“Felix Da Housecat would do nothing for selling his soul", claims the defiant artist as he chills out in London. For those cynics that believe he has already sold his soul for mercenary gains, his message is potently clear. “Oh my God! Are these motherfuckers crazy?” he asks, referring to the controversy surrounding his employment for Global Underground's 34th edition. “So many people blogged ‘Why are you getting Felix? He’s too commercial. He’s not underground’. I helped to start all of this shit at the fucking beginning! Have they lost their minds!? I was the first guy who was doing it. I was making techno, I was making minimal, progressive; you name it. I can deal with criticism. If you’re going to criticise me just know your shit before you talk shit about me.”
Although the GU experience was unexpected—“I was really shocked that they wanted me to do it”—spinning outside of his usual remit was a simple case of knowing what was needed. “I wanted to do one CD like fuck rave and the other one to be fuck rock. Fuck rock would be the dirty shit and fuck rave would be the sexy stuff.”
Pigeonholing Mr Da Housecat is certainly far from easy. He has shown he is capable of adopting myriad characters. Does this make him some kind of modern day punk? “What’s your definition of a punk?” he asks, continuing playfully, “A punk can be a pussy; a punk can be a rebel. I figure you wouldn’t call me a pussy. I’m more of a free-spirit just trying to reach cats with what I do. I do look at myself as a rebel and edgy and ‘don’t give a fuck what people think’. I’ve always been stubborn like that.”
The rise of Felix has taken him through many incarnations. First came the position of apprentice under DJ Pierre in mid–'80s Chicago. On his humble '90s beginnings in Billericay and Basildon, followed by a break with his hit 'Thee Dawn', he comments “I have a really close bond with England. I never forget coming over here, walking in the rain, sleeping on floors, taking the tube and trying to shop my songs”. Now, he sells out openings nights in Ibiza and controls his own record label, Rude Photo.
Felix is an imitator; that much is clear. While conveying his picks he prowls through a variety of personas; from the maniacal joviality of a laughing Maddkatt (oddly, one of his former release names) to the deep, poignant flux in character as demonstrated in many of his favourite artists. If the track isn't at hand he makes a stab at humming or singing it instead, often breaking off into falsetto impressions and beatbox attempts. I suggest many of his choices have a darker element. “Yeah, they do have a haunting feel to most of them—but in a beautiful way.”
The tracks below comprise Felix's current favourites, but as the man himself explains, "it changes all the time".
Jimi Hendrix – Machine Gun [Capitol]
"This is all-time for me. Basically, he was coming out of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He wanted to do something new and go to his black roots so he formed The Gypsies. The first time he performed it, to my knowledge, was caught on video in Newark. I first heard it before I saw the video and when I listened to that track.…man! I don’t play it a lot. I only play it when I’m either super stressed or when I’ve got a lot on my mind and I need to release. When I play it I crank it loud. That has to be the most amazing guitar solo riff ever. When you listen to it you would think he would be running all over the stage but when you watch him do that same solo live he is standing still. All you see is his fingers flying and his head moving just a little bit. He is just in a whole other world, like he’s just so in tune to his guitar or whatever else he’s on. It’s unreal. When I listen to it, it just blows me away. Afterwards I feel like I’ve done a ten mile workout. I have to just chill, man."
Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Going To Save Your Soul? [Downtown]
"For now, it is a classic because your boy Cee-Lo just be filling that shit! If you listen to his voice you can actually tell that he’s not reading words from a paper and just singing it. He’s actually feeling it and doing it off the top of his head. It definitely sounds like he needs some soul saving. I can definitely relate to that. That’s like down south, dirty, in-the-cornbread hills."
Prince & the Revolution – Controversy [Warner Bros]
"Everyone knows he’s my favourite artist. It sounds good now, it sounded good then. You can play it in the dance club, you can sit home and listen to it, you could listen to it in your car. The guitar riff catches you right away. It’s amazing when the music and the hook are good - everything is working and running. He was so raw on the Controversy album. He was so cool. He didn’t give a fuck about nothing. He was just stripped down funk. What I like about Prince is that he has a sort of punk funk about him; a dirty punk funk. Some of his best lines – like ‘Do I believe in God? Do I believe in me?’ – it’s like he’s contradicting himself: is he a saint or a sinner? Black or white? Gay or straight? It was very simple but it worked. Right before Purple Rain and 1999, he was still coming into form. The first time I heard about Prince was when Controversy dropped."
Dr Buzzard’s Savannah Band – CherChez La Femme [RCA]
"Some songs I’m giving you I’m not really educated about, I just like them. But one that I am educated on is this one. This is the cut, dude! Man, that’s like my top three discos of all time! Insane type vibe. I first heard that track when disco and deep house and Chicago were around and Frankie Knuckles would drop that. In the 80s they’d play a lot of deep house disco. The producer who produced this was August Darnell and that’s the same guy who started Kid Creole and the Coconuts. He was like the modern version of Prince, man. Back then he was very original. Tap it on the Youtube and you’ll see the video, it’s wild."
John Lennon – Instant Karma [Apple]
"It’s so crazy because I’d already heard this song - they used to play that at the stadiums - but I’d never put two and two together and knew that it was him until I was watching some documentaries on him a couple of years ago. He was going through a period for a while when the government was on his ass just because he wanted to give peace a chance and all that beautiful stuff. I’m a fan of his rebellionism. I’m a fan of The Beetles, but John Lennon was my favourite. I can relate to his edginess. Paul McCartney was more like the squeaky clean, reserved type cat. I loved Paul McCartney too, they made a great balance. Don’t get me wrong, Paul had some edginess in him too but the way his persona is, it just made him more acceptable; whereas John Lennon was this came-from-the-gutter type cat. "
Radiohead – Exit Music For A Film [Parlophone]
"They are my favourite band and this song is just euurrgghhh [orgasmic sound]. Man, that’s my shit. When I’m flying I’ll play that. The thing I love about Radiohead is that they make you feel sad but they make you feel happy at the same time. Thom York’s voice is so depressing, it puts you to sleep. He is one of my favourite singers. He can hit every note. He’s such a genius. You know how some bands go into a slump? These guys still be going on, they’re still doing their shit. I liked his solo album but I wish he’d just put more of that energy into Radiohead because I like them more as a group. I was sad that he went and did his own thing but I loved what he did, but it sounded like Radiohead had a child called ‘Thom Yorke’s Solo Album’."
Jungle Wonz/Marshall Jefferson - Time Marches On [Trax]
"This was one of the first house songs I ever heard when I was like 14. Marshall Jefferson has been a huge influence on all my baselines. People usually think that baselines come from 80s pop bands but they came from Marshall Jefferson. He made the house music anthem, ‘Move Your Body’. Everybody remembers the first time they heard it in the club, Ryan Hardy was playing, and when he dropped that it was like the first piano house song. Then everyone wanted to steal the ideas. That kind of started off house music. Marshall Jefferson is probably the best house producer of all time for his time. "
Jamie Principle - It’s A Cold World [Trax]
"He was the guy that did ‘Your Love’ and ‘Waiting On My Angel’ but my favourite song by him was this. It was Frankie Knuckles Presents but Jamie did everything. Frankie introduced him and got all the credit. Back then a lot of artists were producing but they weren’t getting the credit. ‘It’s A Cold World’, him singing in a falsetto voice, it even sounds like New Order. He was influenced by New Order and they were influenced by him; as was Depeche Mode. I’m telling you that right now for a fact. You listen to his voice; the synth is so creepy and hypnotic. It’s the cut. "
Giorgio Moroder - Night Drive [Polydor] & John Carpenter - Escape From New York [Milan]
"Him and John Carpenter are my favourite producers of scores from the 80s. I love my soundtracks. 'Night Drive' was on the American Gigolo movie soundtrack. That’s what I wanted to do when I was a kid. That’s why some of my songs have a soundtrack vibe. Giorgio Moroder just scored everything from Scarface to Never Ending Story to Midnight Express. But at the same time, you listen to Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, which he produced, it still sounds like something from a movie. You listen to 'Night Drive', it works in a film and works on the dance floor."