“We were the first in 2004 to do it it, and it was so natural, it was like ‘whoa, this shit is crazy’.” With the ‘Sinner Winner’ EP just around the corner (dropping March 18th), his first original material in nearly four years, enduring house legend Felix da Housecat confirms he’s an experienced pro at working with rappers (not to mention, a regular reader of VIBE since he grabbed the very first issue from newsstands).
“I was one of the first Black cats to be doing it crossover,” the Chi-Town born Felix Stallings Jr tells VIBE. “And you know what’s so funny, I think it was Puffy who brought my sounds to the Black folks,” Felix laughs, who had already achieved massive success in the clubs of Europe before pairing with Diddy. “Knowing him over the years, I looked to him as my big brother, and whenever I would be at his house or in his studio, he would tell every hip-hop or R&B artist, ‘you don’t know who Felix Da Housecat is? Yo, you need to get with’. So he pretty much had my back with my Black folks.”
Felix points to Chuck D and Gucci Mane as the two rappers he’d most like to work with (with Chemical Brothers having already beaten him to the punch with a Q-Tip collaboration). The Cat’s EP will serve as a precursor to a whole new studio album later this year. Like fellow EDM legend Tommie Sunshine, Felix has been involved in club culture since the early days of Chicago house in the late ’80s. Drawn to London with his first big break in ’93, he still calls the city home to this day while making frequent returns to the US for gigs and studio work.
Felix claims ‘Sinner Winner’ was recorded in in his studio in Atlanta, and it was upon the airing in a US club that finally convinced him to put the banger out. “At the time people said to me, you need to put that out, but I was sure they wouldn’t get it because there’s just too much cheese out there,” referring to the pop-dance phenomenon that’s swept the nation.
“They said, you’re crazy, you got to put that shit out, because that’s your sound, it’s fresh and original. While everybody else is making the same shit, you need to revisit that.” Felix heeded their advice, and after extensive roadtesting in clubs across Europe to massive responses, he brought it back home again. “I played it in LA, and the crowd lost it, and I said you know what, I’m finally ready to put this record out.”
Felix insists you won’t see him signing up for the glossy, big money side of EDM. “I don’t want to be booked it it’s to sell bottles,” he says. Another harsh lesson his hometown fellow jockey Sunshine has fallen victim to. “I’d rather play for a crowd of 200 people who are just sweating and crying tears of happiness, than a room of 2,000 who just don’t get it and the room is not moving and they’re too busy enjoying their shiny suits and how many bottles they are going to impress girls in short skirts. I’ve always been real with that.”