Posts Tagged ‘Hercules & Love Affair’

Disco Bloodbath Record Bag

Ahead of this Saturday’s mr intl records showcase, we caught up with our old pals Disco Bloodbath, who return to Dalston Superstore once more for a top floor takeover! For the uninitiated, Disco Bloodbath was and is an East London institution, throwing disco ragers in Passions, a basement club below a Dalston restaurant, developing into a record label and generally being record collecting badasses. With that in mind, we caught up with the duo, comprised of Ben Pistor and Damon Martin, to have a rummage through their record bags…

A record that is forever Disco Bloodbath

Ben: Fern Kinney – Love Me Tonight. Damon would play it towards the end of the night, it starts off all twinkly then when the vocals kick in everyone sings along either hands in the air or hugging.

A record that is too sad to listen to

Ben: Magic FM fave, Odyssey – If You’re Looking For A Way Out is deeply moving in the back of a cab at 5am.

A record that never leaves your bag

Damon: Cappuccino – Hell Dance With Me

A record that you’ve always wanted to play but it’s never quite happened

Ben: I’ve always wanted to hear Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire played to a heaving dance floor. 

A record that sounds like it’s from a spangly disco future

Damon: Donna Summer – I Feel Love definitely fits the bill but a big favourite of mine is My Mine – Hypnotic Tango. A record that’s over 30 years old but still sounds massively futuristic to me. It’s also well spangly.

A record that transports you back to a spangly disco past

Ben: The Three Degrees – Giving Up Giving In. A huge mirrorball moment from the past that builds and builds and builds and explodes in to pure spangle.

Fave Andy Butler/Hercules & Love Affair/Mr Intl track

Ben: Obviously Blind is incredible but I really love Roar which is on the first H&LA 12”.

A record that always sounded brilliant in the basement of Passion

Damon: The Chaplin Band – Il Veliero

The one record you’d save if your house was on fire

Damon: I would probably spend too long trying to decide and burn to death. Although, apparently in house fires it’s the smoke inhalation that gets you first. Either way it would be a huge tragedy.

A record in your collection that’s TOO MUCH of a guilty pleasure to ever play out

Damon: I’m not sure such a record exists. I’ll pretty much play anything after a few shandies.

Join Ben & Damon this Saturday 16th May for mr intl at Dalston Superstore from 9pm -3am.

 

Brawther

Enigmatic house DJ and producer Brawther spent his teenage summers travelling from his hometown of Paris as part of an exchange program to live with a host family in the Midlands and got exposed early on to the British dance music scene. Now, living in Leeds, Brawther has become a protégé of Chicago legend Chez Damier, releasing on celebrated label My Love Is Underground and is now a part of the mr intl records family. Ahead of the mr intl showcase this Friday, we spoke to Brawther about all this and more!

You discovered Nottingham’s DiY parties at the turn of the century –  what was it about that time that led to you getting into house music?
 
Back in 2001, I stumbled into a serious house music party at The Bomb, the legendary club that hosted the infamous Floppy Disco parties by DiY. That night was ridiculous and from that moment on I felt that I wanted to be part of this culture. I couldn’t put a finger on what the music was, but my head and my feet were at home.
 
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt from your mentor Chez Damier?

Interesting question, possibly to respect your audience and inspire people and new generations at all time. Always bring people up.

Brawther And Chez Damier

Tell us what we need to know about Dungeon Meat, your project with Tristan Da Cunha, in one sentence…

It can be hard, it can be ruff and it can be pounding; the meat from the dungeon won’t leave you indifferent once you have experienced it.


If you had a time machine and could visit any dancefloor anywhere/anywhen, where would you want to go?

I would want to experience the first few years of the DiY free parties.

What’s the one record we’d have to prise out of your cold dead heads?

Some obscure early ’90s japanese house record that doesn’t exist on the internet. Yet.

You’re an international man, but how did you come to be on mr intl records?

I first heard about the possibilty to work for Andy thru Christian from Skudge. I always refuse remixes but thought he was of wise council.

Why Leeds?

Back to Basics and warm and friendly people.

What are the most Underrated parties happening in France at the moment?

The Flyance parties.

You’ve remixed My Offence by Hercules & Love Affair and it’s ace. If you had free license to remix any track from history with no worry from the artist or their label, what would you pick and what would you do with the track?

That’s a tough one. I couldn’t choose a track that is a classic because there’s no testing against a classic, period, unless it’s an edit. I couldn’t say.. sorry.

Join Brawther tomorrow night (Friday 12th December) for mr intl London at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

Photo credit: Gracie Rogers

Meet Honey Dijon

By Whitney Weiss

Whether spinning euphoric disco sets at Le Bain or stripped-down techno in Berlin, Honey Dijon is always on top of her game. A DJ’s DJ with an encyclopedic knowledge of dance music, she currently divides her time between New York, Berlin, and a packed touring schedule. Ahead of Honey’s set at Fhloston Paradise, we chatted about the current state of New York nightlife, testing tracks on actual dance floors, and why it’s impossible to choose a single historical club to visit with a time machine…

So to be clear for those who might not know, you’re from Chicago but currently based in New York and Berlin, or just New York?

I spent the last three summers in Berlin, and I love the city. I’m just trying to figure out how to move there full-time, since everybody and their mother lives there. And I still work quite a bit in North America. I’m going for three weeks, actually, because I’m going to Tel Aviv to play The Block, then I come to London to play Dalston Superstore, then I play Homopatik, then I go to Ibiza. It’s just easier [to tour in Europe] if I’m there.

Since you’ve been involved in New York nightlife for such a long time, what would you say is the biggest difference between what it was when you first arrived and where it’s at now?

The biggest difference now is that I don’t see very many people of color at the clubs anymore. It’s not as culturally diverse as it used to be. Musically, New York doesn’t have a sound anymore. It was once one of the most influential dance capitals of the world, it had so many influential artists back in the day. There are party promoters who are very successful, like ReSolute, Blk|Market, and Verboten, but I wouldn’t say that there’s a definite New York sound. The only DJs who are really making an impression in Europe right now are Levon Vincent, Joey Anderson, and a/just/ed but I’d have to say they’re much more embraced in Europe than in the States. I mean, EDM is still quite popular here. 

And is that one of the reasons you’re interested in Europe at the moment, aside from the fact that it sounds like you’re booked so often?

Yeah, I think musically. Also, New York is such an expensive place. The best line that I ever heard about New York, as it is today, is ‘New York is a great place to sell art, but it’s not a place to make art.’ I think that’s one of the main reasons why I’m looking more to Europe. And it’s so funny, there’s such a resurgence in house music at the moment, and that’s something I’m very well versed in. They’re talking about how deep house is this next big trend, which is so funny because it never went away. It never went away, it’s just a difference face has been put upon it, if you know what I mean.

I definitely know what you mean.

Yeah. So I really feel more artistically free in Europe as an artist, so that’s one of the reasons that I would consider living there. But fees are not as high; it’s a trade-off. It’s a great place to live, but there’s a DJ every two minutes. And great ones. 

And how do you feel about London?

I absolutely love London, I think it’s such a musically rich city. I mean, the music I find in London I tend to not find anywhere else. The record stores Phonica and Kristina are curated so well, I find such amazing things there. And they just really love music. Not just dance music; you hear all kinds of music in London. From jazz to pop to dub, you can hear anything. It’s very inspiring for me. But it’s mad expensive. And so vast. It’s not like the city of New York, where it’s expensive but you can sort of walk anywhere. it’s really spread out, the east is far from the west. But I absolutely love London.

And what sorts of records have you been playing out a lot lately? What can the crowd at Dalston Superstore expect on the 12th?

I’ve been playing more raw these days, more stripped-back, more techno-influenced, mixed in with classic things. But techno has been really inspiring, I don’t know if that’s coming from spending a lot of time in Berlin. I just listen for things that reflect my personality and reflect how I want to express music. I’ve been accused of being eclectic, and I’ve embraced that. Because when I was on Traktor for so many years, I found that I was more concerned with what I could do with the music instead of letting the music breathe. I realized I was a much better artist just going back to vinyl and using USB sticks and playing records. So I guess what they can expect is a more stripped-down version of house music. I don’t know what to call it anymore! The best word I can come up with is “soultek.” 

So the fashion weeks are about to be upon us. You have a long-time collaboration with Kim Jones from Louis Vuitton and have DJed a ton of fashion week parties in the past. Are you playing this year or doing any shows?

Um, I’ve transitioned more into a personality.

Even better!

So I’m going to more fashion events than actually doing after-parties now. The thing about fashion is it always has to be the next, the next, the next, you know, I’ve had my turn. The fashion crowd went to Ibiza this year for some reason, so I think you’ll be hearing a lot more house music and stuff like that. Now I just work with friends and do soundtracks for events or do soundtracks for shows more than I do parties. Which is much more exciting and fun, because you’re actually collaborating with artists and designers instead of being the after-party soundtrack.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re collaborating on this year or is it a secret?

I think the longest-standing relationship I have is doing the music for Louis Vuitton. There’s always research that goes into that show, that goes into that music, and every season I’ve worked with Kim, I’ve always done special edits of particular music. Last season, I did a special edit of Hounds Of Love. Kim likes really obscure things, so it’s really a matter of doing a lot of research and doing special edits tailor-made for the show. That’s always exciting and challenging and fun.

And do you have any new remixes coming out?

I just did a remix for My Offence for Hercules & Love Affair, I actually have two projects about to come out on Classic. I’m about to do a remix for DJ W!ld, I just did a bunch of original material that I’m shopping at the moment. So I have lots of little musical things on the go. 

Do you think you’ll be playing your original stuff out while you’re DJing?

It’s so funny, I don’t even want to hear half the stuff after living with it. But yes, I slip things in. I have to, just to hear what they sound like. Sometimes you make a track, then you take it out, then you realize that the kick could be a lot louder, or the highs could have a lot more movement. You know, it’s one thing to make a track in the studio, but it’s another thing to play it out and get a reaction from the crowd. And sometimes, you don’t even think the stuff you’re gonna have a good reaction for gets a great reaction. So the trick about making music is just to make it. 

And then test it.

And then test it. But that’s the thing, back in the day you used to have residencies where you were able to test your stuff. But now, you just test it on the road. And you don’t get a chance to really hear, you know, have a place where you can go. I don’t know how to express it, like if you had a residency, you could test things and live with them and see the crowd’s reaction change before you release it to the world. But now, now you don’t have that. Unless maybe you’re a Berghain or Panorama Bar resident. Or a Robert Johnson resident. A club where you can have a residency to play that kind of music. I think that’s the biggest challenge. 

Now for the classic Dalston Superstore question, which is: if we had a time machine ready to take you to any dance floor, past present or future, where would you like to go and why?

God, that’s such a loaded question because there are so many dance floors. Oh my god! I mean, you’re talking to a person who loves music. Okay, I’m just going to give you a list. I would have loved to have gone to The Loft to hear Nicky Siano, I would have loved to have gone to The Music Institute in Detroit, I would have loved to have gone to The Warehouse in Chicago. I would have loved to have gone to Berghain in 2004. The Mudd Club, 1978. Danceteria, 1979. The World with David Morales and Frankie Knuckles. Disco 2000. Um, of course Paradise Garage. Of course Ministry of Sound in the early ’90s. The Saint. 

But also, there are so many clubs that people don’t talk about that were heavily influential in my development as a person and as an artist. There’s one called Club LaRay in Chicago, Rialto’s, Cheeks. These are all clubs that were in Chicago that weren’t talked about. They’ve sort of been erased from the dance music vocabulary because they were predominantly black gay clubs that were very underground. And back in the day, the most two famous ones were The Warehouse and the Power Plant, but back then they were really… you know, it was black and gay. Straight people went, it wasn’t like straight people didn’t go, but they weren’t the popular clubs. Like I said, there are so many dance floors around the world… God. It’s like, there was Fabric when it first opened, or Home when that first opened in London. Jesus Christ, I mean it’s hard for me to say which and when and what because yeah, there are just so many. DTPM, Trade. For me, it wasn’t about black white gay straight, it was about a movement of music. And I didn’t think there was one school, the list could go on and on and on. So if I had a time machine, I would probably go back to each and every one of them.

I appreciate the history. I had never heard of Cheeks before you just said it.

Yeah, Cheeks was actually a trans bar where Ralphi Rosario used to play. I’ve been going to clubs since I was 12, I don’t even remember what year that was, but it was definitely late ’80s early ’90s. But I was able to get a fake ID and go to these places, and I was friends with a lot of other DJs and I got snuck into clubs, too. It was a different time, you know. It’s so funny now how…you know, it’s funny to me, I don’t want to use this word to offend anybody because at the end of the day anybody who loves this kind of music and promotes this culture I’m all for, but I don’t see a lot of um, it’s still a very heavily male dominated industry. I don’t see a lot of people of color that are tastemakers. There are hardly any women of color. I don’t see any queer women of color. I just have a different reference point about it, I suppose. But I don’t want to insult anybody or sound like a victim or sound like I’m jaded or bitter or upset. I think you have to be very careful in how you word these things, because it should be about the music at the end of the day. 

And do you feel, because like, as a female DJ  I don’t usually like asking other people the identity question, but do you feel responsible as a public figure or as someone in the scene, for being…

Trans?

For being representative, for doing a good job representing your viewpoint?

Well, I think you can probably answer this. You don’t want to be considered a female DJ, you’re a DJ.

