Our latest Dalston Superstore debut comes from Bristolian sweethearts Studio 89. They are well known for throwing down parties that are practically dripping in disco sleaze, so they were naturally a perfect match for our big gay mothership! We sat down with promoters Ben Price and David Bull to chat popping their Superstore cherries, that amazing artwork and what to expect from their special guests!
Hi Studio 89! We’re so excited to have you at Dalston Superstore this Friday! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Well we are Bristol boys who collect a lot of music and put on nights mainly in Bristol and London. We’re known for playing all kinds of disco, but tend to mix it up much more these days.
How did you two first come together to start putting on amazing parties?
The good old university days… we both met in Cardiff and at the time there were no disco nights in Cardiff, we managed to find a great little basement underneath a noodle takeaway and started throwing parties in there with all of our mates.
Who have been some of your favourite guests over the years?
Hunee in Cardiff early on with Studio 89 was incredible and remains one of the most memorable nights for us, also our first party in London with Daniel Wang in 2014 was also an incredibly fun night. But our absolute favourite is Michael Serafini – really we wish he could play at every party we do.
Mark Seven is your special guest this Friday, what do you love about him?
The man has never done a bad podcast, his production is slick and he is the king of the sleaze.
You guys have very recently started a record label and released your own record! How has that process been for you?
It’s been great and a long time coming… the reason for doing the label in the way we have (keeping each of the various artists anonymous) means people can focus less on the hype of the artists involved and enjoy the other aspects of the release – including the artwork which is always an important focal point in everything that we do.
We love all of your artwork! Can you tell us a bit about the artist behind it?
Glad you like it, we are also massive fans. Coke Oak is the mysterious man behind it – an old friend of ours who went to art school with us in Cardiff. He is a wicked artist and translates all of our ideas so naturally. We really have a passion for it and want to put the art in the forefront as much as the parties themselves. Last year we held an exhibition called Love Supreme as an homage to some of our favourite disco icons which was also tied in with our 2016 event posters. It was put on as part of Simple Things festival in Bristol with all the artwork displayed on lightboxes and the exhibition space was injected with a bit of a sleazy discotheque/club atmosphere.
What can London learn from the Bristol party scene?
London councils can learn a lot from Bristol but also from most other cities… the punters of London are no different to Bristol yet they seem to be faced with a lot of limitations in what can be offered with nightlife because of what seems like more controlling local authorities. Being a much smaller city, Bristol has more of a community feel with music and nightlife, with everyone basically knowing each other, particularly in the more intimate parties – it’s always a great recipe for an amazing night… and at the end of the day a really good crowd is the most important part of a successful night. The fact that stand out events happen less frequently also makes each of them feel more special.
If you had a time machine and could go dancing anywhere/when, where would you go?
Larry Levan playing at the final Paradise Garage party. Or one of the early Body & Soul parties.
Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage
Can you give a hint of what you have in store for us this Friday?
Well Mark is playing all night downstairs so that will be a masterclass in music from start to finish. Upstairs Nick who has been playing for us for years will be playing a mixture of classic disco/funk and underground pop.
Catch Studio 89 this Friday 30 September from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
Tomorrow night we welcome dreamboat and DJ extraordinaire Hesseltime aka Matt Hesselworth of acclaimed clubnight and record label Tief to the Superstore basement. He joins Greg Spencer and Greg Lowe of Fhloston Paradise for some campy intergalactic techno and house sounds. Ahead of the party, Greg and Greg posed a few of their burning questions to Matt…
By Greg Spencer and Greg Lowe
Matt! We’re really excited to have you this Friday at Fhloston Paradise. We hear you were recently in Chicago (Greg L was born there!) and have some new records to play. What did you think of the home of house music and what fabulous records did you pick up?
Hey! Chicago was amazing! I spent hours in Gramaphone Records where I met Michael Serafini (who also runs the amazing QUEEN nights at Smart Bar every Sunday night). I spent a few hundred dollars in there, the best records I found in the bargain bins! The record that I picked up that I have played the most since was an original pressing of Bent Boys – Walk the Night, but I also filled in all the gaps in my Prescription Records, Strictly Rhythm, Henry Street collections etc. A lot of the newer Chicagoan music is amazing too! I picked up some records from Black Madonna, Hakim Murphy, Chicago Skyway and Garrett David and its all amazing. Michael Serafini is also one of the nicest guys going.
You played a great set with Superstore Maestro Dan Beaumont last week. There quite a few 90s house records that had a real diva and runway vibe. Where does your love for that sound come from?
