Exclusive Benjamin Vallery Podcast and Sunset Sound System’s Galen Interview of Benjamin Vallery

photo by @Micah Weiss

Friday’s party at Monarch with The Martinez Brother features one of our favorite local DJs, Forward SF and Slinky resident Benjamin Vallery. Benjamin’s been a major contributor to the West Coast and beyond dance community for going on two decades. We’re excited and honored to share with you an exclusive podcast by Vallery and an interview of Benjamin by Sunset Sound System's Galen Abbott. 

Galen Abbott: For those who may not know why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get into electronic music?

Benjamin Vallery: I grew up in Seattle through college and moved to Los Angeles in 1999, which is where the bulk of my DJ career started. Back in high school, I was always the kid with head-phones on walking around the halls in between classes, I always had music playing. Definitely hip hop, r&b and some heavy metal and grunge were in rotation in my Walkman. But as far as getting into electronic and house music, my older brother Dana would hand me down some of the new music he was listening to. I can’t remember exactly which album it was but I think It had something to do with Rotterdam techno. I just sort of became a collector of whatever new music was rolling out on Tuesdays. Raves were just hitting the northwest in the early nineties and I was lucky enough to be a part of the golden era of so many different genres of music. There was an old record store called Orpheum Records on Broadway in Seattle and it was one of my first introductions to vinyl. There was this great guy Rob Green who really listened to me and paid attention to what I bought and gave me great recommendations. There was also Wesley Holmes and Brian Lyons from Flammable to help me get my deep house motivation going.

GA: How has your sound evolved since you started DJing? And are there any producers that you’re really feeling right now?

BV: Well it’s kind of progressed along the same lines as the music has over the years. Used to certainly be a faster a tempo with more breaks, but it has mellowed a bit, which is good. Over the years I’ve had a couple DJ partners in which we did 2 x 4 or even 2 x 4 with additional equipment like drums and drum machines, samplers and mics. Marcus the other founder of BodyRockDJs was instrumental in pushing us forward with new gear and sounds, while I kind of focused on laying the groove out. Since we split up the DJ crew, I’ve had to try to find my own sound which I feel like I’m just coming into with full steam. It’s been great to discover a deeper side but still fun I have no problem dropping a break or some song with big bass. But I still like my solid house grooves, which is why I’m pretty excited to be playing with The Martinez Brothers because I have almost all of their tracks. JT Donaldson just put out a new 88 Days EP that is pretty indicative of what I like right now. “In Our Love” is deep and melodic and “The Depression”  is a chugging bassline heater. I threw that one on this mix for AYLI. And of course I love my San Francisco homies both up and coming and the bigger players: Dirtybird, Moulton Studios, Alland Byallo, Blue Soul, 3AM Devices, Roam Recordings. There’s a lot of exciting collaboration happening with this new generation of DJs and artists in San Francisco.

GA: What has been your most memorable DJ gig to date?

BV: There was couple of times I got to go to Japan to DJ for my homies at Numlok. Getting to DJ in Tokyo was extremely high on my bucket list. However one of the other most memorable involved an underground space called the church in Los Angeles playing for F.A.M.I.L.Y. BodyRockDJs were playing downstairs and I started feeling water droplets, then more water and it kept coming out the ceiling until we had to move the mixer and the whole setup . It wasn’t till a little bit later that somebody told us the bathroom upstairs had flooded. We just kept jamming it was a great party. Hopefully it was just the sink.

GA: You have deep roots in house music, what was it like being a part of BodyRockDJs? Wasn’t there also a label at some point?

BV: It was a great time! We hit some pretty tall ceilings in the underground community in Los Angeles. We were fortunate enough to help sustain a warehouse scene for over a decade while being able to travel a bit and start that label (Quietly Freakin’). It was mostly a vehicle for us to put out our own music. I remember the first sunset party we came to, you played the Justin Martin remix of our track for about a thousand people. It was the first time hearing it played out by somebody else. Needless to say we were pretty stoked. Luckily we got a press and distribution for our first release. Unfortunately the timing was pretty bad that’s when the record sales started to decline and I wasn’t too on board with digital yet and it was just funky time personally as well. Plus owning a record label ain’t no joke. I have plans to get in the studio make some stuff for other peoples labels soon!

GA: You’re always such positive beacon on the dance floor and very passionate about the music. Where does this inspiration come from?

BV: I appreciate that! This is a community of like-minded individuals and it’s always had positive aspects of acceptance, activism, and equality. I don’t want to get too corny, but the music changed my life forever. It made me a much better and more compassionate person. I just try and to be a part of this community, so staying positive isn’t too hard when you are surrounded by great folks. Far as being passionate, my friends have nicknamed me Grandma becacause I sometimes get a little cranky and serious about my music. Expect some tracks and remixes from “Grandma” someday.

GA: As someone who appreciates the craft of DJing, how would you say it’s changed and/or stayed the same in the last 10 years?

BV: I’ve always said it’s not about the medium but the message. The only thing I don’t really appreciate with the new technology is people not mixing with this new equipment. There is something extremely valid to learning to beatmatch and playing songs with that extra bit of anticipation and excitement. One of the things I really love is constantly being amazed by somebody with the right heart laying out a well composed mix. That is the best element that hasn’t changed since it began.

GA: You once resided in So Cal but you you’ve been living in Nor Cal for years now. How would you describe the differences in the underground house music scene?

BV: There are such great aspects to both regions. It is really hard to beat a warehouse party in Los Angeles the same way Northern California has a lock on the outdoor parties. But either city can pull off both  well. I fell in love with San Francisco and don’t think I’m going back to Los Angeles to live anytime soon. And becoming a resident for Adnan Sharifs Forward parties has also been a blessing because I respect what he’s done in San Francisco before moving back to Brazil. And like I said, there’s a new generation making waves that’s pretty damn cool up here and it’s great to be a part of it.

GA: What genre of music would you be listening to if house music didn’t exist?

BV: That may be impossible to answer. I’ve always searched for new music of all different types. I have a pretty extensive catalog of jazz, rock, classical on my hard drives. I use to do sound design for theater shows so it broadened my scope on a lot of different styles of music. One of the best aspects I learned from that was searching for the right mood more than anything else.

GA: We’re in for an exciting night with the Martinez Brothers. What do you enjoy most about AYLI events?

BV: Jeremy has a great ear and a finger on the pulse on what is hot, but still traditional and respected. It’s not easy to survive as a promoter making bold decisions and he does. Although I don’t know some of the techno artists he brings, he has opened my eyes to some great talent. I also appreciate the fact that he can book house, techno, and forward-thinking music and people trust his vision. The crew at As You Like It works very hard and it shows.

GA: How do you like to unwind after tearing up the decks? Is there a favorite adult beverage that helps?

BV: It’s fairly interesting because I was 100 percent sober up until I was 31 in 2008. Let’s say I’ve had some fun, but I still stay sober for my sets. I’ve tried it a couple times doing it differently and it doesn’t work out. Plus like any DJ, I can be pretty hard on myself, and being selfish and having too good a time is not an excuse to not give people the best I can. I do sometimes drink a pint of beer every now and then, but a lot of times the bar is probably closed when I’m done anyway. But when I get down, I get down. Since I’m opening expect me to be getting down!

