Posts Tagged ‘Sound Factory’

Jon Pleased Wimmin & Hifi Sean

The #Pleased First Birthday Bash sees two of Superstore’s favourites guests – both legends of the UK house scene in their own right – Jon Pleased Wimmin and Hifi Sean hit the laser basement for a mammoth birthday blowout! These two have a rap sheet that ranges from UK smash hit singles to DJing at parties all over Europe and the US over the last few decades. We caught up to chat favourite parties of the past, house music inspiration and future projects!

Well, first and foremost, a happy birthday for your party is in order! What do you love about Pleased at Dalston Superstore? 

JPW: There’s something about the place I just think really suits the night. It’s intimate enough to get a good connection with the crowd and has just the right amount of sleaze. Also there’s always a really good mix, which is what Pleased has always been about. Gay/Straight/Young/Old/Trendy/Hot Mess. It just works. I am really grateful that Kris (Chapman) pursued the idea of rebooting #Pleased at the venue and I’m so happy we have, with our original debonair warm-up resident DJ Paul Woods on board to boot!

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

JPW: I must say that some of the gigs I have done in the last year have been up there with my all time favourites. The Cream reunion at Nation in Liverpool was off the scale in March and there’s a club in Cleethorpes (!) called Better Days that I did earlier this year which was a total riot. It feels like independent club nights are having a ‘moment’ again and I am very excited about that.

HS: Jeez, hard one! I think the last Folsom street in San Francisco party was pretty special for me as I kinda went of on one with the music and the crowd totally let me, which never usually happens with big party main floor weekend crowds of a few thousand people. I didn’t realise till after that I was basically playing a 6am afterhours back room set to a peak-time main floor but they totally loved it.?Also I love when myself and Severino go back to back like we have done at Superstore at many parties, it is such a great way to hear where both our heads are at with music at that specific time. Love that. 

How have you watched the London gay party scene change over the years?

HS: God, big time! Genres splicing and throwing out everywhere, DIY ethics, pop up parties, all fresh underground vibes to breed new happening futures.

You have both released a fair bit of music yourselves as well as DJing at all kinds of different parties. What has been your proudest moment?

JPW: I am actually really enjoying the music that I’m making at the moment. I think age and experience is a great asset when it comes to focusing when working on projects. Also, the fact I went back to Uni in the noughties was really helpful. I used to start a project and then veer off in a thousand directions and never really end up doing what I set out to. I’m much more focused now and disciplined, which helps to get better results.

HS: I think I am like a big kid and proud of every piece of music before it’s released, even remixes I do for people. If I lose that little buzz and high that I get making and releasing this stuff then the party is over for me and I will stop. 

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

JPW: I would love to go back to Kinky Gerlinky for a night – it was such a fun club and here’s been nothing like it since. It was very uncontrived and organic in its hedonism and fabulousness. The party-goers, DJs, promoters and performers were all one big equal cast. 

HS: Well I am lucky to say I have danced to Vasquez many times at Sound Factory and Rauhoffer at The Roxy both in NYC when living there on and off in the nineties, but for me it was Jackie 60’s in the meat-packing district in that city for its sheer trashy, could-not-give-a-fuck crowd, no pretentions, just people thinking they were their own nightclub superstars for that evening. Some amazing characters were bred from that scene, so yeah, I would not mind a night back there again and ending up at Save The Robots afterhours afterwards. 

If you had to choose one track that cemented your love for house music, what would it be?

JPW: Theme from S’express.

HS: Ouch, that is a hard one! But one track I never seem to cease loving is Liberty City – If You Really Want Somebody. That vocal kills me every time.

Oh yeah, and Dark Mountain Group – Lose Control – likely the sexiest house record ever made in my books.

 What has been your favourite musical collaboration? 

JPW: My friend Susy K is a great singer who I studied with and since Uni she has provided vocals for a lot of my tracks. She also performs every week at my Church of High Kicks party in Edinburgh…she’s ace.

HS: Funny you should say this as I have just literally finished an album collaborating with some of my fave voices and musicians in my record collection. It is the first proper album I have made in 15 years. I don’t want to give away too much right now as it won’t be out till Spring 2016 but out of the 12 people on the album there is one man I have had the luck to work with twice over the years and that is Bootsy Collins. He is such a bloody gentleman and I adore him – amazing mind, vocals and musician. And for him to turn to me when we had finished the track and say, ‘You got the funk Sean,’ well that’s all you need really in life isn’t it?

Join Jon Pleased Wimmin and Hifi Sean this Friday, 4 September at #Pleased: the First Birthday 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.

Rocky Vs Terry Farley

This Saturday two legends of house join us in the laser basement for a special Christmas edition of Body Talk in the shape of not only acid house hero Terry Farley but X-Press 2 legend Rocky! Ahead of the party, Rocky sent us this ace warm-up mix plus him and Terry sat down for a chat…

Terry interviews Rocky…

Terry: You worked for the Ministry Of Defence – ever thought of doing a WikiLeaks turnout?

Rocky: To be honest it was so long ago the kind of hardware we were knocking out would be like Dads Army stuff today. 

 …did you get to test cool James Bond style weaponry?

Sadly no. I was a progress chaser and looked after projects that made bits for armaments. 

What was your first DJ gig?

First ever would have been the Sixth Form end of term disco at my school. Our head took us to this deserted store room where they had one of those Citronic double deck suitcase things. It was covered in dust. We dragged it out and set it up. I was hooked. Band Aid was big that year.

Can you remember any records you played?

Deffo Band Aid got played. Also some of the Breakdance movie soundtrack. Aside from those, I have no idea. I think everyone brought in their own tunes. There were a couple of us who just went through the tracks and played them. We were a glorified jukebox.

Which DJ inspired you to take up this life?

In all seriousness, out of everyone, I think you and Andrew back in the day.

What’s been your ‘worst gig ever ‘ and why?

I think recently playing to a restaurant of around 20 diners was pretty poor.

And your best gig ever?

Any time that we’ve ever been to Japan has been amazing. This year, the opening of Pacha was quite special as well.

Is HOUSE a feeling or is it just Diesel’s real name ?

It’s just his name.

Rocky interviews Terry Farley

You’re playing Handsome at East Bloc early next year, a perfect fit – why did they wait so long to ask you?    

A question my Mrs has asked along with “Why have they booked you then?” and “You wont be in the club’s pictures”. I can only say it’s a honour to be playing East Bloc again and such a cool party. I will be visiting a spa before hand and sprucing myself up for the night.

Your fave party/club/one off of 2013? One only please. And what made it so special. 

I loved Farr, playing a three- the hard way- clash with Dan Beaumont and Ms Hannah Holland – I love Farr it’s exactly how I would do a ‘festival’, if I had the know-how and the spare bucks to pull it off.

What was your first DJ gig?

Myself and a mate Paul Mckee put on a night in 1981 and we both DJed (there’s a pic of me on that night that just turned  up all these years later on Facebook) – I played a Le Beat Route style set of ’70s funk and disco, some new electro and some leftfield stuff like Prince Charles and the City Beat Band’s seminal track In The Streets. 

Can you remember any records you played?

Prince Charles – In The Streets, Fatback Band – Wicky Wacky,  Roy Ayers – Running Away and Aurra – When I Come Home on Salsoul – I always played those tracks whenever I got to play in clubs or parties after that for ages. 

If you were ‘invited to the ball’, would you have done a Boys Own pod on the Eye?

Was there money involved ? If “yes” and if “a proper drink”, then maybe, (I know Andrew would have laughed down the phone at me if I had rung him up) as it’s what I do for a living. For free? Fuck that, I thought it was a naff idea (I fully appreciated Red Bull’s contribution to house music over the years) and I’ve been on the Eye twice and never liked it much anyway.

Who was the best dresser of the Slough Soul Boys?

Gary Haisman – who went on to be banned from Radio 1 for his ACCCIIIEDD record with D Mob in 1988. He was skinny and lanky and could pull off red peg trousers from SEX and mohair jumpers while I think sadly I always looked a bit like a young Del Boy.

Define HOUSE in 12 words. 

LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE.

Will you ever go back on the gas? 

I have dreams (nightmares) of being back pipe fitting, and in those dreams I’m always so slow and fucking rubbish at it. So NO thats never gonna happen, and for safety’s sake thank god.

Are you still a gay black man struggling to escape a white gas fitter’s body?

People still quote that line – in fact loads have stolen it… it was honestly how I felt during the early ’90s and being so into the NY gay culture that surrounded the music we were making, the DJs who were playing it and the Sound Factory, a place I adored. My bluff, however, was called one morning just around the corner from the Sound Factory and I failed the ‘ lad fag’ ( Luke Howard’s term for us lot back then) test badly… bottled it haha.

Join Rocky and Terry Farley this Saturday 21st December for Body Talk at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am. 

The Sound Of Thunder

By Elles Pinfold

Miles Simpson and I go way back.  Well, by way back I mean about three years, which in London time is forever no?  Ok, it’s not, but you know what I mean. Seems like forever (in a good way). 

He got in touch via a shared love of venting about old house records and clubs of yore. His Beyond The Stars blog and my Legendary Children site had a lot in common; the vital difference being that he had actually witnessed some of this stuff first hand and our knowledge was gleaned through feverish trawling of the Internet and out-of-print books from Amazon.

When his night Thunder launched two years ago we were down the front with bells on. As it turns out over those two years Miles’ knowledge and passion (along with that of his co-hosts Rick and Joe) have translated into one of the best underground house nights in London.

The night is celebrating its 2nd anniversary this weekend, so what better time to pick Mr. Simpson’s teeming house brain on the seminal clubs that have influenced him and how Thunder is nailing it today…

It is well documented (amongst those that know you) that your visit to Sound Factory in the ’90s had a huge impact. I love hearing your stories despite possibly maybe teasing about it on occasion *ahem*. Tell us about it. Why was it so special?

I guess it was special because it was like nothing I’d ever experienced in London. Not only was it fantastic, it was incredibly exotic too.

There was a simplicity, a rawness, an energy and a communal experience that was unlike anything in London. There was no warm up or guests, just Junior Vasquez, his crowd, his children and they had a special bond.

Some of those parties I’d been to in London had great production, grand stairs cases to the DJ booth, film set props, dress code themes, etc, but the Factory was just a big brick walled warehouse space, iron pillars, a massive sound system and a lighting system based around one, huge disco ball. And that was it, save for a juice bar (the venue was dry), a spotlessly clean chill out area and a drinking fountain.

The music wasn’t that clichéd big room tribal sound, that came later, it was a real mixture of US stuff, MK, Murk, Def Mix, Strictly Rhythm, and maybe slightly harder edged UK stuff like X-Press 2 and the Farley and Heller’s mixes of DSK and Happy Monday’s ‘Stinkin Thinkin’.

I think it opened at midnight but didn’t warm up till about 3am with things really firing by about 6am. At that time in London you were usually asleep on someone’s sofa or on a night bus.

The crowd was raw too. Subsequently the Factory became associated with New York ‘club kids’, all showy in a ‘look at me’ way but in 1992 it was still quite natural, almost entirely gay, very black and Hispanic, with the banji boy look prevalent because people came dressed to dance not pose. There was this thing around 9 or 10am when transvestites, who were seriously these beautiful men, started to have catwalk vogue battles down the side of the dance floor, but it seemed to happen organically rather than in a contrived manner. Nothing about the club felt contrived.

One of the Factory moments that will always live with me was when Junior eased a thunder storm in the mix. Slowly, the rain got louder and louder and eventually overwhelmed the music which gradually disappeared. As this happen the club sank into total darkness, illuminated only by strobes placed across the ceiling that went off every so often in a series that gave the effect of lightning streaking across the ceiling. So I’m standing in the middle this New York warehouse, in the pitch black, in a thunder storm, with 2000 gay men, every person there is screaming and hollering. You could almost feel the rain. And then, after what seemed like an eternity, this vocal cuts across the rain, “It’s gonna be, a lovely day, for you and me” (the at that time, unreleased S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. record, from acetate) and then as the first beat kicking in, every single light in the pitch black club hit the disco ball, and the sun dropped into the room. I’m not doing it justice, it was like an explosion of pure energy, and the place went absolutely bonkers. I’d never seen or heard anything like it and I doubt will again.

I get goose bumps just thinking about it and I must admit, I do like talking about it, mainly because I wish I could go back.

Do you think any of those aspects have translated to the way you do things at Thunder?

I think I run the risk of sounding very conceited if I make any sort of connection between Thunder and the Sound Factory! But if there’s something I learnt from that experience it’s about importance of basics and staying focused on those. The music, the sound and the people. 

Ultimately, the nights you really remember, the nights that stay with you forever, are the ones where good music sounded great, you were surrounded by good, like-minded people and there was some sort of communal experience, even if it’s as simple as being a good laugh. Those qualities are not unique to the Sound Factory though, I guess they’ve been present at every great party ever. But that’s the stuff that makes me excited and that feeds my enthusiasm, to the point that it often gets the better of me!

I suppose Junior is also responsible for my penchant for a bit of drama too. I love a dramatic intro or even a period of silence. He did this thing where he worked this long, unreleased intro of the Sounds of Blackness – The Pressure for about 10 minutes at 6am. That was peak time, the dancefloor was heaving and then, 10 mins of accapella gospel. Every time you thought the beat would kick in, it didn’t, the tension mounted, people started actually crying, and then after he’d built the pressure to point you could almost feel it in the air around you, he let it go, the beat kicked in and dancefloor exploded.

Thunder is about to celebrate its 2nd birthday- for me the party’s always had a special vibe. Having DJ’ed for you and been a stalwart attendee I am probably hugely biased, but whenever I’m there I chat to people who have similar experiences and yet it’s their first one and they don’t know any of you lot other than what they’ve heard… What do you think is its magic formula?

I genuinely don’t know but I might be the wrong person to ask?! Luck maybe?! But you’re right, people do seem to like what the parties are about…

As I mentioned earlier, the basics are important to us and focusing on them has worked quite well. The music is what we can influence most of all; we’re all competent DJs, well Joe and Rick are anyway and we all come at house from slightly different angles too, so I think we complement each other.

Beyond that, we put a lot of thought into guests. They have to be booked on the strength of their DJing rather than productions. There’s a balancing act to be done with budgets and who we want, but we try to push that as far as we can. We managed to book John Heckle before he had an agent, convince Sven Weisemann and Patrice Scott to play a 120 capacity venue, and brought Gene Hunt over from Chicago for the first time in 20 years. 

We’ve also been lucky with our crowd. From the outset we had people who love the music and have been supportive of the parties. They spread the word, brought friends and friends of friends, and it’s snowballed. We try to make the atmosphere as inclusive possible, but to a certain extent it’s out of our hands, people either like it or they don’t. Fortunately for us the people that do like it are lovely, so the vibe is great. That’s really down to them, not us – they make the party what it is.

The final jigsaw piece is the sound. We lucked out massively when we moved to Dance Tunnel because not only is it a great space, but they are committed to making it sound better than any other club that size in London. We’ve also resisted the temptation to do more regular parties too, which hopefully keeps it feeling like a special event and also saves me from battering everyone on Facebook to death with spam. So yeah, mainly luck.

Thunder at Dance Tunnel

You always have great guests, but actually the three of you are strong as residents too- which is something you mentioned about the New York clubs back in the day also. Would you ever consider going balls-out ‘residents only’?

Residents-only nights are something I don’t think London ever got its head round. Whereas New York was built on that. On that first trip there was Vasquez at the Sound Factory, Tony Humphries at Zanzibar, Knuckles at The Roxy, Troy Parrish at Sugar Babies and before that you had all the disco legends, Levan, Gibbons, Scott, etc. But guest culture seems to reign supreme in London. It would take a brave person to go residents-only but it could be great, I’d love to do it… if anyone bothered to turn up! 

Finally, what’s in store for the Thunder birthday extravaganza and Year Three  for you guys?

We’re having two guests play at our birthday party, something we never normally do. Rather than try and get in some big name, who has no existing connection with the party, we like to try and celebrate our birthday parties with our friends. As you know, last year it was the Legendary Children, who provided all sorts of support and encouragement in our first year, this year it’s Neville Watson and Domenic Cappello.

Neville was the guest at our first ever party, he’s well known for his productions but he’s an even better DJ, one of the best we have ever had play for us. He’s also a good friend now and it’s possible that without him kicking me up the backside every couple of weeks, we’d have never got Thunder off the ground. So his influence has played a big part in us being here now.

Domenic has been resident at the Sub Club in Glasgow for almost 20 years now. Not resident in the in the once-a-month way or resident in the fitting it with his touring schedule way but playing there every single Saturday for 19 years. And the crowd up there are absolutely rabid, which is great because the atmosphere is so intense but they are also really demanding, so there’s no room for error. But that’s fine, because Domenic is one of the most gifted DJs I’ve ever heard. When he played for us in July last year the night bordered on being a religious experience, well, for me anyway. Like Neville, he’s become a good friend too.

As for year three, well you’ll just have to wait and see! We love it at Dance Tunnel and as its reputation spreads, we think more and more DJs will want to play there, so we intend carry on trying to twist agents’ arms and shoe horn in DJs wouldn’t ever normally get to hear play in a venue that size. Some of the DJs we’re already well down the road with getting onboard are simply jaw dropping. So, fingers crossed and all that!

Join Miles and the rest of the Thunder team down at Dance Tunnel tonight, Friday 6th September from 10pm to late for Thunder’s 2nd Birthday. 

For more of Elles’s work follow her on twitter: @e_l_l_e_s