Né Cornelius Ferguson, veteran Chicago producer Traxman started DJing when he was eight, and he’s been present through pretty much every chapter in the city’s native house music ever since, from the ghetto house sound he pioneered in the mid-nineties to its subsequent, increasingly sped-up incarnations in juke and footwork. Currently, especially outside of Chicago, he’s perhaps best known as a member of the city’s Teklife footwork clique, flipping samples from his mammoth record collection into battle tracks that split the difference between contrapuntal mania and tuneful, globe-trotting soul. This fall, Brooklyn’s Lit City Trax‘s Tek Life series followed up albums from Rashad and Spinn with a hefty, two volume collection from Traxman called The Architek. To celebrate, he’s cobbled together some tracks from the album with previously unheard material from his personal archives. Download the mix below—featuring 100 percent Traxman productions—and read an email interview with Traxman after the jump.
Download: Traxman’s FADER Mix
What’s a typical day like for you at home in Chicago, when you’re not on the road? Just making music and being with my children. I spend a lot of time crate digging.
The international audience for footwork is growing, so I imagine you’ve been spending more and more of your time on the road. How do footwork parties in Chicago differ from the parties you play in other cities and overseas? Honestly, I don’t really play a lot of venues in Chicago due to scene politics from the bad, old school house DJs and producers. They really lock it down. I get to play the usual spots. Jukefest is a highlight of the home scene. I play out of state or out of the country for the most part.
You have a lot of deep knowledge of the musical heritage of Chicago. What would you say makes footwork a distinctly “Chicago” idiom of dance music, other than the fact that it’s geographically linked to that town? I think it’s pretty simple: the high energy goes hand in hand with the hectic nature in the city’s suburbs.
You’re one of a small handful of pioneers of the footwork genre. What would say makes your practice different from your close contemporaries like Rashad and Spinn? Hmmm. Well, Spinn is more smooth but on edge with a hard style, and Rashad is hard, forward-thinking and to the point. My style is a reflection of my love for music. It’s funky, soulful and a bit eccentric.
Why do you think that the music you make has struck such a chord with people who like experimental dance music but had no prior knowledge of footwork/juke until recently? I think the world is looking for something different but also something to be a part of. This is both. People are more prepared to look elsewhere. They’re reacting to all the bad pop music out there.
What’s the story behind the 21 tracks that made it onto The Architek? Were they recorded specifically with an album in mind, or were some of them written for other outlets (parties, battles, smaller physical releases)? Tha trax that made it onto The Architek are pretty much battle trax. I wasn’t really thinking about the rest of the world while I made those ones. They’re experimental, more left-field, out of the blue style. J-Cush and I pieced this together over a few months. There was a lot of music to go through.
Describe your typical day of recording. How do record so many tracks? Some days you might record a couple, other days you might record a dozen. It all depends. Just turn on the MPC, sample some records, smoke one and track out.
What were you thinking about when you put together the mix? I wanted to put some of the new album on there with some unreleased forthcoming bits and some trax that might never come out! It’s just my way of thanking everyone for their support and kind word. Mixing is part of my day to day. It’s an extension of myself.
What food do you like to make, and how do you make it? I would make mac and cheese, from scratch, with real cheese.
Traxman – Buddha Muzic [Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Year 2013
Traxman – This Shit Go Hard [Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Nothing Stays The Same [forthcoming Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Keep On Makin It [forthcoming Lit City Trax]
Traxman – 2200 Acid [Lit City Trax]
Traxman – I Need Some Money VIP
Traxman – 911 Was A Joke [forthcoming Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Survive [forthcoming Lit City Trax]
Traxman – All I Feel [Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Da Humanbeat Boxx 2014 [forthcoming Lit City Trax]
Faze Miyake – Take Off (Traxman’s ‘My Two Step’ mix)
Traxman – Lend Me Your Ears
DJ Rashad – Reverb (Traxman remix)
Traxman – Hold It [Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Lets Take It To Tha Stage
Traxman – Overrated
Traxman – Take That Brother Darkness
Traxman – Speed Of Light
Traxman – Making Me Itch
Traxman – That Bitch
Traxman – We Can Go Anywhere [Lit City Trax]
Traxman – You’re Just Movin [forthcoming Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Bleep 2014 [forthcoming Lit City Trax]
Traxman – Super Heat
Traxman – Footworking On Air VIP
Traxman – Tha Tekk DJ’z
Traxman – Bout That Life
Traxman – Never Came Out
Traxman – Lose Control
Traxman – Saving The World
Traxman – Step Back
Traxman – Somebody Help
* * *
FADER Mix Archives