Yeah that was a lot of fun, Dan is great. One moment that stuck out though. I played a Masters Of Work remix of Simply Red (which is an amazing record), Dan looked pretty embarrassed about having to stand there while it was playing before he mixed the next tune in. I think I might have out camped Dan there? I love a lot of old US records and learn a lot from listening to some of my favourite DJs like Hunee, Prosumer, Michael Serafini, Sadar Bahaar etc..
Versatility. That’s one word that comes to mind when hearing one of your sets. Do you think of yourself having a particular sound?
Nope! I collect a lot of Afro, disco, psyche, and some krautrock too. My favourite DJs are those who keep changing direction. I find it kind of boring if it is left too long with out a vocal or too monotonous. I like to see people surprised and reacting to the music, not just zoning out or falling asleep on their feet.
Your Tief parties are much loved in London. While not specifically gay parties, you booked the legendary Mr. Ties of Homopatik for one of your most recent parties. How did that go?
Yeah that was a really special one, every time Francesco (Mr Ties) has played for us he has attracted a really mixed crowd, which of course is perfect. I like to think we generally attract a good cross section of people to our parties, gay, straight, older and younger, this is important to me!
Tief is also the name of your record label. What’s the meaning behind the name? And can we expect any exciting releases any time soon?
Well, Tief means deep in German, which may come across as a bit pretentious. Truth is I just liked the sound of the word and it looked nice written down. As simple as that really! I guess it’s also a bit of a nod to German/Berlin nightlife, somewhere (like so many others) I spend quite a bit of time!
Release-wise, we have some amazing music on the way with originals and remixes from Johannes Volk, Linkwood, Samuel, Amir Alexander, Tin Man, Bicep, Sisterhood, Francis Inferno Orchestra, Efdemin and a few more… really exciting for us!
Bicep, exciting! A lot of clubs, particularly gay venues, have been closing in London recently. Do you think London still has a bright future for dance music?
Yeah I’d say so, people will always party and will always find a way or place to do it. Media like to focus on negativity and while a lot of places are closing, there are other places popping up.
You’re a tall, strapping lad. All these basement clubs in London… do you ever hit your head!?
Less hit, more scrape, which is far more painful. Yeah, 6ft 5 is a bit too tall isn’t it? I’ll just have to leave my stilettos at home for this one…
Fhloston Paradise, is a pretty camp reference to a pretty camp film, The Fifth Element. Your campest moment in a club?
Wearing lipstick on a boat party in Croatia while playing b2b with Harry Midland and DVE? I sometimes play some pretty camp music, so the camp moments can come thick and fast…
Finally if you had a DeLorean time-machine to take you to any dancefloor, past or present, where would you go?
Oh, to Fela Kuti’s club The Shrine in Lagos in the early ’80s, every day of the week!!!!! Failing that, Studio 54 in the late ’70s, to see Larry Levan.
Join Matt aka Hessletime this Friday 8th May for Fhloston Paradise at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.
Gene Hunt was a protégé of legendary Music Box resident DJ Ron Hardy and had a front-row seat for the genesis of house music in Chicago while still in his teens. He is fiercely protective of Hardy’s legacy and personifies a distinctive style of DJing that dates back to the beginnings of club culture itself. Gene Hunt is a collector of dance rarities, producer of unique analogue house tracks, reel-to-reel edit specialist but first and foremost a DJ.
I met him from Heathrow and accompanied him to St Pancras for a gig in Ghent. He agreed to let me record him talking as we had lunch waiting for the Eurostar.
DAN: Can you share a Ron Hardy DJ secret?
GENE: I remember we were playing together, I think it was about ’87, ’88.
I played this track and he was like, “Why did you rush it out, why didn’t you play the rest of the track?”
I said “But the floor cleared.”
He said, “Let me tell you something: This is what you’re gonna do.” He looked in his bag and he gave me a couple of records. The first record was called Galaxy, by War. So I play this record and cleared the floor again.
He said, “Play it a couple more times.”
I said, “Tonight?!”
He was like “Yeah! Play a couple tracks, do that, then play it again.”
So I played it again. And the crowd stayed on.
He said, “Do you see my point? You have the power to break records. But you cannot be afraid as a DJ to let them experience what you experience. Now what do you think about this record?”
I said, “I love it.”
“Now, what makes you think they don’t? If a record is eight minutes long, play it! Don’t just rush it out or rush it in because the drummers and the singers don’t start getting into their groove until the middle or towards the end of the record. So play that shit! Don’t be afraid. See what you just did?”
“What I do?”
“I just let you break the record.”
And I was like, “wow, you tricked me.”
“I always trick you.”,
Y’know, Ron would give me these challenges or tasks when we’re live at the club. “Alright, c’mon, bring something in.”
I’m like, “I don’t have my stuff with me!”
“Use my stuff.”
So, that was the part about execution. That was the part about timing. That was the part about learning. It was not being afraid to express what you want to express. Give them what they want, but then also educate them.
DAN: Do you think that DJs play too safe now?
GENE: Yes a lot of them do. A lot of them choose their hot spots, a lot of them find more simplistic ways to work an audience without being as creative as they are in other aspects. Now, since you have Traxsource and Beatport and all that other stuff, it makes it very accessible for people to just sit there all day and just purchase shit. Back in the days we had to go to the shops. We had to go to Loop Records, we had to go to Imports, we had to go to Gramophone, we had to go to different places to look in the bins and get creative to find what’s hot. You could get Hot Mix 5 [house music radio show] or you could go to The Playground or the Music Box or Sawyers or what have you and you would just sit back and feel the vibe of what’s going on. You would go to the record store the next day with your tape. We had somebody to educate us, to keep music going on.
DAN: What is the Chicago sound to you?
GENE: Basically, when house music occurred, I mean we had the disco era first, but when house music first came about, we had Chip E doing shit like Time To Jack, and It’s House. We had Jesse Saunders making On and On, we had Robert Owens and Fingers Inc and Bring Down The Walls and Mysteries Of Love, Ron Hardy doing Sensation, Frankie bringing out bring out reel to reels and tape decks to play the exclusive stuff. People didn’t have a Traxsource or a Beatport, you couldn’t just go there and buy something to sound and fit like everyone. The way they’ve designed the game now is you don’t have to go fish and find your music. We would take reel to reels and grab a razor blade and splice and do edits and make stuff go backwards, with the drum machines and outboard gear like Roland 909 or 707s or 303s and we would create our own stuff to play at parties that accentuate to make us different from one another. When Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson used to come down to the Box and bring the Rhythm Is Rhythm shit and strings of life. They would come to the Music Box and give us all that shit.
DAN: So what did you think of what was happening in Detroit?
GENE: Oh, they were really starting to break that edge. You had like Blake Baxter and Model 500, Metroplex, all that shit from Inner City, all that stuff they were doing, they had their own flavour. Like they took a certain element, they added their own attribute to it, and created a sound called techno. Like when I used to take a 909 track, I would just put basslines and make it real abstract, that would be considered as techno now. I would play that with disco, I would play that with house music because it was my rendition. Okay, what makes Gene Hunt so different? Tracks! He makes acid tracks with a 909 when Phuture 303 made that shit with a 707 and and the 727… he makes his acid tracks with the 909! Oh my god!
Everybody had a different flavor. Lil’ Louis when he did French Kiss and The Music Takes Me Away… I remember when he paid 300 bucks for an 808 drum machine, he started making French Kiss, got the deal with Ray Barney [owner of Dance Mania records].
DAN: Someone said that Jesse Saunders On And On track was important because it taught the whole of Chicago that anybody could make a house record.
GENE: All that stuff was being distributed by Larry Sherman who owned Trax Records. This man had a record company, a pressing plant, right in the back of a meat market! Everybody would come down there and get their stuff pressed up and they had different labels and so forth and we’d press vinyl. You would sit there with a hammer. Me and Ron Carrol would sit over by the garbage can. Ron Hardy would be in the other room doing the shrinkwrap. Steve Poindexter would be doing the typesetting and the labels. We would have all these old K-Tel records and shit and we’d have a hammer and break the records down so we could re-melt the wax. All those records that came out, that you would see on television, we’d break the records and tear out like the vinyl part of it and press records and you’d still see the old records pressed in the new records, oh it was gangster!
DAN: Was Larry Sherman a bit dodgy?
GENE: “A bit dodgy” wasn’t the word! Haha. Let’s try “total dodgy”! But we all learned. We would take the vinyl recording, get a good quality recording of it, go downstairs, make a plate of it, then press it up. The vinyl quality was shitty but back then it was beautiful just to be able to get a record that you couldn’t get. So, Ron would take personal shit out of his collection, record it, and then put it out.
DAN: Why do you love playing records?
GENE: If you’re playing records and the record skips or the record jumps or gets dirty, that’s the fun about it. You’re really up there doing it. You’re really conducting music in a sense, to make it realistic to everybody in the room. The warm sound of a good quality recording and the fidelity that comes out of those speakers, the sound and the feeling of it, it doesn’t sound processed, it’s a real live feeling, it doesn’t have a synthetic feel whatsoever. That’s the importance of playing vinyl. The tape hiss. That analogue thickness. That warmth. It’s different from some shit being processed and watered down. It sounds too perfect. It has to be a little dirty. It has to have a little dirt, a little grunge in it to get with the natural aspect, to make it more organic.
It’s like some broccoli, if you overcook it. You cook all the nutrients out of it and you lose that crunch to it. It’s soggy and synthetic. You want to have warm and organic attributes to get the natural aspect of what you’re doing. That’s why it’s so valuable to play wax.
[Gene is eating a forkful of broccoli at this point]
Dan: What is your state of mind when you’re DJing? Do you get nervous?
GENE: Not really. I know I have a job to do. I have to entertain a room full of people for a number of hours so I have to get everybody on the same page. So based on the way that I feel emotionally – If I got personal problems at home, or I’m going through some shit I’m taking my problems out on the dancefloor. So they’re loving it, and it’s helping me get through my problems. Because I’m unleashing the way that I’m feeling, I’m expressing myself to a room full of people. My car got towed, I got tickets, some shit happened, so I’m going to take it out on you guys and you’re going to love it. I like to tell a story when I play. I like to give you past, present and future. I want to give you aspects of where I started and where I came from. Let you know what’s going on in the now, and tell you things about where I want to go. It’s like a rollercoaster – you anticipate, and you go up, but you don’t know when the drop is coming. My advice is to never plan what you do. Because I want to enjoy it just as much as you want to enjoy dancing.
DAN: What do you think about EDM?
GENE: It has its moments. If you come from Chicago which is the Mecca of house music, obviously, you should have some form of education and history. You hear EDM stuff in a club – I went through this a couple of weeks ago – I’m like, “Why would they put me on to headline and they got this person and that person” It puts me in a challenging state because here I am in a room full of people who don’t have a clue about what they’re dancing to – but it feels good to them. It’s a mind opener.
DAN: Would you play a disco record to an EDM crowd?
GENE: Yes. Most definitely. I wouldn’t hesitate. I’m relentless. “Alright, they’re digging that. Let’s try this.”
I still hear Ron in my head saying, “Don’t rush that record out, you better let that record finish.”
DAN: And back to Ron – how was it working for him?
GENE: Pins and needles. Out the blue. It was scary. You never knew when he wanted to take a break – he would just say, “Get on.”
There wasn’t a plan, like, “You’re going to play 11:30 or 12:30.”
He would just play a record and then go out the back and chill out.
“Go ahead, get on.”
He’d be back there taking a nap.
I used to open up. If I was five minutes late and he gave me shit about it. At the very last Music Box – 2210 South Michigan was the very last one. I was like less than five minutes late.
“You have to be punctual, you gotta be on time.”
I’m like, “It’s nine fifty!”
“You should be here at nine thirty.”
He was in my ass because I was there at nine fifty. Subliminal mind games that just got me fucking rugged. And Frankie was the same way with me. I would pick him up – Frankie Knuckles does not drive, Frankie Knuckles does not drive a car, he’s terrified of driving a car. You have to drive him. I would meet him and he would give me music. “Give it to so-and-so, give it to so-and-so, don’t give it to so-and-so.” Specific instructions. Ron was the opposite. But they both respected one another and they were both training me.” They saw a young kid that was ambitious.
DAN: How did Frankie’s style differ to Ron’s?
GENE: Very similar and yet different. They both played the same music, they both played the same things. But the way they played them was totally different. Frankie was real sexy with it, real smooth. Ron was more aggressive. It was like passive and aggressive. But you wanted both aspects. In Chicago you couldn’t have one without the other.
DAN: Describe your style…
GENE: [smiles] That’s a good one. Once I get in the groove I want to stay in that groove. I don’t want to have any intermissions. I’m relentless. Once I get it going and once I get everybody into that mode. I keep that flavour going. I want to keep that room and give it bounce. We gotta have some vocals, we gotta have some live drums, we gotta have some groovy shit, we gotta have some sexy shit. I want to give you a four course meal of music.
DAN: Who are your current favourite Chicago DJs?
GENE: My girl Serena – CZ Boogie. She owns a publication called 5 Magazine which is like the house music almanac when it comes to parties.
We have a group in Chicago called The Untouchables – it’s me, Farley (Jackmaster Funk), Paul Johnson, a guy named DJ Box, Craig Alexander and CZ Boogie – so it’s the six of us.
How is the gay scene in Chicago?
Off the chain. It’s off the chain. We got a night on Sunday called “Queen” at Smart Bar. It just so happened that the person who does this night owns Gramaphone [legendary Chicago record emporium] – Michael Serafini. The night is explosive. Frankie’s birthday was ridiculous. You had Louie Vega, you had David Morales, you had Derrick Carter. All star lineup. You couldn’t move in the place.