While basking in the paradise which was the UK’s final Southport Weekender, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet two likeminded individuals: Giordano Fracasso and Alessandro Mele from Italy. They were like me, first time participants trying to enjoy the event while acting as media emissaries, frantically running from stage to stage chronicling the final chapter. Their House of Frankie t-shirts and stickers instantly won me over, and they shared with me their personal tribute to Frankie Knuckles from over 5000 miles away.
Czarina with Giordano and Alessandro at Southport Weekender.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet you two at Southport! Tell me how you came up with the idea to do House of Frankie, was it right after we lost our beloved maestro?
GIORDANO: Likewise for us! We had amazing moments at Southport Weekender!
ALESSANDRO: It all started in 2014 when the Italian radio station in which I’m working for (RTL 102.5) gave me a weekly space of about an hour on their web platform. Being a DJ for about 17 years, a sound engineer and most importantly a true fan of house music, all these things have brought me the idea to do a House music radio show. I thought of a format where artists could express their opinions on the Italian and international House music scene, share their thoughts about all the different aspects about being a DJ and a producer, accompanied by their productions during the entire interview. But in the meantime Frankie Knuckles died, we were very shocked and really sad… we lost a beacon!
GIORDANO: The first episode was entirely dedicated to Frankie, thanks to our dear friend Hector Romero, in his interview he said beautiful words telling us some facts about his early days in Def Mix, when he was introduced to Frankie and how much the maestro was a true gentleman and a very kind person, always smiling even when he was not well.
ALESSANDRO: Exactly from that moment I started asking for thoughts about Frankie in all my interviews, something (of the many things) that has been learned from him, something useful to share with the people and to pass on to future generations.
GIORDANO: We didn’t realize of how much we were collecting about the Frankie’s thoughts and his artistic legacy!
ALESSANDRO: So the radio show was named House of Frankie, just months after the lost of our beloved godfather of house. It was a matter of feeling, a sort of thankfulness.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that you were given the blessing to use the name that you have. What did you have to do to get approval for the name House of Frankie?
ALESSANDRO: We knew that there weren’t problems of using that name because it is an implicit form. We had the confirmation during a summer afternoon, when we met Hector in Salento (south Italy) during one of his days off after a gig the night before. I asked him if the use of that name would be a problem and he said no because we are not using the full name or his face for the logo.
GIORDANO: He told us that many people were using the figure of Frankie, using his name for all sorts of reasons. But this was not our case.
So how does your site work and what DJs do you choose for your mixes?
ALESSANDRO: There is a new episode every week, it is aired on Wednesdays at 7pm (local Italian time) via the radio station platform and on Mixcloud just days after. Lastly, all the episodes are collected inside houseoffrankie.com.
As a basic principle all episodes are composed of an interview with an artist and a guest mix from another, so we try to reach the most important DJs in the scene, the ones that have shaped the history of house music…
When and where have you heard Frankie play? I know he used to be in Italy a lot and even had a home there! Did you get the opportunity to meet this amazing man?
ALESSANDRO: He played very often in Italy, we have heard his sets many times, especially in south Italy, in Salento.
GIORDANO: We have been blessed to hear him very often and closely because Alessandro’s brother (Paolo Mele) is a long trained DJ in Salento, he played warm-up sets for Frankie many times as well as for the entire Def Mix family and many other guests in the past years. I also have met Frankie during my first trip in the USA. I remember that I was in Boston, MA visiting friends and Hector Romero invited me to Cielo in NYC for a birthday party.. in fact it was a memorable night! A dream come true! Frankie played side by side at Cielo with Hector and David Morales! I will never forget that night, the vibes, the musical journey!
Giordano and Frankie Knuckles at Cielo NYC.
What in your opinion is the spirit and sound of Frankie Knuckles? What do you think we can do to continue his legacy?
GIORDANO: Frankie taught us so much.. He could merge Soul with Disco Funk in an amazing new groove with a great sounding kick all together, blended with a nice vocal on top and lots of well chosen instruments as sides! Oh that Director’s Cut sound he invented with Eric Kupper! All of his experience flowed in that sound, the sound of Frankie for days!
During his sets the dance floor was always mesmerized, all the people dancing in peace with themselves, the musical journey that he used to create acted as a cure for the soul, made you feel good, forget the problems and smile, just like he always did!
This is something that will never ever be the same for us, in that way, with that style. He was simply unique!
ALESSANDRO: The bond with Frankie will always remain strong, either in people who had the chance to know him , or who just listened to his music. You have to respect those who gave birth to House music, and personally I can’t stand that there are DJs around the world who play what they consider House, without knowing the history of pioneers like Frankie Knuckles. In my bedroom the original vinyl of “Your Love”, 1987, has its own spot, separate from all other records. I think is quite enough to understand the importance of Frankie for me. His music and his smile, will never die.