Our favourite happy-go-lucky homodisco HOMODROP is turning four this weekend and celebrating with an extra special party with headliner SONJA. We had a little chat with promoter Florian about the birth of HOMODROP, his musical inspirations and more..
Hi Florian, for those of us that don’t know you as a promoter, can you tell us a little about what you do?
For HOMODROP I’m taking care of programming, building a line up, contacting DJs , agency, booking them and also taking care of all visuals . It’s is really important for me to have good music and good posters. Both are linked.
How did Homodrop come into the world? Was she an easy birth? A long, painful out labour of love?
Very fast actually, no pain hahaha! The party came out of the closet 4 years ago, in a Stoke Newington basement, on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon. For the first one there were only 2 DJs- STATHIS from DISCOSODOMA and myself.
If you could sum up these last four years of Homodrop in one track what would it be?
That’s a hard one! I think I’d choose a track form MASSIMILIANO PAGLIARA who played last year for us, called I AM DISCO .
If you could pick any guest, dead or alive, to headline one of your parties, who would it be?
Can you tell us a little bit more about SONJA, your headliner for this edition?
We met playing together in Lisbon where she’s been really shaking up the underground electro scene in the last year. She has her own label called Labareda, a resident for LUX and hosts a monthly radio show on the famous Radio Quantica. On top of that impressive CV she is very funny!
What were your earliest musical inspirations?
Electronic wise i started to play minimal, techno minimal, electro minimal and electro clash about 12 years ago.
You’ve got all international of late, Homodropping in Canada, France and Portugal, where you now live, what’s that been like??
I’ve recently moved to Lisbon. It’s a really nice city and I’ve discovered a very underground scene, even more underground than Berlin. It’s proper underground, in all aspect, venues, posters of party, equipment, people ….
If you could be any animal crossed with another animal, what would you be an why?
I can imagine myself a mix between a bee and a stingray.
What track would you use to describe this creature??
This Saturday, we are thrilled to present the top floor debut of London house, disco and soul institution, Northern Soul Rave Patrol. Having played host to the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Sean Johnston and Doc Sleep over the past year, the Tusk crew have become synonymous with dark, deep, quality programming, and we can’t wait to see where they take us in 2018. Promoter and resident Ant C caught up with Chris Sweet and Will Nicol of Northern Soul Rave Patrol ahead of Saturday’s TUSK to chat London clubland, dream gigs, and record bag classics!
Hi guys! I hope you have been enjoying your Easter. Have you been out and about to any parties over the long weekend? What, where and who was playing?
CS:Yes, it’s been a big bank holiday weekend. Started with Jill Brook at our weekly Thursday night party Record Box at The Eagle, which is a vinyl only night playing Torch Song disco, sleaze/ morning music and hi-NRG, influenced by classic clubs like The Saint, Paradise Garage and Heaven. Then Patterns in Brighton on Saturday where Horse Meat Disco have a residency and then back to The Eagle for the packed HMD bank holiday party with Heidi Lawden over from LA – so lots of fun and good music.
WN:Went to see Gilles Peterson at Dreamland in Margate on Friday at the newly refurbished Hall By The Sea. It’s an amazing venue – closest comparison would be the Box at Ministry but with a decent bar in the same space. Some great tunes and we really enjoyed ourselves. Saturday I was DJing at Cinque Ports, again in Margate, which was fun although Johnny Henfry (Synth System Sisters) got me into all sorts of trouble!
Where did the idea for NSRP come from and how would you define your sound?
CS:About eight years ago we formed NSRP to reflect the music we loved and the scenes we had been into from soul to disco and house. It’s me, Will and Sean Leonard. We realised we had been friends since the mid eighties mod and Northern Soul scene and 100 Club. Then all got turned on in 1988-89 with the acid house and rave scene, inspired by the madness of Nude night at The Hacienda, Quadrant Park and Will at Shelleys. Plus amazing parties like Boys Own, Sign of the Times and NY house clubs like Body&Soul, Sound Factory and The Shelter through Sabresonic and up to A Love From Outer Space and Horse Meat Disco. All those clubs have soundtracked our lives and influenced us – we love house music but with some heart and soul and a dash of disco.
If you could play any gig/party/venue anywhere in the world, past or present, where would it be and who would be on your ideal bill with you?
CS:Ha! That’s a hard one as if we had the nightclub time machine there are a lot of destinations we’d want to plug in… From Manchester’s Twisted Wheel or Wigan Casino or Blackpool Mecca for Northern Soul, to Chicago’s Warehouse to hear Frankie Knuckles or Ron Hardy, but probably the maestro Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage must be the place, to paraphrase Talking Heads.
London has seen a huge amount of change in clubs and clubbing over the past few years, with the closure of many venues. Is this all just part of a repeating cycle in line with current politics, or do you think London is really changing permanently this time?
WN:I think the whole UK club market has changed enormously in the last 15 years – I don’t think it’s just London. The massive growth in festivals and kids looking for the “big event” rather than a weekly club to call their own, has caused a huge shift. In London with the economics of gentrification this is multiplied. I think it’s a shame, but then I’m an old git!
CS:I think the relentless rise in house prices in London and redevelopment has led to the loss of so many clubs and music spaces, which squeezes the nightlife out of the city and prices people out. It seems a shame London is becoming a bit sanitised like New York, unlike Berlin. That’s why it is so important for key venues like Dalston Superstore and The Eagle that support quality music and are welcoming spaces.
WN: London is a versatile and ever changing city, so it will adapt or mutate and re-emerge like dance music culture has over the decades. As Kerri Chandler said, really you just need a red light, a basement and music with feeling – we know Dalston Superstore and TUSK tick all those boxes!
What is one track that never leaves your record bag, and one new one that excites you right now?
CS:A total classic would be The Night Writers – Let the Music Use You (Frankie Knuckles mix).
Lots of great recent music but two that I love and have that emotional content of electronic music with soul would be The Black Madonna – We Still Believe.
and Sophie Lloyd feat Dames Brown – Calling Out.
WN:Soul classic: Ann Sexton – You’ve Been Gone Too Long.
Modern: HiFi Sean & David McAlmont – Transparent. Sean’s a friend of both of us and he’s in a rich vein of form right now. This is a Record Store Day exclusive we’ll definitely be playing it at TUSK.
Catch Northern Soul Rave Patrol’s bar takeover at TUSK on Saturday 07 April from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
You don’t often come across DJs or producers with more experience than our next LaGaSta guest, Ray Mang. Having collaborated with Bill Brewster, The Idjut Boys and Foolish Felix as well as remixing for the likes of Gorillaz, Shirley Bassey and S-Express, it’s hard not to name drop when speaking of his incredible career! He has honed his skills as a producer over decades releasing on legendary labels Noid, R&S, DFA, Eskimo to name a few, and we can’t wait to see where he takes us at LaGaSta! We caught up with him in between remix requests, touring and his own productions to chat about what he’s got planned for Friday!
Where are you up to at the moment?
I’m back in London now after a fun weekend in Madrid at Demode and Republik with Luis and Fran!
When did making music become your job?
Some time towards the end of the last millennium.
What is your source of inspiration?
It can be pretty much anything but mainly music of all kinds, people, nature, love and these days quite a lot of tea.
–Which are your favourite tracks at the moment?
Something old, something new….
Mariah – Shinzo No Tobira
TYV – Miau
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Spinning nursery rhyme classics on my Fisher Price.
We know you as one of the most prolific contributors to the UK disco/house canon. You teamed up with lots of artists, collaborated with even more, while you’re part of bands, projects and other imprints. What do you enjoy the most?
I always love working with super talented singers and musicians, that’s very inspiring. Travelling the world to DJ, meeting amazing people and seeing beautiful places is very enjoyable.
What are three things you must always travel with?
Passport, music and an open mind.
What is the weirdest place you’ve ever played?
I always find doing Shibuya FM a surreal experience as its got a glass front to the studio and is in a shopping centre so you end up watching people trying on shirts while you play.
Track to rescue a waning dance floor?
The brilliantRecloose – Dust (Induceve mix) seems to work for most.
Which is the last song you remember yourself singing or whistling lately?
Womack & Womack – MPB (Knuckles Folk Mix) for the last week or so.
Catch Ray Mang at LaGaSta this Friday 21 April from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
For the latest edition of electroclash gay bash Douche Bag, promoter Michael Kelly calls on the diverse musical talents of Glasgow drag darling Ruby Waters! She is something of an institution in East London, having hosted karaoke nights at Ridley Road Market bar and Power Lunches, to DJing at Douche Bag’s predecessor Shake Yer Dix! We can’t wait to see what hairspray-infused records this fiery-haired queen pulls out her bag for us!
Hi Ruby! We’re super excited to have you back at Superstore for Douche Bag! Can you tell us a bit about yourself for those who don’t know you?
Hello Superstore! I’m bloody thrilled to be back and all. Well I’ve existed for six years, brought to life through the encouragement (bribes) and support of punks and artists in East London.
I graduated from music video muse to hosting the karaoke nights at the Joiners Arms (RIP) and Ridley Road Market Bar and several one-off wild nights at Power Lunches (RIP) and DIY Space For London. Having successfully managed to get two out of those four venues shut down I decided to turn my attention further afield. Now I run a monthly night at the Flying Duck in Glasgow called Bum Notes! And the venue hasn’t had to close down yet sooooo…
You mention hosting karaoke at Ridley Road market bar, what’s the funniest memory you have from that gig?
I LOVE that place and all those that sail in her!! I personally enjoyed seeing a few first-timers in drag. Funniest moment was probably that time Lindsey Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis swapped bodies and JLC had to go back to school and LiLo was the “mom” … oh, wait…
What’s your go-to karaoke belter?
So many! Currently I’m favouring Charlene’s I’ve Never Been to Me
What is the weirdest/best place you’ve ever played or performed?
A couple months back I ran an afterparty for the queer feminist festival Rama Em Flor in Lisbon, in a cave at the bottom of a beautiful old building, that was wonderful.
Wow! If you had to pin your drag inspiration on three people, who would they be?
Cyndi Lauper, Cindy Wilson and Julian Clary.
You’re also a member of the band Shopping! How did you guys all come together?
We all met through DIY gigs and music stuff in London. I was putting on gigs and Rachel and Billy were playing in bands. We all ended up hanging out more and were at the same gigs often – my first band broke up and I wanted to start a new thing which became a five-piece party punk mess called CoverGirl featuring all three of us, it was lots of fun but really chaotic. So then we decided to do something with just us three.
Any exciting plans in the pipeline that you can share with us?
LOTS! Always always lots going on. Shopping are releasing a dance-heavy remix EP featuring amazing work by lots of artists, out next year. We’re playing Bethnal Green Working Mens Club on 10th November and currently writing album number three. Ruby-wise if you’re ever in Glasgow I host Bum Notes the last Friday of every month here at the Flying Duck and will be collaborating with Shoot Your Shot for their Hogmanay celebrations! If you had a time machine and could go dancing anywhere/when, where would you go?
I’d like to be in Athens (the one in Georgia, USA) circa 1978-80 at some early B-52s and Pylon gigs omg! I’d also love to take a road trip to Chicago to visit the Warehouse while Frankie Knuckles was still a regular DJ.
Track to rescue a waning dance floor?
Across the board it’s Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), isn’t it? It’s universal… house parties, big raves, Essex hen do, club kids, aunts and uncles, art fags. It’s like my Grindr profile says – versatile.
Can you give us a hint of what you have in store for the Douche Bag crowd?
Catch Ruby Waters at Douche Bag on Friday 18 November from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
We are honoured to back at Glastonbury this year! The Superstore crew take over the Downlow Radio room on Saturday night – expect festival pumpers from Hannah Holland, Josh Caffe, The Lovely Jonjo and Mikki Most.
Also in the Downlow over the weekend you can catch Berghain residents Tama Sumo, ND_baumecker, a Frankie Knuckles tribute from David Morales, Luke Solomon, Danny Krivit, Seth Troxler, Jovonn, James Hillard, Luke Howard, Grizzle and loads more.
In case you were wondering the NYC Downlow is the wold’s only travelling gay disco and we think it’s probably the best place in the entire world.
If that wasn’t enough, our pizza sisters at Voodoo Ray’s are bringing down their brand new trailer and setting up shop in the Block9 field (right next to The Downlow). ALL your pizza needs will be fulfilled, in fact over the weekend the chefs will be making pizzas until 7am to refuel you and keep your hangover at bay.
Dalston Superstore at the NYC Downlow
Hannah Holland, The Lovely Jonjo, Josh Caffe, Mikki Most
Saturday night in the Downlow Radio room, Block9
Voodoo Ray’s at Block 9
– Wednesday 19:00-03:30
– Thursday 15:00-04:00
– Friday 15:00-07:00
– Saturday 15:00-07:00
– Sunday 15:00-07:00
– Monday 10:00-16:00
Join us this weekend in the Block9 Field at Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, Somerset.
Horse Meat Disco’s Luke Howard has been soundtracking amazing nights out across the country for some time now, including the very first ever Queer Nation (and quite a few after as well), as well as the legendary night Flesh at even more legendary nightclub The Haçienda in Manchester.
In honour of him joining us at Superstore this weekend for Horse Meat Disco East on Good Friday, we’ve asked him to share some meaningful records from all areas of his life…
A record whose vocal gets you every time
I think it’d have to be Was That All It Was by Jean Carne. The vocal is impeccable – without any backing vocals at all Jean gives the performance of a lifetime. Anyone who’s ever had man trouble can relate to the lyrics! It’s ironic that it was never a hit but the track has endured for all these years.
A record that reminds you of coming out
I came out aged 16 and a track that was always being played at The Bell (the gay bar I used to frequent in Kings Cross) was Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order. It still sounds good all these decades later!
A record that you play when you are vacuuming
I tend not to play records when vacuuming as you can’t hear the music over the sound of my vacuum cleaner. However, when I’m tidying up I love listening to Aretha Franklin’s This Girl’s In Love With You album. It contains her version of Let It Be, which always has me blubbing.
A record that goes down surprisingly well at Horse Meat Disco
I guess that would have to be Big Love by Fleetwood Mac, there’s something quite Balearic about this and it’s a one good to dance to.
A record that always did the business at Queer Nation
Masters At Work featuring India – I Can’t Get No Sleep. The dance floor at QN used to live for this one. I still love hearing it as it brings back so many good memories.
A record that is forever Flesh
The record that always reminds me of Flesh is Relight My Fire by Dan Hartman. Tim Lennox used to play it every month and I’m sure it’s where Take That got the idea of doing their cover version.
A record that reminds you of your best dance floor experience
That’s hard. There’s been so many wonderful nights out. Hearing Frankie Knuckles play at The Sound Factory when he had his brief residency there in 1991 was a real highlight. When he played his remix of The Pressure by The Sounds of Blackness, months before it was released, it was absolutely magical. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
A record that you can’t listen to because it makes you too sad
For years I couldn’t listen to Last Dance by Donna Summer because it had been played on a loop as we all left the church at Gerlinde Costiff’s funeral – the song was always played at the end of the night at Kinky Gerlinky, the amazing club that Gerlinde ran with her husband Michael. It was too sad for me to hear that song for many years, but as the years have gone by I’ve begun playing it again and I know Gerlinde would be happy that we often finish Horse Meat Disco with Last Dance. It’s still Gerlinde’s song to me though.
This Saturday Greek party starters the Amateurboyz join us for the launch of brand new night Discosodoma. As promoters and DJs in their hometown of Athens, the Amateurboyz have built up a loyal following both their and abroad for their quirky parties and discerning taste for booking quality guests. We caught up with them ahead of Saturday’s party to find out more about the fun-loving duo…
What led to you guys setting up the Amateur Parties in Athens? Why did the city need it?
It all started with our love for dance music and a trip to Berlin. In our opinion, Athens was going in the wrong direction regarding its nightlife; very formal clubs with expensive drinks and high entrance fees for no reason! A house party in our new apartment back in 2004 convinced us that our friends, and their friends were ready for something new. Then, we grabbed the opportunity and transformed our house party into a monthly local party in a Russian disco.
You’ve put on a lot of great live acts and international DJs- who was the hardest to pull off logistically?
We have been lucky because we have people’s love. Even if every event is risky, at the end we’ve always manage to pull it off! The hardest event, as far as we can recall, was with Rebolledo, it was a difficult night for Athens, full of riots and strikes; nothing was moving. Not that many managed to actually attend the event, but the music and feeling of the night ended up great after all.
-What’s one record, or even the first record, that brought the two of you together?
It was the 12’’ of Frankie Knuckles Your Love. We remember when we first played it in our house, we felt like someone was pushing us to the dancefloor.
It’s such a pity he left us so early.
Tell us about the FFEEDD series of parties?
FFEEDD was created after a big “tour” around the strangest places/bars/clubs in Athens. We were in need of a place to settle for a while and Six Dogs was the best venue for us! The guys managing it trust us 100% and we had the opportunity, and the help, to bring some of our favourite DJs/producers like Tiago and Thomas Bullock.
What inspired your DIY aesthetic?
Randomness, “dirtiness” and pureness.
If you had a time machine and could visit any dancefloor anywhere/anywhen, where would you be going to dance?
Spiros: The Warehouse club in early ’80s in Chicago.
Thodoris: Paradise Garage in New York.
You’re also involved in the Athens art scene- what’s the most recent project you’ve been working on or supporting?
We loved participating in Angelo Plessas’ project “The Eternal Internet Brotherhood”, during our vacations two years ago on our favorite Greek island, Anafi. It was so interesting to meet different artists and people from other countries and see how they create or react to art in a loose environment during their holidays.
What do you look for in a quirky party venue?
We love authenticity and a loose atmosphere; in whatever capacity these two can be interpreted. When they are in place, anything and everything can happen!
We previously spoke to Paola Revenioti about how difficult it was organising the first ever gay pride in Athens back in 1992… what difficulties does Pride still face and why is it so important to the LGBT community there?
Athens Gay Pride becomes every year more and more popular with more participants, but there are still many difficulties to overcome. There is no support from the authorities except the logo of the mayor on the official poster. There is also a lot of polemic from the extreme right-wing and the church whose presence, unfortunately, is still very strong in the Greek society. The Greek LGBT community has a lot to claim and Athens pride is still more of a political and activist act than a celebration, unlike in other big European cities like Madrid or Berlin.
What’s your favourite curveball end of the night track?
There are so many! But our most beloved one is from the late Tzeni Vanou – Xypna Agapi Mou (Wake Up My Love).
Join the Amateurboyz on Saturday 12th April for Discosodoma at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.
Gene Hunt was a protégé of legendary Music Box resident DJ Ron Hardy and had a front-row seat for the genesis of house music in Chicago while still in his teens. He is fiercely protective of Hardy’s legacy and personifies a distinctive style of DJing that dates back to the beginnings of club culture itself. Gene Hunt is a collector of dance rarities, producer of unique analogue house tracks, reel-to-reel edit specialist but first and foremost a DJ.
I met him from Heathrow and accompanied him to St Pancras for a gig in Ghent. He agreed to let me record him talking as we had lunch waiting for the Eurostar.
DAN: Can you share a Ron Hardy DJ secret?
GENE: I remember we were playing together, I think it was about ’87, ’88.
I played this track and he was like, “Why did you rush it out, why didn’t you play the rest of the track?”
I said “But the floor cleared.”
He said, “Let me tell you something: This is what you’re gonna do.” He looked in his bag and he gave me a couple of records. The first record was called Galaxy, by War. So I play this record and cleared the floor again.
He said, “Play it a couple more times.”
I said, “Tonight?!”
He was like “Yeah! Play a couple tracks, do that, then play it again.”
So I played it again. And the crowd stayed on.
He said, “Do you see my point? You have the power to break records. But you cannot be afraid as a DJ to let them experience what you experience. Now what do you think about this record?”
I said, “I love it.”
“Now, what makes you think they don’t? If a record is eight minutes long, play it! Don’t just rush it out or rush it in because the drummers and the singers don’t start getting into their groove until the middle or towards the end of the record. So play that shit! Don’t be afraid. See what you just did?”
“What I do?”
“I just let you break the record.”
And I was like, “wow, you tricked me.”
“I always trick you.”,
Y’know, Ron would give me these challenges or tasks when we’re live at the club. “Alright, c’mon, bring something in.”
I’m like, “I don’t have my stuff with me!”
“Use my stuff.”
So, that was the part about execution. That was the part about timing. That was the part about learning. It was not being afraid to express what you want to express. Give them what they want, but then also educate them.
DAN: Do you think that DJs play too safe now?
GENE: Yes a lot of them do. A lot of them choose their hot spots, a lot of them find more simplistic ways to work an audience without being as creative as they are in other aspects. Now, since you have Traxsource and Beatport and all that other stuff, it makes it very accessible for people to just sit there all day and just purchase shit. Back in the days we had to go to the shops. We had to go to Loop Records, we had to go to Imports, we had to go to Gramophone, we had to go to different places to look in the bins and get creative to find what’s hot. You could get Hot Mix 5 [house music radio show] or you could go to The Playground or the Music Box or Sawyers or what have you and you would just sit back and feel the vibe of what’s going on. You would go to the record store the next day with your tape. We had somebody to educate us, to keep music going on.
DAN: What is the Chicago sound to you?
GENE: Basically, when house music occurred, I mean we had the disco era first, but when house music first came about, we had Chip E doing shit like Time To Jack, and It’s House. We had Jesse Saunders making On and On, we had Robert Owens and Fingers Inc and Bring Down The Walls and Mysteries Of Love, Ron Hardy doing Sensation, Frankie bringing out bring out reel to reels and tape decks to play the exclusive stuff. People didn’t have a Traxsource or a Beatport, you couldn’t just go there and buy something to sound and fit like everyone. The way they’ve designed the game now is you don’t have to go fish and find your music. We would take reel to reels and grab a razor blade and splice and do edits and make stuff go backwards, with the drum machines and outboard gear like Roland 909 or 707s or 303s and we would create our own stuff to play at parties that accentuate to make us different from one another. When Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson used to come down to the Box and bring the Rhythm Is Rhythm shit and strings of life. They would come to the Music Box and give us all that shit.
DAN: So what did you think of what was happening in Detroit?
GENE: Oh, they were really starting to break that edge. You had like Blake Baxter and Model 500, Metroplex, all that shit from Inner City, all that stuff they were doing, they had their own flavour. Like they took a certain element, they added their own attribute to it, and created a sound called techno. Like when I used to take a 909 track, I would just put basslines and make it real abstract, that would be considered as techno now. I would play that with disco, I would play that with house music because it was my rendition. Okay, what makes Gene Hunt so different? Tracks! He makes acid tracks with a 909 when Phuture 303 made that shit with a 707 and and the 727… he makes his acid tracks with the 909! Oh my god!
Everybody had a different flavor. Lil’ Louis when he did French Kiss and The Music Takes Me Away… I remember when he paid 300 bucks for an 808 drum machine, he started making French Kiss, got the deal with Ray Barney [owner of Dance Mania records].
DAN: Someone said that Jesse Saunders On And On track was important because it taught the whole of Chicago that anybody could make a house record.
GENE: All that stuff was being distributed by Larry Sherman who owned Trax Records. This man had a record company, a pressing plant, right in the back of a meat market! Everybody would come down there and get their stuff pressed up and they had different labels and so forth and we’d press vinyl. You would sit there with a hammer. Me and Ron Carrol would sit over by the garbage can. Ron Hardy would be in the other room doing the shrinkwrap. Steve Poindexter would be doing the typesetting and the labels. We would have all these old K-Tel records and shit and we’d have a hammer and break the records down so we could re-melt the wax. All those records that came out, that you would see on television, we’d break the records and tear out like the vinyl part of it and press records and you’d still see the old records pressed in the new records, oh it was gangster!
DAN: Was Larry Sherman a bit dodgy?
GENE: “A bit dodgy” wasn’t the word! Haha. Let’s try “total dodgy”! But we all learned. We would take the vinyl recording, get a good quality recording of it, go downstairs, make a plate of it, then press it up. The vinyl quality was shitty but back then it was beautiful just to be able to get a record that you couldn’t get. So, Ron would take personal shit out of his collection, record it, and then put it out.
DAN: Why do you love playing records?
GENE: If you’re playing records and the record skips or the record jumps or gets dirty, that’s the fun about it. You’re really up there doing it. You’re really conducting music in a sense, to make it realistic to everybody in the room. The warm sound of a good quality recording and the fidelity that comes out of those speakers, the sound and the feeling of it, it doesn’t sound processed, it’s a real live feeling, it doesn’t have a synthetic feel whatsoever. That’s the importance of playing vinyl. The tape hiss. That analogue thickness. That warmth. It’s different from some shit being processed and watered down. It sounds too perfect. It has to be a little dirty. It has to have a little dirt, a little grunge in it to get with the natural aspect, to make it more organic.
It’s like some broccoli, if you overcook it. You cook all the nutrients out of it and you lose that crunch to it. It’s soggy and synthetic. You want to have warm and organic attributes to get the natural aspect of what you’re doing. That’s why it’s so valuable to play wax.
[Gene is eating a forkful of broccoli at this point]
Dan: What is your state of mind when you’re DJing? Do you get nervous?
GENE: Not really. I know I have a job to do. I have to entertain a room full of people for a number of hours so I have to get everybody on the same page. So based on the way that I feel emotionally – If I got personal problems at home, or I’m going through some shit I’m taking my problems out on the dancefloor. So they’re loving it, and it’s helping me get through my problems. Because I’m unleashing the way that I’m feeling, I’m expressing myself to a room full of people. My car got towed, I got tickets, some shit happened, so I’m going to take it out on you guys and you’re going to love it. I like to tell a story when I play. I like to give you past, present and future. I want to give you aspects of where I started and where I came from. Let you know what’s going on in the now, and tell you things about where I want to go. It’s like a rollercoaster – you anticipate, and you go up, but you don’t know when the drop is coming. My advice is to never plan what you do. Because I want to enjoy it just as much as you want to enjoy dancing.
DAN: What do you think about EDM?
GENE: It has its moments. If you come from Chicago which is the Mecca of house music, obviously, you should have some form of education and history. You hear EDM stuff in a club – I went through this a couple of weeks ago – I’m like, “Why would they put me on to headline and they got this person and that person” It puts me in a challenging state because here I am in a room full of people who don’t have a clue about what they’re dancing to – but it feels good to them. It’s a mind opener.
DAN: Would you play a disco record to an EDM crowd?
GENE: Yes. Most definitely. I wouldn’t hesitate. I’m relentless. “Alright, they’re digging that. Let’s try this.”
I still hear Ron in my head saying, “Don’t rush that record out, you better let that record finish.”
DAN: And back to Ron – how was it working for him?
GENE: Pins and needles. Out the blue. It was scary. You never knew when he wanted to take a break – he would just say, “Get on.”
There wasn’t a plan, like, “You’re going to play 11:30 or 12:30.”
He would just play a record and then go out the back and chill out.
“Go ahead, get on.”
He’d be back there taking a nap.
I used to open up. If I was five minutes late and he gave me shit about it. At the very last Music Box – 2210 South Michigan was the very last one. I was like less than five minutes late.
“You have to be punctual, you gotta be on time.”
I’m like, “It’s nine fifty!”
“You should be here at nine thirty.”
He was in my ass because I was there at nine fifty. Subliminal mind games that just got me fucking rugged. And Frankie was the same way with me. I would pick him up – Frankie Knuckles does not drive, Frankie Knuckles does not drive a car, he’s terrified of driving a car. You have to drive him. I would meet him and he would give me music. “Give it to so-and-so, give it to so-and-so, don’t give it to so-and-so.” Specific instructions. Ron was the opposite. But they both respected one another and they were both training me.” They saw a young kid that was ambitious.
DAN: How did Frankie’s style differ to Ron’s?
GENE: Very similar and yet different. They both played the same music, they both played the same things. But the way they played them was totally different. Frankie was real sexy with it, real smooth. Ron was more aggressive. It was like passive and aggressive. But you wanted both aspects. In Chicago you couldn’t have one without the other.
DAN: Describe your style…
GENE: [smiles] That’s a good one. Once I get in the groove I want to stay in that groove. I don’t want to have any intermissions. I’m relentless. Once I get it going and once I get everybody into that mode. I keep that flavour going. I want to keep that room and give it bounce. We gotta have some vocals, we gotta have some live drums, we gotta have some groovy shit, we gotta have some sexy shit. I want to give you a four course meal of music.
DAN: Who are your current favourite Chicago DJs?
GENE: My girl Serena – CZ Boogie. She owns a publication called 5 Magazine which is like the house music almanac when it comes to parties.
We have a group in Chicago called The Untouchables – it’s me, Farley (Jackmaster Funk), Paul Johnson, a guy named DJ Box, Craig Alexander and CZ Boogie – so it’s the six of us.
How is the gay scene in Chicago?
Off the chain. It’s off the chain. We got a night on Sunday called “Queen” at Smart Bar. It just so happened that the person who does this night owns Gramaphone [legendary Chicago record emporium] – Michael Serafini. The night is explosive. Frankie’s birthday was ridiculous. You had Louie Vega, you had David Morales, you had Derrick Carter. All star lineup. You couldn’t move in the place.
This Thursday we welcome Chicago legend K’Alexi to Dalston Superstore! Immersed in the then burgeoning house music scene as a pre-teen, he was exposed at an early age to seminal DJs and legendary nightclubs, not to mention a whole range of different genres and styles. For his DJ set here this week he’ll be joining Robert Owens in the laser basement for a real Chicago house love-in…
Is it true that you were hanging out with the likes of Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy when you were 12? If so how did this come about?
Yes, but mostly Ron, as an older friend he took me under his wing and got me in with him with no I.D and that set me on the path.
As someone who’s experienced quite a few seminal clubs first-hand, if you had a time-machine what dancefloor where and when would you like to go back to?
The Musicbox with Ron Hardy, the sound fx of rain as he played an edit of Clouds by Chaka Khan, such a beautiful moment…
What’s your one failsafe, timeless record?
My Mudusa – K’ Alexi Shelby
You’re playing alongside Robert Owens this Thursday! Besides him of course, who in your opinion are house music’s most inspiring vocalists?
Robert Owens, Byron Stingley, Paris Brightledge , Me, Dajae, Stephanie Cook, Ronna Ray, Jamie Principle, Russoul, Peven Everett, Terisa Griffin, Josh Milan, India plus much more and this is NOT in any order.
Why do you still do it ?
It’s so deep within me at this point I couldn’t stop even if I wanted too…
What would you be doing if you weren’t making or playing music?
I’m a creative person by heart, so I think photography. I love being behind or in front of the camera.
What’s next for K’Alexi?
I’m revamping my label K Klassik and it’s doing well. We’ve got mixes for some of dance musics best known, and soon to be known. We came together for me doing a mix on my song The Dancer… with vocals by me!
We’re really lucky that Chicago house is still important and still revered in dance music… having been there from the start, why do you think it’s so enduring?
The pure history of it rings out and goes way pass 4 on the floor. And as much as the world tries to name other places as the birth place we all know the truth… Chicago baby.
Ahead of Society’s residents party this Thursday, we asked the collective to pick their quintessential Society tracks, the songs that really sum up their most successful outings taking into account all the acid and Chicago house luminaries that have graced their decks. Not only did they come up with a cracking selection but they also sent us this amazing deep house mix from Joshua Ford who’ll be playing on the night…
Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem)
We brought Marshall Jefferson over for our second big warehouse party a few years ago, ably supported by Superstore’s own Dan Beaumont and Dissident’s Andy Blake. We took over a dirty old car park in Shoreditch and filled it up with lots of acid house lovers – only problem being I misplaced (ahem) the Chicago’an in the middle of Shoreditch on a Friday night. After a frantic search around the whole of Shoreditch, we found him a few roads up from the venue giving two excited guys his autograph. He came in, full of smiles, jumped straight on the decks and played an absolute belter, with this track being the highlight. Lovely, lovely chap, and a pretty damn good DJ/Producer.
Frankie Knuckles Presents Satoshi Tomiie (Vocal by Robert Owens) – Tears
This record is everything. Beautiful simplicity, a heartfelt lyric and haunting vocal sung with such tenderness by Robert Owens. Tears encapsulates everything I love about music and was the genesis that sparked my love of house music. We have been fortunate to host a series of intimate Society happenings with Robert over the last year, a journey that culminated this summer in his set on our stage at Farr Festival. Surrounded by the darkened forest, Robert sang Tears. Wearing a brightly coloured feathered hat, met by a sea of smiling faces, friend, family, the whole tent dance and sang along. It was our second year collaborating with Ransom Note’s Wil Troup, pulling together a fantasy line up to play the small but fantastic Farr festival. It was a night I won’t forget, a record that is everything.
Hannah Holland – Paris’ Acid Ball
When we first came up with the idea for Society we decided that while the focus would always be on a legendary DJ from the era, we would also feature another headliner; a younger DJ influenced by the sound. For our first event at the Metal Works we booked Hannah Holland. Hannah killed it and has since played for us numerous times, always delivering an amazing set. My choice is Hannah’s massive 2010 release “Paris Acid Ball”, her homage to the Jackin’ Chicago sound.
Phuture – Acid Tracks
My pick has to come from The Don himself, DJ Pierre. We brought him over from Chicago for a huge warehouse party celebrating all of his (many) aliases. I remember going to pick him up from the hotel to escort him to the venue (we weren’t going to make the same mistake we did with Marshall!) and feeling pretty nervous about finally meeting him. On the way to the venue he was asking me what we wanted him to play, there was me, telling the inventor of acid house what to play! ‘Acid tracks’ sums up the sound and movement that the man himself started and means so much to me and many, many others.
For those that don’t go out on school nights and for those who don’t all that often frequent south-of-the-river… We bring you Horse Meat Disco. On a Saturday. In Dalston. With all four residents. Over both floors. That’s right, you’ve got Jim Stanton, James Hillard, Luke Howard and of course Severino Making the trek north from their home at The Eagle in Vauxhall to have a one-night-stand with Dalston Superstore.
We caught up with Jim for a quick chat about all things Horse Meat ahead of tomorrow’s party…
In London, where nightlife options seem endless, what do you attribute your enduring success to?
We set up HMD as an attempt to side-step the obvious that was happening in clubland nine or ten years ago; a seeming pre-occupation of sex and drugs before music. And the party crowd, it was all a bit dark and soulless with a few notable exceptions. I guess we’ve just always tried to keep these things at the fore ie. GREAT MUSIC and the PEOPLE and I think once you have this in place the sex and whatever else follows!
The Eagle is a special place… What makes it so?
It is in the East Vauxhall side of things, an area known for frivolity and nightlife frippery, where the likes of Pepys could be found indulging their party requirements – the Lambeth Walk is across the road! It’s some kind of leyline here, really crazy.
We’re graced by all four of you this weekend… who is the biggest diva?
Me (Jim Stanton), hands up before we get into a handbag fight. HOWEVER we ALL have our moments trust me.
Who have been your most interesting guests so far this year?
There have been some absolute CRACKERS, most notably David Morales who played through a dizzying set comprising of all his musical stylings, Kenny Dope was legend and I guess Weatherall for me was a personal jaw-dropping highlight.
What three records do you associate most with HMD on a Sunday?
Sylvester – Mighty Real
Diana Ross – The Boss
Sheryl Lee Ralph – In The Evening
And finally, who is on the Horse Meat wishlist for 2013?
All four Horse Meat Disco residents join us over both floors this Saturday 24th November at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4am.