From DJ Steve Aoki throwing rainbow cakes into the crowd to drag queens keeping the party pumping for two fun filled days in 2019 at the Petrillo Music Shell stage in Grant Park, music has quickly become an important component of Pride in the Park's outdoor celebration.
Out and proud DJ Tracy Young plans to continue that trend in 2021, alongside other talented performers such as the legendary Chaka Khan and Dutch DJ Tiesto.
Young is originally from Virginia and grew up spinning turntables in clubs before becoming a global sensation. She is a person with many talents including remixing and composing music. She has had over 60 #1 Billboard club chart hits and collaborated with over 100 artists with 14 of them being with Madonna.
Young won a Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording Non-Classical for Madonna's "I Rise (Tracy Young's Pride Into Radio Remix)" in 2020. She made history by being the first female remixer and producer ever nominated and then to win in this Grammy category. She thanked the LGBTQ community in her acceptance speech and now returns to the Windy City in what will surely be a well attended Pride event.
Windy City Times: What inspired you to be a DJ in the first place?
Tracy Young: My love for music. I was a music lover very young. I knew I wanted to do something in music when I was about 7 years old.
The first time I went to a club and saw a DJ mix to records I knew I wanted to do that too. It became my mission to figure it out. I don't know how to do anything else!
WCT: Well, it has certainly paid off for you…
TY: Music is a hard business, but it feels like I have never worked in my life. It is amazing to make music and have a career with it.
WCT: When did you come out of the closet?
TY: I was actually outed and didn't have to come out. I never have put labels on myself. I was just me as people asked me about it. It wasn't a thing to me.
I came out to my family when I was young and they accepted me. To everyone else I was just Tracy!
WCT: Derrick Carter is also an out DJ who is playing Pride in the Park that weekend.
TY: Yes. Things are different now. I am 50 years old and never really broadcasted it, but I also never hid it. If someone asked I would tell them. I have always been proud of who I am, but I am a private person.
WCT: What does Pride mean to you?
TY: Pride is about moving forward and making change. We have to show others that we are similar to them and just people, too. We want to be loved. There is really nothing different about us.
Growing up in DC and having a political background meant that Pride is not about going out and having parties. I like to see change and acceptance of other people. We need to be visible and not silent.
WCT: How do you feel about things changing such as using pronouns now?
TY: That is a little confusing to me. I understand why that would be important to some people. For me, it's about a big picture. I grew up in a different time.
People that don't accept gay people are confused enough. I just want to see overall acceptance. That is the big picture, but I don't want to take anything away from anyone on any level.
WCT: Is there a new musician that you particularly like these days?
TY: Demi Lovato is killing it right now. I love Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande. I love my females! I also love the ol' school music and have performed with Chaka Khan before at a different gig. I am into Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Cox and Madonna. K.D. Lang is coming out with a dance album. I come from a background of Prince, Stevie Nicks and Depeche Mode. I go all over the spectrum!
WCT: You are in the studio right now?
TY: Yes, as we speak. I can't tell you what it is that I am working on though. I am slammed, but a girl's gotta eat!
WCT: You release music on your own label Ferosh Records?
TY: Yes, I do. It stands for ferocious. I have been working on originals and I am focused on them now. For me, I've remixed so much that I want to work on new challenges. I have always been on the road DJing and traveling. I just want to DJ and produce now to try to keep it simple instead of trying to do everything.
WCT: Did your work feel validated after winning a Grammy Award?
TY: First of all, I didn't think I was going to win. I have been doing music for at least 30 years. It ebbs and flows, some years you are on the bottom and then you go up. Fortunately, I am blessed and people have supported me for so long. I am grateful to Madonna.
WCT: What is one thing about Madonna that would surprise people?
TY: I find her incredibly loyal and a great friend. She is good, unless you do something to her. She's just like anybody else when someone betrays them. I'm not sure if that is really surprising though…
WCT: What about Kim Zolciak?
TY: What about that bitch?
WCT: She won't talk about you now.
TY: I know why, because she lied about me the whole time. I met Kim and did a song remix that is on my label of "Tardy for the Party." She wanted me to do it and I didn't even know who she was at the time.
The truth of the matter is, we had a relationship for a little over a year. She met Kroy Biermann and that's great. I supported it, but she lied to him, so that is what happened.
WCT: That explains a lot.
TY: She would leave my house and tell the paparazzi that she hadn't talked to me. I told her, "Don't lie about me and I can be your friend." I didn't want to marry her. She wanted to marry me. She doesn't like me talking about her, because if her husband finds out they will get divorced.
WCT: I met Kim and Kroy at Spin Nightclub many years ago.
TY: I was supposed to go there that night. I booked that when it was all happening.
WCT: The manager of the club made her sing "Ring Didn't Mean a Thing," and she was not happy about it.
TY: I wrote that song and it was a joke. I was writing for her and she was the one that pursued me. She saw an opportunity to exploit me and that is what happened. I released "Tardy for the Party" on my label and we toured, then she met Kroy. She really screwed me over.
WCT: I'm sorry to hear that.
TY: Don't worry about it. They cancelled her Bravo show and I'm still going! I wrote a song about her called "What's Done is Done" and Ceevox is on it. If anyone wants to know the real deal, then listen to the lyrics of that song. I called it the Wiggin' Out remix.
WCT: That's brilliant. This makes me excited to hear what you will play at Pride in the Park.
TY: I'm looking forward to being in Chicago again. I haven't played out publicly since COVID, so this Pride event will be the first time!
Tracy Young will spin a rainbow of tunes on Sunday, June 27 at Butler Field in Grant Park. Single tickets, including VIP passes, can be purchased at PrideintheParkChicago.com by seetickets.com .