By Steven M. Housman
Tracy Young Redefines Danceculture!
DJ Tracy Young has a new 13-track compilation CD release, titled Dance Culture, that will put you on your feet and ultimately knock you off of them. It is HOT! Her gal pals, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Chaka Khan, provided her with new original tracks that are exclusive to this album and puts this compilation in a league by itself. Young was Virginia-born but is now Miami-based, and the music she spins is as hot as the city she calls home. In this interview, I caught up with Tracy while she was having a day of pampering at her favorite South Beach salon “getting beautiful.” as she said. for the MTV Video Music Awards, where she was playing friend Ingrid Casares’ Liquid Nightclub for a pre-VMA party. In the past five years, Tracy has gone from playing event parties to becoming a celebrity in her own right. Ever since Madonna caught an earful of Young’s music at a New Year’s Eve party six years ago, then was asked by the icon to do a remix of her #1 smash “Music,” it’s been uphill ever since. Tracy talks about past and present work with Madonna, as well as future hopefuls such as Dido, Annie Lennox and Mariah! She also touches ever-so-slightly on her private life. Sorry girls, she’s taken, but as a talent, she’s one of the brightest spinning today. Besides being beautiful, she’s also sweet, sincere and brutally honest. Who could ask for anything more?
Is it fair to say that your fabulous remix of Madonna’s 2000 anthem “Music” propelled you to celebrity status?
Yes, I definitely think my association with Madonna thrust me into the limelight. Prior to that, I was doing a lot of parties and big events, but once I did that remix of “Music,” and started spinning parties for her, people started to find out that I had been working with her, and then my whole life changed practically overnight.
It’s also one of the most played and requested remixes of that song.
Wow! You really did your research. To tell you the truth, I was a nervous wreck. Here I was with two remixes under my belt, which were Enrique Iglesias and the Pet Shop Boys, so Madonna’s was essentially my third remix. I was thinking, this could either make me or break me.
How did you initially get the job remixing the song for her?
I had done a lot of parties for her that nobody knew about. After the remix, the reaction was “Who was that?” I had DJ’d a lot of parties that she had attended and she liked the music that I played. I actually met her during the “Ray of Light” period, but I DJ’d a New Year’s Eve party for the ’99-2000 millennium and that was when it catapulted into something great. She had the album “Music” coming out later that year and that’s when she asked me to do the song.
Tell me about your new CD “DanceCulture,” and why was it two years in the making?
Ah! (Laughing) There are a lot of different reasons why that happened. People in my company left and I was in an artistic kind of funk. I went through this transition period where I got really depressed. I’m being really honest. I just wasn’t happy in my personal life and I had this block and just one day it disappeared and I had to ask myself why I was so negative and stupid? This is what I’m here to do and that’s when I decided that was enough and started to move forward again. To be honest, it was a good thing that it took so long. It gave me the opportunity to put a lot of thought into it. I had time to go into the studio and create songs that would make it fresh and keep it exclusive, such as the Madonna mix that’s on there that can’t be bought anywhere else, Cyndi Lauper and Chaka Khan. So, in hindsight, it turned out to be a good thing.
Do you ever feel like you're in a “man's world” since guys seem to dominate the scene?
I used to, and I was. I’m not a feminist, but I used to submit my tapes (Tapes! Now I’m showing my age (Laughing)) and they would say things like, “You’re a girl, you’re not a DJ.” That’s something that happened all the time. I used to feel that way in other areas, maybe the production aspect of things, but not so much anymore.
What’s the difference in music when spinning for a group of guys as opposed to spinning for a group of girls?
I haven’t played strictly for girls in awhile, but that’s how I started. Girls tend to like more of the pop-oriented music, the top songs, the classics. I remember I used to play stuff like the S.O.S. Band and Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and things like that and it got to be so boring. Guys are more challenging and a bit more open-minded.
Who are your favorite DJ’s?
Oh yeah! I love Junior! He is the master and he sets the standard, and to me there won’t be another like him ever.
Anyone you'd like to work with that has escaped you so far?
I love Dido’s voice, Annie Lennox and Sarah McLachlan. I like the real singers. I love Mariah. The divas are great! I’m so glad Mariah made a comeback and I’m really rooting for her.
What's more fun, making a CD or spinning live?
You know what, to be honest, I love both. The two give me a balance. I like to put my hand into a lot of different things and not be one-sided. It keeps me growing as an artist.
What does your choice of music say about you?
Probably all over the place! Very ADD! I love everything from Jazz to Blues, Rock, Hip-hop. A good record is a good record.
You could live practically anywhere you want. What is it about Miami that made you decide to make it your home?
When I moved here, it was for a job at Interscope records and it just feels really comfortable here. The city is great and growing by the second. You have the beach, you have the culture.
What are your favorite cities to play?
I love New York, Boston and Miami. I think those are my three favorite cities.
What’s presently in your CD player?
Shakira, my own CD, Mariah, Gwen Stefani, and Kanye West.
Anybody special in your life you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes, I do have someone special and I’m very, very happy in love, but I like to keep it personal.
I understand that you’re embarking on a fifteen-city tour to promote “Danceculture.” When does your tour begin and what cities are lined up?
It just began. Yes, I’m promoting the CD and I’ll be going to P-Town, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Chicago, Boston, so many, I don’t remember all of the cities. Oh! And I’ll be in LA sometime late September we’re just working on the exact date.
It sounds great. I wish you a lot of success with the tour and the new CD, and have fun at the VMA’s this weekend!
I appreciate your time and your interest, and that goes out to the fans as well!