Exclusive Honey Soundsystem Podcast and AYLI head Jeremy Bispo Interview of Honey Soundsystem


Saturday’s collaboration with Honey Soundsystem featuring Derrick Carter and Bicep marks the second merging of our crews. Our guests for the night bridge the many influences of both AYLI and Honey. Honey Soundsystem has long been an inspiration to us and we’re particularly excited to introduce the collective as a whole to you with this exclusive podcast and interview. Each of their members stand on their own and together their multitude of skills and attributes makes for a party and collective to be reckoned with. Please take a moment to take in the mix and read the interview. Quality.

JB: For those that might not know, tell us how Honey Soundsystem started. Who were the first members? And how did you all meet?

HS: Honey Soundsystem was the brainchild of Jacob Sperber and Ken Woodard who first collaborated as DJs one summer of 2006 in the midst of dust and wind out in a desert past the shared border of California and Nevada. As time passed we’ve had quite a rotation of djs under the Honey name. But recalling the first time all the current core members of Honey were in the same room was at the Gun Club party here in SF at Moulton Studios. Jacob Sperber, Josh Cheon, Jason Kendig and Robert Yang all arrived at the party without much coordination to see headliners Tim Sweeney and Maurice Fulton. It was a serendipitous affair as it was the first time we saw each other under one roof. At that time it was our shared tastes in music that brought us together. A few months later, Jacob had lured Robert into the Honey fold with pot treats as we listened to Jason Kendig DJ who later had signed on to the honey roster. And Josh Cheon, a regular fixture at all the parties had sealed the deal with his first honey gig for Thanksgiving weekend. By Summer of 2007 we had launched our first party with Robert opening for Todd Terje - our first big name headliner at a one-off at the now defunct Club Rawhide. And by the end of 2007 we had established ourselves as the de facto DJ collective for queers and friends alike to experience great music in an underground, un-Castro type of setting.

JB: Each of you have your own unique sounds and styles. Tell us a bit about your sounds and influences.

HS: Our sound is rooted in the history of dance music. A lot of events that we have curated and produced come from a standpoint of gay history with a lot of reverence for dance floors throughout different waves of underground music. When we first met we had pretty divergent styles. However, rooted in our styles was an everlasting love affair with the history of dance music - which is why our sets complement each other so well.

Disco is an important reference point for us because of Paradise Garage and the kind of music Larry Levan played for a predominantly gay male and straight female crowd. Hi-NRG and the San Francisco Sound of the early 80’s is also important as we draw a lot of reference from bath house music and a lot of background from Patrick Cowley’s days as a producer. Chicago house music is a mainstay in our sets because we consider a lot gay and straight house DJs from mid to late 80’s as our forefathers especially Ron Hardy and the recently passed Frankie Knuckles. 90s music is incorporated into our sets as well as this was another world to reflect upon, on the fact that a lot of queer djs at that point was pretty much ubiquitous.

JB: Decor is integral to your parties. Who takes the lead on the decorations and what makes decor so important to the crew?

HS: Depending on context of the party, decor can either have a vision that is offered by one of the members of the Honey or it can be a stream-of-consciousness exercise. For us, it’s a bit like meditation, or offering a prayer to the party. What we try to complete is a mood or key signature for the party - depending on where we are and who we are at that time and place. It helps us bond with each other much more as we collaborate while strengthening our creative/imaginative muscles before getting on the decks to play. The importance of decor is intention for the party and how we want the end-result to look at the end of the night. But the decor is also ephemeral - we can take it all down and start all over again resetting expectations for each night that we throw an event.

JB: I’ve long said Honey was the best weekly in San Francisco. You decided to recently end the weekly on a high note. What was led to the decision to stop your weekly at Holy Cow?

HS: Producing an event on a weekly basis was becoming more and more automatic and mindless. We felt a growing disconnectedness from the dance floor and attendees, and we wanted a return to something intimate: like the loft party where we had Horsemeat Disco play their first party with us joined by Marina Bitch performing a birthday pole dance routine, or, our signature basement parties in which we produced our parties based on the history of Hi NRG and the life of Patrick Cowley or on Andrew Holleran’s novel Dancer from The Dance.

We wanted people to remember what made the Honey experience so special and to do that we had to go back down to the underground to change things up again and reset expectations.

JB: Thank you for taking the time to introduce Honey Soundsystem to the As You Like It audience and the mix. We can’t wait for Saturday.

Carlos Souffront Podcast + Derek Plaslaiko Interview of Souffront


Carlos Souffront and Derek Plaslaiko (1996) photo by Niki Zibisky

We were late to the Carlos Souffront bandwagon. It wasn’t until 2011, shortly before he moved to San Francisco, that we first discovered Souffront through our friends at Honey Soundsystem. Since then he’s become a secret weapon of sorts that we do our best to work him into appropriate line-ups. His time in Detroit and the influences he brings to a night are unparalleled by existing San Francisco DJs. Simply put, Carlos drops bombs. A DJ’s DJ of the utmost.

We’re honored to release this exclusive mix, an excerpt from a recording at Plunge, September 14, 2013, and an interview of Carlos by The Bunker resident Derek Plaslaiko in preparation for our upcoming collaboration featuring Bunker artists Voices from the Lake

Along with being a The Bunker resident, Derek was asked to interview Carlos because their relationship dates back to the early 90s. "Carlos has always been one of my 3 favorite DJ’s and that I always have been one of his biggest cheerleaders. Nobody on the planet is happier to know that so many others are finally starting to see it, too," Plaslaiko said. 

DP: We met while you were DJ’ing experimental and ambient at EXAT at Zoot’s Coffee House in Detroit back in 1995. What made you decide to learn to DJ in the first place, and how did you teach yourself?

CS: I always say that I started DJ’ing to subsidize a pernicious record buying habit, but I did resist doing it for a while even after getting sucked into the Techno vortex. It’s crazy for me to think of a time now when I didn’t want to DJ, because I was constantly making mix tapes of stuff I heard on the radio and records I bought which is the same thing really. The only difference was that I learned how to beat match…sort of! I bought a used Technics 1200 to finally upgrade from the Fisher Price record player I had, adopted my dad’s belt drive Technics, bought a cheap mixer and set up in my parent’s living room and practiced beat-matched mixes for hours on end. I was always musical but didn’t have the discipline to learn to read music or play an instrument, but playing myself records is just fun and the rhythmic aspect of beat matching came easily. The formative moment was probably a DJ friend I looked up to (Sho) telling me how DJ’ing was just a really interesting and fun way to listen to music. And for the record, Derek, we first met the VERY first time at a Mercury Rev meet and greet at Play It Again Records. We talked about Autechre ‘Amber.’

DP: Continuing from the first question, did you have a passion to play dance music in front of dancing crowds even before then? And did you ever think you would still be doing it to this day?

CS: Starting out, I was happiest when I was in the audience for a great DJ. My passion for Dj’ing grew out of a musical dissatisfaction in those years when all of the sudden everyone was a DJ. I guess I just had that same artistic impulse of looking around at the landscape of art around you and saying “Ugh…no, no, no, it’s LIKE THIS!” Listening to and sharing music is something I enjoy doing as much as anything in life, I don’t imagine that ever changing.

DP: It seems like No Way Back during Movement 2013 was a “tipping point” for you, so-to-speak. People were finally realizing what many of us have known for quite some time: you are a complete badass. I know you’ve never been one to be quite comfortable with compliments, but how are you taking to this recently heightened attention? Is it all happening as naturally as you would like it, or do you feel more “pressure to perform” these days?

