Known as “The Queen of House Music”, Rachael Cain, otherwise known as Screamin’ Rachael, and the President of the legendary Chicago based TRAX Records, has just celebrated the 35th Anniversary of the label.
TRAX Records played a major role in the development of House Music. The label was founded in 1984 and revived by Cain in 2006, working with artists such as Grandmaster Melle Mel, Marshall Jefferson, Colonel Abrams, Afrika Bambaataa, and many others.
Cain, a singer/songwriter in her own right and one of the original New York Club Kids, also appears in many films and documentaries. She will be celebrating the premier of her newest film “Japanese Borscht”, an Eric Rivas production, on October 5th in New York City….I spoke with Rachael regarding her career, the history of TRAX Records and house music, and her newest endeavors
With TRAX 35th anniversary this year at hand, what are some of the very special ways you are celebrating?
Every day is a celebration to me, I love life and I feel that I’ve finally come into my own! I’m in a great place now, turning Screamin’ Rachael my artistic side loose, doing live shows and finishing my album! It will feature a vocal version of the huge hit Magic Fly that I did with Didier Marouani of “Space”, the French electronic group that inspired Daft Punk, right down to the helmet’s. I’ve always loved producing and hosting TV, especially live on the scene stuff and now that I’ve teamed up with underground house producer, and videographer Marcus Mixx we capture all of the festivities live on TRAX TV! I’m finally surrounded with the best possible team, and great artists like DJ Oliver Fade, Jason Prince, Chris Jones, Mikey Everything, Luca Gerlin, Saladin and others.
I honestly feel like Tinkerbell! I’m FLYING! I’ve just signed a deal with Sony Ultra, I respect the president and founder Patrick Moxie who by the way is a true Chicago House head. Colleen Theis, CEO at Sony Orchard has had my back for a long time, and she is a great inspiration to me. I also signed a movie distribution deal with 1091 Media. I thank God every day because I am truly living my dream! It’s been an incredible year with many accomplishments to be thankful for.
I’m celebrating being who I am while engaging in all the things I love, fashion, singing, acting, performing and surrounding myself with positive people and creativity.
TRAX Records is iconically and strategically located in Chicago. Why was Chicago chosen? Why is Chicago known so well for hip hop and house music?
Some things in life were meant to be and the universe brought a small group of idealistic talented people together who happened to land in a vinyl pressing plant on the Southside of Chicago in the storied area of Bridgeport. We had a big dream that one day our music would be recognized around the world, and we made it happen at TRAX! We birthed the idea of superstar DJ’s and i believe that had a lot to do with the plant and vinyl records. The truth is far stranger than fiction, and somehow from NYC club kids to the European glitterati we managed to spread the gospel of house music. I always think that because we weren’t an industry town, we were free to create with no restraints, we created house the only genre that Chicago can truly call it’s own. We believed in the impossible and when you believe you achieve. As to hip hop if we look at it today the biggest names including Kanye, Common and Chance the Rapper are all from Chicago.
When and why were you dubbed, “Screamin’ Rachael? Also, when did “Billboard” name you “Queen of House Music?”
The idea of Screamin’ Rachael came about from my presence. I’m tiny but as powerful as a hurricane. When I enter a room I’m Screamin’ before I even say a word… I’m this tiny woman with this big voice and presence. It’s interesting because lots of great singers like GaGa, and Janis Joplin are very petite. Maybe we overcompensate, but to hell with that idea I’m having a blast! Queen of House came about with the release of my single Fun with Bad Boys. house music was just starting to get a name, and here I was at the helm of it, being played on radio everywhere. I was with the most exciting Bad Boys around including the Rock Steady Crew, The TC5 Graffiti Crew, Apache Ramos from the Warriors, Bambaataa, and others. To quote my mentor Sylvia Robinson, artist, producer and Sugarhill Record President “It’s good to be queen”. There is great responsibility being a Matriarch most importantly benevolence and in my house spreading love.
You have a new single release and video, talk about that for a minute.
I was working on writing an Acid track with Carmelo Carone, and I got a powerful vibe from the music. I’ve been reading a lot about laws being changed, that would actually take certain protections away from endangered species. Then when I think about factory farming, the cruelty involved and essentially how gas emissions and waste from it are polluting and poisoning the earth I feel an incredible sadness.
At the same time, I wanted to reach out to people through music without being preachy and give respect for simpler times in nature, through melody and chant. I’m not saying that I have Indian blood but I wouldn’t rule it out, because I haven’t taken a DNA test but spiritually I feel a kinship, to their natural ways of living… I wanted listening to the song and perhaps singing along to be a cathartic experience.
“One Day” my new single is an adaptation of the Cherokee Morning Song. The message at the heart of it is to respect all living things and the planet we live on. Marcus Mixx and I collaborated on the video, and depicted many of the endangered animals in it while celebrating beautiful natural places. Things that will be missed by future generations if we continue on our wasteful path. I try to be vegan, I am not perfect but if we can all try to be less selfish and more conscious of our planet, each one of us can make a difference. Remember as I say in the song, We are only travelers.
Tell me the history of TRAX Records and why it’s so legendary in the music industry?
There’s no way to briefly tell you the history of Trax. That will take a book and I hope to write one someday. I have wonderful archival photos and amazing stories to tell. But to sum it up Trax is simply a miracle. It started out with a couple of friends me, Jesse Saunders, Vince Lawrence, and a designated adult Larry Sherman. We wanted vinyl records for DJ’s to play so the entire genre grew out of a pressing plant!
It’s legendary because it’s real and people can feel that in the music. The Trax have stood the test of time and are completely fresh to a new generation. I never set out to be the president or to be a businessperson of any kind, but I knew someone had to see building the house through. When I met Sylvia Robinson at Sugarhill, I realized that I would not need to stop being an artist to carry out the mission I believed in. That was most important thing to me because I will never stop singing, writing, DJing and performing. I live for CREATIVITY. So here I am today, and Trax Records stands as the original home of house music. People still try to tell me I can’t be an artist and run a label but lots of men do it so why shouldn’t I? Though it is unusual I hope to inspire other women to do the same.
Aside from singing you’ve been in some recent films, tell us about the newest movie?
I’ve always loved acting and I attended the Strasberg Institute in NYC. I’ve done underground films, plays, commercials etc. so acting has been in my blood. As fate would have it my life has been an interesting circle. One of my best friends and allies Apache Ramos from the movie The Warriors was the person who discovered me and brought me to NYC to sign with Streetwise Records. Years later he introduced me to Director Eric Rivas of Diamond Mind Films and I’ve had the opportunity to be featured in The Vamp Bikers Trilogy and to produce the soundtracks for all of Eric’s Films. It’s like a family and a lot of the people in the films are friends. I’m very proud to have introduced Trax artist and esteemed journalist Michael Musto into our tribe. In fact,he is featured on the Trax Records 35th Anniversary compilation with his song I Got Your Back, and starring as the Gay Mafia Boss in our fourth film Japanese Borscht. My Character is a Mob Boss too and I get to play opposite Jason Chaos, a very talented musician and nightclub personality who happens to be a good friend and also great on screen. I perform a number in the film, with another Trax artist Daniel DiCriscio, who’s kind of a modern day Fabio. It’s really is a dream come true doing all the things that I love, and working with these tremendously talented people. People are going to love the movie and the plot thickens, but I can’t give that away…
On October 5th the movie is premiering in New York. Where and when can people see it and is there an after party?
Talk about celebrating I can’t wait until the premier! It’s going to be an all out red carpet celebrity blow out! There will be an after party and I’ll be performing. If you are going to be in New York get your tickets NOW, and don’t miss this film screening and event! I’m proud to say that we are an “Official Selection at New Filmmaker’s New York 2019”. We will be screened on Saturday October 5th at the highly esteemed Anthology Film Archives Theater. Just go to WWW.SCREAMINRACHAEL.COM and click on Movie Premier to get all the details. The location for the after party will be announced soon look for updates on my site.
If you could have me ask you any question in the world, what would the question be and how would you answer it?
(Question) What inspired you to take the life path you have chosen?
I chose this path because of my love for music. At the end of the day I love people and wanted to find a way to make a positive difference in their lives and in the world. At the same time I realize that music is my personal salvation, and no matter how difficult things get music has been there to inspire me to carry on and to keep on dreaming and believing in love, and that goodness will always triumph over evil and despair. Music fills my heart with joy, and nothing feels better than to share that feeling with others.
Any future projects in the works?
I have many Irons in the fire, but the project to create a permanent home for house music at the Chicago History Museum is of prominent importance to me. Last year I met Beatrice Crain, an inspirational woman who is the founder of the Crain Mailing Foundation. She is 98 years old and still actively giving back to the community and the preservation of the arts and culture every day. I have been on the board of www.youthcommunicationchicago.org for many years, but it was really her spirit and idealism that lit a fire inside me to help develop a program that will mentor teens from the inner city and teach them about archiving and the preservation of house music. This genre has made a difference in so many lives because of it’s acceptance of all people regardless of race, sex or background. I want to give back and pass forward to others because of the blessed life I’ve been fortunate enough to have. Young people really relate to this music so I’m hoping that they will develop a sense of pride while learning about the importance of history and that life is not just throw away. We can all be part of creating a lasting legacy for good, and its never to early or late to start!
Photo Credit: Billy Hess https://www.billyhess.com