Frankie Feliciano is set to release his first DJ mix compilation on his own label, Ricanstruction. It's a step that could push the label's profile beyond DJ crates and into regular listeners' stereos.
He's done DJ mixes before, but this time he's using lots of material from Ricanstruction's back catalog along with upcoming releases, plus a few tracks licensed from some of the biggest names in deep house.
Feliciano does have a dance music business pedigree, having cut his teeth doing promo work for Strictly Rhythm just before it blew up, and then Nervous Records after that.
"I learned a lot through those experiences, but I've also had to unlearn things," he says from his NYC home. "Things have changed a lot since then, the business and the market are different now. We live in an iPod world, and we have to adapt. If I sell 3000 MP3s the profit margin is actually higher than the same amount of vinyl."
Feliciano originally came into dance music through the hiphop explosion of the early 80s, learning to cut and scratch at the tender age of 14 while the early sounds of house were developing in clubs he was way too young to attend.
Eventually, curiosity about this emerging sound got the best of him and he finally went out to hear it in its natural environment. By chance, the DJ that night happened to be Louie Vega - who would later form the hugely influential Masters At Work with Kenny Dope Gonzalez - and Feliciano finally understood what his older cousins had been talking about.
Over the last 15 years he's become known as a top purveyor of NYC soulful house, releasing quality tracks on his Ricanstruction label and DJing worldwide. While he may have left behind the hiphop and freestyle he started out with, he's still kept at least some aspects of that style of playing.
"The technical side of mixing is very important - that's how I started," he admits. "Programming the set is something you have to feel out on the spot with the crowd - you can't plan it all out beforehand. I've learned over the past few years not to be so rigid - I'll even take requests sometimes, because most of my gigs now are for people who know what I'm about. Since I play CDs and can take a lot of songs with me, I'll quite often have what they're asking for."