A decade ago, Tracy Young broke out in a big way when she mixed songs for the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. At the time, we were all psyched here in Miami since Young was a resident of our beat-heavy city.
Young no longer lives in South Florida, but she visits often. And she'll be here on January 1, hosting Genesis IX, the ninth edition of her massive New Year's Day party at Mansion, alongside special guest Deborah Cox.
Otherwise, Young is staying busy in New York, her new home, working on upcoming releases for her Ferosh record label, getting all up in the press for a rumored romance with Real Housewife Kim Zolciak, and even launching a politically relevant gift line on CafePress.
We spoke with the sweet, candid DJ about her real hometown, her radio show, and gay men.
Crossfade: So, I'd like to talk about your annual Genesis party. Is this the first year you'll be doing it with Deborah Cox?
Tracy Young: Yeah, it is the first year with Deborah. I recently did a remix for her called "If It Wasn't For Love" and she performed at my birthday party here in New York. I was like, "Why don't we do this again! It was fun! Let's go to Miami for my biggest event!" She's performing live, and she's going to perform the new remix along with some of her biggest and most fun records ever.
I see Genesis runs from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. and I wanted to ask if it's more of an afterparty than a morning party? Do people actually wake up and come out?
I lived in South Beach for 12 years and I got tired of running around trying to be somewhere when the ball drops and parking and the whole craziness that South Beach packs on New Year's Eve. So, I was like, "Let's have all of this excitement during the day."
Typically, people go to sleep. They do their toast in their houses at midnight and they're in bed by 12:15. That's including me. Then I get up at 7 a.m. and I'm at the club.
The first year, I was expecting 300 people. It was an experiment, like, "Let's do something for our friends, so we don't have to deal with all of this." When I pulled up, the line was down the street, around the block. I was like, "Shit, I'm onto something!"
It was at Crobar back then. But I had to move it to Mansion for the number of people who come. Having Deborah included in it, I think, is just taking it to a whole 'nother level, because she is the most amazing artist, person, performer live that I've seen in the club.
You are now living in New York. How do you feel about the changes that have taken place in Miami? You were here for 12 years.
I think Miami is the greatest nightlife scene in the United States. It beats New York. Miami has the greatest DJs [and] talent. Of course, [there's] the Winter Music Conference [and] Ultra Music Festival. And this is simply my opinion. I'm biased, because I still consider Miami my home. Nothing compares to Miami now.
You have your spots where you're over the top, and you throw the napkins and you have the red carpet and the VIP and the bottle service. But there are clubs like Mansion, Cameo, and Space where they're really music driven. Yes, everything is staged -- you have your bottle service, you have your VIP. But at the same time, Miami brings in the greatest talent. They're always on the forefront of finding new talent. To me, they have the greatest club spaces, definitely in the United States, and I would go so far as to say, most of Europe. I think Miami is really on the forefront of nightlife.
Do you spend a lot of time traveling and DJing on the road?
I, by choice, slowed down a little bit because I went through a lot of change. I didn't want to leave Miami when I did, and I left for some work potential, and it didn't work out. I went to L.A. [and then] I decided L.A. wasn't for me. Some personal things happened, I was going to go back to Miami, and I chose New York because I was like, "I want to try something different, because I eventually see myself returning to Miami, because it is my home." For the moment, New York is treating me very well, and I'm enjoying it. I'm in Miami every month anyway. I can't stay away.
What are some venues you enjoy playing in New York?
Well, I'm starting at a new venue called XL and that's a John Blair operation, who was part of the Roxy for many years. I've kind of been waiting for him to open it up. I've played at Splash, Cielo, District 36. I'm kind of waiting for John to do his thing and bring back the old New York flavor like the Roxy days. That's opening in January.
Between working at these huge venues, do you ever get the chance to DJ at more intimate spots? Where do you feel more at home?
Cielo is only 300 people. I happen to like both. I like the big venues to really push it over the top. But I like the smaller venues because I can kind of open up a little more and kind of be a little more experimental with my sound and [get] intimate with -- I hate to say my fanbase -- but my fanbase. When you do those big venues, you kind of have a disconnect with your audience. And when I do the smaller venues, I feel a lot more connected to the people and what they're feeling.
Would you say your audience in the U.S. is made up of mostly gay men?
No, actually, my audience is very diverse. I do, obviously, have a very male-driven audience. But I just was on the cover of Curve magazine, which is a lesbian magazine. I do private parties, I do straight venues, but they're mostly corporate private events. I did fashion week [in New York], which was mostly straight functions. I'm grateful I have such mass appeal.
Yes. That is lucky!
I'm also on the radio [in New York] on WBLS, which is a hip-hop, old-school heritage radio station. I kind of like to confuse people and they never know what to expect.
You have a show on the station?
Yeah, I come from radio. I was on Power 96. I'm doing a show for Y100, a guest spot this year, as a pre-Genesis thing. That's where I started in Washington, D.C., at this station WPGC, so it's very natural to me. That's very exciting to me, to be on the radio in New York.
You reach a very large audience. How would you say your style or sound as a DJ has evolved over the years?
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As you know, music changes everyday. You have the Swedish House Mafia and the David Guettas. That's pretty much dictating right now what's being played. But I think I have a signature sound, even when I'm playing those records. I think it's very important to keep up with what's happening. If I was playing, like, Diana Ross' "Love Hangover," I probably wouldn't have many gigs.
You have to keep up with the times. But I think the fundamental beat that I have, even though the sounds have changed, I like to call it a giddy-up beat, kind of bouncy. And of course, I love my vocals. When you get a really good one, it makes me really happy, like Deborah Cox. But the sound and the formula is always the same, it's just the producers switch up and change a lot.
Tracy Young's Genesis IX New Year's Day party with Deborah Cox and Kid Madonny. Sunday, January 1. Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The party starts at 8 a.m. and tickets cost $80 to $150 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-695-8411 or visit mansionmiami.com.