Born Marcus Shannon and raised in Chicago, IL, Marcus has been making House music since the mid 80’s, when House music was the “heartbeat” of Chicago’s nightlife.
Over his career, he has recorded different types of House music ranging from Acid to Deep, and from to Techno to Weird. He often experiments with sound and effects that don’t fit into the normal mode.
He’s currently the A&R and Production Manager for TRAX RECORDS.
GO BANG! Magazine: Can you describe your childhood and how it helped develop and form who you are today?
Marcus Mixx: I had one of the best childhood’s that a young person could ever have. Not only was I blessed to have both of my hard working, intelligent, smart, caring, creative, generous and more GOD loving and fearing parents around for all of my youth and many years after that, but I was also provided with the best education, fun times, life lessons and the basic principle of “The Golden Rule.”
When I was eight years old, my family moved from one great part of Chicago to one of the best neighborhoods in town. My folks got a huge house on Longwood Drive that sat upon three hills (two grass and one driveway), with a large back and side yard. The area was still mostly white at that time with a few loud bigots next door, but eventually the racism helped me learn how to ignore those redundant talking points by focusing more on music and humor.
As a young child I started listening to the radio and I found myself liking almost every style of music that was on the FM band. I’d turn the dial very slowly and stop when I heard something that caught my ears. It could be Rock N Roll, R & B, Top 40 and even Country music. I love all types of music. My parents also loved music, but it was mainly Soul/R & B and they had a huge collections of albums and 45’s that I really got into as well. I was also blessed when my parents not only bought a piano and organ, but I also took piano lessons. I really didn’t like the reading and studying music notes part of it, so I started playing by ear and began to have more fun trying to play songs that I liked. I believe that was the beginning of how I really got hooked on wanting to do something in the music business, even if it was just for kicks and not becoming rich and famous like the artists that I adored.
GO BANG! Magazine: You were a House DJ up until 1995. You were also a promoter. You reached great notoriety and many of your tracks were played during the times. You even collaborated with Ron Hardy on music. Please describe those years to our readers, how you became involved with House music, and why you stopped DJing.
Marcus Mixx: “The Hot Mix Five” on WBMX FM 102.7 is one of the main reasons that I got into House music. I didn’t know anything about House or mixing records together until a friend called me and said: “Turn the radio to WBMX and listen to what they’re doing!” I did so and it was so crazy, because the song never ended. I finally figured out that the records were being blended together. Not only did I get a grip on that aspect, but the music was thick, fast and fun! I immediately started recording almost every Hot Mix Five DJ every week for a long time. I’d play the mixes over and over, as well as, duplicate copies and give them to friends of all colors, especially hot babes.
I had heard about certain House music clubs that played this great music all night long and I was fortunate to get into some of the twenty one and older spots where I saw two turntables and a mixer for the first time. I was trapped by the control of the DJ’s who had the audio power to beat and bop the crowds. That week, I purchased a turntable with a pitch control. The week after, I bought another one that wasn’t the same style or design. Then I bought a small off brand mixer and starting invading stores like Importes Etc., Gramaphone, JR’s and others around Chicago to try and find what was being jacked on WBMX and in the clubs.
I made zillions of mixtapes of my blends on Tonemaster cassettes and I finally had enough courage to give some copies to the top club owners/managers, promoters and DJs, to see if I was good enough to spin at some parties. I even got to events an hour early and was star struck when I was able to speak for a moment with a REAL House music DJ. I offered to carry record crates in from their cars, get them drinks (on me) and of course explain that I’d spin for free just to get the chance to play before a big crowd. I swear to GOD, every House DJ that I met was down to earth and nice, even when they told me no thank you. Some gave me numbers to call for other possible gigs and some even called me (out of the blue) with chances to spin.
Quicker than I thought, I was opening parties at 8PM for mega House legends and there were actually a lot of people already on the dance floor. It was a great feeling, especially when some of the other jocks spoke to me and said “What’s Up”! I was blessed to spin in a couple of the most popular locations and high school events, i,e. Mendel high school.
After a while and not often being paid anything or way short of what I was told that I’d get for a session, I decided to go for it and become a promoter. I didn’t know much about that game then with the exception of passing out tons of (card stock) pluggers and hanging posters. I had listened to a few House legends discuss how they didn’t have to pay to get a club night by simply having parties on a dead evening and getting butts in there to buy drinks and snacks, for example, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays were very slow nights in House music, because, people had to work or go to school the next day. The gate/door was all of their money. I took the advice that I heard and approached various venues in all kinds of neighborhoods, even the ones that normally wouldn’t have those types of scenes.