CS: Thank you Derek :-/ What can I say? I LOVE the attention! It’s all super flattering, and it does raise the stakes, as does the current culture of promoters recording and releasing all of my sets. I’ve always felt a lot of (mostly self-imposed) performance anxiety. But now that I finally have my turntables and all of my records back, I can practice at home instead of at the show! Also, now that I’m starting to collect and play music digitally too, I’m excited for the first time in a while to engage with new music.

DP: Sometimes you have a tendency to play records that on the surface may sound extremely abrasive when played by themselves. Yet, when you put them together for one of your sets, often you have a way of making them come off deep and sublime. Is this something you do intentionally? Or, like usual, am I just reading too much into it?

CS: Thanks Derek, that’s super flattering! I always feel a little cheesy talking about it, but when it’s all really working, the experience really can be transcendent. I love all of the records I play, and I’m just trying to show people what I really like about them, even if it’s something they wouldn’t listen to on their own. And I hope I’ve developed a taste level over the years high enough that what I play comes off as ‘deep,’ even when it isn’t pretty. Of course I ALWAYS want the ‘sublime’ part, but getting there mostly means cooperating with a great promoter that understands how to cultivate an atmosphere conducive to magic-making and then, of course, having good old friends like you in the audience to egg the whole thing on. It’s a joint effort to create that magic space where we can get really freaky.

DP: A little birdie told me that you had a studio session back in December. Were you happy with the results? Is it something you have been pursuing since/before and would like to do more of?

CS: Yeah, it was fun and I intend to do more of it. Nothing has been release-worthy yet and I refuse to put out mediocre junk just because the Techno Police say that I should have a release out by now. The collaborative aspect of it is what interests me the most. Plus, I really need to work with people who are more experienced in the studio than I am to help translate the ideas stuck in my head. Luckily, I’ve got several talented friends that want to collaborate.

DP: One of the things I have always admired most about your DJ’ing is the ability to truly challenge the dance floor in front of you. And we both know your love for music extends well beyond electronic music alone. Do you feel like you have any musical limits when you are in front of a crowd?

CS: I self-impose all sorts of constraints, mostly about picking music to match the setting. I still play well ‘inside the box’ most of the time. And I don’t often dip into neighboring genres, though when I do, it’s a huge thrill and very inspiring to me but I don’t feel that it’s appropriate every single time I play. And even though I maybe got a reputation for playing some abrasive stuff, there are still a bunch of records I love that I still wouldn’t dare play to a dance floor. Maybe now I’ll have to ;-)

DP: It seems like the jump from Detroit to San Francisco has been great for you! What have you enjoyed most about the transition? And if you could go back in time and make the move happen sooner, would you?

CS: I’ve most enjoyed the cliché parts of being in San Francisco: the saturation of gay people and my subsequent forgetting of being gay and then the weather! While the queer immersion here has been great for me, I miss my Detroit/Ann Arbor friends like crazy and of course the parties that just are rarely as good anywhere else, but I have no regrets at all about the timing of my move.

DP: Much like myself, you have been displaced from most of your record collection for quite some time. I hear you are about to get it all sent to San Fran! That *has* to feel good! Can you name 3-5 records that you might have tried locating in your collection on visits home, but haven’t had much luck in doing so?

CS: Yup, they’re all here finally! And my turntables!! I will finally be able to mix at home again!!! A few records I’m excited to have been reunited with are:
The good early Rephlex records (Universal Indicators and Caustic Windows, etc.)
The Kreisel 7”s
My Stereolab & Flying Saucer Attack records
The impossibly weird Irdial records that I’ll never play out but still love to listen to
All my drone records that just go “UUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNHHHHHHHHH”

DP: Let’s talk cheese! Most people are aware of your passion for cheese. I realize this is a dumb question, but… gun to your head…. do you choose a well paid career in cheese, or DJ’ing? I ask because it seems you do pretty well in balancing both. I’m mostly curious about hearing you compare which one is more fulfilling to you and why.

CS: I don’t think it’s a dumb question at all! I decided to work in the food biz because I felt like I was too fringe to cut it as a full-time DJ, and that it would lose some of its magic for me if I did it more than once in a while. I go through phases as it is now of feeling bored, boring and irrelevant, I feel it would be disrespectful to go ahead with the gig anyways and play with that kind of ennui in my heart. When I don’t feel like playing, I just don’t and that’s the way I like it.

DP: And finally, paint us a picture: ideally, what does the life of Carlos Souffront look like 10 years from now?

CS: Hopefully it will look mostly the same, just with more grey hair! I expect to continue finding old and new music that inspires me to share it with friends, and I expect there to be that rare and special space where that can occur and I have a feeling that many of the familiar folks will be there too.

Tom Croose R&B Love Jam Podcast + Slow Hands Back to Back Interview with Tom Croose


We’re excited to celebrate our Slow Hands annual tradition with a exclusive special love jams podcast by Worst Friends cohort Tom Croose and an interview of each other in preparation for Friday’s Valentine’s Day love affair at Beatbox.

Last year we brought the duo to Beatbox for a steamy slow-mo disco dance party and the recording has been one of our most popular to date. Today’s mix by John Paul Jones AKA Tom Croose marks the first artist to return to our podcast series. 

Slow Hands will follow his San Francisco debut of his LIVE performance with a back-to-back DJ set with Tom Croose as Worst Friends

Check out Slow Hands recording from two years ago. 

For a taste of what’s to come from Slow Hands’ LIVE set listen here

Slow Hands interviews Tom Croose

As Tom Croose, and one half of The Dukes Of Chutney, your music is pretty un-embedded in traditional “electronic” dance styles, and more deeply rooted in dub reggae, bossa and samba styles. Where does this come from?

I guess from listening to a lot of the styles you mentioned. I collected a ton of Brazilian music and just jazz in general while interning for verve records. Spent a lot of hours exploring and enjoying that stuff. Something about delay and reverb that I just really love too. I love space in music, I think that’s why I’m so into producers like Holden and Koze and Dan Snaith, guys who sound insane on headphones. That one Holden dub of Depeche Mode is so wild, its like standing in the middle of an amazing storm. Wish I could get stuff to sound like that.

We’re playing on Valentine’s Day, what are you feelings on Valentine’s Day?

I’ve worked most valentine’s days, so it’s kind of whatever. I love to take my wife out to a nice dinner, but it’s much more enjoyable and easier to get reservations on any other night. We make our own valentine’s days and they’re not limited to once a year ;) actually, these days getting in some couch time with an uninterrupted hour of the sopranos or whatever show we can catch up on is like eating at the French laundry.

Who is your favorite DJ, and why? Who is your favorite musician, and why? What’s the biggest difference between being a DJ & a musician to you?

I’m not sure I have a favorite DJ, there have been many where I’ve gotten totally lost in their music for at least some period of a night, but honestly I don’t go out enough to have a really informed opinion. I can tell you my favorite times being out to see a DJ have been seeing Joakim at apt way back, Pilooski at the same spot, and Osborne there too. Apt was a great spot for a while. Also, 205 club, Todd Terje crushed it there, Eric Duncan, Justin Vandervlogen as well. Always enjoy seeing Slow Hands DJ, he can really work a pioneer!

