(The Beginning) His love for music began at the age of 9. His mom used to come home every Friday with a bag of 45’s. Those 45’s consisted of the music we still listen to today, that we call House or Disco. By the age of 12, he bought his first 45 and it was Michael Jackson’s “Just a little bit of you”. His record collecting began from there and he still has that 45.
(The Past) He started listening to the Hot Mix 5 on WBMX and he trained himself to mix by playing the mixes he recorded from the radio. He blended his records with them and perfected his craft at age 14. He started playing at neighborhood basement parties and started his first group. They were called “High Fashion” and he was then turned on to the club scene by his older brother. His brother was head of security at various clubs; Coconuts, Aka’s and the Riviera. Speaking of which was the first time he heard Frankie Knuckles play. That was right around the time his remix of Chaka Khan’s – "Ain’t Nobody" was released. This was his first life changing experience and the second was when he went to The Music Box under lower wacker and heard Ron Hardy for the first time. Ron Hardy was during one of those famous marathons. Those two experiences turned him on to playing Disco & R&B. After the scene died down around 1989, he wanted to expand his mind even further, which led him to Downtempo, Broken Beat, Soulful House, and Underground House. He has held residencies at a couple of clubs in Chicago such as The Garage (Soul Kitchen Saturdays), and at City Life and played as a guest in various clubs and on internet radio shows as well. In 2008, he sought out to find Djs that complimented his style of play, but had their own sense of style as well. Also, didn’t have ego issues and wanted to change the game with more soulful music and that’s how he created Organik Soul. Organik Soul consists of: himself, Bigg Easy, P’Jay and Black Terry.
(The Present) He is currently a host to Organik Soul Sunday’s which airs weekly on CyberJamz Internet Radio with Bigg Easy. His goal is to continue to expand minds musically, inspire, and encourage all that take the time to listen to embrace more soulful music and of course continue to sell the Organik Soul brand.
MzHouse Diva: When did you get started in the music scene?
Gary: My official start in house music was in 1984.
MzHouse Diva: How did you get into djing?
Gary: Music was always a passion of mine since I was a kid. So, at the age of 12, I started listening to the mixes on WBMX and I would record them and I taught myself how to blend music.
MzHouseDiva: What was the first record you bought?
Gary: “Just a little bit of you" by Michael Jackson... I still own that 45.
MzHouse Diva: You are known as the “Walking Music Library”, and how did you get that title?
Gary: Lol...Well as a kid, I was the one that sat and read the cover of the albums and remembered every musician, the year it came out and the label it was on. I guess I developed a photographic memory and can recall it at any time.
MzHouse Diva: What was your first paid djing gig?
Gary: A basement party that I was hired to do. I was paid fifty bucks, but the party lasted 12 hours. SMH...
MzHouse Diva: How would you describe your djing/production style to people?
Gary: I pride myself on my blending. I continue to try and make them seamless and I try to either take people on a journey or tell a story with music. Production wise... It varies, it all depends on what I'm working on and the type of feeling I want it to have.... As far as Re edits and Re grooves, again, I try to make them seamless, so if you don't know the song it's hard to tell the parts that I felt deserved editing.
MzHouse Diva: How did you get into producing?
Gary: The producing thing came along with djing. Naturally, you hear a song with some parts you wish that were extended at certain points and you do it yourself. At some point every dj wants to try their hand at it. It comes from having the passion for the music.
MzHouse Diva: What draws you to the deeper, soulful side of House? Why has it often been overlooked by mainstream audiences yet thrives underground and how can that be changed to reach a broader base?
Gary: Well for me, my taste in music kept maturing and I learn to change with the times. Back in the day, music seemed to change every 4 or 5 years, so I kept up with all of it. In the 90's, I started gravitating toward house music with live instrumentation. I wanted to play something different. It seems to be overlooked because some party goers don't like change. They hold on to the memories of the days of old and they became programmed to do so. Some people call it pretty music, lounge music or elevator music. Lol.... If it doesn't have that four on the floor driving beat they don't want to hear it. I think the underground audiences are drawn to soulful house music because they were tired of hearing the same songs over again and they wanted something different. Also, people have to want to accept change and open their minds up to it. A real music lover to me doesn't limit themselves.
MzHouse Diva: Who were some of your musical influences?
Gary: My musical influences... There are too many to name. Again, I never limited myself as a music lover.
MzHouse Diva: Who are some of the artists in the music industry, would you like to work with in the future if given the opportunity?
Gary: Oh wow…I would like to work with Josh Milan, Louie Vega, Kenny Dope, Joe Claussell, I am already working on a project with Vick Lavender, Will " ReelSoul" Rodriguez, Glenn Underground and a few others.
MzHouse Diva: Do you play any musical instruments?
Gary: I played drums in grammar school and some in high school. I should have stuck with it.
MzHouse Diva: What is your most memorable moment in your career?
Gary: My most memorable moment was to simply play for a huge crowd.
MzHouse Diva: What was the best advice that was given to you?
Gary: The best advice that was given to me was to stay humble in this business and never give up. I will continue to do it as long as you have the passion for it.
MzHouse Diva: What is your inspiration, and what pushes you to do new work?
Gary: My inspiration is everyone that is associated with music; the party goers, the producers, the artists etc.
MzHouse Diva: When you aren’t busy djing and producing; what do you like to do in your free time?
Gary: Lol..In my spare time I listen to everything except house music.
MzHouse Diva: How do you feel about House Music becoming more digital? Do you think that hurt or help the house music industry?
Gary: House music becoming digital was a good and bad thing. It was a good thing because you don't have to buy an entire album to get one song. You are now able to choose the one you want. It was also a good thing because the artist and producers could create their own labels to lessen overhead and control their own music and reach a broader audience. Also, you can sometimes get remixes that weren't included on the record and couldn't fit. It's a bad thing because once that song is released it can be shared or found on the internet for free, which takes money away from the artist or producer. It also hurt vinyl sales and record plants. Now a song can be done much cheaper than having to get it pressed.
MzHouse Diva: What are some of the house tracks that you are really feeling right now?
Gary: Right now, I'm feeling any production by Josh Milan, Joe Claussell, Louie Vega, Vick Lavender, Glenn Underground and Anthony Nicholson.
MzHouse Diva: If you could change one thing about the house music industry, what would it be?
Gary: If I could change one thing about the music scene it would be for everyone to be united again and stop the hating and help one another.
MzHouse Diva: There is a lot of young fresh talent out there waiting to be discovered. What do they have to do for getting recognized and promoted?
Gary: For anyone getting into djing now, I would say to make your skills available as much as possible. Eventually someone will hear you and stay humble even when they tell you no. Develop your own sound and keep practicing. This is a business that you never stop learning from and be versatile. Never pigeonhole yourself into playing one style of music, if you can learn it all then do so.
MzHouse Diva: What do you see in the future of house music?
Gary: The house music scene is in a state of emergency.... We are the last of a dying breed. If we don't pass it along to the next generation and stop being selfish with it, I feel it's going to die.
Gary: I would like to see myself more on the production side of things and to make music that the masses can enjoy.
MzHouse Diva: Can you tell us about your future plans or Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with goals?
Gary: Well, my goal is to continue to keep studying music on the production side and that's where my passion for music lies now.
MzHouse Diva: I can’t wait to hear your new music. Thanks for your time and allowing me to do this interview.
*Follow the links below to get a taste of the Gary Cummings