Category Archives: Music

Bea Arthur and Rock Hudson Sing About Drugs

Bea Arthur and Rock Hudson sing “Turnin’ On” from the 1977 musical I Love My Wife (directed by Arthur’s husbad) on The Beatrice Arthur Special:

The simple life it must have been
When “smoke” was Luckys and “high” was gin
One pink lady and how it turned ‘em on!
“Junk” was trash, “speed” was swift
Glue was pasted instead of sniffed
Coke and aspirin, and wow it turned ‘em on! (full lyrics)

Nocturnal and Fog City Pack’s Alpha Party

Had a great afternoon nap on the floor (does anybody else do that?) and a pizza is on the way so I can take a little time to detail the dynamic duo of events we attended last night.

First up was the Alpha party.

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Alpha was produced by the Fog City Pups ‘pack’ at a seedy basement club in a deadend alley near Jessie and 6th. It would take a whole other essay to talk about the conventions of pups/alphas as an intentionally created culture (and I’d probably need to interview a few friends to get the full gist). Anyway, Alpha’s pedigree rests in a regular private party that outgrew it’s origins to becoming a public event. DJs Adam Kraft, Kevin O’Connor, and Jim Collins kept a sexy sensual spare beat bouncing and the club environment was darkly lit.

The occasion for the party was the birthday of pup Turbo and one year anniversary of the founding of the Fog City Pack. The party had promised “hot guys, low inhibitions” and certainly delivered with a clothes check encouraging minimal clothing (lots of leather and jockstraps) and a “red light room” outfitted with three sex slings and cushioned couches that most likely took a beating over the course of the night. We’re friends with a lot of the pups, so Ron and I stopped by as we headed out for the evening. And so did everybody else. Even though Alpha was targeted towards the pups and related sub-culture, the party had amazing buzz and everybody was there.

In all honesty, this kind of event isn’t really our cup of tea – and that is completely fine. But what Alpha was intended to be, what attracted people to it, and what it was were all perfectly aligned for a crowd ready to revel in it. The Fog City Pups did a fantastic job creating an event that was uniquely theirs but also brought in a broader crowd.

Can’t wait for the next one!

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I probably talk about DJ Jack Chang too much. I first discovered him on Tribe.net back around 2006 and found the hours upon hours of music he made available on his website, changmusic.com.

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Lucky enough to have brunch with DJ Jack Chang at Catch. Thanks, Jack!

Even before we ever went to circuit parties we always enjoyed Jack’s dark, harder edged mixes. And so when Ky Martinez told us he just got off the phone with Jack’s manager and that he was coming in at the end of February for the Nocturnal event, Ron immediately started moving his schedule around so we wouldn’t miss the evening.

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Gogo Thomas Julio Rodriguez commanding the box at Nocturnal.

Nocturnal was at BeatBox, a frequent venue for many of these types of events and so it can be a challenge to design the environment of the club to be different and fresh each time. Ky and the gang had moved some platforms around, added some stairs up to the gogo boxes and had some scenic elements that hung from the ceiling which gave the space more height. Expert lighting design from William Brown reinforced the space to keep it elastic and changing shape.

Local favorite Russ Rich opened. He is always spectacular whether it’s prime time circuit, Sunday Funday cocktails, tea dance, or afterhours-y. Always glad to see him at the helm.

Then around midnight Russ’s set ended and Jack came on with a breathless overture with William activating even more lasers and lights in the space and then launching into an expertly constructed four-hour set. The crowd went nuts and enjoyed every minute of it. At around 3:50 or so, Jack’s set eased off as the crowd made their way to coat check and out the door. Ron and I were literally the last two patrons to leave the club.

Ky, Juan, Mohammad, and Cecil put together an amazing evening with Nocturnal – the first of four events this year so stay tuned for the next one.

Update: Jack released the full four hour mix from Saturday.

Best Circuit Music of 2015

I am no means some sort of club music aficionado and ‘real’ circuit queens probably think my taste in music sucks. I find mixes I like and drive them into the ground. Here are my favorite dance mixes of 2015:

Ivan Gomez #7 Live Set at Circuit Festival Water Park Night, August 2015

If you’ve ever been at the start of a set where the DJ builds this almost unbearable tension leading to this crazy release where the whole fucking club explodes, you’ll love the first 90 seconds of this one. Gomez always starts a mix with an overture of several familiar hooks (including a woman cooing You drive me crazy. Never let the party stop.). He builds it higher and higher and more manic and denser and then just slams down the bass and tears your face off.

Every time I get someone to listen to this their eyes pop out of their head with the first release:

Ivan was probably our biggest discovery this year. Be sure to listen to all of his tracks on SoundCloud.

Jack Chang, Live in San Francisco at 1015 Folsom, May 2014, produced by Gus Presents

Yeah I know – it’s from 2014. We were actually there when Jack blew up 1015 Folsom with a mix that I listened to for over a year and half after the damned event. And I gotta hand it to Jack: he releases epic multi-hour sets showing his mastery at the decks for hours upon hours. We have a couple of his 5 and 6 hour sets from the Berlin sex parties that are positively transcendent. Also got to hear him spin at IML in Chicago last May as well. Adore him, love him, and am so happy to watch his career take off over the last several years. Jack and us at IML:

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Best places to start are at:

  • 1h 25m with “It’s Time To Turn Up The Music” and then a wicked combo of “Let’s Have a Kiki” and “Face” (this is the one that had a coworker remarking Yeah I got my masters degree; From the School of Fierceness!)
  • 2h 41m launching into a glorious anthem of “Don’t Let This Moment End”
  • 3h in ambient hook going into a hard thick crazy bass that we love Jack for every time

Oh the whole fucking thing is amazing go listen to it for a year over and over again:

Bonus: He re-released some of his old mixes like this 5-hour mix from Folsom Europe’s PiG Berlin party. 

Jack also started a new project called Ertönen exploring a more minimalist sound.

Offer Nissim, Klubberdome, produced by XOXO Productions

Let’s be honest: Offer Nissim is out of his mind. Over the top. Crazy. And eventually you surrender and you love it. Ron and I went to the hear him at XOXO’s Klubberdome event and everything about the evening was so sharply produced, so expertly crafted, the visuals – the music (including an opening set by Misha Skye) – the vibe. You just have to give in and say, “Yeah okay, he’s waving his arms like a conductor and I’m going to just roll with it.” And it was a stunning evening.

DJ X Gonzalez, Pumpin 3.0

More dense layers and motifs tumbling together. Best part at 14:49 with “Werk Me”, “Twisted Jack”, “Bounge Drums” falling over eachother

MF3, Real Fucking Techno

Ron and I were at the vendor market at International Mister Leather in Chicago this May and ventured into the booth for sex-goods purveyor Ft. Troff. They had a DJ just for their big room that was spinning a hard minimal techno sound. He was a beautiful black inked muscle god with nipple rings, a sly smile, and hypnotic hips.

I mean holy fucking God:

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His name is MF3. Ron and I kinda stood there mesmerized. He was kind enough to give us t-shirts and CDs of his music and we’ve been listening to his music ever since.

He has a full arsenal of techno tracks on Mixcloud keeping alive a Berlin-inspired ‘real fucking techno’ sound.

And he was in town a few days in August and we got to have dinner. His DJ persona is cocky, confrontational, and sexy as hell, but in real life he’s a total sweetheart.

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DJ Dan Darlington, Brüt Folsom Friday at Beatbox, September 2015

I’ve been lucky to be one of the hosts for the Brüt leather dance party for Halloween weekend here in San Francisco. This mix from their Folsom event is great set of Dan Darlington‘s take on steady-state deep house. Favorite parts are “This Is My Bassline” at 12 minutes, and a warm purring mix of “I Just Want to Spend Time With You” at 34 minutes and then the magic that happens at 42 minutes in – oh hell just listen to the whole thing:

Abel Aguilera, Aftershock 20th Anniversary, September 2015 at City Nights, produced by Frisco Disco Events

I don’t have his mix but if there’s one DJ that is consistently amazing every single time we see him, it’s Abel Aguilera. His Aftershock afterhours party on Folsom weekend is always a stunning event starting at 4am. All the guys that wanted to hookup that evening are already back in their hotel rooms getting it on so everybody is there to dance and enjoy the music. Then at 9:30 we stumble out of the club into the daylight, questioning our life choices and how much sleep we can get before the street fair. Abel comes the closest to alchemy of any DJ with small tweaks and little call-backs that give the music multiple layers of depth and phrasing. When he cranked up Thomas Gold’s classic ‘Sing2Me’ (I think mixed against Madonna’s ‘Miles Away’) he changed merely one sixteenth note in the hook and it completely changed the feel of the song and it felt like the entire room was galloping in unison. He also did some transformation of that ‘Voulez Vous’ remix that also had us all writhing. Ron and I danced up on the catwalk most of the night and seeing the crowd from above and layers of lasers hovering above their heads made for an oustanding late late night and early early morning. Abel also plays the ‘big gay leather Christmas prom’ Black XXXmas party produced by Gus Presents and IndustrySF each Demember. He hasn’t released any of the 2015 mix yet but here’s some of 2014:

Alex Acosta, Podcast #28

Over a year old but this mix captures that 4:30am feel where you feel untethered from reality. Our favorite part starts around 38m (super awesome at 41m) in but the whole thing is fantastic:

A close second is podcast #34 from One Magical Weekend.

Dan DeLeon, Sunsation Sundays Premiere at Oasis, produced by Ky and Juan Martinez, Jonathan Lay, and Mohammad Vahidy

One of the best surprises of the past year in the SF club scene was the debut of Sunsation Sundays, taking advantage of the rooftop deck at the new Oasis space. It’s a tricky event blending Sunday Funday cocktails on the roof and tea dance music on the floor dropping into a more circuit sound as the evening progresses – all on a school night. Their packed debut featured Dan DeLeon’s restless prime time high-energy sound.  Favorite part starts around 9 minutes in with a manic mix erupting with some diva pleading to know: How many muthafuckin’ latinos are in this mutha-fuckin’ house!? A lot, girl. There were a lot. Since Sunsation, the production team has added a bookend event called Pulse for holiday weekends taking you well into the night.

Jesus De Pelayo, Real Bad XXVII at 1015 Folsom, produced by Grass Roots Gay Rights Foundation

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include one of our other favorite events of the year, the notorious Real Bad party that closes Folsom weekend. We know many of the people on the production team and the peak experience with video describing the various kinds of love and fetish while rotating LED screens spelled out L-O-V-E. An overwhelming evening. Jesus De Pelayo executed a perfect blend of tea dance taking you into a darker evening mix while Brian Maier spun the underground basement space with a more downtempo but still strong sound.

Phil B and Philip Grasso, Bay of Pigs, produced by Folsom Street Events

Simultaneously the most cleverly and offensively named circuit party, Bay of Pigs strikes a careful balance of a (dance circuit) party in the front and (sex party) business in the (ahem) rear. This year the ‘two Phils’ joined forces for a rough and horny multi-hour set that kept a sea of leather-clad men undulating throughout the night. Here’s Phil B portion: (love the inclusion of  timeless club classic “I Feel Love” at 26 minutes in)

And some of Philip Grasso’s set:

Philip Grasso Bay of Pigs 2015 Live Set

As a circuit girl friend once said: “Oh my God, Grasso just comes up with this shit and you’re like where the fuck did that come from? You aren’t old enough to know that song. Grasso knows how to turn my pussy out!”

Yes, ma’am.

Russ Rich, PLAY T-Dance at City Nights, produced by Victor Martinez and P Tyrone Smith

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I was on the production team for PLAY T-Dance this past year so I’m a little biased but PLAY remains the best tea dance in SF, taking you from the dirty, aggressive, overt mood of Up Your Alley street fair and into an evening with an optimistic, upbeat, playful vibe. Even after midnight, the crowd simply would not leave the floor and when Russ finally wound down the music the crowd went beserk with applause. Here’s part 2 of his mix:

https://hearthis.at/69YLGZvn/dj-russ-richplay-2015-live-part-ii/

Guy Ruben, House Party at Powerhouse, produced by Ky and Juan Martinez, Jonathan Lay, and Mohammad Vahidy

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And while not circuit music per se, I’d have to callout DJ Guy Ruben for his hard rumbling underground sound he brings to House Party at Powerhouse every Second Saturday. It’s a hard balance to strike to keep the music ambient enough that bar patrons can chug Fireball, chat and grope in the front while keeping the beat restless enough to keep the shirtless muscleboys bouncing in the back. I seriously don’t know why the wood floors don’t collapse into the basement each time we’re all back there jumping up and down. Here’s some of his mix from Locoya Hill’s I Just Wanna Fuckin’ Dance event:

Russ Rich and Philip Grasso, RoyalTea, produced by Gus Presents, at Oasis

I swear I had the track for this one on one of the sites but can’t find it. One of my other favorite music moments of the year was Russ and Philip doing a giddly giggling tag-team set at Oasis. They mixed several mixes of Thomas Gold’s Sing2Me into one long 20 minute journey. It was fun seeing them take a creative risk like that and totally pulling it off.

Bugie Matsushita, Magnitude, produced by Folsom Street Events

While thousands of men danced at Folsom’s Magnitude event in the cavernous  Midway space,  DJ Bugie spun a more relaxed downtempo set in the outdoors chill-out space under gas-powered heaters and lounge furniture under the open night sky. Here’s a sample of Bugie’s podcast on Podomatic.

