Posts Tagged ‘London’

SofterTouch

Can you believe its been a whole year since SofterTouch made their cosmic crash-landing at the mothership? This Thursday sees an intergalactic celebration of the rowdy, abrasive, noise intensive experiencé that has become a cult-hit! With three successful club nights AfterTouch, SofterTouch and MEGALAST as well as playing at festivals such as Secret Garden Party, LeeFest and Glastonbury, J.Aria (Jacob Aria) and Ni-ku (Nik Rawlings) are renowned across East London for their eclectic and bratty DJ stylings. We caught up with Jacob and Nik to chat about how their friendship blossomed, why we’ve heard Barry Manilow play at SofterTouch, and what we can expect from Thursday!

Hiya Jacob and Nik! For our readers who aren’t that well acquainted with you two, can you tell us a bit about yourselves ? 

J: I’ve been working as a musician in some form or another since I was about 15. Loads of different bands and gigs, festivals and all that. My main focus is a vocalist and experimental producer. I started to find my feet as a DJ about eighteen months ago.

N: I come from a choral background, had a noise band when I was a teenager and ended up studying Sound Art in Brighton, and DJing and promoting went hand in hand with that. For a long time I was obsessed with voguing and that informed a lot of my earlier DJ sets, and I organised a series of voguing events in Nottingham. I’ve always been drawn to more textural, intense, manic music. I think some highlights for me so far have been playing for Boo Hoo at Südblock in Berlin, at Tropical Waste with a hero of mine, KABLAM, and at Intruder Alert in Warsaw. Travelling and making new connections is one of the best things about DJing.

jacob aria

You’ve been collaborating with one another for quite some time now. Let’s rewind… How did you two meet? 

 J: We met at a Lotic gig in Brighton and hit it off. We’re both quite unbearable so we compliment each other pretty well.

N: Jacob and I hit it off pretty much immediately (ie. we both ranted a lot). Our interests and taste clicked so when I moved up to London it was an obvious move to work together. We’re a good balance as a duo and Jacob’s happy to tell me to shut up which is important when you work with me.

Your first club night, Aftertouch, seemed to have a real underground and experimental vibe to it. Tell us a little bit about the premise behind it?.

 J: We wanted to bring together experimental queer performance art with experimental queer club DJing in a way that we hadn’t experienced before in London – it was usually one or the other.

N: We had spoken a lot about how at the time (2015/16) there was a lack of queer nights that focussed on the more experimental club music we were both into whilst also making a good space for performance art and radical drag. We wanted to present a night that was darker, more confrontational, disco-free, without being too overtly serious or prescriptive.

Aftertouch provided an amazing platform for queer artists. There seems to be an abundance of amazing LGBTQ+ performance talent but a lack of spaces for them. How can London become a better city for performers? 

J: There are loads of amazing things happening now. But it’s always a nightmare trying to get a venue to support you with your stuff. There’s usually always a catch, and doing something that isn’t super conventional is always a gamble. I think London would benefit from having more interesting and accessible spaces to party in. The licensing laws here are too tight, it stifles a lot of freedom when you’re regulated in that way. It needs to loosen up, and we need more funding to be put into creative outlets. It’s kind of a rich kids playground, and rich kids are boring c**ts.

N: There’s some fundamental issues being in London that need to improve that would positively impact all creative scenes and especially queer performers. Space tends to be in short supply, but so is time; without lower rent and better wages it’s impossible to take time to make work!  We all need more time and space than we often have in London if we want to be able to make ambitious, honest and original work. I’m sick of seeing new build flats sold on the credibility of the ‘creative quarter’ that they knocked down. Dedicated spaces are in short supply, so hats off to the LGBTQ+ Community Centre project. Projects like that are going to be wildly important in supporting performers.

nik 2

Why did you decide to move away from performance to a music-centred night with SofterTouch?

 J: I just wanted to bring something really different to the Dalston Superstore programming, and to have a regular night to work on my DJ skills I guess. It had always been that I was the one that sorted the performance aspect of afterTouch and I wanted to cross over into DJing. Plus Superstore have always been so supportive of us as both friends and mentors that we wanted to do something there, something ‘at home’.

N: We’d both worked at Superstore – and for me it was a formative club when I first started coming to queer clubs, so obviously we wanted to ‘come home’. But we were also really excited to disrupt what people might expect from Dalston Superstore, and bring something a bit more confrontational and manic. It’s been a really great learning experience for both of us; we play B2B all night, and play a really frenetic and sometimes jarring combination of tracks, so the music can be a real journey. It’s kind of like an argument on the decks, but somehow it works. Oh, and generally I’ll close out with a basic bitch trance or donk remix of something so there’s that.

In terms of your DJ styles, who or what have been your inspirations?

 J: My influences are all over the place. Sometimes I’m pretending I’m Black Madonna or Honey Dijon, other times it’s Aphex Twin or JLin. I dunno, I’m super messy. I get most of my inspiration from my DJ friends or by being on the other side of the desk on the dance floor and kinda peeking over to see how the DJ is working. I’m always trying to study whoever I see.

N: Big question. I think the whole of our particular scene looks to TOTAL FREEDOM as an originator. KABLAM, originally of Janus in Berlin is still my current favourites, we have a lot of choral influences in common too. Then also I always look back to the Bubblebyte party, maybe seven years ago in Peckham where AIDS-3D & TCF (then known as Craxxxmurf) played loads of insane bubbling and hardstyle – it still stands out years later, and I’ll weave in some tracks from that period throughout most sets. When I’m playing a solo mix I’ll plan a trajectory and think about the textural and emotional story I want to tell, and when I play SofterTouch with Jacob it’s much more about wild trax that’ll just about fit with whatever they’ve been playing and keep bodies moving without being too stuck to genre or tempo.

Its safe to say that you both are quite contrasting in what you play, but we’ve never experienced a dull moment when you’re both going b2b at SofterTouch! Why do you think you both work so well together?

J: It just keeps the night evolving, because the mood is constantly shifting. We have totally different tastes but there’s a middle ground, we are both trying to experiment in similar ways – just with different tracks. If I think Nik is being too bratty I’ll play Barry Manilow just to piss him off.

N: We kind of battle each other a bit and sometimes there’ll be 30 minutes of us playing tracks that mix smoothly and then you’ll have a whole load of material that shouldn’t work together but somehow does. There’s a huge range of genres we’ll play from…. and every now and again I’ll drop a lipsync track in and get on the bar. We play a lot of quite intense music but it’s all with a sense of humour.

More recently, you both brought your experimental flare to our Friday night line-up with MEGALAST! Whats in store for the next one?

 J: MegaLast is our new Friday night party. It’s kind of a natural progression from softerTouch. We are bringing in challenging and experimental DJs from across the country and the continent. I guess we are really trying to shake up the kind of programming you would expect on Kingsland Road on a Friday night. We are back on August 31st for round two, it’s gonna be even bigger and rowdier than our first. I’m super excited about who we are looking to get down to the lazerpit this time around.