Also, I’ve downloaded mixes that really stuck with me too over the years, Koze, Holden, Superpitcher, Tensnake, Floating Points, Flying Lotus have all put out mixes that pretty much blew my mind. The list could go on. I don’t know if you’d call it djing, but actually seeing flying lotus at love in new york a while back was so sick. That guy has amazing energy.

My favorite musician? Probably John Fahey or jack rose, always had a spot in my heart for solo acoustic guitar. Chris Corsano drumming blew my mind years back. Paul Lai on guitar from Upsilon Acrux. Actually my favorite musician is definitely my cousin Braden miller. He played drums and guitar at different points for upsilon, which is crazy. Right now he’s the drummer for best coast, which doesn’t exactly show off his skill, but trust me when I say he can shred any instrument you put in front of him, and he’s the funniest guy ever, he’s uncle silly.

To answer your question about differences between musicians and djs, being a musician is more cut and dry. I mean its kind of a silly question, but there are people who do both in some capacity, which is maybe why that question exists. But I mean in terms of being a musician, you can play and instrument or you can’t. Although there is skill and experience involved with djing, pretty much anyone can call themselves a dj and fake it to some degree. I dj’d after that guy from the hobbit once at a club in Hollywood. He had 2 iPods. People loved it. Does that make sense? I’m a terrible musician by the way.

You have been a father now for about 2 years. Has this experience effected the way you listen to, and or hear music?

I don’t think so. I try to play music with less offensive language around our daughter, because she retains everything and even though you think she’s not listening to chance the rapper curse, she’ll blurt out a line a week later when you least expect it. But other than that not really. It has made me start stashing records for her to listen to though, rather than buying and selling on discogs so randomly.

As a parent, musician, and DJ, you will obviously pass along your musical taste’s to your daughter at some point. How did your parents effect your musical taste?

I don’t know if they really affected my taste that much. I guess you’re just exposed to more and more stuff and over time, for whatever reason you like what you like out of what you’ve heard and that’s where your taste comes from. My dad had some records that I used to listen to on headphones like Hendrix, Zeppelin, Neil Young, Moby Grape and stuff like that. I suppose that discovering those was influential to me. It’s funny though cause there was certain stuff I didn’t like to hear when I was younger, like I got sick of dire straights in the car growing up and now I really like some of those albums. Funny too, when Terje put out that edit of Andreas Vollenweider, I remembered listening to that record on cassette cause my dad was into it. Never thought I’d hear a disco edit of that stuff, it was a pleasant surprise.

What is you’re favorite thing about San Francisco? Sub Question: Your favorite San Francisco musician?

The food and the beauty of the surrounding areas. Sly Stone is the first one that comes to mind, but I could probably make a list if I had more time.

Bonus question:

If you had a spray painted matte black mid 90s Toyota Previa, what would it’s name and theme song be?

I don’t know, that car sounds unfit for a child to be riding in. Check out this photo of my friend mike though…


Tom Croose Interviews Slow Hands:

If you were given a black AMEX to buy whatever instrument you wanted on earth, what would it be? Part 1 - if you could keep all the gear you have, and part 2 - if it was the only piece of gear you could keep.

1) A Tacoma 2003 AJF28C. It’s not the greatest archtop ever made, and there are far superior archtop luthiers to Tacoma, but this one has a sentimental value to me that could never be surpassed. The offset hole was really obscure in the early 2000’s, mainly just to archtop purists who thought the F-hole was end all be all (*). This also most likely resulted in it’s low sales, and it ultimately being discontinued. These days the offset hole is pretty common among contemporary luthiers, so I like to think it was ahead of it’s time.

My parents got me one of the AJF22CE5's when i graduated from high school and was going to University for music. I dropped out a year later, and sold it to pay rent. The parental's found out a few years later, and were devastated, as Tacoma had stopped making the instrument, and I was just being a disappointing (most likely drunken) 20 something. Seeing the look of utter disappointment on my mom's face killed me, and I vowed i would buy one when i was making enough money off of music to support myself and be able to afford it.

This past spring i started browsing the web for one, and found a guy in Long Island that was selling one, but was reluctant to let it go (the “for sale” post was on an archtop blog, and had been dated 2009). I contacted him, and he asked that i come out and play it, and check it out. As it turns, his best friend was a fairly famous luthier from Long Island, and this dude was himself quite the collector. I sat in his office and played for about an hour on this insane acoustic amp he had, and I told him the story of why i wanted this guitar so bad. He said he had been up and down about selling it for years, and had people come look at it, but only for parts. Through hanging and playing, he knew i wanted to keep it as it was, and he sold it to me… for double what my parents had bought my original for in 2000.

* Instrument collectors/purists make vinyl collectors/purists laughable, both in budget and intimidation. The wealthier collectors actually influence the trend of how instruments are made. Like this guy, Chinery.

2) My Tacoma 2003 AJF28C. But! I did buy wood from a supplier to Stratovarius that is located in Vermont about five years ago with the intentions of making my own archtop. I am not that handy, so i gave the wood to my dear friend Will Mosheim of Seeders Instruments and Gold Town and I hope that he one day fashions me the arch-top of my dreams! (I want it to have a violin finish, i think that would look amazing!). Side note: Gold Town will actually be performing the lead single off my album with me and my good bud Cameo Culture, coming soon!

If you could work with 1 director to score their next movie that would it be (living or dead or both)? - Bonus: what are a few of your all time favorite scores/soundtracks?

Wowza, hmmm. I just watched that movie Nebraska last night, and loved the score. It’s by a guy named Mark Orton, of a group called Tin Hat out of SF actually! Folky and quirky, really carried a lot of the film actually.

I love Wes Anderson, and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo does most, if not all of his music (he also did Pee Wee’s Playhouse, sick!). The Life Aquatic is probably where his sound is most prominent … the score to where they land on the pirate’s island is just next level.

Paul Thomas Anderson is obviously amazing, and uses Jonny Greenwood to score his films now. There Will Be Blood, the music also drove the film. When you have a film like this, or Nebraska, where there are long moments of silence, i love the idea of using singular instruments. Minimalism in composition for film is something many of the famous film composers could take note of. I love composers like Thomas Newman and John Williams (probably the two most easily sound identified composers to me), but sometimes when the music is so constant and epic, it get’s lost. In TWBB, Greenwood took the sound of a single pizzicato string and made it sound like the looming shadow of death. So insane.

All that said, Williams did do the score to Jaws, which forever sealed the fate of the minor second interval to never be used in music again ;)

But my absolute favorite score of all time is Gustavo Santaolalla’s score to The Motorcycle Diaries. The director is Walter Salles, who recently did On The Road. While beautifully shot, that book should NEVER be mad into a movie. I don’t even think i have to explain what is so great about MD’s score, just watch it if you don’t know.

A couple runners up are actually a bit strange, but the score to Meet Joe Black, and Finding Nemo are incredible, and both done by Thomas Newman. You can really identify his sound in both of them through his use of certain intervals and harmony. But the score at the end of Meet Joe Black where they are walking over the bridge to death is absolutely amazing, makes me cry every time (i know, i’m a pussy).

So, a long winded answer to no one director i suppose. There are so many great one’s, and an equal amount of great film composers. That said, Hanz Zimmer needs to up his game, Gladiator was awesome, and it’s been a slippery slope to cheese ever since.

