Kevin Starke – “I’m Highly Motivated By The Success Of Others”
S&S: What’s your style of music? How do you describe it?
Kevin Starke: My style of music , as far when I play out to a live crowd, I would say I take cues from Ron Hardy,Farley,Steve Hurley, & Mike Hitman Wilson then add my own style on top of that. There’s only one Steve Hurley,Farley or Ron Hardy. You can’t be them, ever, but you can learn from there styles and you HAVE to make it your own style. I like to play some disco,some tracks (house) some italo, and I can’t usually get away without some acid house (Chicago style). I like to play and hear a variety when I’m playing. I’m not a fan of when someone plays one genre their whole set. To me, it sounds like one song that never ends.
S&S: Who or what was most instrumental to you when it came to music?
Kevin Starke: Well listening to Wbmx on the radio back from 85 on surely had the most impact on me as far as house music goes. I would stay up late for Farley or wait for guys like Steve, or Edward Crosby. They would play the disco and house mixed together. I remember back then we called disco deep house. It wasn’t “disco” like the call it now. I was also influenced by jazz funk, a lot of blues like Howlin Wolf, Muddy. etc. Then I also loved classic rock like Black Sabbath and Kiss. I think a good dj or artist should study all types of music and get influence from all of it. It’s like building a house, the more tools and good materials you have, the better built that structure will be.
S&S: What drives you creatively?
Kevin Starke: What drives me is the success of others. If the people around me are doing well, that drives me to wanna do well too. I’m highly motivated by the success of others. My feelings have always been , if they can do it, so can I. I mean that in a positive way. I’m alway most happy when i see others succeed. I despise jealously and even though i have the moniker Jackmaster Hater, i’m far from a hater,lol.
S&S: How much does your audience influence you and your music selection?
Kevin Starke: When I’m playing out , the audience has everything to do with what I wanna do next. I’m playing to and FOR them. I’m there to do a job, and that’s ,make people dance. I’m not trying to impress those couple of dj’s in the crowd with some rare record i have. That’s all great, but just because it’s rare doesn’t always make it good. I’d rather play the 5.00 record that everyone relates to and they jump up or scream and yell then play some 500.00 record that no one but 3 people has ever heard of. It may make those couple dj’s be impressed , but I’m there to make people dance , not to show them my extensive collection. To me,it’s all about the crowd. If they aren’t dancing (and you can’t always make everyone dance to every song) then it’s time to change up the tempo and play something that will make them move. If your a good or creative person, you should have something in your arsenal that can do that, if needed.
S&S: What artists or genres do you listen to when you’re not working?
Kevin Starke: I go through fazes. One minute , I might listen to a bunch of blues, then some metal, then house & disco. Sometimes because I have a record store and i’m surrounded by music all day, when I’m off work, I want no music. I need a break from it all to feel like i’m not at work still. I’ll listen to some recorded documentary or some audio book that i read and liked so much, i wanna hear someone else read it to me. lol.
S&S: Do you have any favorite memories of growing up with your family?
Kevin Starke: I have tons of memories more of going to all the house parties and dance parties like The Rainbow, Centrum,,The Factory, Olive Park, Jenals,The Riviera, Navy Pier (when it was just a pier and they hosted the Diamond Corporation parties) Things like that. I also have fond memories of going to buy records as they came out. Going to Imports,Gramaphones, even places like Rose Records. I also remember having to go to the dance parties and the artists or dj’s were handing out their records at the show. Not everyone could have their record sold at the stores or played on the radio so you would have to go to the parties to obtain the record from them. I guess that’s why i have a lot of the small label artists that are so in demand now (those rare type records)because they didn’t press too many and that was the only way you could get it. I miss those days the most. You would go to the party, see them setting up. See your favorite dj play and watch the dance crews battle each other just as much as the dj’s did. Then there would always be gang fights which sucked because the lights would come on and the party would be over, but then everyone went to the lake to keep the mood going. You had to be careful back then because of the gangs, but they are all part of that subculture that goes with Chicago and the house music scene. It was more than just the music. It was a way of life. They way you dressed, the way you did your hair, your attitude, Where you grew up, hung out all of that. That’s what house music really was to me. It’s bigger than any one dj or song. It’s a hole culture, subculture and it has a life of it’s own that can’t be told described or summed up by just one person or even multiple people. I hate to babble on , but when you realize it’s bigger that you, your ego and your opinion, then you have scratched the surface of what house music and the culture is really all about.
S&S: Is there anything you would like people to know about you?
Kevin Starke: Is there anything I’d like people to know about me? well that you can usually find me at 1109 N. Western at the record store. I’m always there to lend an ear, tell or hear a story, play you a record or listen to one you wanna play me. With me, what you see is what you get. I treat everyone the same way I want to be treated. I dont care if your the biggest name in the music industry or someone who is just getting started. I wanna help you achieve your goals and everyone deserves a chance. I treat people like they treat me.
S&S: Are there any charities you are working with or excited to tell us about?
Kevin Starke: I wish there was some great charity that I could tell you about that i’m helping out. My charity that I help out every day is the customers that come through the door. I like tom give back to them just as much as they give to me. I give out free records to new (and repeat ) customers every day. I also love giving them mixes that I did, other people who i think are great did or something that i dig that i think they should hear. Nothing makes me more happier than when i find or get someone that song they’ve been looking for forever and couldn’t find. I’ve given stuff out of my own collection or drove to my house to get a record for people in past. without them ,(the customers) I don’t exist. The customers are my real charity. Everything i do hear, is really for them. It sounds corny but its so true. I didn’t get into this business because i wanted to get rich, i got into it, because it was something that i loved. I have hard days and get frustrated like anyone else, but it’s the people i meet , that keeps me coming back every day.
S&S: Are there any questions that you wish people would ask you?
Kevin Starke: Well the question I wish people would ask me. I don’t know if i want to asked a question, I would love people to tell me (within reason) what I could do here at the store to make it better for them , or what would like like more of or less of music wise or whatever. What can I do to improve to make it better for you and your experience
S&S: And on the flip side of that, are there any questions or references you wish people would stop asking or using?
Kevin Starke: What question do I wish they would stop asking? I don’t think there are bad questions, only bad intentions. I just don’t want negative people around me, those who want to start or continue the gossip. If your questions are to ghet a rise out of me or to fuel negativity, then don’t bother asking me.
S&S: What artist(s) have you been the most excited to work with?
Kevin Starke: Well, I’ve been grateful to everyone who has ever helped me along the way. I’m glad I’ve had people like Tevo Howard,Specter,Jerome Derradji,Hakim Murphy,Traxx,Traxxmen,Jordan to name a few that I have actually worked with a a musical level. As far as helping the store out the list is way too big and they all know who they are. Some still help when they can and some they di what they could when they could and i’m grateful to any help i had along the way. I never forget those people. If they need me, I’m there.
S&S: Are there any artists that you dream of working with on a collaboration?
Kevin Starke: Is there anyone I wish I could work with, wow. too many. lol. Everyone from Phuture (i’m an acid house head all the way) to Larry Heard to Steve Hurley to Farley and new guys like JTC, D’marc Cantu to name a few Basically I’m down to work with people who have the same goals and drives as I do. I like to make music that has that old school sound but is not dated. You have to evolve with time. There’s nothing wrong with learning from the past and having some of that influence to add to it.
S&S: What can we look forward to next from you?
Kevin Starke: I’m working on doing follow ups to Kstarke Records The House That Jackmaster Hater Built Part 3 & 4. “The Subcultures of Chicago House” It’s coming along, It’s gonna be some of my old releases that people keep asking for along with new tracks that they’ve never heard. We are also looking for people to submit tracks for this projects. So if anyone has some tracks that has that old school sound circa 87-88 . It can be something they made back then or something they made now but it has that feel. That’s what we are looking for that particular project.
S&S: What legacy would you like to leave?
Kevin Starke: That’s a great question and I feel lucky enough to have done that already. What I mean by that is, I never in my wildest dreams expected to get to where I am right now. Not that I’m super successful,rich or won any awards. One thing I know is that when you think of how many people are in the world, what is it like 6 billion or something like that. I was able to make it so as long as there’s an internet, I exist forever. Because of the store, and because of the record releases I am there! I may not always be at the top of the list but I’m there. Through this store and those records I’ve made friends around the world. That is mind blowing to me. I’m happy with that. I mean there are millions of people who wish they were famous or made hits records or that they could travel overseas and much more. Well, even achieving a tiny winy bit of that is something I can’t believe. I’m so grateful for that. Not that I don’t want more of it or to have more money or success, who doesn’t want that. If this is all I get, I can die happy. Even the fact that you are asking my opinion on these things is something i’m grateful for. I mean, who am I? In the scale of the whole world and everyone in it, why should my thoughts matter? The fact that your asking me ,lets me know, I’ve already left that mark. I can’t ask for anything more. If I deserve it, it will come. that’s how I see it.
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