N: MegaLast brings both SofterTouch and AfterTouch’s music policies together; there’s artists downstairs playing more abrasive, experimental and intense music downstairs in the basement and diverse party tracks upstairs. The next one will be headlined by Object Blue whose recent release on Tobago Tracks is one of the standout records of the year for us; they’re also a regular Superstore-goer and so we’re really excited to have her at DSS for the first time

Who would be your dream booking?

J: Flying Lotus or J Lin would be nuts.

N: TCF, Holly Herndon, Ase Manual, Lotic, W3C.

In five words, can you describe what we can expect Thursday?

J: Bratty, erratic, explorations, heaviness and audacity.

N: Cute bounce, much booty, kick.


Catch J.Aria and Ni-Ku at SofterTouch: One Year this Thursday 7th June 9pm-2:30am at Dalston Superstore!

 

Nathan Gregory Wilkins

By James Baillie

Ahead of the upcoming Tusk party at Dalston Superstore, promoter James Baillie sits down with History Clock founder, cohort of Ivan Smagghe and all round leftfield DJ, Nathan Gregory Wilkins. Nathan’s current project sees him teaming up with Richard X to create their own strain of music for dancing as the recent Phantasy signing, Cowboy Rhythmbox. They chat past parties, favourite new tracks and plans for the party!

What track do you like to wake up to in the morning?

Problems by New Age Steppers


Cowboy Rhythmbox is yourself and Richard X. Is there a sound that sums up your relationship?

The sound of Richard’s kettle boiling, we’re not very rock n’ roll. 

If you had the chance to remix a track of your choice, what would that be?

I guess something by Yello, so much to choose from though!!!

 

Marc Jacobs calls you up to ask if there are any new bands he should be checking out. Who would you suggest?

I rather like Telegram. And Goat.

 

You were a regular punter at my club Venus back in the early 90’s. What track reminds you of Venus?

Alarm Clock by Westbam

History Clock was your label. What was your favorite stand out track from the label?

Woman by It’s A Fine Line (Ivan Smagghe & Tim Paris). It always gets such an incredible response.
 

You used to do the club night E.S.P. What record never left your box?

What was the last piece of vinyl you bought?

 I bought this last week: 


You are playing at our next TUSK night, what do we expect to hear from Nathan Gregory Wilkins?

A mixture a new and old sleazey electronic music with a few camp disco records thrown in. 

News has just come over the airwaves that the end of the world is upon us. What track are you listening to?

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. I love that song. 

Catch Nathan Gregory Wilkins at Tusk on Saturday 26 September from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore. 

Nail

Underground house producer and admired cult DJ Nail (aka Neil Tolliday) is the latest electronic legend to headline Tusk at Dalston Superstore. From the huge commercial success of Bent (his project with friend and producer Simon Mills) to the establishment of his own label 89:GHOST, Nail’s career has spanned decades and seen a seriously impressive range of projects and releases. We sat down to talk Nottingham parties, collaborations and favourite gigs.

Your love of house music came about in a really roundabout way – it sounds like it certainly wasn’t your first love. Can you tell us how you came from pirate radio and hip-hop to electronic music? 

I’ve been intrigued by electronic music since I was small, from when my Dad used to shit me up with the Clockwork Orange soundtrack or watching Watoo Watoo cartoons. I first heard Can U Dance by Kevin Jammin Jason & Fast Eddie Smith on the radio when I was about 12 or 13 and shortly after that Jack Your Body was at number one, so I guess it was the charts and the radio got me there to start with. I didn’t start going to clubs until I was 16, but I’d been buying the records for a few years before that.

How much did your role in DiY collective influence your sound in years to come?

Well I used to go to a lot of their nights here in Nottingham, but in all honesty I don’t really remember much! But obviously I’d hear what they were playing and making for the label, so it must’ve rubbed off on me. They were always armed with such quality tunes.

Your side project with Simon Mills, Bent, has seen great success over the years. How did that project develop? Where did all those bizarre finds come from?

We met in 1998 as he was living next door to my girlfriend and we made each other laugh (well, he makes me laugh anyway) and seemed to be both going in the same direction at that time – as in we wanted to do something different, so we got on fairly quickly. Long story short, we started pissing about and sampling shit records he had bought from charity shops. We thought it was hilarious and kept egging each other on to find the most ridiculous sample, but somehow it worked – I played it to my manager, he played it to some other people and all of a sudden it started taking off.

What led you to start your own label, 89: Ghost? 

Basically I saw some people selling my old records from the 90’s (that I could f**king give away at the time) for silly money on Discogs. So I spoke to my friend James at Juno and decided to press up a few old tunes. It’s not done too bad, considering the amount of new labels there are at the moment. But I’ve started putting out new material on there now, so hopefully it’ll keep going for a bit.

You must have played at a huge variety of parties over the years – are there any clear standouts for you?

I think variety is the best word, different places of different sizes.. no real stand outs though, apart from really shit ones, but there’s no point talking about them. In recent time, playing Globus at Tresor a coupla times was pretty special, and I always loved playing at Crucifix Lane for Cartuli’s Day. I like dark, sweaty places, preferably where I’m not on a f**king stage. DJs should be heard and not seen.

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

Probably something really obvious like the early days of Studio 54 or Ku, see what all the fuss was about :)

Do you have a guilty pleasure record that you can’t help but sneak in every now and then? Perhaps a few weirdo tracks from your days with Bent?

Having dropped a few guilty pleasures into sets in the past, thinking, ‘This will BLOW their minds!!’, only for it to clear the floor, I try to steer clear of gambling too much with that kind of thing.. I don’t play out that much.

What can we expect from your set at Tusk?

House music!

Join Nail on Saturday 25 July for TUSK at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

Marro

The mysterious Marro joins us this Friday for another road-block edition of Dirty Diana. No stranger to Dalston Superstore, the enigmatic DJ has recently made the move from Berlin to our very own London and is celebrating his new home in style by treating us to a set packed full of tech bumpers and pumpers. Ahead of Dirty Diana he sat down to answer a few of our burning questions and treat us to a Spring-time warm-up mix….!

You recently made the move from Berlin to London at a time when many Londoners are moving to Berlin. What brought you across the continent?

The very reason that Londoners are moving to Berlin leaves London even more in need of a shake of the night life. I find it curious that instead of trying to create some noise in London, we head for Berlin. London historically has been a place where new sounds were born but for the past few years it seems that this has stopped. I felt it is a good time that we create something in London and keep Londoners here for the weekends. Also, I have been playing in Berlin for over 15 years now and it was a good time for a little change for me. Meeting all these Londoners in the clubs I have been playing, telling me that they have to fly over there to hear my music made me think that it’s a good time for me to head to London.

What has been your dirtiest Berlin clubbing experience and who was there to witness it? Behind the decks and on the floor?

