A Sick End to Summer with Chuck Fever
The tell tale signs had been there all week. The chill of the shade,the apples on the road side, and when the evenings came I knew that a short skirt wouldn’t feel as cute as it looked. Summer was nearing its end and I was preparing myself. I joyfully morn the end of summer ever year by buying snazzy new pens for school that will promptly be loan to what I believe are personifications of a bottom less pit and digging out all of the sweaters that I had lovingly laid to rest the previous spring. While modelling one of these gems it was brought to my attention the Chuck Fever would be headlining the Vidoetron Mobile stage at Piknik Electronik and I jumped at the opportunity to have a word with him. After crossed wires and time table inconsistencies kept getting in the way of our meeting up we decided it would be best for me to come on down to the show. On Sunday, August 30th, Chuck Fever did what every Montrealer worth their salt has been trying to do forever; he rebooted summer.
It was amazing! Like a scene from a movie as I walked into the festival site the smattering of clouds rolled away like magic. I skipped my way over to the stage where up and comer Chuck Fever and Montreal house music icon Max Hubert were setting up and had a chance to sit down with Chuck before their back to back performance. This will be Chuck’s first time playing at Piknic but he has been a favourite of party kids at such Montreal venues as StereoBar and Salon Daome.
In your bio on your crew’s site, www.jackskartel.com, you said that you felt that you had been missing something in your life, that you were trying find your source of happiness. What parts do feel now make up the whole that is that happiness?
Chuck Fever: Well it’s finally be able, with my buddy’s from Jack’s Kartel, to express myself through a certain genre of music and I figured out that this is the way to go. It gets me to my bones, that music, and I’m really happy to finally be able to express in front of a festival crowd and not just like at the residencies we have in clubs (around the city). It’s a different vibe, day vibe, you get the energy of the sunshine and bring it out with the music so it should be pretty cool.
You got into house music early in the millennium and it took about three years before started performing. What was going on in the interim?
CF: Just doing my research on the music. Trying to get a better background on how it got there, to that Chicago era, where I personally find that the house in general started, but thats a big debate in the 80’s. For example, Mark Farina, an old school house DJ was already working in the gramophone record store and I wasn’t even born yet! So he is a great mentor with a lot of experience who’s witnessed the evolution of house music through out the years and influenced me a lot. My crew and I are trying to create a scene of jackin house in Montreal, by bringing artist from around the world and showcasing our sound in events like this!
When you’re out here, obviously being a DJ, you want to share this happiness. How do you gage reading the crowd?
CF: Pretty much you look around and see what’s going on and see the reactions of the people. Just music wise I’ve brought so many different types and I can go in so many directions. I don’t want to prepare myself to do a set that is preprepared. I’m ready for any outcome that may come from the people and I’ll just try and make them dance.
So when you start off your sets do you ever have a go to track in mind or anything like that?
CF: I do, I think, more for closing tracks. The first time I came here (to Piknic Electronik), maybe 6 or 7 years ago, I had this track in mind and I know I’m going to end with it because I’ve always wanted to hear it, you know, at a specific point in time here and now is the chance to get to play it.
I guess that is one of the perks of being a native to the city eh?
CF: I’ve danced a lot here and I know that, basically, if I can make myself dance here that people will enjoy their day!
How do you feel about the evolution of Piknic?
When I used to come it was really more of a family thing, more intimate. Now it has gotten really huge and I’m really happy for them. It’s working so well for them; they’re in (at least) four cites playing Barcelona, Lisbon, France, Australia. It is a good scene for Montreal and it put them, and the city, on the map.
Remember the early days of Piknic when you could get in for 5 dollars!?
CF: Yea 5 dollars and bring your own booze haha!
So we’re talking about different scenes, both at home and abroad. What artist and/or areas have you been listening to lately?
CF: Actually for me it has always been Chicago. That is where I find the Mecca of the funky jacking house sound that I’m into. There are a lot of artists right now in Amsterdam, there is a big scene there, and in France. Even in South America, but (they) are all pretty much artists that have wrapped themselves around the Chicago scene. One of my favourite producers are based in Amsterdam, Tony Largo, and he’s been around for decades. He’s got his sound going on. He plays under four names and his label defiantly has a sound all its own and is something definitely worth checking out. He’ll probably be playing at ADE, the big house festival that is going on in October in Amsterdam.
Right now, is it only house that you are listening to or?
CF: I like future bass, cosmo rap like flying lotus and classic hip hop for sure. I try to find the soul in music and so disco, jazz and funk are genres that I also really dig. For me every genre has their moment in a day and it varies a lot (depending on) how I feel. If I want energy for sure I’m going to house but if I want (something) mellow, just to chill, I’ll listen to some down tempo hip hop stuff.
And do you ever mix in some of those varying genres into your sets?
CF: I do,but it depends on the event. Playing in a bar I want to go as eclectic as I can but at an event like this one, especially as they are announcing it as a jackin day at Piknic, I really want to bring people to the classics and more show the evolution of jackin house. I always want to finish with a Mister Lee or an old LL cool J track. People know it and it is comfortable, you know, something soothing.
Would you say that in your youth coming up that it was mostly hip hop that you went for?
CF: I grew up with hip hop. I had an older brother that, back in the day, and I was into was into Nas, People Under the Stairs, A Tribe Called Quest and stuff like that. J Dilla is one of my big, not mentors, but someone I really look up to. He has such a hype to him and all his productions and everything. I started, like you said, in 2003/2005 getting into house and it really suck to me and thats what I’m doing now.
So if you hadn’t gotten in house do you feel you would have followed some sort of musical path?
CF; I’ve always enjoyed music and I tried playing instruments and everything but (although) I have an ear for music I never followed through with playing instruments. When I started DJing I felt like wow I can make people enjoy what I like. I can bring my passion out to people and make them try to feel it as much as possible.
Hearing about the music you came up listening to I have a pretty clear understanding of how you have become the artist you have. What other experiences do you feel had an influence on your development?
CF: I come from a family where music has always been a part of every day, always music, all day long, 24/7. When I’m not listening to music I’m cooking and I find it is all comparable. It all about moods, vibes and I’m an emotional person and for me music is the best way to express that. You have to be passionate about it and if you’re not then it (cooking or music) is not going to end up well.
So we’re talking about passion now. Where do you feel your passions will lead you? What’s next for Chuck Fever?
CF: I hope the world honestly. Like I would love to be able to get out and tour with my music. To bring a bit of Montreal to everywhere. For this city right now we have a lot of projects coming up and we’re looking at big artists, like huge huge huge artists, we want to bring (to the city). We’re also looking at doing more festivals and so we’ll see how things go today and see where it brings us.
Any mixes in the work?
CF: I have a podcast going out with Darius Kramer, out in Vancouver, for Soul Room Sessions. We’re always working on the Jack’s Kartel podcast, thats my crew in Montreal. I’m always always recording. Before I used to play just to play and if I had recorded some of those sessions, that there were spur of the moment things, I defiantly would have put them out. So now I keep what’s good and work on the rest.
I’m going to stick around, do some dancing and hopefully get a word with you a Max after the set. Any shout outs to give?
CF: Spindeman, Charles Bye, Max Hebert, the Jack’s kartel crew, Roux Sound System for the nice words they had to say about us, Dave Allison, Peter Anthony and all the funky DJs from Montreal, the Piknic team, my bro, my love and the legends of house music for inspiring me!
After this leisurely chat Chuck Fever and Max hubert went on to turn this perfect day into a scene that would make any night a dream! The family vibe that picnic once had has not been entirely lost and speckled around the site were expectant mothers and fathers and young children at play. All were respectful of the other; with party kids blowing bubbles for the children to frolic in and hard core dancers keeping an eye out for the little ones on the fringes of the dance floor.
After their set the jubilation of Chuck and Max was so great that it would have been a crime to stop them for another interview. Triumph is a tricky thing. Speaking about it is great but living it is the only way to truly experience it and so we agreed to follow up another day. 24our will definitely be keeping up with this wonderful man’s progression through the house scene both at home are wherever the beat should move him.