I go through phases of wanting to get rid of everything I own, frequently that involves records. There are a lot of records that I refuse to get rid of though as I’m saving certain ones for my kids to eventually listen to. Name 10 records or tracks that you would like to give to your kids to discover.

Peter Gabriel - So

Eric Clapton - Slowhand

The Allman Brothers - Eat A Peach

Steely Dan - The Royal Scam

Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue

John Coltrane - Blue Train

Bill Evans - Sunday At The Village Vanguard

Kanye West - Yeezus

Pachelbel - Canon in D Major

Grateful Dead - Shakedown Street (for Shakedown Street), American Beauty (for Ripple), Workingman’s Dead (for Dire Wolf), In The Dark (for Touch of Grey), Dead Set (for Franklin’s Tower) … . Perhaps a “Best Of”? ;)

Keith Jarrett - Personal Mountains (for Innocence)

What has moved you the most, listening to music on a stereo, listening to a dj play somewhere, or seeing a band/live act? Who/where was it?

Seeing Jonny Lang play with BB King when i was 14 at Saratoga Performance Art Center, a week before my 15th birthday. I told my friend that i was with, and my mom that was chaperoning us that i could do what that kid was doing. A week later it was my birthday, my mom got me a guitar and said, “prove it”.

What touring artist would you like to open for in 2014?

Jamie Lidell and Father John Misty are my two favorite touring artists. Their live shows are nearly incomparable. I aspire to be the performer’s that they are one day.

Which us state is the greatest? Why?

Well, i have Vermont and New York City tattooed on my arms, as those are my homes. I know, I know, NYC isn’t a state, it’s a city, but it might as well be a state. I don’t think NYC needs any justification, sorry, i probably just don’t like you as a human if you don’t like NYC. Vermont is incredibly creative and beautiful, not to mention we have the highest concentration of Winter Olympians of any state, so you’re welcome America.

Have you ever drunkenly ended up at a porno actresses place? Tell me about it.

No, I have not. I did once befriend an erotic model however, her apartment was lovely, though things went a bit sour as the evening progressed. You would have to get me far more drunk than i am at present (4:45 pm) in order for me to divulge the rest of that story.

Your 3 drunkest memories?

Being dragged half a block down Avenue C on my elbows after flicking a cigarette butt down the exposed ass crack of a dear friend.

Breaking my front teeth out on the sidewalk at Houston & Broadway when someone twice my size decided to jump on my back.

Jumping in a freezing cold ass river in Big Sur in the middle of the fall for $20. I was half a legend the next day.

Session Victim Podcast and Lance De Sardi Interview of Session Victim


We can’t quite express how excited we are for the AYLI debut of a longtime favorite of ours. Session Victim AKA Hauke Freer and Matthias Reilling’s releases stand out on their own, but the LIVE and DJ performances promise to keep you moving to the last beat. It wasn’t until Boiler Room featured a rare video of their LIVE act that we fully grasped what this talented duo delivers. 

AYLI friend and Bang the Box label-head Lance DeSardi put together a few questions for the guys and Session Victim shared with us an exclusive mix. Take a moment to take in what this funky duo.

Our podcast is available via iTunes or Soundcloud

Hey guys! Congratulations on all the success you’ve had in the recent years. Since I don’t know much about you personally, let’s assume others don’t as well, and let’s start from the top. Where are you from?

Hauke Freer: We are both from a small town in North Germany called Lüneburg. Since 2000 Matthias is living in Hamburg and I’m based in Berlin.

How did you get your start in music, and dance music in particular?
H: Back in the days we became djs in our home town because nobody played the music we liked, and nobody ever matched beats on turntables. There were also no clubs so we had to promote the parties as well. Music was always the driving force, after lots of stops working at labels, recording studios and playing in bands, it turned out that we are best just being djs/producers. That ‘s basically all we want to be anyway.

Your music is quite sample based, which is great. Are you guys avid diggers for classics, i.e. disco, soul, etc.?
H: yes, we are vinyl lovers. Not much we prefer than going to a record store discovering new music.

Matthias Reilling: There’s so much stuff waiting to be discovered, for spinning, sampling or just sheer listening pleasure. We try not to kimit ourselves to any genres at all.

You’ve had a long standing relationship with the Delusions of Grandeur imprint, which is such a killer label. How did your relationship start with them?
M: Jimpster got in touch when he found our first EP on Real Soon and we started writing each other. We did not know that Delusions was his work, but when we finally met him in Berlin he told us and asked for material. We were already playing the first Delusions records so it just made total sense.

You guys had an amazing long player come out in 2012 which didn’t leave my bag, as well of a shit-load of other DJ’s I know. When can we expect the next LP?
H: thank you! We just started working on our next lp. We rented a studio here in San Francisco to write new stuff. Brought a few sketches with us as well. So hopefully very soon

Do you have any other projects together, separately, or with other producers?
M: We both write music on our own and jam with other friends from time to time. I work closely with the Giegling label, Hauke runs Retreat. Since SVM takes about 97% of our time and commitment, we neither have the power nor the heart for any more projects.

Do you mostly DJ, or are we gonna see some live-action Victimization (trademark) at As You Like It?
M: We usually don’t do live and DJ on the same night, but we know Jeremy (Bispo) for a while and when he approached us with the whole idea, it seemed right so we will do a bit of both this time. Our last show at Public Works was great fun so we are really looking forward.

Have you been to San Francisco before? If so, what do ya think? We know how to party…
M: You sure do. When we got here the first time, it just didn’t stop. We were playing three days in a row, it was chaotic but wonderful. That’s when we got the idea to come back with some time to write songs.

Where else will you be going while you’re in North America for this trip?
M: We will also be playing in Miami which is our first time, in New York at Cameo, which is a new location for us and the Primary in Chicago, where we had awesome time on our last trip, can’t wait!

I just grabbed your new EP for D.O.G. called the Glow In The Dark EP, and it’s sick. That’s not a question, just a fact. See y’all at AYLI on January 25th!

- Lance De Sardi



Galen Abbott’s Sunset Sound System (formally known as Pacific Sound) changed the rules of the game. As a resident DJ and as one of three founding members of the prestigious crew, his role can’t be overstated in Bay Area underground house and techno music.

How many times have you heard a friend say, “this is party of the year,” when referring to Sunset? They could have been referring to a multitude of Sunset events: Halloween Boat Party or the Sunset Campout at Belden Town or any one of the parties in the park or the holiday day-parties at Cocomo with Stompy.

Galen’s relationship with bass-heavy house music made him a natural compliment to Hotflush Recordings’ wonder-boy George FitzGerald and Dirtybird RecordsJ.Phlip. We’re excited for his AYLI debut and look forward to building upon our blossoming friendship.

We’d like to thank J.Phlip, who despite an extremely busy touring schedule, took the time to put together a few questions for Galen. Take a moment to take in the interview and podcast by Galen, one of San Francisco’s most respected and accomplished hometown heroes.

You’ve been in the electronic music game now for a REALLY long time!  When exactly did you begin to learn your craft?  What were your tastes in house music at that time?  And what were the first two songs you mixed together?
I have definitely been around the music block a few times. There was actually a year in the 90’s I thought this whole rave/dance music movement was gonna end and it used to give me anxiety.  I didn’t really know what else to do so I’m glad we are sitting here today having this discussion. 
Djing, producing music and events has always had a strong hold on me and probably the only passion that has never wavered. When I first started, I was influenced by the underground sound of San Francisco which was a funky, psychedelic style of house with a bit of acid thrown in. As much as my style has evolved there is always a twinge of old school in there.
My first try at mixing records was a bit unsuccessful as I had nobody to teach me and just tried to figure it out myself. It wasn’t until a friend came over and taught me a trick of mixing 2 of the same tracks together that I got my ear used to beat matching. I spent the next few days mixing Papua New Guinea by Future Sound of London back and forth. 
Fast forward to now… what are your top 5 favorite tracks at the moment? 
I draw influence from many differing genres and am always looking forward as well as backwards on the musical timeline. Here are some I’m feeling right now in no particular order:
1. Munk - Yes!Yes! - Endless Flight
2. Butch - Drummers Drama - Rekids
3. Cappuccino - Hell Dance With Me - Gamma
4. Rhythm Plate - Yeah x 10 (State of My Fate) feat. Clyde (YSE x 11 Remix) - Lost My Dog
5. M.A.N.D.Y. - Superstitious (Chaim Remix) - Get Physical Music
Who are your top 5 favorite DJ’s right now? People are so caught up in what producers are doing these days, but if there is anyone who would appreciate the skill of a great dj it would be you.  
I can definitely appreciate a dj who truly understands how to work the decks! I grew up in an era where much of the focus went into a dj performance and having the ability to make adjustments on the fly depending of the vibe of the party. It’s a bit unfortunate that in today’s electronic music world mostly producers get the dj gigs. Being a good producer doesn’t always translate into being a good dj.  Here are some djs that know how to move me, also in no particular order.
1. Eddie C
2. Robag Wurhme
3. Eats Everything
4. Carlos Souffront
5. Motor City Drum Ensemble
Have you ever played at an AYLI party????  What do you like about AYLI?
I’m very excited to be playing my first AYLI party! I believe it’s a first for both of us. I really appreciate AYLI’s commitment to bringing in new school artists and defining a sound for themselves as promoters. They seem dedicated to curating each event with djs that will form a strong cohesive vibe for the night.
You’re super busy as a DJ and throwing the Sunset Sound System parties year round, it amazes me that you find time to make tracks.  Do you have anything coming out soon?  
Why, yes I do! I have been working in the studio for some time now but do get caught up as promoter/dj and don’t finish releases as much as I’d like to. However, that is changing as we bring more people on board to assist in our event production. You can find my latest track “ICANCU” on the upcoming Dirtybird Players Compilation coming out in January. Also, look to  Smoke N’ Mirrors and Get Physical Music for new releases in 2014.
Will you guys ever have another Sunset party at Golden Gate Park?
I truly wish we could have another Sunset Park Party in GGP. Due to past corruption with Rangers and new permit regulations it’s very difficult to do legally. I have heard of a few renegades going off but due to our large numbers it makes it challenging. We do however, check in every couple years to see what’s up. On a little secret tip, we are looking to make a return to one of our old school locations in 2014.
The first time I met you was at WMC Miami 2006.  Here we are almost 8 years later and you haven’t aged a bit!  What is your secret man?  And I have to know, do you still get carded???
Haha. I remember that trip to Miami. I just tell everyone who confronts me with this that I never stopped raving, it’s the fountain of youth. Well, that and continually striving for a balanced life. I still get carded at times and usually the person is pretty shocked.
I’m super happy to see you are booked a The Garden Festival in Croatia again!  Do you have any funny moments to share from playing there or the Dirtybird Ibiza party last summer?  
We were invited back to produce another Sunset Boat Party at Garden Festival and I couldn’t be happier. It’s such a magical space and the people producing the event are down to earth music lovers.  The adventure from Ibiza to Croatia last year produced much comedy and when you have Justin Martin around it’s pretty much guaranteed. There was this one morning after a fantastic night of music where Thugfucker, Justin, Shiny Objects, Maurice Fulton, Solar, and myself ended up on a little speed boat, barely big enough to carry us all. Needless to say it was a wild high seas adventure.
Would you rather go on a date with Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, or George FitzGerald?
I don’t think I want to go on a “date” with any of them but if these are the only options then I’d say: Ryan grosses me out, George I would like to get to know better before any dinner commitments, and Justin…well, for how main stream he is I do appreciate his talents. So, I’ll say Justin just so I can play him the bootleg mix Holmar Filipsson and I did with his vocals. I’m sure he would love it!

David Harness Podcast and AYLI’s Sassmouth on David Harness Interview


David Harness’ role over the last twenty years of Bay Area house music can’t be over-appreciated. Simply put, David connects with the dance-floor. His DJ sets and production radiate soul.

Over the years, he’s held countless residencies, including Club Universe, The End-up and Club Mighty. You can find him on any number of bills alongside the biggest names in house and techno.

In preparation for the upcoming As You Like It presents Basics w/ Prosumer, Nov. 29, David answered ten questions from AYLI resident Sassmouth, who is also on the Basics’ bill.

We’re excited and honored to have David make his As You Like It debut.

I feel like everyone has that one party, or club that got them ‘hooked’ into this music and culture. Is there a place like that for you and could you describe it?

Wow, what a great question. There are so many clubs and milestones for me to include in this answer that I think I would take about a chapter or two to really give you the answer you may be looking for. As far as clubs that really planted an impact on my career and launched me would be Club Universe at Club Townsend back in the 90’s to early 2002. It was the largest Saturday night after-hours gay party. Each week it would be themed from candyland to Hell. There would be close to a 1,000 people and I would be playing alongside some of the Legends of dance music like, Frankie knuckles, Louie Vega, Danny Tenaglia, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry and more.

This is your first time playing for an As You Like It event. What sort of sounds and styles can people look forward to hearing?

This will be my first time playing so of course I am always nervous and excited all at the same time. As far as my sound, I go with the flow of the audience while being myself. I think bang it out but continue to show that soulful element of deep, tech, classic, and groove that I love.

You’ve been involved in the dance music scene in San Francisco for a long time- what things make it special and unique compared to other places you’ve played? And what makes it more challenging?

It’s all about the audience and the DJ’s who represent their sound. Bringing those elements together I think will make it a challenge and a good time for all which I am always up for the task. It’s a way to introduce your technique to an audience and or DJ on how you get down.

In a city with a long history of segregation (north side versus south side, gay clubs versus straight clubs) I’ve noticed a positive shift in the mix of young people at parties here in Chicago, especially with more and more events creating a vibe that is gay/straight/whatever. San Francisco has always appeared pretty open-minded- have you noticed any changes or shifts in the dance music scene since you first got involved?

It is always changing and that can sometimes be positive and negative. San Francisco has always had that open vibe when it come to underground clubs. For me it can sometimes challenging because I play for so many different audiences. I always want my music for everyone whether black, white, gay, or straight. If at times one scene is more evident that the other I know how to compromise musically.

I really appreciate your thoughts on the importance of ‘the weekly’, especially in this day and age when the emphasis in clubs and with promoters is to bring in touring acts. Can you describe some of the benefits to the DJ and the dancers at events like this?

Where ever I am booked to play a set, my goal is to always make someone at the event dance. I think that is what a true DJ is suppose to do. The best benefit about is the reaction from the crowd being moved and expressing themselves to your vibe whether it be shouting, dancing or twirling, or however one let’s themselves go……

A few years ago I was traveling with my daughter to Chile for a few gigs and I could only pack about 20 records with me (diapers take up a lot of space!) and it was an interesting process paring down to that chosen few. What are a some of your ‘must haves’ that never leave your bag?

OMG! I always incorporate the essentials a good vocal or 2, a banging track, a couple house classics, and I could never forget some oldschool or disco. Now I haven’t traveled with vinyl in a number of years. Love my flashdrives!!!

I think its kind of cool that the DJs at the party represent Berlin, San Francisco, Detroit, and Chicago. Do any of those cities have any special meaning music-wise or experience-wise for you?

Never been to Berlin or Detroit but both cities have their stamps on the techno music scene hands down. Chicago, I love the windy city. The people are amazing and it’s the birth place of House ( Frankie knuckles -“The Warehouse”). Living in San Francisco for 20 years, this cities music scene is epic. You learn about the history of Disco in SF and now the dance music coming from here, it’s amazing!!!!

Are you working on any projects that you’re excited about for 2014?

I have been busy with quite a few remixes as of late. I am looking forward to my next set of remixes for my label Moulton Music in early 2014. I am also working on some music for DJ Spen of Quantize Music, Booker T out in the UK, and Ian Friday for Global Soul.

I’ve recently started my own record label and its definitely a DIY, learning by doing experience! I’m curious if you have any advice for me, or anything you learned the hard way that might be helpful.

I am still learning myself. I have had the most amazing pleasure to have a music partner Chris Lum (Harlum Muziq/Moulton Music) who has helped me in so many ways and continues to this day. Watching him for so many years and doing my best to be involved in everything we worked on has given me the confidence to do quite a few things on my very own. I have small studio here at my house to things at any moment of the day. My advise to you is to create whatever your heart desires and with your DJ background test your sounds out on your audience. It’s a great way to change things that you may not catch when you are in the studio. I hope that helps!!!

And for some of the out of town party people attending on the 29th- any must-see places that are are off the beaten tourist path that you enjoying taking friends visiting the Bay Area?

There are so many places. I have been really enjoying nature so I recommend Muir woods and check out our California Redwood Trees, breathtaking!!!

Thank you David! Looking forward hearing you at the party.


Mike Bee Podcast and AYLI’s William Wardlaw on Mike Bee Interview


San Francisco underground don Michelangelo Battaglia is known simply as “mike bee” to his friends, legions of San Francisco dancers and record store patrons at first Amoeba and now Vinyl Dreams.  He is a San Francisco treasure that has spent his adult life dedicated to furthering dance music culture. Mike is returning back to the AYLI fold, closing out the chill-out loft for AYLI presents Freaky Friday w/ Maya Jane Coles & Cosmin TRG 11.01.13. In preparation for the upcoming party, Mike took a moment to answer questions from AYLI family member William Wardlaw, who’s also on the bill in the chill-out loft, and record an exclusive podcast for us.

You have been involved in music journalism for publications like XLR8R and Urb. What current music commentary do you consider essential reading?

Well I was a voracious reader of the music press growing up, starting with Rolling Stone and Spin, then discovering the NME and Melody Maker in high school in the late 80’s, rave zines like Under One Sky, more upmarket UK mags like Muzik and Jockey Slut (I was also a big Select fan), and of course XLR8R and Urb. I am a packrat and have a huge collection of this stuff crammed into my apartment. Since print media has all but died out there are a ton of sources but I tend to read things that are very focused on what I like, and I feel less informed about the culture as a whole as a result of that. I felt the Infinite State Machine blog (infinitestatemachine.com) is a great resource for a slice of the dance scene that’s both innovative and just plain good. FACT has been great from when they were a little 10”-sized magazine and I still check them from time to time, although their wheelhouse is considerably more closed off as time has moved on IMO. I’m a massive fan of the Test Pressing blog (testpressing.org), which is a one-stop for all things Balearic & a great place for articles on classic club culture, which I love dearly.

I have to namecheck Little White Earbuds (littlewhiteearbuds.com) as well as all my favorite local scribes, past & present: Derek Opperman, Marke B, Amanda Nowinski, Tomas Palermo, Ron Nachmann, Tamara Palmer, Chris Orr, Peter Nicholson and more I’m forgetting, I’m sure.

As the buyer for Amoeba SF’s electronic music section for 6 years you were able to influence the records that were recommended at the store. Which sounds or labels did you especially showcase?

I basically curated that section during my time at the helm. I chose what the store carried, what we recommended and highlighted, and I encouraged staff to do so as well because I wanted the section to be a reflection of those who worked in it, not just ‘what Mike Bee likes’ or whatever. It was important to me that we all had a voice. I feel that the record store, especially one the size and scope of Amoeba, is a place where trends and genres matter, so I made an effort to stay on the bleeding edge of the culture, whether that was heavily promoting 2-Step/UK Garage and West London Broken Beat in the early 00’s, Dubstep when it actually had dub in it, the new Disco revival (we were pushing Lindstrom in 2005!), and in my final few years there, the upsurge of post-dubstep Bass music coming from the US & UK. We championed labels like Feedelity, Warp, Hyperdub, 2000 Black…I could go on and on and on.

You’re known as a DJ with an incredible scope of music knowledge and range. Do you concern yourself much with genre classifications when selecting records for a night?

While I think genre is important when shopping for records, I feel it has almost no value outside of talking about music. When selecting I have my own personal organizational methods (IE scattered across my living room floor) and tend to organize things in my head according to tempo or vibe. If you come to, say, Housepitality on a night when I’m playing in the back, you’ll hear slo-mo house, disco edits, straight-up disco, so-called “drug chug”, Balearic standards, african funk…basically anything that fits in between 98 and 115 BPM. My DJ guru, Balearic Mike, has been imploring me to ditch using tempo as guide during my sets, and I’ve been experimenting when I can with selecting & programming as opposed to beat-matching & staying within the BPM box.

DJ’ing is a practice and I feel I’ve evolved greatly over the past 20 years, but I never really feel like I’ve mastered it.

What inspired you to start Vinyl Dreams, which began online and now exists as a great record shop in the Lower Haight?

Well I was approached by Darren Davis, the former owner of Tweekin’ Records during its 10-year heyday, with the idea of partnering up and opening our own shop online back in 2010. Our partnership only lasted a year or so, but I picked up the mantle and moved forward in a solo capacity. I never really thought the shop would move into the brick & mortar realm, but the opportunities presented themselves such that I would have been a fool to pass them up. Now I find myself in the same space that Darren ran Tweekin’ in, and with his blessing we’re going to make it a focal point for the dance vinyl scene in SF.

It must be interesting to see the variety of people that come in to shop for vinyl. Other than DJs, who buys a lot of records these days?

I’m very happy to say I see a whole new generation of younger folks discovering the world of dance & electronic music on vinyl. Other than DJ’s we simply get connoisseurs of the music and a few folks from the area who are new to the whole scene and want to know more. It’s very encouraging and inspiring to see so many people get excited about vinyl. Plus I’d say a full third of our stock is vinyl-only with no digital equivalent, and people are getting hip to that.