I also had an angle by using Ch.19 in Chicago on my friends (Liam Giagoes) Gitano Cameros’ television show “BOOOM TV”! We’d go live on the air early on Wednesdays and invite people to come out, hang and party with us in a few hours. The clubs and bars loved this. I made great money, but I also drank and gave away great money. After a few years of promoting, not only House music, but Rock based events too.
I focused more on making music and starting a record label called “Missing Records.” Liam, myself and others would hang out all night at his recording studio (Head Studio) and toy around with anything and object that the beer made us do. Unbelievable sounds and noises became part of a lot of our songs. Sometimes the music was put in a computer and looped and other times it was played freestyle. We did a lot of great and fun material, but once again, I started drifting into other things when we were really selling a lot of vinyl.
As far as working with Ron Hardy, that wasn’t really the deal. I often invited the DJ’s and their crews to come chill at the studio after a party that they had spun for, when I was promoting. On a few occasions Ronnie came thru with some people. I didn’t know major stuff about the music business/House music business, but I knew if I had a star like him on my label that it would pump it up big time. So with music pumpin’ in Head Studio, I asked Ronnie to put some headphones on and briefly listen to some of the material that I mixed and was about to put out. I wanted to know which versions of each song he thought he’d play at his parties. I gave him some money right there on the spot just to hear his thoughts. He was very cool about it. After a few tracks, he told me the versions that he liked and I went for it and said “Can I pay you to put your name as the mixer of those tracks?” He said “How much?” I said “$500 each track” He said “O.K., cool” I paid him in cash right there on the spot and we shook hands (in the old skool five minute way). Ronnie never recorded or mixed any of my music. That’s the way that it went down and only the “uninvolved, never there, gossip loving people” seem to have a problem with that moment in time. Tons of “handshake” deals were done back then on all levels of House music.
GO BANG! Magazine: It has been reported that you are or were homeless. If this is true, how did this happen and what are you doing now?
Marcus Mixx: I used to drink beer all day, every day since I was eighteen and it eventually caught up with me out of the blue. I started having multiple seizures that lasted longer and hurt way more than the constant blackouts and hangovers that I got so used to having. After having several major seizures at one of my family’s houses, due to tons of drinking beer, I was taken to Stroger (County) Hospital in Chicago and the doctors put me in the body scanner and did a bunch of test. When I came to, they told me that I have Epilepsy. At the time, I didn’t know the ins and outs of this disease, even though I’d heard the name all of my life. They showed me charts and graphs and explained that the left side of my brain is always expecting consistent alcohol and when there’s a lack of it, seizures, heart attacks, strokes and more potentially deadly events can occur. They said that I can either keep drinking at the high rates that my brain has been getting for years and maintaining those levels or to get cleaned out and stay sober. The third, unadvised version was to drink a lot and then go “cold turkey” for a few hours. Thank GOD that I chose the rehab program at the John Madden Center in Hines, Il.
After thirty days of getting sober and being able to talk to people that actually listed without cutting me off and stating how horrible I was, I decided not to bother any family, friends, etc. So I went to Pacific Garden Mission where I was able to listen to the word of GOD several times a day, have a safe place to crash, free food and rent, and lots of other wonderful perks that I’d never have by trying to live in and on the streets of Chicago. After two years of living at P.G.M., the rules were changed for the guest and it was no longer a place where people could stay as long as they wanted to. It became a thirty days in then you leave for thirty days and come back and so on. When my thirty days ended, I walked around my great city for GOD only knows how long.
I finally decided to visit/hangout at Stroger Hospital and I asked a state cop for any suggestions that he knew regarding homeless shelters. He called 311 and a van came and took me to Walls Shelter on the westside. This place is located in the auditorium of Walls Church. I really liked it there, mainly because they only let in 72 guys a night. After finding out that if I signed the list before we were cleared out every morning at six thirty a.m., then I was guaranteed a bed. Both P.G.M. and Walls helped to save my life in so many ways, even after a guy tried to kill me in Walls Shelter while I was using the washroom. He got angry over a disagreement between me and two other dudes three days before. The guy who stabbed me not only did damage to some of my internal organs that rendered two surgeries, but I’d lost my guaranteed spot at a great facility.
After a few weeks of staying at other places, I came back to Walls, even though the attempted murderer could still be living there. He was banned for a year, but I’d see him on occasion walking around and I held back from pounding his head into a sewer, because as I learned thru experience, I’d get blamed for the action. So for about a year, I continued to make music and videos on my MacBook during the day at Harold Washington Library until it was time to check back in at Walls.
GO BANG! Magazine: As a music producer, you have called your style of music “weird.” What motivates you to create the type music you do?
Marcus Mixx: Sometimes I just like to do music with limited parts and tracks. Then there’s times when I go for lots of sounds and elements to the point where I don’t remember where everything is. I’m all over the highway and open to anything when it comes to creating House. Often, I get sparked by hearing a great track, i.e., a song with lots of piano and/or strings. I totally admit that I get inspired by various artists of all flavors. Sometimes I like using lots of effects piled into one instrument or vocal and I’m still discovering what certain plugins do. As long as the beat is bouncin’ and movin’, I’ll play around with it and build something.
I’m the first to say that a lot of my music SUUUUUUUUUCKS! But, the world is so big, yet small due to the internet, a lot of people like the crap that I produce. I’ve always told the “experts” in House that most of my songs are not traditional, the way that they should be tracks, but I like to have fun and feel the vibes of the moments too. I might be on a Deep House trip in one moment, then an Acid one and the next thing that I know it’s a very bizarre, weird frame of mind. My advice to all artists/musicians “Try and share yourself in your music, but only do so when YOU want to. Do it the way that YOU like it. Lots of folks are going to dig YOU and your music!”
GO BANG! Magazine: You’ve had a TV show on Chicago’s cable access (CAN TV) for years. Please tell our readers about your show and explain exactly what it is.
Marcus Mixx: I’ve been at C.A.N. TV/Ch.19(Chicago Access Network) since the early ’90’s. It all started when my boy Liam Gallegos aka Gitano Camaro told be how we could go live on television and just trip out and have fun and do whatever we wanted. He came up with a show idea called “BOOOM TV” in which we had people dancing in front of a green screen to a House mix where he added weird and bizarre video clips, i.e., sharks chasing ice cream cones or babes in bikinis pillow fighting while worms were crawling everywhere. I also took a lot of live phone calls during the action behind me and they were very diverse in content. They ranged from people whom were very offended by what they were viewing, to other drunks out there yelling how cool and different the show was. It was weird and mega fun! A lot of our psycho ideas came easily due to all of the booze and weed that we partied with. It was also a great promotional platform to invite people to our parties that were sometimes happening just a few hours from when we went off of the air.
I eventually got into video editing and I’ve been producing two different shows on Ch.19 for roughly 25 years. Even though the names of the programs have been changed around a few times, the basic premise of each one are the same. “Marcus Mixx ON TV” is a music video/variety show in which I play material mainly sent in from small labels and individuals who come from around the world. I feature all forms and styles of music. “First here, first played”. The second show “Marcus Mixxs’ House TV” is a half an hour House Music video mix in which I put video images over mixes supplied by various DJ’s from around the world. Each program is on 4 times a month (8 in total) after 11PM on various nights. They can also be watched on YouTube. I accept all music videos to this email address: mailto:email@example.com
GO BANG! Magazine: When and how did you first become involved with TRAX Records and how has your role changed over the years?
Marcus Mixx: The first time I was hired by Trax Records was in the ’90’s when the original owner Larry Sherman was still there. One of the coolest, nicest and most talented House music legends (I can’t name him or he may be scorn by being nice to me) was the A&R/Label manager and was leaving the position and he asked me did I want the job. I thought that he was joking, but I eagerly took the job. To me it was like being in the NBA and playing for my home team “Da Bulls.” I was awestruck by being employed by the classic House music company. I loved making phone calls and sending faxes to stores and distributors around the globe and taking huge orders for all of the vinyl that they wanted. I also enjoyed recycling records that never sold that we purchased from a vinyl guy in town and pressing them into hit songs.
After a few years of living in two homeless shelters, I was blessed and rehired by the current C.E.O. of Trax Records Screamin’ Rachael Cain. Before making a full commitment to work for the new Trax Records, I asked Rachael to let me know what was going on with Trax on every level. I thought about making this move back to Trax a lot, because I needed something stable on the level.
Everything has been amazing, especially when dealing with all of the new music and talent, television, video and movie projects. I’m so blessed and glad that GOD has given this wonderful opportunity to me.
GO BANG! Magazine: TRAX Records has quite a controversial reputation. The main complaint is from former original artists from the labels start, under the leadership of Larry Sherman. Many of the artists say that they never received their due royalty payments, or ANY payments, even to this day. What do you have to say about that?
Marcus Mixx: Back then, a lot of guys would go down to TRAX with a couple of songs, drop them on Larry’s desk and ask for a certain amount of money. After a few minutes of negotiating, the contracts were signed, the money was given and the music was about to be mastered and turned into classic House music.
The one good thing that has been and still is going for the majority of the talent that signed is that Trax Records was very successful is helping to blow up many of their names and brands. If used properly, money can be made. GROW UP! LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES! Last point! But this may take some effort like reading and listening for a brief period so that you can learn about what’s going on currently with Trax Records with the new C.E.O. Screamin’ Rachael Cain. She’s the complete opposite of Larry Sherman. Everybody will learn very soon how she’s been fighting for ALL of the TRAX artists.
Constant slander and uninformed social media slams about her is the equivalent of Klan ERDs calling you the “N” word for no good reason. All of the built in rage and anger that has absolutely nothing to do with Rachael Cain. Shut the -UCK up for a few minutes and learn what’s she’s been doing to try and help all of you. What do you have to lose by contacting her and learning? A few, so called friends on social media! In closing “YES THE ORIGINAL Trax Records CONTRACTS WERE NOT GOOD FOR THE ARTISTS!”
GO BANG! Magazine: How does it feel to be affiliated with such a legendary, but controversial record label?
Marcus Mixx: The label isn’t controversial. As controversial as Larry Sherman was, it’s even more controversial that lots of the same artists would continue to sign away their music, over and over and over again! Were they forced to do so? -UUUUUUCK NO!!!!!!!! The artists made rational and coherent decisions on what actions they were taking each time that they went to the Trax Records warehouse to get their money and sign the contracts.
A lot of these guys don’t have the guts to admit that they (knowingly) screwed themselves. Back then, everybody and their mama new how Trax Records treated its artists. The talent definitely knew that every time they showed up with a finished song that they’d get some quick money and a very popular record pressed out on vinyl in a matter of hours with their name on it. Those records pumped up their names and brands and (for the smart ones) led to lots of fame, fortune and fun.
It’s like a guy that loves to bang all women that he meets on the first and only date without using condoms. The sex was MEGA AWESOME, but now he has two more “baby mommas” and a very painful S.T.D. Of course in his mind, it’s impossible for him to be at fault on any level. It’s the babies fault, as well as the condom companies fault for him not ever wearing one. SHUT THE FUUUUUUUCK UP AND LISTEN TO WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW! Swallow your pride for a moment! You might not only like what you hear, but you’ll at least get the other side of the two sided story.
GO BANG! Magazine: Unfortunately, as a result of your affiliation with TRAX records, many people do not have a positive opinion of you. Is there anything that you would like to say to those individuals, so that they can better understand you and your point of view?
Marcus Mixx: There’s absolutely nothing I can say or do to make some people have a positive opinion of me. I honestly just hope that everyone on GOD’s earth that has been blessed with chances and opportunities that they’ve been seeking, will go for it and do it in a respectful matter. In other words, don’t intentionally harm or screw somebody, even if you hate them. Spend more of your time focused on what you want, even if others around call you crazy or nuts. Go For It!
I hate racist people of all kinds! In order for me not to have very little to do with them, I don’t Google “Klan Rallies”, “Resident Rump material” or attend “White Power” marches holding up signs. It’s called avoiding the situation. It’s O.K. to avoid me in the same way. On the House music tip, I hear nasty rumors and stuff about lots of people whom threaten and slam me. Everybody is two faced and stabs each other in the back eventually! The Golden Rule is for Marcus “Mixx” Shannon.
GO BANG! Magazine: Tell our readers what you are currently doing, what new projects you are working on, and any more information that you want to share with our audience.
Marcus Mixx: As of today, I’m blessed and very fortunate to be the A&R/Label and Office Manager for Trax Records and Rap Trax Records. I sign the majority of new artists and help to promote their music. I also do the video production for our classic and new House music videos, our commercial television show “TRAX TV” which is on 4 times a week here in Chicago on Ch.25 (Mon., Tues. 11:30PM, Thurs. 10:30PM. and 11:30PM.), as well as our latest satellite television venture that debuts worldwide in August “The TRAX TV NETWORK.”
We also have a live Trax Records online party every Friday and Saturdays featuring top DJ’s from around the globe. Go to: http://www.traxparty.com It’s beyond exciting and a realistic dream coming true to be involved with the main pillar of House music during its continued renaissance.
Trax Records is still crapped on in so many ways, including via slander, defamation of character, personal threats, intent to cause physical harm, and so much more on the illegal tip on social media, print, television, etc. But, in truth or a least from another point of view, “Things are being run and handled so much differently than the past!” It’s just a darn shame that a lot of the House music legends won’t even listen to what’s going on now, even on their behalf, because they don’t have the courage to admit that they messed up by not reading a 3 or 4 page legal and binding contract.
The C.E.O. Screamin’ Rachael Cain has been fighting and trying to work out deals with various companies that ACTUALLY own lots of the classic TRAX catalog. She has never had any control over many of the hits that everybody knows and loves. As an artist, many of her tracks are being abused and mishandled in the EXACT same way as so many House legends. Her goal ever since she took over Trax Records has been to change the image completely around from the original days in which she had nothing to do with, expand the TRAX brand into other fields, (like what’s currently happening), and most of all “GETTING MONEY FOR THE ARTIST THAT -UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED THEMSELVES BY THEIR STUPID AND LAZY ACTS OF NOT READING (OR EVEN CARING AT THE TIME) THE CONTRACTS THAT THEY SIGNED!”
Why has and is she spending so much time, effort and money on lawyers to fix what the people whom botched up their situations? Well, it’s so simple. She knows what it’s like to do so, because “SHE DID THE SAME THING WITH SOME OF HER MUSIC!” Yet and still, folks have made a game and daily habit to repeat the redundant Bull-HIT that they don’t even know is true or not via all media outlets and personal conversations.
Why should people research what they claim? Resident Rump doesn’t do so! If any of the artists would like to LISTEN, not just hear, but LISTEN to her speak about what’s been going on regarding their songs, all they have to do is contact her and here’s the hardest part for most of them: “SHUT THE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK UP FOR A FEW MINUTES AND LEARN WHAT IS GOING ON!” She’s on all of your sides! Calling her a slave master, a bitch, a racist, etc, has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with (here we go again) “YOUR DUMB ASS MISTAKES FOR SIGNING AWAY PARTS OF YOUR LIFE FOR A SMALL ONE TIME FEE!” Maybe, if the House legends work together with Rachael on trying to recover some, if not all of the money that may be owed to them and yes, even her, things could change for the better.
In the meantime, as I write this, there’s more -UM sucking’ ASSWIPES writing false crap online. My advice to the ones that aren’t even or haven’t ever been involved with Trax Records in any way, but still love slandering and spreading illegal garbage every second about things they know nothing about, ”ROTATE HANDS AND OCCASIONALLY USE A SOCK AND/OR VASOLINE!” GOD Bless!
GO BANG! Magazine: The COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?
Marcus Mixx: COVID-19 has made me so much more aware of how blessed I am by being in a great place and working for and with a great person, Screamin’ Rachael Cain of Trax Records. Last year, I was only a month out of Walls Shelter. If I wasn’t a part of Trax, I’d be in a place with dozens of other people with hardly any room to move around, sleep, etc. Unfortunately, shelters are magnets for possibly getting COVID-19. I’m able to do 90% of my work from my MacBook here in the apartment and also at the Trax Records office. I really hope and pray that there’s a vaccine or cure soon!
GO BANG! Magazine: On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” This incident has caused civil unrest and massive protests across the world. How do you feel about this unfortunate situation and call for police reform due to the horrible treatment of minorities by the police?
Marcus Mixx: I remember getting pulled over so many times, as soon as I crossed the city limits of Chicago. I would just be going to my grocery store jobs in Blue Island, IL and Merrionette Park, IL. as a kid. I was constantly pulled over and asked “Where the FUCK are you going “N” word?” and “Why Don’t You Go back To Africa?” Even though I had really funny and mind boggling responses to the undouched -UNTS, I always hand my hands at 10 o’clock & 2 o’clock positions and I didn’t move until told to. I always asked may I use my left hand to roll down the window and I kept my driver’s license, insurance and title on the passenger seat when one was sitting there. If so, all of that stuff was in a large ZipLoc bag taped to my dashboard.
My worst experience with cops was one day leaving my job in Merrionette Park, IL and being pulled over by at least six squad cars from all directions. Even the two policemen that guarded the store’s parking lot when I was out bringing all of the carts in were involved. A high ranking officer made me get out of the car and walk toward the cemetery fence and I was surrounded by all of them listening to the same, tired racist talking points. They told me to go work in my own neighborhood and I replied “I am!” So they warned me to get a transfer to a “N” word store or I’d really regret coming back to their village. That next day, I quit Dominicks!
I’ve never had a problem with any Chicago police officers, even in my drinking days. It’s always outside of the city limits. Oh yeah, I’m very smart about not going into areas that are known for hating all colors except for their own. Some call me a punk bitch for that, I call myself safe! I can’t fight more than two people at once. It’s also O.K. to thank cops for their service when you walk by them. All police aren’t -sswipes! Just like all blacks aren’t thugs. Hopefully, Police Reform will come about in a timely way.
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Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram