The weather in Miami's South Beach is indeed hot, but so are the music scene and the record-industry types that call the area home. And these days, no one is hotter than DJ, remixer, producer and Ferosh Records label owner Tracy Young. Not only is her newest CD, Danceculture (Ferosh, 2005), selling like a frosty mojito would on this tropical fall afternoon — if Uncle Sam's Music, where Young is shopping and talking today, served cocktails — but the venerable multitalented star is by far one of the best damn lookin' DJs you'd ever want to play your party.
And she's played plenty. Although Young boasts of spinning for an impressive roster of A-list fetes — for the likes of Sean Combs, Ricky Martin, Wesley Snipes and Britney Spears — she's also the hottest DJ on the worldwide gay-dance-party circuit. These days, she's known for playing a tribal mix of beats and vocals, but it hasn't always been that way. She admits the records she played in her early DJ days were far more diverse than they are now. Young began spinning while she was attending the University of Maryland in Washington, D.C. At the time, dance music wasn't so segregated and classified — Tone-Loc's hip-hop shared the same air space as Madonna's pop, Janet Jackson's R&B and Dead or Alive's Euro-dance, and music at 90 bpm happily coexisted with songs at 120 bpm.
In 1998, a stint with Interscope Records as the label's Southeast promotions manager relocated Young to Miami, where she's remained ever since. Her work caught the ear of famed SoBe nightclub owner Ingrid Casares, who gave Young the Friday-night residency at world-famous nightclub Liquid. Within a year, Young was entering recording studios to begin remixing and sampling. The artists she's remixed include import acts INXS, Simply Red and Pet Shop Boys; pop princesses Christina Aguilera and Pink; femme fatales Chaka Khan, Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Nicks; and Latin-leaning artists Enrique Iglesias, Miami Sound Machine, Gloria Estefan and Shakira — and, of course, Madonna.
Having heard Young spin at Casares' millennium-eve event, Madge invited the up-and-coming DJ to spin at her movie premiere for The Next Best Thing in New York and her private CD-release party in Los Angeles. Young then became the first female remixer to work with Madonna (a somewhat shocking statistic considering the singer's express-your-pro-fem-self mentality), later tweaking several tunes from the singer's Music (Warner, 2000) album and providing megamixes tied in to the release of her greatest-hits collection GHV2 (Warner, 2001).
And like Madonna has on her new release, Confessions on a Dance Floor (Warner, 2005), Young has returned to a brighter, happier dancefloor vibe. Although Young admits that she got caught up in providing dark, heavy beats to many a club crowd, she has progressed to emphasizing strong vocal records in her DJ sets. Her latest CD features eight such tracks — including Young's own productions of Khan's “I Believe,” Lauper's “Walk on By” and Madonna's “Easy Ride” — remixes all exclusive to Danceculture.
Young has been touring behind the album's release, appearing primarily on the Eastern coast of the U.S. but also traveling to Paris and Tel Aviv. When she has time between gigs, Young likes to hit local record stores to stay on top of her game. Chicago's Gramophone and Los Angeles' Perfect Beat are must-stops, but she most appreciates Miami's Uncle Sam's, though not just for the shop's variety. “Uncle Sam's has been part of South Beach as long as I can remember, so I have grown to feel very comfortable there,” Young says. “But my favorite Thai restaurant is right next door, so that always helps!”
While in the store, her ability to rate a record is indeed a speedy process. Listening to part of a 32-count phrase here, a drop there, Young is able to determine whether a tune suits her repertoire in less than a minute. Her shopping through the racks is interrupted by a fan who (as evidenced by his wide-eyed expression) is genuinely enamored. She's appreciative of the gratitude, giving him the same friendly smile and attention that, just minutes before, she gave her record-store friends behind the sales counter.
Still, it's not just bleary-eyed male fans in record stores that approach Young. “A lot of women come up to me and say, ‘Oh, my god, you're an inspiration; you're making it so much easier for me,’” Young says. “It's not so hard for me being a woman in this field anymore, I don't think, because the people who hire me see me more as a talent rather than ‘the female DJ’ or ‘Madonna's DJ,’” Young says. “I feel that I've proven myself.”
CHUS & PENN
I like the Latin sounds here, almost a Latin lite. You can't go wrong with this one, and it's on Defected, one of my favorite labels. Besides certain producers, like these two, I look for certain labels — Stereo Cool, Star 69 and Twisted, for sure — but Defected is one of my favorites.
I think they're genius. They're one of my favorite bands. I actually just saw them in concert. I was first introduced to them on my way to Madonna's wedding! I love everything about them. Their lyrics are beyond brilliant. Most of their songs feature piano and have the melody written around the piano — some bands are very guitar-focused but not Coldplay. I'd love to remix them. It's very calming music; it's music that makes me think. Britney Spears' music doesn't make me think.
Drum Pressure EP (Tweek'd)
This has a great tribal track and is a very New York — sounding record, which works very well in my sets. I love the synth riffs and conga drums here. DJ Tomer is putting out a lot of hot records at the moment, and he is definitely one to watch.
FREEMASONS FEAT. AMANDA WILSON
“Love on My Mind” (Loaded)
While I like this sound — it's very pretty with the Philly-style horns — this isn't the type of record I would usually play in my sets. I still think, though, that Freemasons are some producers to watch out for.
She's another one of those persons who makes me think. Normally, I wouldn't listen to dance music at home, but her voice just shines. If I were to ever remix one of her tracks, the track should be very minimal because it's all about her voice. I wouldn't play this in my set at a circuit party at 12 midnight but possibly in a morning set winding down.
ROGER SANCHEZ FEAT. GTO
“Turn on the Music” (Stealth)
I tend to look for certain producers when I shop: Junior Vasquez; Peter Bailey; Peter Rauhofer; and, like the “Turn Off the Lights” and “Turn On the Drums” mixes on this record, Superchumbo. He always brings a lot of energy to his mixes with an emphasis on percussion. His “Everything U” track from his latest album was on my own Top 10 playlist.
Wowie Zowie (Twisted)
Again, I love Superchumbo, or Tom Stephan. He's one of the most innovative producers out there. I especially love “Dirty Filthy.” It's so gritty and grimy. I'm still playing that in my sets. I did a remix of “U Know I Love It” and made it into a full vocal; it's supposed to come out at the first of the year. It's the first time I remixed something of Tom's, and it was a complete honor.