You have a background in drum ’n’ bass and jungle. Do you wish this sound had more support in the Bay Area? Are you surprised that dubstep and trap seem to dominate the bass-music scene here?

Having been a part of SF’s Jungle & D&B scene in the 90’s, I’m glad to have been there during an incredible time for music and for SF, but things done changed, as they say, and I can’t say I’m too interested in where Drum’n’Bass has gone over the last decade or so. Dubstep’s foothold in SF - and to a lesser extent, Trap’s - is a direct result of the incredible participation level in our D&B scene. I don’t think you would see quite the level of support for either of those genres without the groundwork laid down by their D&B forebears. Whether you were rocking out at Eklektik or Compression, or my own little neck of the woods on Saturday nights at The Top, it felt vibrant, essential and like family. So I’m certainly not surprised that both Dubstep and Trap are popular here, even though I definitely hate the anti-dub bastardization of Dubstep and think trap is just boring.

Since you’re always ahead of the curve, are there any sounds or groups that haven’t broken yet that you think will be embraced more widely in the future?

Wow, you’re putting me on the spot here! Time to put my money where my mouth is…Tornado Wallace is on the come-up, Psychemagik spent the summer leaving entire festivals destroyed in their wake…Daniel Avery’s album that just dropped is spectacular, if he isn’t the name on everyone’s lips in a month or two, I’ll be shocked…Special Request is about to bring hardcore & jungle back in a major way…Honestly, though, ‘next big things’ don’t really interest me at all. I’m increasingly more excited about the renegades, the guys who go all-in for this culture because they love it and can’t live without it. ESP Institute is one of the best/coolest labels in the world right now, it would be great if they were to get a much larger audience.

Craig Bratley, Scott Fraser, The Asphodells, Tusk Wax, R-Zone, Jonny Nash/Discossession, Cos/Mes, Emotional Response/Rescue/Especial - all artists/labels I love currently.

You’ve performed with many top DJs over the years. Who stands out as a highlight that you’ve shared a bill with? Is there one artist you’d most like to perform with in the future?

Honestly, I much prefer playing with with friends and likeminded locals than with big out-of-town guests. I’ve had a blast playing with the likes of Dego Macfarlane, LTJ Bukem, Dan Bell, Recloose, DJ Tricksta, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Seba, Benny Ill, Seiji & all the Bugz in the Attic…but I think the most fun is with peeps. Myself & Joel Conway in the backroom at Housepitality, with Jason Greer as The Pair Extraordinaire or tagging with Gabe Real, DJ Sea & WishFM at The Top…those are some of my favorite memories.

You’ve had the opportunity to play at the Sunset campout over the past few summers. How do you approach organizing music for a daytime outdoor set differently than a club?

I love playing outside and I love the Sunset crew for giving me the opportunity to do what I do for an appreciative crowd. To say that it often is the highlight of my year isn’t hyperbole. I’ve actually played for them quite a few times, including opening the camp-out at Camp & Sons in Willits back only a week or two after 9/11. Intense. As for my approach, it’s well Balearic, innit? Anything that sounds good on the beach, I love and much prefer playing down there. Environment and time of day are key, my duty as I see it is to soundtrack your afternoon in the sun. For me, I feel like it gives me a chance to stretch my legs a bit musically and put together a narrative that can still function as party jams. I really honestly try to not think about it too much outside of the initial selection, which keeps it fresh for me but sometimes I take a risk & fall on my face, which is just how it goes. There has to be some spontaneity.

The difference between the beach at Sunset and a club is that you can play weirder, softer, more nuanced music at Sunset, but I manage to play that stuff in a club anyway!

How would you like Vinyl Dreams to grow in the future?
Well I’d like it to be financially solvent. I wouldn’t be upset if it became something like Phonica in London or even Piccadilly in Manchester - very well rounded in terms of scope. More than anything, I’d like for it to be a hub for the local scene where people can hang out and talk about/experience this music & culture outside of a nightclub environment, or even outside their home. People love having a place to go to chat about and discover new music. I want Vinyl Dreams to be a content filter. We don’t carry everything, but everything we carry is going to be good. Buy more records!

-  William Wardlaw

WOOLFY Podcast and No Way Back’s Conor on WOOLFY Interview


AYLI note: 

We’d like to introduce Los Angeles producer Woolfy. Making his AYLI debut has been a long-time coming and for the HUGE Sunset Sound System, AYLI and Public Works Indian Summer Block Party couldn’t be a better time. Marking the 25th installment of the AYLI podcast couldn’t have come from a more perfect artist. His mix perfectly captures the late night disco vibe that emanates from his live DJ performance. Take a moment and take in what Woolfy’s telling. Included below is an interview by AYLI close friend and No Way Back cohort Conor of Woolfy. Well worth a read.  Quality.

What was your first exposure to underground dance music (parties, djs, etc)?

My first parties were pretty much major raves back in 91, sheer madness, and once 4am rolled around we would go to Flammable Liquid to hear Doc (Martin,) Markem Ex and such - truly an amazing time for house music.

What’s a good record to get a party started? What’s your favorite closer?

I usually like to go obvious, when your out touring, you never know who’s gonna be on before you. So rather than matching what they’re trying to do, cut it, and throw on something fun, “Hello I Love You” by the Doors has worked wonders from London to Brazil. Usually people are just up for the break and want to remember it’s just a party. If you’re on a boat, obvious one, “I’m On A Boat” !

Who are your favorite DJs? Which DJ’s rock your world?

I’ve caught Maurice Fulton a couple times and it’s pretty amazing. When I’m in SF, it’s always great to catch Conor, he’s got great taste, but to state the obvious, again, Dj Harvey has been at the top since I saw him in Camden in 93 It was just in a skate park and he was playing soul tunes to about 20 people, but there was definitely something to it. Then Paul T and the gang brought him to LA in 94 and it changed everything for me. I was deep into soulful house previous to that and would dance to the very end so that Vega, Doc, Largo, Knuckles would throw on there last tune, which would be a disco track. Harvey was thrown’ it all over the place, creating magic.

What other music projects are you involved in? What’s next for Projections?  Please explain the difference between Woolfy, Projections, Woolfy vs. Projections? How did you and Dan Hastie meet?

Dan and I started Projections back in 2000 on the Chicago Guidance label. We would write songs for other people to sing, in say a Luther fashion or Champagne King, singing that we thought we could do but when you hit playback, it just don’t cut it. Meanwhile, I still had all this teenage angst to get out and put out an album as Woolfy, an old nickname. Woolfy Vs Projections started out as a joke because we decided to do a Projections song with me singing on it. It turned out to be a successful, so we’re stuck with the name. We have our third album on Permanent Vacation due out next spring. I have an ongoing project with Sid Who called The Merryl Streeps, which is pretty bad ass; he’s a true talent. I have a new single coming out in a few weeks on Future Classic called City Lights.

Do you have a secret weapon in the studio or favorite piece of gear?

Currently - Mezcal’s been the new gear.

The San Francisco label Public Release recently put out a single by you titled: “Junior’s thrown craze.” Can you elaborate on whom Junior is and the inspiration for the song?

Hmmm, well for most of the last decade, we’d have our after parties at someone’s house, like most people. These parties were known as Club Cahuenga, Club Case, Club Septo and Club Vesper, whatever street the house was on. These parties would become after-after parties and after-after-after parties, hence the hook in the song, “I haven’t slept for days, