, but whatever I’m doing, I’m sure I’ll be buying and making music.” Looking back, is this where you predicted where you would be?

I’m still doing the exact same thing! [Laughs.] I’m sitting in a hotel room, doing an interview right before I go to my gig. But for sure I’ve gotten more and more into making music. I figure the more you do it, the better you get at it… I just get into these moods where I really want to make a record and I just start messing around with beats and samples. Then I’ll go on stretches where I don’t make anything for three months. I did so many records last year that I’m taking a little break these last couple of months, but now it’s time to get back and get some more stuff done.

Are you still traveling a lot, or does the day job thing interfere?

Yeah, I still have my day job. It’s rough because I still travel a lot—pretty much playing every weekend this summer and going into fall. I kind of slowed down playing because I have a 9-year-old and I like to spend time coaching little league and really getting into baseball with my son. But lately I’ve been playing a lot. … Next thing I know I go to get my web guy to update my site and I look at all these gigs and I’m like, “Oh man, what did I do?”

Do you think the resurgence in some more legit house is a response to the predominance of formulaic EDM?

Definitely, for sure. [DJ Dan and I] have always really, really liked house-house. … Sometimes I have to be on the road, I’ve been really busy all week and I’ll email Dan and I’m like, “Yo, send me some records,.” He’ll email me like 15 really good records. He saves me a lot when I’m going crazy. But there’s definitely been a resurgence in house-house, which is really good and I’m happy about because the commercial stuff has just taken over, saturated everything and there’s so much crap—way more crap than good stuff. I shouldn’t say that, there’s a lot of good stuff, you just have to dig around and find it.

Luckily I get a lot of good stuff emailed to me and I keep up with all the promos I get emailed to me everyday because I’ve had the same email for 20 years. That was one thing I was just doing right now, I was going through my email and I’m burning CDs while I’m on the phone. There’s tons of good stuff out there, it just doesn’t make it to the top 10 on Beatport and iTunes like it used to. … I wish some digital virus would come along and destroy all the mp3s and we would have to play records again. It would knock a lot of DJs out of playing if they had to play records, I can tell you that.

You said you were burning CDs. So no USB technology for you?

Yeah, I used CDJs and CDs. I’ve tried different things. I really had fun playing with controllers and a laptop because of the ease of it, but traveling with all the stuff, setting up with it? I just went back to playing CDJs because I felt more like I was playing records… In my opinion, CDs sound better than playing with Serato. Generally when I go on after someone who’s playing with Serato, the sound opens up and it’s a lot more clear.

You’ve been in the DJ Mag Top 100. But what do you think about the viability of the rankings in recent years?

To be honest with you, I really don’t keep up with it because it became more of who’s producing what record and who’s propped up by this label—it just wasn’t about being a disc jockey, it was about who’s selling more records. So I don’t really pay attention to that crap anymore. I haven’t looked at it in so long. Half of them aren’t really DJs. A lot of them are good producers, but they should have a Top 100 Producers and a Top 100 DJs.

What would you tell those newer to the scene are some good go-to resources for finding better tunes?

Well, I get a lot sent to me, that’s where I get most of my records from, producer friends emailing me records. I go to Traxsource a lot and I shop on Beatport also. Traxsource has been my go-to site. Beatport has a lot of stuff, but there’s so much commercial on Beatport now to really dig through. Traxsource in my opinion is more true to what I like to play.

You said you want to get back in the studio. What can we look forward to?

Well, I’ve definitely got some more funky house coming. It’s funny, I listen to a lot of old music and I’ll hear a sample—I could be driving down the street, could be in the supermarket, I’ll just sample something and email it to myself. I’ve got about 40 to 50 emails sitting there for the last few months so I’m ready to get back to work and I have some ideas.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever sampled?

Probably “Go, Diego, go!” [Laughs] I was making this one Latin track and my son was watching [Dora the Explorer] and I heard it and snagged a couple things from it.

Are you playing any festivals the rest of this year?

I just found out I’m playing Nocturnal Wonderland actually on September 6!

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