Dalston Superstore is beyond excited for our upcoming family affair this Friday featuring the unstoppable force that is Shaun J Wright. Between playing at Berghain’s Panorama Bar, releasing tracks on his own label – Twirl – and jetting between gigs in the US and Europe, he and Twirl partner Alinka debut new track, Way Back on Hannah Holland’s label Batty Bass today! We caught up to chat collaboration, dream-gigs and favourite parties.
What has been the most exciting moment for you since the launch of Twirl?
Alinka and I have shared some really cool moments since the launch of Twirl. Getting a nice review for our first single, “Journey Into The Deep” in DJ Magazine was super affirming. Also, having Annie Mac & Heidi play our tunes on BBC Radio 1 was special.
The Twirl brand is a collaboration between you and another Superstore fave, Alena Ratner (Alinka.) How did you guys come together as creative partners?
We met through Scott Cramer, a Chicago-based promoter who is good friends with Alinka. He thought that we would get along well musically and personally. He was correct. He also helped us to facilitate our party Twirl! in Berlin.
The first time we met was in her studio. We had instant chemistry and we haven’t stopped making music since. That really is my favorite part of the process. Sitting with her and creating new material is always fun, always driven by our current moods, recent experiences and encounters with fresh sounds. We sometimes surprise ourselves when we head into new directions. It’s all very exciting!
You guys have had a pretty huge year, from being featured on BBC Radio 1, gaining the support of Robert Owens and featuring artists such as Eli Escobar. What’s next for the label?
We have a single out now called Need Someone with stellar remixes from Aerea Negrot, Snuff Crew and The Cucarachas. We have one more single in the works before releasing a compilation in celebration of our first year.
Can you tell us about any exciting new artists you have coming up on the label?
Yes, Alinka made contact with a young man from the UK named Spatial Awareness who will be our first official release from an artist besides ourselves on Twirl. His sound is massive and we’re really excited to have him on board.
We hear you’re also working on a solo EP– can you tell us a bit about that?
Wow! That’s been quite the labor of love. I’ve been working on the EP for about five years. I have collaborated with Alinka, Stereogamous and Aerea Negrot. I’m very close with all of them so the work and the entire process has been very personal and in ways quite revealing. I find the material to be very inspiring and I hope it resonates with other listeners as it does with me.
It’s been an adventure attempting to carve out my space as a solo artist as I have yet to release any material under my own moniker. I’ve enjoyed the process of discovering my voice with collaborators who I can trust – who push me further than I thought possible. I really thank them for helping me shape this vision.
How much have you, as an artist, been influenced by your roots in Chicago?
I don’t know if I can separate my Chicago upbringing from my work as an artist, at least, not objectively or analytically. I do recognise how my experience(s) with the various cultural offerings from my hometown are shaped by growing up in the west suburbs and on the westside of the city and coming of age in the 90’s. Oftentimes, it’s easier to talk about house music cultures(s) from Chicago in a homogenous fashion but it was so diverse when I was growing up and it was all under the umbrella of house.
I was a footworker. I joined Mega Sweat (a juke-dance posse) in high school and participated in events like the Bud Billiken parade and local talent shows/competitions. I started sneaking into black gay clubs like The Generator and The East of The Ryan on the southside when I was way too young. That’s where I was first exposed to ballroom culture which opened my mind to an entirely new way of engaging with the music via voguing.
As a dancer and now musician, I’m certain I wouldn’t have received such a diverse education and offering of styles had I not been born and raised here in Chicago.
You must have been to some incredible parties over the years! What is your most incredible Chicago House memory?
Beyond a doubt, Frankie Knuckle’s last birthday celebration at Queen at Smart Bar. Derrick Carter, Louie Vega, David Morales, Michael Serafini and Garret David burned the decks. Inaya Day sang gorgeously. I had the honour of chatting with former Warehouse owner Robert Williams. It was packed to the brim and I thought the roof was going to lift off the building. The energy in the room was palpable!
What is one record you like to throw in as a curveball to keep people on their toes?
I’d have to go with Kink’s Source of Uncertainty. It is so twisted and full of surprises. If I’m looking to raise the energy of the room that one usually does the trick and allows me to push further into darker, more aggressive sounds.
If you had access to a time machine and could visit any dance floor anywhere/anywhen, where would want to go dancing?
If I could only chose one I would go to the Music Box while listening to Ron Hardy spin. Just to experience the newness of house music during that era must have been riveting. I can only imagine the combination of the cutting edge sounds, the looks and the gyrating bodies. Pure unadulterated ovahness!
What does your perfect queer utopia look like?
Sitting in the living room with my closest friends with a bottle of red wine flipping between the latest political news/commentary and vogue performance clips from Ballroom Throwbacks.
Join Shaun J Wright on Friday 8 August for Twirl Presents at Dalston Superstore from 9pm-3am.
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Tags: Alinka, Batty Bass, Berghain, Chicago, Chicago house, Dalston Superstore, Hannah Holland, Panorama Bar, Shaun J Wright, Twirl