Exactly.

You don’t want your talent to be pigeonholed by your gender. But having said that, I don’t think I would have had the experiences I’ve had if I wasn’t who I was. So I think it’s important for me to tell those stories and those experiences, because those stories won’t be told otherwise. So it’s not so much that I feel a responsibility to anyone, it’s more that I feel like I’m giving a voice to experiences that otherwise would not have seen the light of day. Being a trans person now has become en vogue, as we so care to say. It’s one of those things I don’t want to be put in a box because of, but at the same time, it’s a thing that also gives me the advantage of having had such a rich musical cultural experience. And being able to move between different worlds and being able to have different dialogues with different audiences with music. You couldn’t put a Chicago house DJ on the main floor at The Black Party, but yet they did, because I’m from Chicago, and I’m trans. 

I think my quote unquote ‘gender experience’ has allowed me to navigate different worlds, which has given me the opportunity to have a rich musical cultural experience that I get to share with other people. I can’t control what other people say about me, but I can control what I say about myself. I don’t define myself by my gender, I don’t define myself by the music that I play, I don’t define myself. I just define myself as Honey. I’m Honey. And all of these experiences have made me who I am as a person. So if I have to communicate that to other people, that’s the best answer that I can give, that I’m fortunate in a way that I’ve been able to navigate different worlds, because I’ve been many different things. I’ve been able to go from straight to gay, gay to straight, whatever you want to call it, black white straight gay bi purple trans, and each has its own language and vocabulary, and I’ve been able to incorporate all of that into my expression of music. Not a lot of people get to do that. Most people you know have only been to one, they’re comfortable. Not comfortable, but if you’ve never had to question your identity and you’ve been able to be successful in one lane, well, there’s a whole freeway out there. 

Join Honey Dijon for Fhloston Paradise in the laser basement and Whitney Weiss in the top bar for Nancy’s this Friday 12th September at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

Little Gay Brother’s Festival Amazingness

Ahead of Little Gay Brother’s Lovebox extravaganza and afterparty right here at Dalston Superstore, we asked man behind the fun Clayton Wright to run through his fave queer festival acts…

By Clayton Wright

I love a festival. For me it’s where I can chuck a load of glitter over my face and go feral for a few days. Oh and I might see a band or two. This is my list of AMAZING FESTIVAL ACTS YOU SHOULD SEE BEFORE YOU DIE GIRL!

Scissors Sisters – V Festival 2004

 

In 2004 I was in love with Jake Sheers. I loved his hair, his face, his music and his arse in tight jeans. I stood at the back of the festival and I desperately wanted to get to the front. ‘A friend’ was peeing in a cup because the toilets were crazy busy. Before he knew what was happening my friends and I grab him by the scruff of his neck and push him forward. He peed his way all the way to the front of the stage. I was front row to stare at Jake. Unfortunately standing behind us were a lot of angry chavs now covered in piss. Soz V. 

Róisín Murphy – 2008

 

I saw Róisín at a little festival called Bloom. It rained and there must of been only about 1000 people there max. It’s impossible to find a clip of Róisín at that festival but she was amazing. She had a bag of clothes and hats at the side of the stage and kept rushing to the edge of the stage to change her costumers herself. I loved how incredibly low budget the show was but her performance was world class and so were her hats. 

Florence and the Machine – 2009 Bestival


I was lucky enough to hang out with Flo back stage at Camp Bestival one year. I was later told she was later found naked in a someone’s garden off site. She’s never confirmed this, but she does still owe me 20 quid.

Grace Jones –  Lovebox 2010 


The woman hula hoops as she sings????? What more could you ask for? I told so many lies to get back stage that year to meet her that I’m surprised I don’t have boils on my tongue, but who cares it’s GRACE JONES!?????

Hercules & Love Affair – Lovebox 2010 

“Miss Honey, Miss Honey” This clip is just hilarious and reminds of what an incredible year for gay artists to showcase at Lovebox in 2010. This is definitely one act you should have a gay love affair with. I definitely have… but that’s another story. Andy Butler is playing with us at Bearded Kitten’s Colosillyum stage this year at Secret Garden Party.

Blondie – Secret Garden Party 2011


This festival is my spiritual home. 2012 was the first year we started the gay bar at SGP and Blondie was headlining the main stage. SGP has always been an eclectic mix of people and music. As you watch this clip you see a crowd covered in feathers, sequins and glitter. We love SGP and we love Blondie. See you at the Gay Bar. 

Diana Ross

The great thing about seeing any legendary gay icon or band is that you know in amongst at least the first 100 people near the stage is a hottie ready and willing to cop off with you whilst you both hold hands and sing along to ‘I’m Coming Out’. I need to do this before I die. If Diana does a UK festival you can find me always by the left hand speaker, boys. 

Erasure


I love these guys so so much. They still rock out in sequin costumes. Without a doubt on my list of gay festival acts to see before I die. 

Dolly Parton – Glastonbury 2014 


She sings, plays guitar and even raps. What could be gayer than watching the Queen of Dollywood surrounded by hundreds of trannies dressed up in cowboy hats immolating her highness? 

 Elton – Bestival 2013

OK so Elton is gayer than Dolly, but only just. You can catch Elton and our mate Bright Light x2 on tour in the UK this summer. 

Little Gay Brother at Secret Garden Party

Catch Little Gay Brother at Lovebox this weekend, 18th and 19th July at the washing machine stage in the Bearded Kitten Mansion and at ET Phone HOMO at Secret Garden Party 24th to 28th July. 

Shake Yer Dix

By Michael Kelly and Johnny Kalifornia

Shake Yer Dix was born mostly from Michael Kelly primal urge to dance to electronica, specifically the likes of The Knife and Digitalism, somewhere other than his own bedroom…

The night started life on the coldest day of 2011 and minced around a few Dalston basements before upgrading itself to The Star of Bethnal Green, where superstars such as Charli XCX and Ronika guested. With a laid-back vibe and loyal crowd of electroclash junkies, it’s now in its fourth year and is reloading its weaponry with the move to Dalston Superstore with a heap of killer new trax from the likes of Cut Copy, Simian Mobile Disco and Hercules & Love Affair.

Totally gay for synth.

Michael’s Shake Yer Dix Top 5!

Michael Kelly 

Cut Copy – Meet Me In A House Of Love

I didn’t think Cut Copy could ever make something better than Lights and Music… I thought wrong.

Vitalic – Poison Lips

If Louis Vuitton made pounding, pounding French electronic music, it would probably sound like this. Genius. 

Beth Ditto – I Wrote The Book

Never fails to spark a dancefloor meltdown at Dix. Especially the extended Mark Picchiotti version… twice as much meltdown. Sticky.

Hercules & Love Affair – I Try To Talk To You

If you’ve seen the hot, beardy dancers prancing about in the video, you’ll understand. Awesome track.

Fischerspooner – Emerge

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Amen.

Johnny Kalifornia’s Shake Yer Dix Top 5!

Johnny Kalifornia

The Swiss – In The City

Featuring ‘party all night, sleep all day’ lyrics, with vocals by Lavina De Santoli, this strange hybrid of The Juan Maclean vs. 2 Unlimited actually werks! An irresistible call to the dancefloor.

The Cure – Just Like Heaven (Penelopes Remix)

I always approach a remix with caution but, thankfully, this update of The Cure classic is a triumph. The Penelopes drown the guitars and up the synths, creating a refreshingly kaleidoscopic take on this indie-pop gem! [click on the Soundcloud icon to download for free!]

Robyn & Röyksopp – Do It Again 

The return of Sweden and Norway’s ‘heads of state’ is a thrilling journey through ‘the build-the break-the build’ which can be applied to anything from dance anthems to nights out to falling in love. 

Natalia Kills & Peaches – Trouble (Cherry Cherry Boom Boom Remix)

Any track that rhymes ‘Trouble’ with ‘Barney Rubble’ is a winner in my book.

Ronika – Shell Shocked

Absolute ’80s throwback. Take the sound of early Madonna, combine with lyrics from the Robyn school of love & heartbreak, and you get Ronika. Also loving the new album Selectadisc, which has just been released. 

Join Michael and Johnny this Friday 13th June at Dalston Superstore for Shake Yer Dix from 9pm – 3am.

Aérea Negrot

This Saturday sees a special team up from Borja Peña and Bpitch Control solo artist and former Hercules Love Affair member Aérea Negrot for B(e)ast. We quizzed Aérea ahead of the party to ask her collaborating with her Berlin neighbour Billie Ray Martin, singing in various languages and recording for Ellen Allien’s label…

Dalston Superstore: Tell us about the inspiration behind your stage name?
 
Aérea Negrot: Aérea was a name given to me by friends when I started performing, as I used to be fascinated by airplanes and airports since my childhood. Needless to say that started my obsession of dating flight attendants… Nowadays I hate airports, flight regulations and liquid limitations.
 
Negrot, however is a mixture of two famous Latina singers: Toña La Negra and Olga Guillot, both known for their melodramatic touch… Aérea Negrot since 1996.

What is your favourite language to sing in? Which do you feel you are most expressive in?

I feel quite comfortable singing in English, but I sing also in Spanish, Portuguese and German, I have a connection with these languages since I have been moving around for a while and have a funky mixture in my DNA! 
 
At the moment I’m recording a song in Hebrew for a film called Marzipan Flowers by Adam Kalderon. I enjoy being challenged by sounds and languages.
 
Your vocal style seems a composite of styles and genres, perhaps anything you find interesting? How would YOU describe it?
 
I find it also hard to describe… it’s freestyling with a operatic touch! I’m inspired by many musical styles: classical to jazz to pop; salsas to sambas… all with a electronic beat.
 
What did your classical training entail?
 
My classical training was short lived as my entrance to Classical School was denied. That was traumatic, but it only encouraged me to continue my path… that teacher told me that by age 24 I was too old to start at Conservatorium, that around that age I should’ve  already been singing the same repertoires that my vocal range would allow me to… SAD, but she was right. However, today  I’m Aérea Negrot.
 
What are your personal favourite solo tracks from your former Hercules & Love Affair band mates?
After touring with Hercules and Love Affair for four years, I developed a special relationship to songs, because I had to sing some of them live. My favourite was of course Blind, originally sung by Antony Hegarty. Falling, which I used to sing in duo with Shaun J. Wright, You Belong by Nomi Ruiz and It’s Alright by Kim Ann Foxman.
 

You’ve remixed previous DSS guest Billie Ray Martin’s band The Opiates, recorded a duet with her and you’ve even interviewed each other… why do you gel so well together?
 
Oh Billie and I have been involved in projects since we met a few years ago. After all, we are neighbours and friends. It started with a remix that I made for her called Dinah And The Beautiful Blue. It was magic putting her voice in an airport environment…. still melancholic and sexy.
 
We’ve also recorded a duet together… coming out real sooon!!! 
 
What makes Bpitch Control your label home?
 
Bpitch Control has been my home label since 2010, home to my baby album Arabxilla… it been just an honour to have these dreams released by them, and also a great opportunity to collaborate with other label artists like Kiki, Dance Disorder, Skinnerbox and System of Survival. All thanks to Ellen Allien who invited me to take part with the release of my first ever EP All I Wanna Do.
 
If you had a time machine and could go back to any dancefloor anywhere/anywhen, where would we be visiting?
 
Definitely Studio 54…. with a touch of Ancient Egypt, I guess the time is now.
 
B(e)ast and Aérea Negrot Present… Eda Lind is this Saturday 7th June at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4am.
 

Shaun J Wright

This Saturday we welcome DJ, producer and vocalist Shaun J Wright over from the Windy City to our little Dalston laser basement for B(e)ast’s 3rd Birthday! As a former member of Hercules & Love Affair, and now an acclaimed producer and DJ in his own right, this banjee boy is sure to set the basement on fire! Ahead of the party we posed a few questions to him about running hot gay nights in Chicago, releasing on Classic Music Company and his time living in London…

What inspired you to set up your night Twirl?

My close friend and musical partner Alinka and I were constantly discussing the type of party that we wanted to attend prior to starting Twirl. We wanted an intimate night with quality dj’s that focused  on house music and where we could test run our new demos with little pressure. Berlin, the legendary venue where we have the party, is a Chicago landmark. Everyone is welcome at Berlin. The full spectrum of sexuality and gender expression can be found in the club and it creates a unique, pulsating vibe. The door policy is very relaxed and everyone is up for a good time instead of posing. That sense of inclusiveness was important to us from the beginning.  A Club Called Rhonda, the incomparable monthly in Los Angeles, was also a source of inspiration. I would talk endlessly about how I wanted to start a mini-Rhonda in Chicago. A party that felt inspired and free. I hope we’re on our way to having a Rhonda-ita or a Rhonda-ette. 

Boystown was recently voted “most incomparable gay neighbourhood”. As a Chicago native, can you attest to this and if so, what is it that makes it so special?

Honestly, I’ve spent the majority of my adulthood away from Chicago. I’ve only had the last couple of years to reacquaint myself with the city and that has been disrupted by frequent travel. I spent a lot of time in Boystown during my teenage years skipping class and shopping at the vintage shops with my friends. It was a very safe space for me then and it still feels that way now. My favorite place in Boystown is a bar called Wang’s that everyone traveling to Chicago must visit. It’s off the beaten path on Broadway and is the most charming space in the city. There’s a cute dancefloor tucked in the back where my friends Harry, Jpeg and Ace throw a party called Men’s Room that is off the charts. There’s always something fun happening there. I also love Smartbar, which is in the neighborhood directly north of Boystown. Queen at Smartbar sets the bar for impressive gay parties in the city. This past Sunday the line-up included Michael Serafini (Gramaphone Records), Garrett David (Bell Boys), Derrick Carter, David Morales, Lil’ Louie Vega, Ultra Nate and Inaya Day for Frankie Knuckle’s Birthday Bash! I spent part of the night chatting with Robert Williams from The Warehouse. I guess those kind of things are what make Boystown specifically, and Chicago in general, special. 

Can you tell us something we should know about your girl -and close collaborator- Alinka? Any plans to release together on Classic again?

The most important thing that I can tell you is that she is awesome! She’s an amazing dj and super talented producer. We have such a great mutual respect for each other and we also encourage one another to grow, grow, grow. I have learned so much from her.  As a singer I’m often faced with collaborations where the roles are super rigid or there are geographical and time constraints that don’t always allow the nurturing of a personal relationship prior to working. With Alinka I’m free to express myself in a very open manner and I think that translates into our music. We talk about life experiences and hang out together and that makes our music much more personal and cohesive. 

Classic will be releasing a remix package of Twirl Vol. 1 very soon. We hope to release a Twirl Vol. 2 with Classic, too. 

What, in your opinion, is the most pressing issue facing queer people of colour in the US at the moment?

I can not answer this question sufficiently with a singular issue. I would say, in general, there is a very widespread and accepted disregard for the humanity of queer people of color. This manifests sociopolitically with policies and practices that continue to allow and encourage discrimination based on sexuality, gender, class and race.  Queer people of color tend to find themselves the most vulnerable with the least amounts of resources and agency when their historically oppressed identities intersect (e.g. black, transgender and impoverished). 

I’m often left shocked by the lack of advocacy for the end of violent transmisogyny by larger LGBT organizations that tend to focus primarily on the issue of acquiring gay marriage while our sisters are being murdered everyday. While I believe fighting for marriage equality to be a noble cause, transwomen of colour, particularly black, are murdered at a disproportionate rate to others in the community. If they receive any media attention they are often misgendered and blamed for their victimization. It is tragic that their lives have not been regarded as a cause worth fighting for on a much larger scale. 

Who would you say are your protégées right now?

I don’t think of myself as someone established enough to have protegees. I’m still learning the ropes myself. I do have a few close friends who are at an earlier starting point to their careers as far as releases are concerned. Some, like Newbody or Banjee Report, have been working on music as long as I have and they are dope. We share experiences and encourage one another. I’ll get back to this question in about five years. Hopefully, I’ll have some names. 

Signature catch-phrase…

My signature catch-phrase is literally catch in all of it’s variations. Catch it (punctuated with a finger snap)… You caught?… CAAATTCHHH! 

What’s your most tangible memory from your time with Hercules & Love Affair, like if you could step back into that frozen moment right now…?

There are just too many! It was such a special period in my life and the friendships that I was able to establish with the other band members are so precious to me. What sticks out the most was our tour with Gossip. We opened for them in sold-out stadiums throughout Germany and France. That was exhilarating enough but to top it off we had so much fun with them backstage after the shows, laughing and carrying on until the bus call. It was a blast! 

What was the absolute best thing about studying fashion at London College Of Fashion and what impact (if any) has that time had on your life now?

Living in London was the absolute best part of the entire experience. It had been a lifelong dream of mine to live in London. During early childhood my grandmother shared with me the movie ‘To Sir With Love’ starring Sidney Poitier and Lulu and I knew that I would live in London one day. The kids were so cool and I loved everything about their environment.  In the U.S.A. we have much fewer historical buildings so when I arrived in London and it still resembled the imagery from the movie I fell in love again. It is my favorite city in the world and I hope to live there again. 

I studied MA Fashion Curation at LCF and it was such an enlightening course. The approach to education and research was much different than I had experienced during my undergraduate studies in the US. The process was much more relaxed, but the expectations were just as high if not more so. I feel like the experience helped me become more confident in my ability to create and execute my own ideas instead of relying on others to see the value in them. 

You’ve spoken at length before about your introduction to the ballroom scene and your decision to join the House of Escada… If you were setting up your own dream House, what would it be the House Of and who would be your children?

[read the article on ballroom that features Shaun here]

Ooooh, very interesting….It would be the House of Revolution and my children would be a mix of fab, progressive political figures, vogueing children, and fashion icons. We would cause a stir on the steps of D.C. goverment buildings as we sashayed (instead of marched) for change. Yes we can, Hunteeee!

Join Shaun this Saturday 1st February at B(e)ast 3rd Birthday at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

Photo by: Emily Marren

Kim Ann Foxman

It goes without saying that we love Kim Ann Foxman. As a DJ. As the singer for Hercules & Love Affair. As one of our fashion icons. As a genuinely nice person. Which all adds up to us being more than excited to have her headline our tent at the upcoming Summer Rites festival next Sunday in Shoreditch Park. 

The lovely lady was gracious enough to spare some time to speak to us about her style crushes, house heroes, love of English sweets and have the obligatory vinyl rant…

Who do you consider to be your contemporaries?

The people I really like are Bicep, Maya Jane Coles, Snuff Crew, Steffi,  Runaway, Azari & III, Legowelt, KiNK, Omar S and Legowelt but there are so many new people I like…

Why is right now a great time for house music? Who are your personal house heroes?

There’s so much good newer house tracks coming out these days. It’s really cool. It makes me happy and there is a nice audience for it. It’s definitely a good time for house music right now. My personal Heroes are MK, Murk, Kevin Saunderson, Deee-Lite, Masters at Work and Bam Bam.

How did your amazing collaboration with KiNK and Neville Watson come about?

They just asked me really and sent me a track, and I asked if they wanted a song song or more of a party track. And they said more tracky party vibe. So that’s how it happened.

What’s the most mind-blowing concert you’ve ever been to in your entire life?

For me it was Kraftwerk when I was about 20 years old. I waited outside forever to get their autograph, and I still have that concert ticket stub. It’s the only people I ever waited for an autograph for. I guess it just meant a lot to me. Unfortunately I never saw MJ, as he would have blown my mind more than anything in the world.

Why is vinyl still so important to DJs?

Because vinyl is classic and the feeling is something can never be replaced. Also, there are so many gems that you can’t find online- still. They make sets magical to me. I also love the artwork, vinyl is so personal… the labels, the cover sleeve. You don’t connect with downloading songs the way you connect with vinyl. Vinyl is precious. And you want to take care of it. Of course vinyl DJs learned to mix by ear rather than looking at the BPM and matching it or just pressing a sync button. It’s a skill not everyone can do, you really had to work and practice at it. So it’s a passion. 

You were named one of the most stylish women in NY right now… How would YOU describe your look? Who is your current style crush?

I don’t know, I think I got lucky with that one but I’m thankful for the compliment.

My style is kinda FULL FORCE meets Lisa Bonet- I guess they would be my style crushes too at the moment.

Very casual x200.

‘90s Wrestler bodybuilding pants are a frequented comfort zone.

Over sized anything, sports bra galore.

Cross color maniac!

Soul and r’n’b concert shirts from the late ‘80s are becoming a collection…

My  hair is a staple thanks to my  most amazing hair stylist best friend Holli Smith.

We hear you love Percy Pigs sweets (which frankly is a given)… what other English produce do you stock up while you’re here?

My favorites really are Percy Pigs & Pals! Last time I was in the UK I bought seven bags, and I love Branston Pickle. I also love those parsnip chips or “crisps” as you call them that I see in Marks & Spencers. Yum! I could eat those for days. I always buy those.

How did your time living in San Francisco influence your work as both a DJ and a singer?

I learned a lot from going to raves and following DJs and collecting rave tapes. The whole experience taught me about what sounds I like, and feelings or vibes I like to be evoked in a track. I also collected some nice records during that time, so of course, that was great too.

If you were taking us on a date in New York where would we go?

I would take you to have some really nice Japanese food, then we’d walk to the High Line park where we would eat a popsicle have a walk and look at the amazing view.

Can you tell us three jams in your bag for the Dalston Superstore at Summer Rites tent?

Snuff Crew feat. Tyree Cooper- Work It Out

Bicep- Getcha Boi

Jodeci – Freek N You MK Dub

Jodeci – Freek ‘n You (MK Dub) by morthens

What musical goodies can we expect from you in the near future?

I am working on some nice things. I have a solo release that I wrote and produced myself coming out soon. Its’ called Return it / Hypnotic Dance. I also have a track with Snuff Crew coming out sometime in the future. I’m working on some projects… solo stuff and also collaborations. I’m going to meet up with Richard X while I’m in London, so I’m excited for that. And I’ve been working with Tobias Freund over in Berlin, and we have a very nice collaboration going on. So, there is plenty to come along with some surprises.

Kim Ann Foxman plays the Dalston Superstore tent at Summer Rites on Sunday 2nd September in Shoreditch Park from 12:30pm onwards.