This was my first feature interview. I asked for this interview and boy, did I get it. I was unprepared, I didn’t record it & I spoke a lot. It was a huge learning curve for me about how to prepare for future live interviews.
Cornelius Ferguson (Corky Traxman) can talk-a lot. He is opinionated, emotional, passionate & open.
Step one- How not to interview someone successfully
I dropped Corky a message about finishing ‘the feature’ & then whilst putting my washing in the laundry, my mobile rang, I was unprepared ( no recorder, no pen and a Mr Ferguson on the other line who talks a lot and fast ).
Corky straight away called me out saying, ‘ You tripping’ ( yeah cos I’m unprepared).
Who is Corky Traxman strong?
Corky was born & raised in West Chicago. He’s a self-made D.J. /Music producer & manages a record label He is a Dad to five children & grandpa to two grandchildren.
What Corky says about the origins of the Chicago music scene
He spoke about the Warehouse, this was the first after-hours party venue to stay open after 3 a.m. in the early ’80s.
Corky explained how the Chicago warehouse club was where Corky ‘got a flavour ‘for house music. This was the place where his passion and dedication to the music kicked off. Corky describes it as
One of the finest places to go to.
We touched upon how the disco music produced in the late ’70s/early 80’s started to lose its appeal. And when house music first put down its roots in Chicago, Corky described how it wasn’t 100% well-received for various reasons. Chicago music wasn’t going anywhere.
In Corky’s words
When you try to kill something, it goes underground & comes back harder
Corky went to explain that he didn’t ‘vibe ‘ with the whole disco scene. When he was 13 years old, Corky described his influences
as the kind of nu-wave music that Frankie Knuckles started playing (early 80’s )
This was a time when the LGBT COMMUNITY were being discriminated against.
It was diverse (for example) my uncles girlfriends brother was openly gay in the early 80’s and they used go to the warehouse records. We had Spanish Harlem.
Around that time Corky described how he was ‘blessed ‘ to be in a position to fly back & forth from Chicago & New York. He was able to embrace both scenes.
When I asked if Corky had ever embraced the drug scene
I’ve never done ecstasy.As a kid, I didn’t experience or witness big parties. It was 1981 (I was 8 years old). Then when I hit 13 years old I became the curious DJ I met up with D.J. Slick Rick ‘Da’ master ( the American music producer ) & Steve Point Dexter and through dance mania (records) in 1984, I got a taste for the party scene.
Corky was signed up to the dance mania label ( founded by Jesse James in 1985) who signed up many pioneers of the Chicago house music scene.
In 1987 the door opened and I met up with Slick Rick ‘Da’ master And a body down the projects called D.J. Funk…and we hung out at the House of Jammin Gerald (and) he did something we’d never seen before.
He used a cassette machine to make a beat machine (ie a mixtape by hand ) the Chicago acid soul track ‘No way back’ (by Adonis) became a huge classic UK hit .
Corky also lists the HOTMIX 5 DJ TEAM as creative influences. HOT MIX 5 was Chicago house music first commercial success in terms of radio airtime.
STEP 2 How to interview someone unsuccessfully
Digressing and cramming too much in.
Corky’s views on American politics
From a hood perspective, Trump doesn’t concern us .What he is doing to us-He’s not doing anything to us that hasn’t already been done.
Corky’s opinion of Obama when he was in the White House
FUCK OBAMA! He did something for the American minorities. There were no tangibles.
Tangibles (elaborate please)?
Black people want 465 years of free labour.
How do you imagine that could be achieved?
(LAUGHS) I don’t know yet-grass roots campaigns ? (the minorities) need to hold their own nuts. Black people do not want to harm children & babies .
For more information on this HUGE topic check out HOLD YOUR OWN NUTS campaign.
Can you tell me what your view is about mental health & the music/creative industry?
People need to perk up. People need to be heard. I go through it.
When I asked him to speak about the track he did title ‘DEPRESSION’
yeah, it was just how I felt. It reminds me of this kid from Phoenix who said something compelling. He said he was going through something. Something real serious, like he wanted to commit suicide. It’s serious. I got him to work with me on my footwork on-air project and it seemed to help him.
What other roles have you had in or out of the music industry?
I’ve recently founded my own music label (2018)
When I asked Corky how his label came about
He’s a Robert
( phone signal bugged out at that moment)
He’s a distributor in Germany-you’re really picking my brains…
(To clarify Corky Traxman Strong runs Chicago factory music record label with Dance manias very own, Steve point Dexter).
COOL FACT: Steve point Dexter’s dad used to drum for jazz /piano composer Duke Ellington-he’s most well known is, ‘ It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing.
I tried to cajole Corky into talking about Mr AAARFF?
I can’t . Mr AAARFF is my cat that helps me make decisions. I can’t comment without him being here.
(Corky becomes unusually quieter)
Okay, so Why did you start a music label?
(Laughs) Freedom ( incredulous) I can make my own choices.
DURR (to myself)
Because you’ve transcended so many different genres of music-what kind of people listen to your music today?
I dunno. Ordinary people. You don’t need to be part white or part black or (you can be) even transgender ,y know?
Where would you say your biggest fan base is?
Asia. Japan and Asia It’s not primarily just juke and footwork I play. They even love their reggae
Moving onto your work with TEK LIFE (congratulations for hitting the ROLLING STONE TOP 20 EDM ALBUMS FOR 2017) and the whole footwork movement
For more information about TEK LIFE & Corky’s involvement, you can find more details TEK LIFE