Posts Tagged ‘Paris Is Burning’

How Do I Look

How Do I Look: Talking Ballroom with Wolfgang Busch

By Whitney Weiss

Documentary filmmaker/activist Wolfgang Busch started life managing bands in Germany, relocated to New York in the 1980s, and leapt right into nightlife and activism, the latter of which still keeps him busy on a daily basis. How Do I Look, his look into the voguing community of New York, is a deliberately constructed counterpoint to Paris is Burning and a selection at this year’s Fringe Film Festival. Ahead of the screening, he spoke candidly about New York in the ’80s and his experience with the politics of queer subcultures. 

How were you first introduced to the ballroom scene in New York?

In 1987, I saw my first ball by accident at the New York club Traxx. It was an Xtravaganza ball, and I experienced the magic of Dorian Corey, Pepper Labeija, Avis Pendavis and voguing legends Jose and David Ian Xtravaganza. I was so mesmerized and I remember saying to myself that I would love to work with this community one day.

In 1989, I created the New York Promoters League of NYC club promoters to raise funds for local charities and was introduced to Mike Stone, the youngest gay black promoter in NYC club history. We became friends and I learned about the discrimination in NYC clubs. At that time I was a club promoter and booking agent for the Limelight and I had access to all the clubs in Manhattan. I helped Mike to find clubs for his parties and we did parties together. Mike introduced me to the Ballroom icon/historian/activist/living legend Kevin Omni. Kevin educated me about ballroom history and introduced me to many icons and legends. I learned that the documentary Paris is Burning was rejected by the ballroom historians and many icons because of its imbalance and because it portrayed the community as thieves, prostitutes and drug users. Unfortunately, the public is not aware of this, because many people in the ballroom community have been selling out the community for personal gain and they continue to promote this film, which left behind many scars. Ballroom historians understand the positive in this film, but the exploitative elements in this film still affect this community.

And how did you decide to make a documentary about the ballroom scene?

Kevin asked me if I would be interested in doing another documentary about the ballroom community that would be cultural and educational. We had many meetings at the LGBT community center in NYC, which was attended by ballroom hall-of-famers Octavia St. Laurent, David Ultima, Junior LaBeija, Marcel Christian and Kevin Omni. We talked about what they wanted How Do I Look to be and we had many screenings to let the community know of the direction of the film and they gave me input at every step of the way. Nobody signed the agreement until the film was completed.. This is a rather unusual way of making a film, but due to the situation with Paris is Burning and the fact that Jeannie Livingston was sued by Octavia St. Laurent.

After its release, How Do I Look won best documentary and a Humanitarian Award from the Diaspora Film Festival in Berlin, Germany. It was screened worldwide.

Your approach to documentary filmmaking is about providing a spotlight for particular cultural communities. What inspired you to want to tell these stories?

My background was in entertainment. While I was growing up in Germany I worked as a DJ and a sound engineer touring mostly in Germany and Austria. The band Crypton I was working for had a black singer, Michelle from Boston, and I became the negotiator for her, because of my English-speaking background. I always had an attraction to the outrageous entertainers going back when I was as a booking agent at the Limelight in the 1980s. I moved to New York in my twenties and was very much attracted to the diversity of music that the city had to offer and the existence of its subcultures and underground movements. I was many times the only white boy in black and hispanic clubs. I wanted to know what makes a trend-setting community like the ballroom community or the leather community. 

During my time as a club promoter, booking agent and TV producer, I learned about the entertainment industry in New York City and learned about the disrespect and exploitation towards the artists, which was the opposite of what my experience was in Germany. I couldn’t get over the fact that the entertainment industry is so horrible towards artists, so I decided to kiss the corporate entertainment industry goodbye. I got involved in the Gay Lesbian American Music Awards (GLAMA), OutMusic, the Arts Project and Community Center on Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove and The Imperial Court of NY. I wanted to build an infrastructure and fight for justice and empowerment while promoting natural artistic progression. 

Ross Infiniti

I know that you have definitely strong feelings about Paris is Burning. Plenty of people in the new ballroom scene have referenced the movie as something that they like, as something that introduced them to that world.

Right, there’s a motivation to do that because if they associate themselves with this film, which is internationally known, that’s how they then get gigs. I had conversations with these DJs and they will not quote the negativity from that, they will only talk about the positive side, they completely ignore what really leaves the scars behind. It’s unfortunate when you deal with a disenfranchised community, if you really understand what disenfranchised means, is that for a dollar they sell out their mother. And when you really understand the black community, with the history, with the slavery, so once you understand that whole part, then you then also understand that more educated people who support Paris Is Burning and support The Latex Ball and support the AIDS agencies, these are all people that are really only doing it to benefit financially and personally. It’s really unfortunate, and it’s so widespread now but only amongst the people who either benefit or the people that are like really on drugs and they really don’t care. 

