On Point With: Corey Craig

Pharmacist by day, DJ and podcaster by night–you can only imagine what a crazy year this has been for The Eagle NYC’s Dr. DJ Corey Craig. But it’s only the latest chapter in a very storied career!

Thotyssey: Hello Dr. DJ Corey! Tell us about your Crazy Covid Year.

Corey Craig: Well, “Dr. Corey Craig” stayed busy working as a pharmacist this whole time, while DJ Corey Craig kept “Coreyography” episodes going and culled new music to be ready post pandemic.

You lead a pretty profound dual life! Let’s talk about pharmacy for a moment… I can’t imagine the pressure you’ve been under in the shadow of Covid, and the frustrations you have with people who still won’t do the right thing with vaccination. And you must’ve wanted to drop kick that one pharmacist who ruined a whole huge batch of vaccines because he was a crazy Trumpy!

Child… it’s Sunday, so I am not going to curse in this interview. Music, my besties and Kaftko kept me sane. Thank you Jessie Ware, Billy Porter and Glitterbox for my pandemic soundtrack. The pharmacy was intense, but we kept our wits about us knowing how important the work was. My specialty is Nuclear Medicine / Oncology, but every department shared the workload. I feel proud of what every essential worker endured. Every role is equally important.

Well said! Regarding the music you mentioned, do you think it’s just a weird coincidence that all this disco-vibe dancy music became the soundtrack of our lockdowns… or is it appropriate, in a way?

The disco vibes were percolating before the pandemic thanks to Glitterbox, Purple Disco Machine and other productions. I believe the past president triggered us to go back to escapism musically… and because disco is happy and whimsical, it was just the escape we needed. The pandemic gave people time to explore and experience disco and house privately or in small groups during quarantine, and we were soothed.

What are your general thoughts about streaming music, and how that’s affected the way we consume and listen to it? Has it been positive or negative to the art and the industry?

I feel that streaming grew as a platform faster than artists could adapt their business models. Suddenly, downloads became obsolete and live performance / events / pay-per-view programming had to be the revenue generators. On the plus side, streaming has automated discovery with stations curated according to listening patterns, and expanded access to independent artists.

Okay, before we go further we must go back! Where is your hometown, and were you always both musical and scientific while growing up?

I am an Oklahomo! Born and raised in OKC, migrated to Dallas after undergrad, then to NYC in 2001. Whew–this year is 20 years in NYC! I was the kid at home listening to my aunt’s and uncle’s records in the 70’s, and in middle school I learned turntablism from my youngest uncle.

I always wanted to be a pharmacist since I was a child. My mom would take me to the pharmacy with questions, and he always made me feel better. Doctors back then were not as helpful, and seemed more condescending than concerned. So I went to a science and medically-focused high school, and confirmed my interest in pharmacy. I received my doctorate just recently in 2018. Weirdest mid-life crisis ever.

A true Doctor in every sense, amazing! What is it about DJing and nightlife that makes you want to stick with it, considering everything else your doing?

Music and DJing are my first love. Even throughout college, I was in charge of the music at frat parties. I was already visiting New York regularly when I lived in Dallas. Luckily, by the time I moved to New York I was already familiar with the nightlife scene and already had an idea of where I wanted to DJ, if the opportunity ever presented itself. So when I finally moved here, I let myself get settled into the pharmacy career, and then started putting out podcasts and burning CDs and leaving them at [venues]. In 2009, I auditioned for the Pier Dance and I got it– and that blew me up.

If you were in full creative control of a night, what would a DJ Corey Craig set sound like?

I would start with some classics: some Frankie Knuckles, some Larry Levan… ramp it up with disco and late 90’s house, then breeze through the 2000’s featuring updated remixes to bring everyone together. All peppered with current bops and new shit that people deserve to experience.

I think every DJ is on their own journey throughout the set. The secret is connecting to the audience, and letting that guide the set. I have three or four songs in mind pretty much all the time in case the energy I get from the crowd changes. I also keep surprises in mind.

Finding the best remixes for certain songs might be the DJ’s greatest challenge!

Remixes that compliment your set are always better than what is expected. Sometimes the labels get it wrong, and the unofficial remixes slap harder than the official ones.

Have your day and night jobs ever collided in any interesting way, or have you always been able to keep them separate?

I have tried to keep them separate but then I realized NYP is a support system of LGBT employees and allies. They did a feature story on me for NYC Pride, and the concern was over.

Have you had any highlights or favorite moments / gigs in your DJ career?

Main floor, Sydney Mardi Gras Party at midnight–life changing; Fire Island Tea Dances filling the floor (now the Underwear Parties) give me the same spark; my first NYC Pride Pier Dance set cemented my direction and launched the brand. I have spun many sets, since but if I needed confirmation that I was on the right path… that did it.

I must also say having Whoopi Goldberg as my guest for Pride introduce Cher in 2013 is a definite highlight. She was also the first to congratulate me years later on the doctorate.

I am dead! You’re friends! Maybe The View needs an on-set DJ, like Ellen!

I mean, for real. Just play music while Meghan McCain talks, and cut off her mic.

When did you start spinning at The Eagle NYC, and how have you enjoyed your nights there over the years?

I started at Eagle in March of 2015. I love it because those bossy daddies forced me to evolve musically, and put me back in touch with my house roots.

After a long lockdown break, The Eagle finally, officially reopens Wednesday, April 28! It’s obviously going to be a very different scene for awhile, with folks remaining seated at tables and not off exploring dark corners. The bar’s house DJs will be returning, and you’ll be there on Thursdays. What do you thinks in store for us?

The first floor and the roof will be open. The second floor is being fitted for a plexiglass setup like the rest of the bar, and as capacity increases the need for food service and table situations should decrease. Jockstraps and debauchery will have to phase in slowly, but I know the true Eagle crowd will understand and obey. I have faith that we will evolve into some semblance of pre-Rona shenanigans. But for now we should follow the rules, help prevent another spike and keep vaccinating.

I’m sure everyone will be happy to see their bar fam again! What else is happening?

Well, for me: Coreyography podcasts episodes will continue, Fire Island Underwear Party is coming back (at some point soon), and I am dropping new music as “Coreyography” (my name as a producer) globally–stream “BOOGIE,” please. And most of all, I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the Eagle and Fire Island this spring / summer, and in Australia and the UK when travel permits.

[And to close, I’ll say] be patient with each other. We just went through a new hell, and it’s going to take time for some to feel good about going out. *Janet Jackson “Together Again” plays as Corey sways in his Kaftan*

Thank you, Dr. DJ!

Check Thotyssey’s calendar for DJ Corey Craig’s upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify and MixCloud. Also, check out his website.

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