One of the things that makes Berlin exciting is the ability to experience many of life’s pleasures on a night out without feeling that your are doing something dirty. Hedonism in all its different forms is a normalised reality on the Berlin club scene and you do not even need to hide behind the decks or in some dark corner. Everyone is a witness to everyone and everything flows freely and disinhibited. So I do not need to be graphic or drop any names… Whatever happens behind the decks and on the floor stays there…

Berlin is known for its hedonism and ridiculously fit men. How does London measure up in terms of either?                                                                                                                  

This is not necessarily true. Maybe this image has been created out of the gym conscious visitors who come to enjoy themselves in Berlin. Berliners are not hung up on looks or clothes (unless we are talking about fetish type of clothes) and the gym look is not really a Berlin thing, which is a breath of fresh air. It may also be that they look more naturally fit because they dance a lot (sometimes for days non stop) as opposed to spending too much time at the gym.                                                                                               

You have a residency at the legendary Chantal’s House Of Shame. Describe her in three words.

Crazy, rebellious and fun.

Berghain… Tresor… KitKat… Where is your preferred Berlin techno situation and why?

These big names were a lot more fun 10 years ago. For the past few years, I enjoyed myself in a lot more in smaller underground venues like Golden Gate, where I had a residency for over 6 years. In these smaller venues you can be a lot more intimate with the crowd and be part of the fun.

If you had a time machine and could visit any dance floor anywhere / any time, where would you want to go dancing and why?

I would definitely go back to the old Panorama bar at OstGut at the beginning of the new millennium. This was Berlin at its peak and the best parties you could have found yourself in. The music was unique and non-commercial, which you could only listen to at Panorama. I remember how the guests kept asking during this time at Panorama “what kind of music is this?” It was also a venue where you completely felt at ease with yourself and everyone around you.

What advice would you give to your younger self as a dj?

It’s not so much an advice. It’s more of a reminder that you have to be genuinely passionate about music as opposed to be doing it with the hope of becoming a famous DJ.

What is your favourite track to end the night on?

After an amazing party you need to end the night on a nice, mellow, happy and peaceful way. One of my all time favourite tracks that I would play would be Mummy Wants Some Eggs by Robert Calvin.

Join Marro this Friday 29th May for Dirty Diana at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4.30am.

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.

Hifi Sean In NYC

By Hifi Sean

Many Glaswegians like myself have a big thing for NYC. I grew up, along with many of my friends, influenced by the sound of the bands that came from there like The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Blondie, Suicide, and Talking Heads. So during the early ‘90s I basically spent most of my time in USA after the success we had with The Soup Dragons over there.

DIVINE

That success includes the top 20 hit single Divine Thing, which yes, for the record was influenced by John Waters and his movies, in fact we even spoke to John back then about shooting a video for the follow up Pleasure, which we were all excited about, but Serial Mom had just been released and really took off, so sadly he had to put it on the back burner and time was against us. That is still my biggest regret that it slipped away. So instead off we went to a ‘50s trashy hotel called Madonna Inn just north of San Francisco, in good ole Russ Meyer fashion.

Most of this period was spent with me living on and off in New York, East Village to be exact. It was crazy and hedonistic times, I saw and experienced things that have influenced me and still cherish many of the memories and the people I met there and then.

Limelight, Disco 2000, Sound Factory, Club USA, The Roxy, Save The Robots, Jacqui 60’s, they were all clubs I frequented. I wasn’t even gay then, but let’s just say the groundwork had been laid out in front of me for my coming out in 2001!

SOUND FACTORY PUNCH

I loved the freedom and the outrageous fun attitude, in fact first time I ever went to Sound Factory I was ushered into a room and offered some punch from the infamous punch bowl laced with E! The next 6-8 hours was a musical journey via Junior Vasquez, which introduced me to something that opened up my mind to new exciting avenues of sound and beats… which still to this day is imbedded in my psyche.

I was in The Roxy when the DJ (I can’t remember who) played the first ever play of Vogue by Madonna, and people stood in awe as he announced it over the system and they cheered as it played. That’s something I have never heard or seen in a club ever again.

CLUB KIDS

Also happening at the same time was the whole ‘Club Kids’ phenomena. It was interesting to watch it grow as we had just left a rave-tastic UK 89/90 and here we were in NYC 90/91 and watching the same chaos and freedom happening there but primarily focused on the gay scene, which took that vibe deep to heart. I actually met Michael Alig and supposedly I met Angel too (as he was host for many of his parties). I hung around a lot of drag queens too as my closest friend at the time Lavinia Co-Op used to take me to clubs; many a time I found myself pushing a huge balloon dress into and out of NYC cabs as we headed out into nightlife. Lavinia is on the cover of the last Soups album dressed as a poodle walked by a Wall St gentleman banker…. as you do. 

Soup Dragons - Hydrophonic

BUFFALO GALS GO ROUND THE OUTSIDE

Everywhere in NYC you saw the influence of club land coming out onto the streets through fashion and attitude which to be honest NYC has always been about. When we made the video for Divine Thing with director Nick Egan, who I got on-board as I loved his video for Buffalo Gals by Malcolm McLaren (another homage to NYC) and we went round the city’s clubland and got some of the club kids and party people to appear in a kind of homage to downtown NYC. We shot it in a disused warehouse in the Meat Packing district overnight, watching trans* hookers on corners pick up truckers delivering the meat to the stores that morning.

It’s funny, as I write this out now, I think to myself, wow how gay was I for a straight boy?! I just loved it all, the chaos, the hedonism; put it this way I wasn’t singing “I’m free to do what I want” on every bloody radio in the USA for nothing… 

Don’t be afraid of your freedom… indeed.

Little did we know how that video was about to explode, MTV went crazy for it and it was the most played video of that year on that channel and ended up being nominated for a MTV Video Award. 

Crazy thing is, I was told afterwards how ground-breaking it was, as people like Connie Girl were the first drag artists to be given daytime rotation on T.V in the USA which, back in early 90’s, was nowhere near as open minded as it is now. Funny that it was shot like Nick shot Buffalo Gals, totally about the streets, the nightlife, guerilla style and all just edited together afterwards, nothing pre-fashioned or contrived, just honest to good love of life at that period, and to me it captures a perfect moment of what NYC was all about then. 

UP YOURS

So what has this got to do with Up Yours you’re asking?

Well myself and Severino have a big mutual love for NYC, we’ve both DJ’ed there a lot over the years and our last two singles London and Devil were released on the great underground house label Get Up Recordings that’s ran by DJs Christy Love and W. Jeremy Pelser from House of Stank, who’ve ran many a great party in the big apple. 

Not to mention, our video for London is a homage to everything cool about London/NYC. Yes the city has changed and cleaned up a lot over the years. Yes a lot of the big parties closed down due to the crystal meth epidemic within the gay scene and people just staying home at sex parties rather than heading out to cruise and have a dance.

But in the last four to five years lots of great thing are happening again and a whole new underground of great artists, DJs and parties are bubbling away and NYC has got that great buzz again that everyone thought it had lost… but we knew it would get back again.

Join Hifi Sean and Severino for Up Yours this Saturday 31st May at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

Silk86

By Greg Spencer and Greg Lowe

Back for their second Fhloston Paradise party, Greg Lowe (half of Zigzag Samstag) and Greg Spencer (of Public House fame) are bringing rising London stars Silk 86 into the lazer pit for some spaced out homo galactic madness. At a time when the London scene can be too fragmented by genres, Silk 86’s Finnian Casey and Tom Lunn bring a wide variety of styles and influences to the dancefloor, all put together with razor sharp mixing. We caught up with them as they were finishing their latest track out later this year on local imprint Newington. They reveal some of their secret floor killers, what it’s like to DJ as a pair, and why three boobs are better than two…

What releases do you guys have coming up and how is 2014 shaping up so far for you?

We’ve spent a fair chunk of the year so far in the studio, so we’re feeling good, but perhaps not looking as resplendent as usual. Looking forward to summer, our track Dem Curves should finally be out and we’ve got a few bits on the London record label Newington alongside some vocal tracks, so 2014’s shaping up nicely.

DJing with another person can be hard, did you guys have to work at it or were you in sync from the start?

We’ve never really DJ’ed together outside of a club environment… so it’d be a stretch to say we worked on it! To start with we had to pretty much jump in and see what happened, so we’ve probably got better with time and we feel like we bounce off each other pretty well. 

Do you have any killer tracks that are always in your arsenal and what are they?

True magicians never reveal their secrets. We’ve got a few gems that we like to work into sets every now and then. When we want to step it up a notch, this track normally takes things up a gear.

A bit of Mr G never fails either.

Such a versatile track. You can pop it in at any point in your set and it works. 
And if there’s energy in the room, this tune multiplies it by 10…

If you guys could play back to back with any other DJs who would you choose?

There’s already two of us, so if we had to squeeze another DJ into the booth… we’d have to go for… off the top of my head… Nina Kraviz. Don’t ask why. Failing that, the late and great Aaron Carl. 

If you could describe your sound using one character from a sci-fi movie, which one would it be and why?

The three boobed girl from Total Recall. Cheap Thrills a plenty.

Join Silk 86 at Fhloston Paradise this Friday 9th May at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am. 

Imma/Mess

New York performance artist Imma/Mess joins us here at Superstore this Friday to make his London debut at, of course, Dirty Diana. We sat down with the enigmatic artist to find out more ahead of the party…

Who is Imma/Mess?

Imma/Mess is kinda like this mix-up of who I long to be and my childhood references and memories. I grew up around majority women… and when I say “grew up” I don’t mean in physical presence. I was always listening to Tina Turner and watching ‘80s TV. So “women” in the broad sense of what a woman could be. Even down to my grandmother, just watching her cook, and things like that.

Imma/Mess is kinda like a combination of all those memories piled up into one and then me, now, the journey that I’m on. So I kinda use childhood memories to manipulate the present.

What can you tell us about your performance this Friday?

Since I’m new to London it needs to be about me introducing myself. A lot of performances are dependent on space, and so here at Superstore it’ll be about having fun… a lot of body haha showing a lot of body… a lot of make-up… but other than that, just a good time.

You lived in NYC- are you from there originally or did you gravitate towards there because of the richness of the performance art scene and the avant-garde scene?

I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama but I have always been drawn to New York. Even as a child I would draw the city’s skyline… then one day I was moving to Atlanta and my teacher was like “You should audition for Alvin Ailey.”

Who is that?

It’s an African-American dance troupe, artistically run by Robert Battle, and Judith Jamison was the director but now she’s not.

So it was pretty crazy for my teacher to suggest that I audition there as my aunt had just taken me to a performance there a week before. And that’s what took me to New York. 

Where has your art provoked the biggest reaction?

I will say that race comes up a lot. And racism comes up a lot, and all that. Because sometimes I will do blackface… but I don’t want to call it “blackface”. Sometimes I will use all black make-up or all-white make-up and people want to say “Oh my god why is there a black guy putting on black make-up?” and then they call it “blackface” or “Why is this black guy covering his whole body in white?” I think in the art world, sometimes, a sense of humour can be lost, or diluted down a bit…

ImmaMessmakeup 

Or maybe they don’t have the same drag references?

Right. I love performance art; it’s allowed me to get to where I am now. But I feel like a lot of times when my art comes up it’s always in reference to someone who is maybe not even medium-wise close to me…. But like the closest thing. So like Nick Cave because he’s an African-American performance artist who does these amazing, beautiful Soundsuits. And a lot of people, just because I use dance, are like “Oh Nick Cave.” And it’s like “No. What about Leigh Bowery? And all these people that ARE my references?”

Leigh Bowery

I guess the closest thing that is my reference is Grace Jones. That’s it. Okay, yeah maybe you’re right. Maybe they don’t have the same book of references as me.

You mentioned studying at Alvin Ailey- have you always studied dance?

My training background? I originally began studying gymnastics. Then my gymnastic teacher TRICKED me into doing dance because she used to do dance competitions and I was the only boy- actually it was me and her brother. He was four years older than me. She got both of us to do a duet- Mortal Kombat- Oh my god, and she was like “It’s gonna be the coolest duet! If you guys do it you will win the trophy.” And all I cared about was the trophy…

Did you?

And we did! It was called I Love Dance and we went, and I was so into it! I was so into it because I was thinking Trophy Trophy Trophy… And I got the trophy. Anyway, that’s where I started. And then I went onto a performing arts high school in Atlanta. Then it was onto Alvin Ailey, then I went to a Conservatory in Connecticut- in the middle of nowhere- some of the best years of my training life. Then after that I went to Holland and then I was offered a training position with Atlanta ballet so I went back and I grew up in the ranks pretty quickly. The director was so amazing. After the third year there I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to dance anymore. I wanted to do more with my voice. So I applied to school in secret and went to Parsons where I graduated with honours. I just recently applied to CSM (Central Saint Martins) so I’m going there for my MA in fine arts.

Besides Leigh Bowrey who you already mentioned, which artists- of any medium or method- inspire you?

I am drawn to people who I feel I can take something away from. I love Cindy Sherman. I love Nick Cave. George Condo. All art-wise. I’m kinda conflicted with Grace Jones, between performer or artist… for me I feel like she’s an artist, so she’s one of my biggest references. I LOVE John Waters. And from that I love Divine. And all his movies. So that’s where I’m at reference-wise.

Nick Cave

I love beauty but I love… beautifying the grotesque. I LOVE grotesque. The nastiness. Like how Divine is. It’s so amazingly ugly. It’s like wearing Prada: it’s so ugly it’s good. It’s like who puts those colours together and that crazy fucking goat fur and when you see it all together you’re kinda like bleurghh, but then a little bit down the road you’re like huh, this is not so bad.

Can you talk us through your style a bit… how would you describe it, do you make your own costumes, who are your favourite designers to wear?

In my normal life I wear all black. I wish I could afford Comme des Garçons. I’d wear Comme des Garçons every day. The avant-garde pieces. The womenswear. Rick Owens I would love to wear. Gareth Pugh… oh my god I LOVE. But right now, what I can afford is Y3 and pieces I find in vintage markets.

In my normal style I like a little bit of the crazy, but since I wear all black it’s easier for me to put it together. I can focus more on the texture, shape and form and all that. But, as Imma/Mess… I love glitter. Oh my god. I LOVE glitter oh my god. I wanna paint my nails glitter, my face glitter… I’ve yet to get a glitter bodysuit… I need to meet Manish Arora or Ashish. I need to meet one of them because they just do glitter and sequins haha and I like it. But I need it slutty. Y’know, less is more. As Imma/Mess I just glitter and fake eyelashes. I always end up losing my lashes by the end of the night and then I go to take off my bra and they’re both in there! Oh! There you are!

What has drawn you to London?

I feel that here I am able to be myself, and I don’t mean to just do whatever, I just feel that London is so open to opportunity, compared to New York, where opportunity is there- don’t get me wrong- but it’s such a dreadful journey to even just find the door of opportunity, let alone getting inside. And then once you are inside, there are so many subdivisions of opportunity but I feel like in London, opportunity is so readily available. The community here is always on the search for something new. Just London in general, just walking down the street, people are curious… and not to make fun of you, but are interested in you as a person. In coming to London I am finding out more about myself through engaging with the people that are here.

Who would you most like to collaborate on your art with- from contemporaries to up-and-comers you’ve got your eye on?

Boychild, I also love FKA Twigs, Zebra Katz, Angel Haze, and this new girl, a rapper called Dominque Jones Unqiue… but, I just wish I knew more people in the nightlife here.

Come get to know Imma/Mess at Dirty Diana this Friday 28th March at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4.30am.

Photo Credits: Lee Morgan Photo / Tyler Dean King / Imma/Mess

Muff Magazine

Ahead of the launch party tomorrow night for Muff, the London based queer print magazine, we caught up with the two ladies behind the publication to find out a bit more about what’s in the latest issue and why they do what they do…
 
Muff Magazine came to global acclaim with its moving photo series of lesbian couples living in Russia, together despite the difficult circumstances. What led you to commission this and were you surprised by the attention it received?
 
Bukanova: I wouldn’t have dreamed of the story going viral! With muff we want to change the way lesbians are represented in today’s media and challenge out of date stereotypes. Therefore I wanted to portrait couples in the intimate environment of their own home, showing that they chop onions, watch TV  and do everything a straight couple would do. Originally from Russia myself, I’m very touched and upset about its anti-gay propaganda and the consequences, which I think can improve if gay becomes – and remains – more visible. It might be hard to accept the unfamiliar, but having to deal with it on a daily basis will hopefully, one day, make it the accepted and normal thing it is.
 
KateBukanova struck up a friendship with the photographer Anastasia Ivanova while she was in London and basically the next thing I knew they’d created a photo series together. After that, all I had to do was bring the photos to life with a few words from the subjects themselves. As soon as the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed took it, our inboxes just went crazy. I still can’t believe how far that piece travelled – it really made an impact. Even now, over six months later, I still come across the most unlikeliest of people who want to talk about that photo series.
 
Now that the spotlight is for the most part off Russia’s treatment of LGBT people, do you think this is something you hope to highlight again in the future? Perhaps revisiting the same couples?
 
Bukanova: Maybe. We are very grateful to have the couples and thank them for standing up despite the fact that a majority tries to silence them. I think, for now, we made our point. 
 
Kate: Perhaps in a few years when things have hopefully changed – but not for now. I think we made a really strong point with the piece and I wouldn’t want to dilute its message by banging the drum too much. Anyway, the whole point of muff is that we try not to overly politicise issues, particularly negative ones. In the new issue, we have a different photo series, still based around people but this time about those who moved to Berlin and why. It’s a really beautiful, emotional piece which hopefully has a more positive vibe.
 
You’ve stated the next issue of Muff Magazine is a bit less political… why did you choose Lovecats as a theme?
 
Bukanova: Because everything isn’t that serious. And we love cats, of course. 
 
KateMainly because Bukanova and Piczo shot a beautiful fashion editorial with her favourite, sphinx cats. But, yes, also because we wanted more of a lighthearted, upbeat feel to this issue – and creatively we felt a lot more confident to express that this time, both in the content and design. 
 
Why did you both choose to champion print as a medium? 
 
Bukanova: Form follows content, and muff isn’t a trend-led magazine. It is illustrating stories, picturing the life of individuals and reflecting on issues in our society – I think this is a beautiful thing to last. 
 
Kate: Because print is beautiful – you can savour and share magazines in a way that you just can’t with the immediacy of the web. Things like content, photography and texture shape a really strong statement and I think muff really deserved that kind of medium. You know, you can make a really great website and it can have the biggest audience in the world, but it will never endure like print and one day, who knows whether that website will still be online? Financially, of course, it’s not that simple… 
 
Muff Magazine seeks to redefine “lesbian”  through an exploration of queer culture- what would say exemplifies that ethos in the latest issue?
 
BukanovaThe deliberate choice to avoid stereotypes. Not because of personal taste, but more the will to challenge existing perceptions.
 
KateWe try to explore queer issues and creatives without focusing on sexuality – because it doesn’t really matter whether somebody is gay or not. In the latest issue, we look at creatives who have moved to Berlin. I can tell you now that some of them happen to be gay, but at no point do we feel the need to mention that or define their work through it. We also have a couple of amazing interviews, with people like Jake Arnott and Molly Nilsson, as well as our own take on the famous Barilla pasta controversy. Virginia Woolf makes an appearance too. 
 
What are your personal favourite pieces of enduring queer literature or art?
 
BukanovaI never thought of literature or art to be solely queer.
 
What would you improve or change about London’s LGBT scene?
 
KateWhen I was young and single I loved London’s gay scene. From what I remember, I have to say it’s one of the best in the world – there’s something for everyone. Nowadays I don’t tend to frequent it so much and if I find myself in a gay bar it’s unlikely I’m in there solely because it’s gay. Maybe I’d change the beer selection…
 
Who are the Muff Magazine icons (and why)?
 
BukanovaFellow independent publishers like The Gourmand and Buffalo Zine.
 
KateI come to muff from a slightly more serious, editorial background so for me, my personal icons are people like Glenn Greenwald, George Monbiot, Naomi Klein. Muff-wise, I’d say we took a lot of hope and inspiration from magazines like BUTT and Girls Like Us. 
 
What’s your favourite feature each in the new issue?
 
BukanovaThe cats, gay pasta, our still life follow-up that can be seen here, a visual diary of past crushes, and our collaboration with Berlin based creatives. Did I mention cats?
 
KateI’d say it’s a toss up between Partner Look, which is our response to the Barilla pasta affair that we came up with over the kitchen table one rainy afternoon, and the Berlin photo series. 
 
As this is an interview for Dalston Superstore and we are all about dancefloors… if you had a time machine and could go back in time to any dancefloor anywhen/anywhere where would you want to go?
 
BukanovaIn the ’80s, somewhere between a gig of the Russian band Kino, Klaus Nomi – or  just dancing to Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones & co, wearing tons of make-up, studded over knee boots and über-oversized jumpers.
 
Kate: 1920’s swing? I basically spent my entire childhood wishing I’d been in the Bloomsbury Group. 
 
Muff Launch
 
For more info on the launch of issue 2 of Muff Magazine tomorrow night visit their Facebook page.

Ed Davenport

New night Fhloston Paradise (named after the giant space-liner in The Fifth Element) joins us this Friday for the first time, with special guest Ed Davenport. The former Londoner, now a Berliner, Ed Davenport has been quietly making waves, playing regularly at both Berghain and Panoramabar and releasing techno records on Falkplatz, NRK Music and his own imprint Counterchange. Ahead of the party we caught up with Ed to talk production, obscure geek references and more…

What one record set you on your path in music?

It may sound a bit self-centred, but I’d have to say it was my first ever piece of music signed to a real label. That was the track Yanderling, on Gumption which was signed while I was living in my wonderful mouse-infested house in Peckham, during my first year of University. It was 2005 and making music was just a hobby. After that record eventually came out in ’06, my whole focus changed and I knew I wanted to keep on putting out records and doing this full time!

Your past lies in graphic design and even today you create artwork for releases- do you think for you there is a desire to produce a complete multimedia artistic package?

Yeah, actually that’s what I was studying at uni and I still love to make artwork for my own releases, or some of my friend’s labels. I just like to keep busy and I don’t feel balanced unless I’ve got some new visual projects going on alongside the music. Making artwork for my labels and for other releases I’m involved with helps keep me sane and allows important listening time away from the studio. I don’t know if that makes up a ‘complete’ media experience, but I’d like to continue developing the visual stuff too.

As a former Londoner and current Berliner who plays in pretty diverse places around the world, where currently has the most exciting upcoming music scene you’ve experienced?

I just got back from Beirut. I was pretty surprised by the standard of production that they put into their events, and it seemed like there was a thriving, competitive scene going on there, right in the middle of that crumbling, hectic, nervous city. That’s the kind of thing that excites me about the touring aspect of this music. Another similar scene is Tel Aviv. In both cities I saw great qualities in the young people going to techno parties – intelligent, super-friendly and hard-working music activists with golden hearts!

You’ll be joining us here at Dalston Superstore for Fhloston Paradise- which is a pretty great geek reference… if you ever released under an obscure-reference-alias, what name would you pick and why?

Artist Name: Leonard Hatred 

Track Name: Psilence


Look Around You – Music Psilence Leonard Hatred by Le0nardHatred

What’s due up next on your label Counterchange?

Coming next on Counterchange is a 4 track Various Artists EP entitled Co-Ops Vol.1 (COUNTER004). It features tracks from Roman Lindau, Cassegrain, Savas Pascalidis and Nubian Mindz. They are all diverse, talented artists and this record highlights their straight-up club tracks. It’s also kind of a reflection of the variety of music I’m playing out at the moment. Roman’s track is funky, dubby bassline techno – classic Fachwerk stuff really. Then Cassegrain’s track takes things much more in a sci-fi direction, heavy on drama! After that there’s be a new EP from me in the works.

You just made your Fabric debut… are there any other UK clubs you’re keen to play that you’ve not as yet?

I’d love to get up to Glasgow for The Arches or Subclub – I remember hearing those club names on Radio 1 when I was a teenager, while Tong went through his weekend roundup… classic techno institutions! 

What’s one piece of equipment or hardware (computers aside) that you couldn’t make music without?

I love my KORG ESX-1 – it’s a sampling drum machine with powerful valve compressors. It’s taken part in pretty much all of the music I made for the last 4/5 years. It’s not such a sought after machine, but like any instrument, you have to learn how to use it, or in this case, push it, to get interesting sounds out!

If you had a time machine, what dancefloor anywhere/anywhen would you want to visit?

Without a doubt, The Haçienda circa 1989. Mike Pickering or Sasha on the decks. If only.

Can you talk us through your production process a bit – do you start with an idea/inspiration or is it an almost formed piece of the track in your head that you need to get down- how does it work for you?

It’s always based on jamming really. I’ll have sequences or parts prepared from old tracks, which I like but I don’t like the drums, say. So I’ll take that one element and open it up by itself. Then I’ll boot up my drum machine and synth, run it through some outboard FX and mess around until I find something that works. Often my tracks go through 5 or 10 different versions until I’m happy. I’ll make rough mix-downs, play them out in clubs, send them to close friends and try to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. I’d say about 75% of the music I make never sees public release. Also, I often get really inspired when I’m out of the studio, travelling or maybe hearing other friends play. I’ll make notes or buzz words that remind of an idea, or record some badly-sung idea into my phone. Then the next time I’m in the studio I’ll try to get it down. It’s a slow, patchwork process but somehow it works!  

Any genre- what’s your most perfect track to end the night on?

I once finished an 8hr set with this – the opening track Carry On. It’s totally cheesy, groovy and full of love! Just listen to the break halfway through – sleazy proto-funk gold! Actually listen to the whole album! It has the power to remind you that there’s a whole world of amazing music out there outside of house and techno. That, and the fact that the best, most honest and soulful music was made in the ’60s and ’70s, and we’ll never get close to it again!

Join Ed Davenport at Fhloston Paradise this Friday 14th March at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

Kid Batchelor

By Hannah Holland

A pioneer of the musical explosion on ‘80s London who DJ’ed at many of the revolutionary clubs of the time, as well as making legendary records… We are honoured to have Kid Batchelor spin in the laser pit at Paris’ Acid Ball this week, and learn a little history along the way…. 

Hi Lawrence aka Kid Batchelor. You were born and bred in Hackney. Must have changed a bit?? What was the music scene like when you first wet your toes?

When I started playing records in the ‘80s the music scene was simply electric. London was a maelstrom of creative activity. I could dazzle you with sparkling anecdotes aplenty from acid house-era London and beyond – if I could remember. A gentleman has no memory. 

I was born in Hackney, my family and I lived in Clissold Park, and I remember growing up near Hoxton. Just some of the changes I have witnessed over the last 20 years… It went from NDC to ultra-trendy enclave, with real estate developers tripping over each other to get a slice of the action.

What happened in ‘Shoho’ circa 1986, it was akin to East Berlin post ’89, meaning a foray into uncharted territory. Artists attracted by large open plan spaces and low rents moved in. It used to be cheap. Now though, property prices are much higher. The greasy spoons have given way to bijou restaurants. We have witnessed this happen to Soho and Shoho, Dalston has been trendier than Chelsea’s heyday for the last few years, but now Hackney has posted the ‘full-up’ sign there too. London venues and its electronic arts are in danger of being priced out of the city. It’s the Manhattanisation of London. 

Today according to a recent report London is officially the most expensive city in the world. From the price of a beer to bus fare to the shoe boxes that people call home. And, of course, rents continue to rise but salaries are staying the same; so what’s a gal/guy, to do?

Overheard as I passed a young couple standing outside an estate agents window in Shadwell this week: Him: “No that’s a garage.” Her: “Oh!”

What turned you onto DJing and where did you start?

My Adventures On The Wheels of Steel, so to speak, corresponds with the dawn of hip hop, which has just turned 40. I heard a set by DJ Cash Money, just from seeing him on the decks scratching to the funk; he’s had me as his love slave since. Forty years on from the first inklings of hip-hop filtered out of DJ Kool Herc’s decks: allowing one song to segue into another, at a Bronx house party in 1973.

Together with Jazzie B, Tony Humphries’ KISS FM MASTERMIX SHOW, and Tom Moulton’s High Fidelity, concepts that single-handedly created a new industry of remixing-producing records with greater dance impact. His super-sonic frequency design went much further than Motown ever did. Tom brought out the “blood and guts”, the things that really count in a song. These relationships played a huge role in my own development as DJ of 30 years standing. 

 Kid Batchelor

I was also hugely interested in disco, which became so ubiquitous it choked on its own backlash, and clouded the minds of suburban fans who forgot that the music had already been a big part of black, Latino, and gay culture for a half-decade. Disco died in 1979, or so they say. In truth, its influence metastasised throughout dance music. House music was disco in the raw. Frankie Knuckles and the other gay African Americans who invented house music began the process of rescuing disco from its own excesses by stripping away the clichés and reconnecting it with its subversive counter-cultural roots. When house music became the dominant popular style in the early 1980’s, first in Chicago then in NYC, San Francisco, LA, and all the other major US cities, before spreading across the country and the world.

Your work has been heavily influenced by New York ‘80s underground music scene, what was your first experiences of the music and the city? Must have been so fresh…

As in London, so New York was a hotbed of energy and ideas i.e. Keith Haring’s immersion in New York’s downtown cultural life; he quickly became a fixture on the New York artistic scene, befriending other artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, as well as many of the most innovative cultural figures of that period e.g. Fab Five Freddy. The role these relationships played in Haring’s development as a public artist and facilitator of group exhibitions and performances was very important, and I just thank god for my late friend Keith Haring who introduced me to Larry Levan at his ‘Party Of Life’ at the Paradise Garage.

Party Of Life flyer by Keith Haring

He knew what the latest records and the dances were; and artists like him went out at night and listened to music and danced a lot, they painted in the daytime that was the whole idea – it was all seen as one. Jean Michel Basquiat too, was an artist whose work symbolised a Cultural Movement, which had at its centre break-dancing, graffiti art and rap music. Through his work, he came to prominence in New York.

The late Dennis Hopper was also a connoisseur, he spoke about Afro-American Pop-Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in the following terms: “He has it all. Basquiat used to walk these streets with hundreds of thousands of dollars in shopping bags from his art sales. He enjoyed contradictions, art critics found him confusing. I don’t have any cynicism about him, however, he never said very much in interviews, yet there was a big idea to his art. He stands for a inquest post-modern type of beauty. He does something a lot of painters today want to do, but with theirs it comes out too controlled or twee, with Basquiat it’s alive. He had an incredible natural faculty…”

New York’s late ‘80s and ‘90s Sound Factory, Paradise Garage, Ballroom Culture and acid of Music Box is some of our biggest inspiration for Paris’ Acid Ball. You went to some of these clubs, what was the impact it had on you?

Believe me when I say this, I think it changed my perceptions of what was possible. 

I have always loved radio, especially from the US. Ever since I was a teenager collecting music – I fell in love, from then on the obsession grew and now I’ve been catapulted back, reflecting this knowledge and appreciation of the popular music of my youth. 

How did London and New York compliment each other back then? 

An important factor in making London a global Mecca for electronic arts is its cultural and social diversity (at least as great as New York).

In such a hotbed of energy and ideas, the process of reinvention never sits idle. For gangs of individuals driving such change, this city of 7.8 million people can support niche clubs and intensely-focussed musical style and act as a perfect playground in which to sculpt and grown our reputation as, yes, the artistic capital of the world. It’s like a nappy, the contents has to be changed regularly.

But if you looked at London in the mid ’80s, with its 3am license in the West End only, and compared it to New York (the city that gave us disco and hip hop with clubs like Area, Danceteria, Paradise Garage, The Palladium, CBGB) you might have laughed at the notion that London could supercede New York by the mid ’90s. 

It is easy to locate the parallels and synergies between British and American Pop Art of the 1960’s and ’70s. Clive Baker’s work can feel, despite it’s ‘Britishness’, like a celebration of the popular that we have come to associate with the USA. Such is the power and profile of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Wesselmann et al, that it is easy to forget that the genesis of Pop Art lies not in New York but in London. 

You were DJing at the legendary Soul II Soul party at the Africa Centre. It seemed like a perfect slice of London’s music scene, creating something totally unique. What was your experience of it? What were the big tunes you would play there?

Thirty years ago, Thatcherism was a boom/bust economy; racism was a street reality as well as a nightclub door policy. A tough pressured time, it led to the emergence of one of the most radical club scenes in the world. Thank heavens for the Funki Dreds aka Soul II Soul (SIIS )– a legendary sound system that became a Grammy award winning soul act. Headman Jazzie B took me in as just a Kid (hence my handle) who could rock turntables’ and together we tore club culture apart.

The Funki Dreds

Our music policy was Afro/soul. We hooked up with crews like Wicked Pulse (Soul Kitchen), Family Funktion, Norman Jay and Nellie Hooper’s Bristol Massive (The Wild Bunch/Massive Attack). Jazzie’s music became steeped in seventies James Brown beats and classic revival tunes, whereas I moved forward towards electronica, new sounds, garage and house etc. Although I am still down with the Funki Dreds we never overcame that crucial fissure, me to the future, they to the past. 

The late ’70s and the early ’80s reggae imagery – of painted medallions, fists, sensi plant or leaf, images of the Ethiopian Emperor who died in 1960s and was considered divine by Rastafarians, Zion – a referencing to Jerusalem and the Emperor Haile Salassie is believed to have been Christ incarnate, and so on gave way to ’80s African imagery, long canvases decorated these dance halls like Africa Centre in Covent Garden; so we got musical forms with its own imagery e.g. Soul II Soul, Funki Dred.

I’ve been commissioned to make a radio programme about Soul II Soul, a musical ideology which has remained at the avant-garde of what many describe as an oxymoron, British soul music. Yet in the eighties one man and a group of friends took on that transatlantic cynicism and nullified it in the most revolutionary style imaginable. That man was Jazzie B, and his friends, a bunch of talented singers and performers who had all until then been denied any major form of success. But with Soul II Soul these singers’ names became familiar with millions of lips, as SIIS became the neologism of London and then the world. 

What do you think it was about the UK that embraced the explosion of acid house in1988?!

London has been a hugely successful Mecca for the electronic arts enthusiasts over the last couple of decades, for a variety of reasons… among them: its cultural and social diversity. The development of the one-nighter club format from the early ‘80s, Warehouse parties. Pirate radio. Home-grown UK producers (in the 80s) and pioneering musical genres (Jungle, UK garage, D&B, dubstep). Sound system culture. Gay and polysexual scenes. Its size. And its party people, who made the parties matter in spite of 2am licenses and other restrictions.

In the ’80s, a new sound emerged across London’s dancefloors – a plethora of musical communities and sub communities – house, new beat, garage, techno and balearic beats. This sound exploded right across London and beyond, under the Acid House banner (smiley faces), which conveys the heady days of the Balearic spirit for those who can only dream of having been there.

Give us an insight into your record box gems of the time.

Too many favourites, hundreds in fact, but Will Downing – In My Dreams is one that popped to the head of the queue when I read your question. In half an hour it could be a pet Bas Noir, or a Fast Eddie’s Let’s Go, or some new, young artist from Croydon or Italy. Tough and electronic sounds.

I played all the best tunes during the rise of each genre – electro, rap, funk, house. During the late 1980’s acid house era, I shifted towards a more radical model of uniting art and music technology. 

Your Bang The Party records were some of the first proper UK house cuts to emerge on the scene, how did Bang The Party come about ? 

Dance act Bang The Party (founded 1986), originally a trio including Keith (KCC) Franklin, KCL Project. But then were downed to two, Lesley ‘Bullet’ Lawrence and I. 

Release Your Body, with Derrick May, an acid house fave, was followed by Bang Bang You’re Mine, a garage classic. We also released an album, Back To Prison.

Since those golden times you’ve gone on to be a creative director for London’s best super club Fabric, a regular record player in Europe (particularly Italian Rivera), worked on various TV projects + host a weekly radio show Mi-Soul. What advice would you give to a young Londoner stepping out to play music?!

The single ingredient you’ll need in spades is PASSION. And a lot of LUCK.

Nobody does dedication like James Brown, the minister of super heavy weight funk and social commentator. Here’s his charming point of view …

“Put your hand on the box and feel this,
Lay your hand up there and feel it,
If you got any kind of soul you got to feel it.”
 (James Brown, I Got To Move)

GET the message? This is not for the feckless or faint hearted. What you hold here is a funk bomb, primed to vaporise lethargy. A compound of full-length, full-strength masterfunk. An hour or so of GET UP and go. The jungle groove.

Sadly, in the industry as in life, being the best you can be isn’t necessarily a winning formula. All ironically, in the words of The Last Poets “We started on the corner and ended up in the square”.

Join Kid Batchelor this Saturday for Paris’ Acid Ball at Dalston Superstore 9pm – 3am.

Billie Ray Martin Speaks

This Saturday famed German singer Billie Ray Martin joins us for Body Talk! Known for her avant-garde style and her stint providing vocals for S’Express and as the lead singer of Electribe 101, Billie is a former London resident whose now based in Berlin. Ahead of the party we caught up with her to find out all about witnessing the birth of London house in the ’90s, growing up in her native Hamburg, what music she’s playing out these days and more…

Your hometown of Hamburg is well known for its influential music scene and culture. How much of this would you say played a part in your own upbringing and the development of your personal taste?

A large part. It used to be a very soulful town, before the same gentrification took over that’s fucking up the rest of our towns. My family were music lovers so I grew up with radio music. That was a bigger influence than the town itself but the town and its atmosphere was definitely an influence. The biggest influence Hamburg has to this day and has always had is on my lyrics. I am from the red light district of St.Pauly so I grew up with transvestites, transsexuals, hookers and people in between all the genders you can imagine. My family looked like transvestites with their lashes and beehives and eyeliner… so to this day I write about characters that are kind of indefinable. 

You’ve also lived in London, New York and now Berlin, all during what could be considered their key times within dance music… where’s next?

Stuck in Berlin for a few years yet I guess. Not really my kind of place but… I don’t know where else to go without a big budget to live on. 

What are your overall memories of London’s house music scene in the early ’90s? Was it a golden time, or does it just come out that way in the retelling?

 It was definitely the golden time for me. Right place, right time. The excitement from seeing this music grow from 50 people at Heaven looking sceptical, to hundreds of people dancing in a matter of a few months, and being and becoming an integral part of this was a highlight of my life. We also felt like it was a world community as each week, you would get African house songs coming out and songs released from all kinds of countries, so we felt like we were all pulling the same string. There was a sense of community.

Electribe 101 only produced the one album and a fine album at that, why didn’t you stay together and what are the chances of Electribe 101 ever getting back together? 

We were dropped by the record company and we are not getting back together. We recorded a second album but then we were dropped by Phonogram.

How did you come to sample Julian Jonah’s Jealousy And Lies for Electribe 101’s first single Talking With Myself?

It’s no sample. We re-created it. I turned up to the studio with Julian’s single and said: do that. So we copied the whole thing. Shameful really. Julian was so kind and said he loved it. He is one of the underrated people who should get recognition.

Of course the song I had written was just written by me and it fitted onto the Julian Jonah thing.

Which record are you most proud of and why?

The one I’m about to release, which is a cover of David Bowie’s After All. Also my songs Dead Again and The Opiates album I did with Robert Solheim. And The Opiates remix album. 

What has life taught you thus far?

I am proud and grateful for every minute and proud and grateful for the person I am today. I have come further than I could have ever imagined and it is about to start getting good. My story is not the exception. So, life has taught me to better watch out because we are taken care of by the universe if we only care to see it. 

Don’t complain. Get on with it. 

Considering your famously eclectic taste and diverse range of styles, this could be a difficult question… if you had a time machine, which dancefloor would you like to go back in time to, anywhere/anywhen?

Some ‘60s beat gathering.

When was the last time that you cried?

I cry buckets every day. It’s part of me releasing the tears I should have cried all my life and never did. So I cry at every opportunity now. 

With current UK artists like Tom Demac included in amongst S’Express and artists local to you like Soulphiction all included in your most recent RA chart, how would you decribe your current style of DJing?

I tend to say it’s old school influenced house with an indie feel. I like people who complain or tell it how it is on dance tracks vocally rather than the usual dance stuff. I play only few vocals but they tend to sort of have an indie feel.

Which artists of today are you currently turned on to?

Boonlorm, FKA Twigs, Nina Persson… so many to mention. 

Love or Money?

Money. 

Only kidding. 

Billie Ray Martin plays Body Talk

Join Billie Ray Martin this Saturday 15th February for Body Talk at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.