Then of course what also happened with the AIDS agencies, and if you look at How Do I Look, people speak very critically of the AIDS agencies. And because I included that in the film, it was rejected by GMHC and the local AIDS agencies because, you know, they looked at that as some kind of attack towards their agency because people were telling the truth. So part of the reason why How Do I Look was never successful commercially is because it was blacklisted by these AIDS agencies. It makes sense. So, you know, you can see how they use their social status, these agencies, to boycott or blacklist or interfere with the arts or the truth and manipulation and all that comes into play. And that’s really really unfortunate. 

MYKE design, 2014

So in New York right now, who is throwing balls and who in the scene do you feel is really embodying the more sincere spirit for voguing?

There’s this disconnect between the old school and new school kids. The old school doesn’t respect the young kids, the young kids don’t respect the old school. So there has been this divide for the longest time, and when I produced the Ballroom Convention focusing on the history, which means more of the old school, it somewhat woke up lots of the old school people wanting to come out again. And then the convention was followed by the Omni Ball, focusing a lot on old school categories, bringing out some of the old school children again and some of the new school kids. That seemed to, somewhat revolutionary and a huge change, bringing back more of the old school categories and traditions. Because the new school kids don’t really have much respect for the old school. 

Who in New York do you think is doing good work to help with education without trying to turn taking care of things into a money-making business? Who is the non-profit that you support? Which organizations doing outreach in NY do you think are doing good work and doing work that’s based on helping the community? Who is making a real difference?

They all do good work, it’s not that they aren’t doing good work. They all do good work to an extent, but the question has become ‘at what cost?’ GMHC has food programs and provides condoms, that’s a great service. But on the other hand, they are cutting into the ballroom economics, they created their own subculture so they can continue to get the grants, so that is really the question. They are providing services, but the problem is at what cost. And that, at the end of the day, is the real question here. They are taking advantage of this community. The executive director makes $250,000, the COO makes $200,000, and then she goes to the media and complains because ‘we have to cut food programs for our clients because there were budget cuts.’ But they have $100,000 to produce the Latex Ball and give $5,000 on prize money. They have money for that. I’ve contacted so many people, like C Virginia Fields, she was the Manhattan borough president. The big leaders that we respect, the doctors, all these leaders, they all sell us out because they want to keep their 100,000 or 200,000 jobs and they give each other awards and rewards and parties so they can write about what a fabulous job they’re doing. And it’s nothing but a bunch of crap because they just keep hanging on to these jobs and exploiting communities and completely take advantage of it. And this is what it really comes down to. These respected people are the biggest sell-outs of the community.  

Aviance Milan

Do you think that underground communities like the ballroom scene will still be flourishing there in 15 years, or have things actually started to gentrify and change so much that working class artists/dancers/musicians/etc will be squeezed out?

The ballroom community with all the challenges it is facing right now with the AIDS agencies will continue to survive, because of its infrastructure it has created. Because of the discrimination and class divide in this country, they have to stick together and help each other, because they have all odds against them. 

In regards of making a dollar on their art? Now more people have the opportunity to travel and teach voguing. Is this enough, of course not, but when I look into the future and after the AIDS agencies will be no longer be able to divide the community and will no longer cut into the ballroom economy, the ballroom community will have a new beginning and hopefully with the right leadership, it will find its representation and support on the highest cultural and educational levels. I am so grateful that I am playing a part in this change now.

How Do I Look screens this Sunday 9th November at the Rose Lipman Building as part of Fringe Film Festival. 

All images courtesy of Wolfgang Busch

Jennifer Cardini

Hailing from the south of France, Jennifer Cardini forged her reputation with residencies at Rex Club and famed lesbian club Le Pulp, ultimately going on to set up her successful Correspondant label to release both her own records and fresh new ones from around the world. Ahead of the party we caught up with her to talk about techno, love and Parisian lesbians…

What drew you to Paris in the late ’90s?

Friendship did. I met a girl who was also a DJ called Sex Toy during a radio interview I did for the release of my first ever record. After the interview we started to talk and became good friends. We started a band called Pussy Killers, which was one of the first DJ combo bands. We wanted to do something a bit different. Being fans of David Bowie and Rocky Horror Picture Show, we wanted to bring this rock-glam-humour into techno, because at this moment everyone was so serious, wearing label tshirts and stuff like that. So we started this and we wore Mexican wrestler masks, arriving on stage with a big ghetto blaster that played recordings of my dog barking, and playing Nirvana, AC/DC or Iron Maiden in the middle of our DJ set. It was a mixture of everything we grew up with, that superhero attitude.

She was the one who introduced me to the people from Le Pulp. I played there and they asked me to become a resident. So I said yes and just moved. Also Sex Toy and I wanted to make music together so it made more sense to be in Paris… I’m from the south of France and it’s not the most exciting region when you are young! It’s very nice now that I am a bit older- to go to the beach and stuff- but when I was in my 20s I was bored to death there.

So I came to Paris, which was really amazing, it was super exciting, so many things to do and people to know. So friendship brought me [to Paris]. But actually, I was already playing Rex Club and when I told them I planned on moving they offered me a residency. It was difficult to say no. I came here already having the two residencies, and for me they were the two best clubs at the time in Paris.

DJ Sex Toy was quite an influence presence in Paris?

She was an icon. Now there are two movies about her as she passed away 10-12 years ago. She was the kind of person who had 10 ideas every second… which could be very tiring! But she had this amazing energy and very creative. She had the craziness that I was too shy to have at that time. So we were a good combo- I was the more serious techno-freak and she was more the crazy creative person. She was always able to find crazy clothes to wear and be avant-garde-everything. Anything she wore, everyone else at Le Pulp would start wearing as well. She was this model for a lot of lesbians.

DJ Sex Toy

You were name-checked in RA’s article “The Alternate History Of Sexuality In Clubbing” as one of the most prominent DJs to come out of the Parisian lesbian club scene- other than Sex Toy, who were YOUR favourite DJs from that time?

Well, Ivan [Smagghe] was for sure. He was resident at the Kill The DJ’s parties. And Chloé of course.

Umm Le Pulp was really nice because it was small and dirty and crappy with the worst sound system ever! But we got everyone to play there, y’know. And it was also the time that everyone started touring outside of their own country and all the German DJs were really into the idea of coming to Paris to play and everybody was sleeping at our place, and we’d cook for them because we had absolutely no budget whatsoever. Which meant I got the chance to see a lot of amazing DJs play at Pulp. For example Michael Mayer, and we got to play back to back at this time. He is for sure one of my favourite DJs as he is a real storyteller. Just like Koze. He was another favourite DJ of mine at this time. I remember we booked him for Nouveau Casino and he started his set with Johnny Cash and it was just fantastic.

Even now, Koze, Michael Mayer, Ivan… and Andrew Weatherall are amongst my favourite DJs. Also I really love Ata from Robert Johnson. Because these DJs can take you everywhere.

Roman Flügel is another I like a lot as he is always on the verge of experimental and dance so it’s always very interesting and with a lot of elegance. Roman is a very elegant DJ for me. Very smart in his choices and how he builds things up.

What made that time in Paris so special that people still want to talk about it today?

Probably the fact that a lot of DJs came out of that time, Ivan and Chloé and me, we all started there. And also the fact that it was a lesbian club! That was pretty unconventional because the nightlife was ruled by the techno clubs or by huge gay parties. At the time Le Pulp started there was no place for queer subculture. Gays had gone really mainstream in the big clubs where you had thousands of boys dancing to commercial house music. So what made it special is that it was the place of a “first time” for a lot of people.

Le Pulp 

It was also a bit punk and a bit dirty. We just did whatever we wanted in there. There was no dress code. The entrance was free. And it was a lesbian club where boys were allowed if they behaved well. They would come with girls and everybody was really respectful. There were no social differences. You had hipsters. And you also had homeless people and from the suburbs.

Homeless people?

Yeah. I read an interview with Ivan and I remembered that sometimes when it was really cold we would let people from the street get in the club so they wouldn’t freeze to death. It was really like this err…

Community?

Yeah! And that’s something that has tended to disappear a little bit with the high fees that are charged for entrance. It leaves a lot of people outside y’know.

It was more mixed. Sometimes you had people from everywhere. We had Björk coming and people staring at her like she was an alien.

Do you think that women, queer or otherwise, in techno prefer to play at queer parties or venues?

I don’t know. I mean for me, I really like to play at lesbian parties! I know that promoters like Barbi(e) Turrix for example, which is the main lesbian party at the moment, they really like to book female artists. But I think it’s also very political. It’s a response to the fact that a lot of the festivals don’t book women sometimes. You can see lineups with no women at all! It’s like ‘ey!

But I don’t know. I can’t answer. I like to play good parties.

But you also play gay parties for guys as well as for girls, no?

I try to choose parties more according to the venue and the promoter. If I can see that the guy or the girl  making the party really loves music and is passionate, and you feel that by looking at the poster, you can see easily what the target is. If the target is “okay I am gonna make a lot of money” or the target is “okay I am gonna make money because obviously you are working for it, but on the human point I want the party to be great with a nice atmosphere”. You can feel this.


Jennifer Cardini – “Venom” (Official Video) by CorrespondantRecords

Your label Correspondant has been going from strength to strength- what should we be looking out for on it?

Actually right now I have a little fetish with the Mexican scene haha! We are gonna release records from a guy called Max Jones in September.

And you have Zombies in Miami too…

Yeah. The Mexican scene is extremely rich, very good producers who have one foot in more like rock music and one foot in raw dance music… and there is also a kind of humour to the music. It’s very heavy. And very sexy. I really like that.

But people that don’t know the label should listen to the compilations. They’re good snapshots of what we like to do. The diversity and range we like to go through. From techno to down-tempo stuff.

One of the best tracks from the last compilation is The Aspodells [Andrew Weatherall and Timothy J Fairplay]. It’s so beautiful. I would recommend that and also the fantastic André Bratten called Trommer og Bass. I still play it and have been for one year now. It’s a huge track. It’s gonna be on Erol Alkan’s Fabric CD.

Your own latest EP with Shaw references Paris Is Burning with tracks In The Ballroom and Pepper LaBeija- why do you think the documentary is still such a rich source material after all these years?

Because it’s still very modern, very relevant, it’s still very hard for a lot of gay kids to live their sexuality with freedom. For example, in the movie you see that kids were thrown out from their house, and rejected by their family. I think it is even Pepper LaBeija who says that when his mom found out he was wearing women’s clothing, she burned all of them.

Pepper LaBeija

We live in big cities and we don’t always realise all this, because we are in a social environment that makes us think that it’s easy to be gay, but I don’t think it is. I don’t believe that it’s like that for a kid that lives in a little city- he still gets the finger pointed at him. Even if we make progress it’s still not so easy to grow up knowing you are gay and to be happy with it.

I saw the film for the first time two years ago, just before going into the studio with David [Shaw]. I’d heard about the movie, but I’d never watched it, and my girlfriend showed it to me and I was really moved by those kids.

The film is also really relevant of the difficulties of going from one social class to another. In the movie some of the kids are dressing up like upper-middle-class or trailer or one is even dressing like an airline pilot. So you really have this feeling that by dressing up and by going to those ballrooms they are trying to climb a social ladder that in reality would be much harder for them to climb. With their background from living on the streets, it’s much harder for them to break the social differences. This moved me because I think it’s still the case. It’s still very hard to go from one social level to another.

What keeps you in Cologne?

This one is easy! Love does. I’ve lived here with my girlfriend for the last three years. I wanted to change my life a little bit. I’ve got 20 years of nightlife behind me and I just wanted to start the label and start to make music again. I’ve had this project with David [Shaw] and I’m travelling so much I just wanted to find a place that was a little bit more stress-free and laid back than Paris. Paris can be really tough! It’s still my favourite city and I’m totally in love with it. It’s so beautiful and every time I go there I’m like “wow”. But I wouldn’t like to live there anymore. I do miss my friends though.

Jennifer Cardini

The quality of life here [in Cologne], and the quietness in the week are really part of my stability right now and that’s something I don’t want to break.

What are your friends in Paris doing? What exciting projects, nights, things you wish you were part of?

I’m still friends with all the people from Le Pulp. That’s nearly 20 years of friendship.

And I do miss the queer scene in Paris! The queer scene in Cologne is very underground haha, I haven’t really found it yet! But in Paris it’s really good right now. Without pretention, I can really feel how much my generation gave more freedom to the new lesbian generation. Because we broke free from something.

We were like “’ey! We are here!” Before Le Pulp, I have the feeling the lesbian scene was very underground in Paris. Like, it was always very confidential.

I can feel it now with big parties like Barbi(e) Turrix where you have like 1000 girls dancing to really underground techno music and that is just amazing. And that is because of Pulp. And this is still something unique. Everywhere I go there is rarely 1000 women dancing.

To good music?

I am not gonna say “this is good music” or “this is bad music”. But, they are dancing. To music that we play. And that’s quite crazy for the lesbian scene! And that is really because of Pulp. And of us fighting to not become mainstream and keep our craziness a little bit.

 

And what do you plan to treat our basement for lesbians and their gay boyfriends to?

Ahhh, I don’t know! I’m still thinking about it! But I like to play all kinds of stuff so I’ll chose records, and then I’m there, and we see how it goes. It’s like a deal y’know, the energy I get from them and the energy I get back. It’s like going on a trip. All I can do is bring good music and then we see what we do about it. 

Join Jennifer Cardini this Friday 11th December from 9pm – 3am for Lazertitz at Dalston Superstore.

Submit To Fringe!

With preparations for next year’s Fringe! Film Fest fully underway, we sat down with one of the programmers, the lovely Konstantinos (also director of The Queer Archive) to find out more about how they source amazing queer films for us to watch at The Rio and other venues across east London, year after year…

What three qualities do you look for in a Fringe! Film Fest submission?

Love over sex, realism, expanded ways of installing/exhibiting work. 

What is your most favourite thing, personally, that you’ve ever screened at Fringe?

Our midnight screening of IN BED WITH MADONNA.

What’s the most important skill, from your experience, needed to be a Fringe! programmer?

An urge to push the envelope.

If you were putting on a dream all-night screening- what would be the theme and what films would you show?

The theme would be ‘horror’ and I would screen Andy Warhol’s Dracula, The Hunger, Vampyros Lesbos and The Attack Of The Giant Moussaka.

Why is it important for the local community, both LGBT and beyond, to support Fringe?

Fringe! is a non for profit project run by volunteers. Our program includes film, art exhibitions, lectures, workshops and all sorts of cultural activities available to the members of our community. A good part of our program is for free, which allows everyone to join. The growing interest and positive feedback we get from the local community is what keeps us going.

What was the last queer film you saw that really moved you or inspired you in some way?

Keep the Light On by Ira Sachs.

To what extent now do you feel that LGBT acceptance is connected to queer representation in film and TV?

LGBT acceptance is a problematic issue. What is accepted in big cities like London is not necessarily accepted everywhere else. But, it goes without saying that film, art, music have been instrumental in the queer community’s efforts to address problems, suggest solutions, celebrate a healthy lifestyle and engage with other communities. 

What are your five essential queer films for someone exploring the genre for the first time?

These are 5 randomly picked titles from my top 100 list:

My Own Private Idaho – Gus Van Sant

Hedwig And The Angry Inch – John Cameron Mitchell

Female Trouble – John Waters

Querelle – Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Paris Is Burning – Jennie Livingston

Any hints you can tell us about Fringe! 2014?

We’ve extened the length of the festival from a long weekend to a whole week! Yeaaaiiii!!!

And finally, do you have a message for anyone thinking of submitting to next years festival?

SUBMIT TO US…

To submit to the Fringe! Film Fest visit the website: fringefilmfest.com

Mark Moore

By Rokk
 
S’Express was formed by DJ and remixer Mark Moore, and went on to be one of the most successful exponents of the emergent acid house scene. Assisted by Pascal Gabriel (Bomb The Bass), S’Express utilised the increasing use of samples and beats to create a sound that was both popular and fresh. I must have been around 14 at the time when I purchased their album Original Soundtrack and I still remember how fresh it sounded and I think it has really stood the test of time.
 
I met up with Mark ahead of his gig at Body Talk to for an in-depth chat…
 
Where in London did you grow up and what was your first experience of the London nightlife?

I grew up in Hampstead, Golders Green, North Finchley; gradually heading further down the property ladder until ending up in punk squats in Kings Cross and Tufnell Park then a council flat in the Harrow Road. I had a stormy childhood, even having a brief spell in a children’s home in Potters Bar.

My first experience of London clubbing was going to Steve Strange’s first night ‘Billys’ at Gossips in Meard St, Soho. I was taken by a Bowie look-a-like called Bowie Teresa and we danced to Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, early Human League, Yellow Magic Orchestra, The Normal and of course David Bowie. Later on I started to frequent The Blitz club although I wasn’t really a Blitz Kid. I missed out on the opening and the early days but visited regularly around the time Bowie went there and got extras for his ‘Ashes To Ashes’ video. Everyone who had previously been so cool and poised, turned into 10 year old screaming girls and chased him up the stairs. Hilarious.

To be honest, I preferred Steve Strange’s other club ‘Hell’ in Covent Garden which felt less self conscious and was on around the same time. It was about then that I went to my first proper gay club Heaven which had just opened. I remember being equal parts terrified and exhilarated. At Blitz everyone tried to play it cool and although it was friendly in it’s own way it was also pretty pretentious and aloof as was the mood of the day. At Heaven everyone was super friendly. Isn’t it nice that everyone wanted to come and look after this 16 year old boy who went there on his own? What sweet people!

Theme From S’Express has been quoted by Muzik magazine as “the track that kick started the UK house scene.” How does that make you feel and what were your expectations or aspirations after finishing your album Original Soundtrack?

Muzik Magazine said that in hindsight a few years after the fact, once the dust had settled. At the time I knew I was pioneering a new sound but I didn’t want my music to be just a copy of the Chicago house or the Detroit techno sound, so it sounded like a mutant version of many things. Someone once told me S’Express was to house music what Talking Heads were to punk and I see what they mean. I knew that with the chart success of S’Express I was opening doors around the world, and especially in Europe, where most people had never heard of house or techno. I did the first house music night in Paris and got an up and coming DJ called Laurent Garnier, who used to come and hear me play, to do the warm up. He says it kick-started his DJ career.

They called me the Pope of House in Europe. People like Derrick May were really pleased S’Express were doing well. They knew it would make their music more accessible to a wider audience. The mainstream really didn’t understand it at first, it seemed so alien to them. I remember doing interviews in Germany and the journalists asking how they were meant to relate to this new music when they had nothing to compare it to. I told them they had Kraftwerk and could surely be able to see the connection. One reply was, “Oh but Kraftwerk is so old. That was years ago!” Eight months later I went back and all the journalists were saying, “This music came from Germany! We have Kraftwerk!” Everyone became a self-professed ‘expert’ on house music really quickly.

How long did the album take to conceive and as a first time producer did things come naturally to you?

Things came very naturally at first. Especially the tracks I did with Pascal Gabriel. We were just experimenting with no rules and not having to worry about the confines of genres or if something was commercial or not. We loved good pop music so some tracks had a pop edge while still remaining strange and experimental. Other tracks (b-sides) were just plain experimental where we were influenced by the likes of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle.

Theme From S’Express was actually influenced by hip-hop just as much as disco and house music. Disco was still a very dirty word back then and I remember thinking a lot of my peers, and especially journos were going to be appalled that I had made a record that was disco influenced, but I really didn’t care. I was ready to take the flack. Luckily people liked it and as it turned out a lot of journalists hedged their bets on the reviews as they knew that something new and special was going on but weren’t quite sure yet if it was okay to give it the thumbs up. The disco really put them off. Disco was still the enemy for many serious music journalists.

The hip-hop influence was mainly about looping beats or bars from records to make a new backing track. But instead of Funky Drummer I looped Rose Royce. The Double Dee & Steinski’s records Lessons 1-3 were very much on my mind with their clips from many sources. I threw in bits from performance artist Karen Finley and many others along with original parts like the bassline and the “S’Express” chant. David Byrne and Brian Eno’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts was another big influence. Love the pair of them.

When the white label of ‘Theme’ was doing really well in the clubs, my record label Rhythm King asked for us to do a version that could be played on the radio. Something less strange and crazy or else they might not play it. You have to remember at the time tracks just didn’t sound like that and ‘Theme’ stuck out like a sore thumb. We thought radio could take it or leave it as far as we were concerned. So Pascal and I purposely did the worst radio mix we could and handed it to the label. They said “Ok, you win. We’ll just leave it as it is and bin this mix.” I’m glad we stuck to our guns as Radio 1 were eventually forced to play the track after it looked like it was going to go to Number 1 just on club play… and they would have looked foolish if they weren’t playing it.

After we had a couple of hit singles things became more difficult. Lots more arguments to make things ‘normal’ commercial instead of the quirky, experimental-pop that I like. I got bored of the whole music biz hamster wheel quite quickly.

You also worked alongside William Orbit on the Batman soundtrack by Prince, how did that come about?

I tracked down William to remix my track Hey Music Lover. I loved his Torch Song stuff and his solo albums and he’s always been one of my favourite producers. He ended up sending me cassettes of all these amazing bits and loops he’d done of the track but he’d been up for days and needed help editing them all together in a way that made sense. We ended up editing the mix together down the phone!

With Prince, I knew he’d been listening to S’Express when I heard This Is Not Music, This Is A Trip on the b-side of Alphabet St. He called up and said he’d like to have me remix some of the tracks from his soundtrack for the Batman film. I immediately called up William and we carried on working together on more remixes after that, my fave being Malcolm McClaren’s Deep In Vogue. Malcolm introduced us to the New York voguing scene and we got to sample the movie Paris Is Burning long before it came out or anyone had seen it. 

Malcolm got in contact because he remembered me hanging out in his shop Seditionaries on the Kings Road when I was 15. I was a bored punk rocker and would help (punk icon shop-assistant) Jordan fold tee-shirts. She took me under her wing and I’d help her shut up shop. Jordan and Vivienne Westwood once took me for dinner after shutting the shop and we were walking up the Kings Road when a bunch of punks on the other side of the road were shouting “Vivienne you sell out!” Vivienne gobbed at them in reply and turned to us with a smile saying, “I’m still a punk!” 

What was the last album you listened to from start to finish?

After Dark 2. I’m amazed at how the Italians Do It Better label can continue putting out one sublime track after another with such ease and for such a long time! Wonderful. Do me a Glass Candy or Chromatics, S’Express remix please.

How would you describe your relationship with music?

Obsessive. It made me who I am and without wishing to sound clichéd, it really did save my life. From being a kid and being put in a kids home to actually finding something that made me think life was worth living. All my friends over the years I’ve met through music.

What are you passionate about?

Besides music, I’d say films and books. I’m particularly obsessed with films, from the classics to the incredibly strange. Alejandro Jodorowsky, Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell. Stuff you can’t find on Netflix.

Vinyl or Digital?

I actually like both now. Wendy Carlos was always a big supporter of digital sound and how it can feel as warm and rich as analogue. I think for certain types of music digital is just fine. If I’m playing punk stuff I prefer to put on the vinyl.

You’ve been DJing in London’s clubland for over 25 years now, what memories really stand out for you?

I don’t know where to start with individual memories but I can say I’m lucky enough to have lived through a few music and cultural revolutions. It’s always the most exciting at the beginning of those revolutions when it’s unchartered territory. Each new track will lay down a new gauntlet or a new signpost as to where one might go next on the musical map. I’m usually at my best during a revolution.

Is there a question that you wished you’d have been asked that no one has ever asked?

“Will you marry me?”

What’s new? 

I’m curating these amazing remixes and cover versions of the old S’Express stuff, some which I shall be playing on the night. I’m just trying to sort out a deal with Sony over who owns my old tracks but that’s proving to be hard work. Hopefully it will all work out and it will get a release soon. I’ve got amazing mixes by Chris & Cosey and many others. Also if they finish it, a psychedelic sludge rock cover version of Mantra For A State Of Mind by Primal Scream with Jason Pierce from Spiritualized on guitar. It seems everyone’s terrified of remixing ‘Theme From S’Express’ though. Lots of big names have either passed on it and chosen another track or have just given up halfway through!

I’m also working on new tracks. Just put out Dreams Of Deja Vu, which I did with Roland Faber and a remix for I Am A Camera of their track The Legendary Children.

Join Mark Moore this Saturday 17th August at Dalston Superstore for Body Talk from 9pm – 3am.

Photo credit: Rokk

House Of Wallenberg

This week we’ve had the distinct pleasure of speaking to Swedish producer Petter Wallenberg aka House Of Wallenberg ahead of the launch of his brand new album Legends at Saturday’s bank holiday SOS extravaganza! Joining him in the top bar is Scottee,  Anton Douglas, Portia Ferrari and Iicarus whilst deep down in the laser basement Sydney’s Light Year returns alongside SOS residents Jim Warboy and Joe Robots.

With vocal luminaries such as Neneh Cherry, Jwl B, Victoria Wilson James from Soul II Soul, Ari Up and the late Paris Is Burning star Octavia St Laurent all featuring on his debut album, it’s sure to be a launch to remember. We asked Petter all about the record and what the house music scene is like in his native Stockholm…

The list of female vocalists that you’ve collaborated with for your debut album is incredible! Was it just a case of writing out a wishlist and then getting ALL of them?!

Yes it was actually. The singers on my album are my all time favourite artists, some have long been my idols, ever since I was a teenager. I just decided to do the impossible and make an album with my dream artists. And now it’s finished!

Legends album cover

Any fun tales from the studio during the recording that you care to share?

Oh loads. Me and Neneh Cherry got so drunk we don’t remember half the recording session. When I listened back it was all distorted and full of laughter, and recorded straight into the built in mic on my Macbook! Most people would have scrapped it. But I loved it. I cleaned the vocals up in four different studios, and that is actually the recording of Neneh that ended up on the album!

What was it like to work with Paris Is Burning legend Octavia St Laurent for the track Be Somebody?

Amazing. Octavia was such a strong personality, which admittedly goes for all the ladies on this album. She told me about the ballroom scene of the ’80s, about her identity as transsexual. She was very brave. Even when she was ill she was sassy. She said “I’m not looking so hot all swollen up on the chemo, but by the summer I’ll be gorgeous again.” She died before the summer arrived. Be Somebody is the only single release she’s ever featured on.

How did you come up with the idea/themes in the video?

The video for Be Somebody came very naturally. I wanted to take it back to the original vogue scene of New York, celebrate Octavia’s memory and the legacy of all the legendary children of Paris Is Burning. The big vogue houses all came out in full force, voguing on the streets, in Times Square, and all round the city. I walked around NYC with a sign saying “Be Somebody” and the middle of filming a homeless man came up and held an impromptu speech about being somebody. It was beautiful and summed everything up. So I kept it in the video.

Tell us one track that we can expect to hear during your set at SOS?

Many of the tracks from the album. Be My Lover is always a crowd favourite. It features Jwl B from the amazing Yo Majesty. We filmed the video in Tokyo with school girls, sumo wrestlers and drag queens. It’s very kawaii!

What are the highlights of the house music scene in Stockholm?

My club Mums Mums of course! Mums Mums means “yum yum” in Swedish. I play classic vocal house, piano house, Chicago house and the kind of stuff that makes all of us real lovers of real house cream our pants! Fuck Swedish House Mafia – they wouldn’t know house if it slapped them on the face!

Did the Mums magazine come first or did it spin off from the club?

The magazine came after the club, but it has its own life. It’s a celebration of camp culture. Our inspirations are old ladies mags like Take A Break, punk fanzines, old porn mags and Smash Hits. We do whatever we like, which is usually pretty wacky stuff, like a fashion shoot based on the assassination of the Swedish prime minister alongside interviews with people like Samantha Fox. Our contributors range from the biggest writers, artists and photographers in Sweden to children and hardcore criminals. For the launch party of one issue I got one half of Milli Vanilli to perform live for the first time ever in Sweden!

Mums Magazine

Who is your ultimate style icon?

The late Isabella Blow. I actually had dinner at hers once, in her flat in Eaton Square. A friend invited me along and when I turned up she scolded me for being late and all that was left was Indian take away boxes and empty champagne bottles, as she sat there wearing a Philip Treacy hat that looked like a big pheasant on her head and telling everybody about her suicide plans.

Your album is named Legends… who are your personal musical legends?

My musical legends are all with me on my album. Ain’t I lucky? 

Join House Of Wallenberg for his album launch at SOS on Saturday 4th May at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4:30am.

Danny Taylor

After the success of last month’s Banjee Boy Realness launch party with Rushmore from House Of Trax, Josh Caffe and Joe Robots are back for another helping with NYC resident Danny Taylor, aka A Village Raid, in the lazer basement. The three of them will be welcoming “all banjee boys, banjee girls, butch queens and club freaks back to class where we’ll be schooling you with ballroom, house and club tracks, past, present and future...”
 
In between “taking that bitch to college”, resident DJ Joe Robots caught up with Danny Taylor to talk about vogue past and present and his move from London to New York…
 
 

The Cream Always Rises – Strictly Cream Mix by A Village Raid on Mixcloud

 

Where Brooklyn at? Can you tell us a little about where you at/from.

I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I’m English but moved to the US permanently last winter. I started going to NYC in 1999 so it’s changed a lot since then. Like London the nucleus has moved and also some of the flavour… But all good cities have periods and growth and stagnation.

The spotlight in the UK has moved beyond Paris Is Burning and onto the current ballroom scene a bit in recent years. What’s your experience of this in New York? Is it still a small underground movement or is it gaining momentum?

I always tell people to go watch the documentary ‘How Do I Look?’, which is basically ‘Paris Part II’, as that VHS got worn out a long time ago. But that film (Paris Is Burning) I think everyone could watch a thousand times over and never tire. I went to my first proper ball this year in Queens, and it was actually pretty scary, and then again to MikeQ’s night Vogue Knights which is a bit more friendly. But that culture translated here in my experience in the last 10 years has never been more than a tranny doing a triangle with her hands down the Kingsland Road, which you know can be just as fabulous. It’s only very recently with people championing that world and music, such as Diplo, Kingdom, DJ Rizzla, Queenbeat, Nightslugs and Fade To Mind Record labels, and of course MikeQ, that the music has truly found a second wind and a new global audience.

When and why did you move to London and what’s your impression of the East End as it compares to Brooklyn? Is it possible to pick a favourite or are they too diverse?

I first moved to London in 1999 when I was 16 and have lived on and off in the East End since then, so I have a lot of history invested there, but the decision to move to Brooklyn was to find some space to breathe and grow, something I found increasingly more difficult to do in London. So it’s less about the place and more about the place that I’m at in mind. They are both incredible parts of the planet which I owe a lot to so it’s impossible to choose.

How long have you had the DJ moniker A Village Raid? Are we right in thinking its a reference to the Stonewall riots?

No, but what would be an amazing reference nevertheless! The name came around a few years ago when I moved to Brazil for a year and needed a DJ/project name, but the story comes from where I grew up. I grew up on a farm, which by the early ’90s became derelict, and one night became squatted by a huge rave. People still talk about that night even now back down where I’m from, which is quite funny. They syphoned off the electricity from the farm house and it went on for two days until eventually it got raided. I just remember watching all the chaos from my bedroom window singing and dancing along to all the happy hardcore. It was definitely one of favourite memories from childhood and my obsession with rave culture probably started from that very moment.

Your recent series of Vague mixes draw together everything from dancehall to booty techno. What are your musical inspiration, either DJs or artists, or night spots here or in New York?

I like to create images and stories when I make mixes. Image and sound is always so strongly connected for me so in any one mix I might be thinking about periods of time, places, people I know, people I don’t. The Vague mixes are a nod to that culture but are more about taking the sounds and energy and creating something different… An old boyfriend of mine is the only person who I know who can vogue properly in London as he grew up in one of the vogueing houses in New York, so often in my mind I have the image of how he would be dancing to what I am selecting and mixing. It is very difficult for that sound to truly translate on a foreign dancefloor as it is a functional form of music, but the interesting thing about now is how culture or one idea can now be global.

What are your classic vogue tracks?

George Morel – Officer Where’s Your Brother? Get Her! (12″ Version)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOkj2xkkhcU

Tylon – Feel The Rhythm Of House (Underground Vogue Mix)

Banji Boys – Love Thang

What are your current vogue tracks?

KW Griff feat. Porkchop – Bring In The Katz (Bmore Original)

DDM feat. Rye Rye – Click Pow (B. Ames Remix)

Danny Taylor (A Village Raid) plays Banjee Boy Realness this Friday 28th September 2012 from 9pm – 3am with Joe Robots (SOS) and Josh Caffe (Batty Bass).