Having graced festival stages the world over as one half of English electronic duo Monarchy, we are thrilled to welcome DJ & producer Andrew Armstrong to Dalston Superstore for the next edition of throbbing gay bash Pump! We sat down ahead of the party to chat favourite gigs, Dita Von Teese, and broadcasting performances into outer space!
Hi Andrew! We can’t wait to have you play soon for Les Pump! Can you tell us a bit about Monarchy?
Monarchy is two of us, me and Ra Black. We formed in 2009, and our first concert was broadcast live into space from Cape Canaveral. We were releasing on Kitsune, Neon Gold, and then Universal, and Ultra Records in the US. We went on to remix Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Kelis, OMD, Jamiroquai and a bunch of others, and played festivals like Coachella, Melt, Lovebox, and a bunch in Spain that most non-Spanish people haven't heard of, like Low Festival, Arenal Sound, BBK.... This year we've got a busy summer lined up, loads of gigs in Spain and Paris alongside Charli XCX and Giorgio Moroder, Korea, and then on to the US. Also, this year we are headlining Madrid Gay Pride, so excited by that!
You guys have toured all over the place. What is the most memorable place you have ever played?
It's hard to choose - they each have their own flavour. Playing Coachella was really amazing, it had such an amazing atmosphere back then. We played Folsom Street Fair twice, which is great. It's the world's largest fetish festival, tens of thousands of rubbered up bears, muscle boys, twinks and freaks. I like the freaks the most. But then there's something really weird and special about going to Moscow and playing, or doing our own show in Madrid to a full house, or a private members' club in Paris. We have a great time on tour and we have a wide range of shows.
Can you tell us a bit about your song writing process?
We change every song, on how we write it. Sometimes Ra starts with a little idea, a verse and a chorus, no words, and just a beat and some chords. Then we decide if we're going to work on it, and start collaborating from that point, getting the lyrics right. I look after the beats, instrumentation and production, but I'm always referring to him, getting his opinion. Sometimes I come up with an idea and chuck it over to him, see what he thinks. But I can't sing at all, so really, he's in charge of that.
You've collaborated quite a bit with Dita Von Teese - that’s amazing! How did that collaboration come about?
Yes, she sang on two of our tracks, and is in three of our videos. It was the first time she sang on a release, so it was really amazing for us. She's now working with Sebastien Tellier, so I've got a bit of musician jealousy about that, and I've asked for a three way!
We met her because she saw us play live at Coachella and started tweeting about us. Then she booked me to DJ for her once in London, and I met her for half an hour. Not long after that, she texted me, inviting me to spend Christmas with her and her friends in Paris. Of course, I went. So I spent a week staying in her apartment with her crazy gang, and we became friends. She suggested she wanted to be on one of our tracks, so I went back to London and wrote Disintegration for her with Ra. Since then we've become good friends and we go on holidays together sometimes, or to Sonar, Ibiza or Coachella. She's a really lovely person, and great fun. One of the good ones!
If you could change anything about London’s nightlife, what would it be?
I like London nightlife at the moment. There's some great venues and good clubs. Of course, the good ones turn bad really quickly, overrun with the city boys and their secretaries. But if there's enough freaks there, and door control, it keeps it at bay. I think London is better now than it was a few years ago. Dalston Superstore is really great, and there's a bunch of other options as well. There's always something to do!
Which new releases from this year have got you excited?
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Pharrell. He's so amazing.
If you had a time machine and could go dancing anywhere/anywhere, where would you go?
I think the obvious answer would be Studio54. But maybe I would go back to the second Summer of Love in the UK. Pills were just taking the violence off soccer hooliganism, everyone was loved up, changing the world with rave culture, and music was bringing everyone together. It would be amazing to be dancing in a field outside the M25 back then.
Which song will start off your set at Pump?
I'm one of those weird DJ's that decides what I am going to play at the time, on the night. I need to see the crowd, I need to hear what the DJ before me is playing, see what is working. So, we'll have to wait and see!
And finally, in three words, what are you planning to bring to Pump?
Poppers and dirt.
Catch Andrew Armstrong at Pump this Saturday 11 June from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore.