This Easter weekend, two original legends join us at Body Talk in the shape of Larry Tee (NYC) and Lindy Layton (Beats International). The former, currently known for his weekly party Super Electric Party Machine, helped launch Rupaul’s career in the ’90s, hosted Michael Alig’s infamous Disco 2000, was basically the face of electroclash in the early ’00s, and put simply, has a knack of being in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. We spoke to geuine dance music hero Larry Tee ahead of his set this Saturday…
You famously coined the term “electroclash”. What’s the origin behind this?
Well, when I decided to do a festival in 2000 devoted to the emerging electro artists at the time, I needed a name. So I tried to come up with a word that described the collision of music and performance in all its rebellious aspects. It came down to “electrowave” or “electroclash”… I chose “electroclash”.
And what’s the most electroclash memory you have from the genre’s heydey?
At the first festival, ADULT, Chicks On Speed, Peaches and Fischerspooner all sang me ‘happy birthday’ as the festival fell on my birthday. I didn’t realize [at the time] it was the birth of my new life, post-addiction/house music DJ star.
What drew you to Atlanta in the ’80s?
I grew up there after my parents moved me there from Washington when I was 5. What was lucky is that Rupaul, Michael Stipe of REM, and Lady Bunny, before they were famous, were all really close friends of mine at the time and that was such a creative explosion. We really made a scene down there out of boredom, and made music and home movies to keep ourselves from being too bored.
Where you surprised by the success of Supermodel (You Better Work)?
Yeah, totally. I had written the original version of Supermodel because RuPaul had been signed to hip hop label Tommy Boy and I thought it would be smart for me to do a major label project. But when I got it back from the producers I didn’t like it at all. I thought, “oh well, at least I tried,” thinking it wouldn’t be a hit. But then it stayed on the charts for the whole year, with MTV playing it on and off… it and wound up being the #1 dance record of 1992.
Considering the breadth of artists you’ve worked with- who would you work again, who do you still want to work with and was anyone so hideous that you can’t tell us who but you can tell us what they did..!
Well, I would totally do another track with Portia Ferrari, the Versace model star of my new video Body Talk, and I would LOVE to work with Lana del Rey, Rufus Wainwright and Mykki Blanco. OMG, nightmare artists? Hmmm. Well, one of the biggest artists in music, their producer asked me to write her a song, and I did and she stole my intro idea and my song title and made a brand new song… the bitch. She could’ve afforded to pay me for my ideas. Whatevs… the karma police will pay her a visit.
What’s the best (true or untrue) thing you’ve ever read about yourself in print?
That I popularized Williamsburg and was the hipster before all hipsters according to the New York Times. Um, that was a bit of an over-reach. Haha. One year I was voted by a New York Press as the #4 most loathesome New Yorker for having launched electroclash, popularized transvestism and ruined Williamsburg. I was flattered.
You seem to have only lived in cities famous for particular scenes in a right time right place fashion… where do you/would you see yourself settling next, considering how expensive London is getting and as inaccessible it is becoming for young creatives?
Well, London now is the Paris of the ’20s. It’s ALL about London everywhere else in the world too with the fashion and music coming from here. I wouldn’t be doing TZUJI clothing if I hadn’t moved here. But Berlin is heading for a big mainstreaming and has more reasonably priced real estate so it could be perfect for me. Or perhaps Downtown LA, which is being called the ‘new’ NEW YORK. But honestly, no city has a thing on London right now. They always used to say in NYC, “Larry Tee in the place to be”, and they were right about that…
Join Larry Tee at Body Talk at Dalston Superstore this Saturday 19th April from 9pm – 3am.
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Tags: Atlanta, Body Talk, Chicks On Speed, clubkids, Dalston Superstore, Electroclash, Fischerspooner, Lady Bunny, Larry Tee, Michael Alig, Michael Stipe, New York, Peaches, Portia Ferrari, RuPaul, Williamsburg