Melissa Cotten’s cover of Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’ Remixed by James Torres

I first heard this mix at one of the Brüt parties here in San Francisco at BeatBox. Nice steady, hypnotic beat. When James Torres passed away over a year ago, the music scene lost a master.

Asheton Lemay, December 2014 Afterhours Set

You can always tell when a DJ has classical music training. There’s something about the way they fit the songs and beats together that has an internal logic making the set a more coherent whole. Asheton Lemay’s pedigree as a symphonic percussionist is on full display in every mix he puts out. In this case, his set from last December was one we listened to many times before going out for a night on the town.

Also love his afterhours set from the same month.

Wayne G, Somebody Scream (XXL Mix)

Another luminary in the SF dance scene is Wayne G. He doesn’t release a lot of longer sets but when we’ve heard him he’s always astounding. One of his mixes from 2015:

Brian Urmanita, Sunsation Sundays at Oasis, produced by Ky and Juan Martinez, Jonathan Lay, and Mohammad Vahidy

Another fantastic set of Sunsation Sundays was Brian Urmanita’s opening set this fall. Brian is one of the handsomest guys in the entire city. Seriously, he looks like a goddamn Disney prince. His husband is almost as handsome. If two guys could have kids, they should be a government-mandated mating pair. Obligatory:

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Anyway, his beauty belies his dirty take on house that he had on display at Oasis in August. He was also at the helm of Qbar’s Plan B event that ended a successful two-year run earlier this year.

DJ-folk, if any of the above is inaccurate, let me know!

Digital Music Executive on Tidal Launch

Former digital music exec on Tidal:

“Tidal is offering nothing new. They have exactly the same catalog, product, features, even names of tiers the same as everyone else, with the exception of the $20 “lossless” feature. Even that’s not defensible, because every other service can and will offer it (and probably for less), and the $20 is not reflective of any real costs. It’s totally arbitrary pricing.

Aside from being audio overkill, lossless isn’t even a new or unique idea. This has been on every service’s roadmap for a while…but streaming lossless is pretty dumb, at the moment. Many people don’t have data connections fat enough to support it, and on mobile it’s silly.

Tidal can claim somehow they’re ‘more fair’ in paying artists, but they’ve been completely opaque about what that actually means. Given Tidal’s deals are almost certainly identical to every other service out there (Rhapsody, Spotify, Beats, etc.), it’s hard to believe their payment structure is going to be any different either.

The only difference as I see it is the presence of the select celebrity co-owners, who are either silent partners (in which case they’re just like any other investor, likely to be disappointed in Tidal’s returns) or are actively involved in development and management (in which case I pity the poor teams at Tidal that have to work with them).”

Full discussion http://www.metafilter.com/148481/Tidal#5993070

The Music Industry, Post-Payola

Secrets from the music industry:

“[A]ny citizen could walk into an airport and buy plane tickets with cash.

A common ruse was to have the A&R guy ( Artist and Repertoire) use company cash, buy tickets and give them to Local PDs at radio stations. These tickets were as good as cash but not a direct payment. The PD could either take a nice vacation or return the tickets to the airline at the airport. The friendly ticket lady would then refund the cash price of the ticket in full. Bingo! The PD “just got paid today.”

Gosh! If you have access to a wealthy and connected producer plus a steady supply of cocaine to stuff disk-jockey’s faces, there no telling how high your career might fly! It might fly like an eagle! You could buy a stairway to heaven!

That sounds hard to believe in today’s credit card world, but that’s how it was done. This was WAY before 911, so airports were more like train stations. You could just walk in and buy two tickets to paradise with cash; no ID, no record, no surveillance cameras, no traceability. That was how hits were made.”

via Nozame comments on What is a “dirty little (or big) secret” about an industry that you have worked in, that people outside the industry really ought to know?.

Bjork on Women, Music, Auteurs, and Authorship

Bjork talks to Pitchfork about her new album (coming after the collapse of her marriage) and about the unique challenges of women in the music industry:

“I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself.”

On the music press’s refusal to see her collaborators as contributors without removing her as the auteur voice:

“I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this—I’m not dissing him—this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn’t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second. If whatever I’m saying to you now helps women, I’m up for saying it.”

“I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album. [Matmos’] Drew [Daniel] is a close friend of mine, and in every single interview he did, he corrected it. And they don’t even listen to him. It really is strange.”

Full interview http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/9582-the-invisible-woman-a-conversation-with-bjork/