Behind The Beats: DJ Corey Craig
Corey Craig is a favourite of partygoers the world over. Whether he’s spinning at Furball in New York, Laneway and Bear Bar in Sydney or BRÜT in San Francisco, you’re guaranteed a set that is soulful, sexy and full of sass.
Corey’s podcast began on Halloween back in 2005. In the decade since, “Coreyography” has become the stuff of legend. (Episode titles include 'Equalitea', 'Shadeballs', 'Black O Lantern' and 'Fat Jeans').
To help celebrate 10 years and 100 episodes, Guidetogay.com present Corey’s latest episode “Coreyography 100.” After premiering on hot New York-based online dance station MusicOne.fm, the podcast is now available to download. We caught up with Corey to chat music, the gay scene, and what the future holds.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
When I was 13, I would sneak into my youngest uncle’s room after school and play with his turntables and mixer. Later in college, I would end up in charge of the music at Fraternity parties. Little did my brothers know they were at the gayest party I could create musically. Professionally, I filmed an audition video to be the DJ for Ellen DeGeneres when her show was first starting. Everyone I filmed in my audition received a copy of my latest podcast as thank you. Many of them were industry folks (I had no idea) and they liked what they heard and booked me within months of the filming. They influenced me to keep going.
My early musical passions and influences start with Nile Rodgers, George Clinton, Donny Hathaway… then veer off to Frankie Knuckles, Freemasons, Moto Blanco, Wayne G, and everyone who back in the early 00’s gave us a new Disco House hybrid.
What do you personally consider to be the defining moments in your artistic career?
Closing set for the 2009 NYC Pride Dance on the Pier launched me, logo and all. Later, I learned that some fans from as far away as Sydney really wanted me to come for Mardi Gras. Every year since I come back Down Under to new fans and new benchmarks. Spinning Laneway this past year was stunning.
Spinnng my first FURBALL at the NYC Gay Lesbian Center after meeting Frankie Knuckles there.
Whoopi Goldberg as my date to the 2013 NYC Pride Pier dance where she introduced Cher.
Spinning REAL BAD during Folsom Weekend in San Francisco in 2014.
My podcasts have been around since late 2005 and in that 10 years the response has been great!
Upcoming remix work will add a new definition as well I hope.
Currently, what are your main challenges as a DJ? What is it about DJing compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
Producing is a whole new ball game for me. I am just getting into it. My Ryan Skyy “Done” remix still receives positive response when played. I am proud to have created it. I have another coming out soon with a producer I really consider a brother of mine… Stay tuned.
The process of building a set is unique to every DJ - how do you approach the task?
It depends on the setting. For REAL BAD in San Francisco, I knew that it was a very long set. I approached it in portions and time of the night. The BRUT parties here in the US are taking over fast and I am honoured to spin Halloween. That set will be a darker one similar to REAL BAD but sprinkled with some gems I usually only play for the NYC EAGLE or my Furball residency. The setting and theme of the night helps me figure out what ride people want.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Do you pre-plan - or select on the fly?
I love the “AHA” moment that comes when a very well crafted remix sneaks up on the crowd. Sometimes that comes to me on the fly but more often than not, I depend on at least 10 tracks in my arsenal that if played at the right moment will give everyone LIFE!
Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
I think tuning into the audience is important. A leather party most likely won’t get into ultra poppy happy music. For me, crafting a set is my way of making sure everyone enjoys the party.
What has been the weirdest thing that has happened to you at a gig?
It is the continuous phenomenon where some fool tries to hand me their iPhone to play a song from it. I keep the free headphones from my travels safely tucked away in my DJ bag. When people try handing me their phone or requesting things totally inappropriate for the setting, I ask if they have the song on their iPhone… if yes, they get headphones… win win.
You have played all over the world, what are the key differences in the gay scenes you have experienced?
American audiences are different than Australian and British audiences. Our scene has a wide pendulum that swings from pop to tribal circuit. The sweet spot now is where House and Deep house and Disco are getting louder and American audiences are embracing it. I have to say that whenever I visit Australia and the UK, the hesitation I may feel to bust out some brand new Duke Dumont or that new Toolroom or Defected track just melts away. While the music tastes may vary, I will say the scenes feel very similar with pockets of diversity throughout and the big rooms becoming scarce unfortunately. Why can’t it be 1997 again?
What are your current 5 favourite tracks?
Format B – Chunky
The Knocks ft Alex Newell - Collect My Love (Leon Lour Mix)
Calvin Harris & Disciples - How Deep Is Your Love (Disciples and Unorthodox Mix)
Jess Glynne - Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself (SKT Remix)
TIE: Disclosure - Holding On vs. Disclosure - Omen (Cutmore Mix)... THAT WAS TOUGH!
Be sure to subscribe to Corey Craig's podcast on Hearthis, Mixcloud or iTunes
Follow him on Twitter @DJCoreyCraig on Instagram @CoreyCraig and of course on his official Guidetogay.com Group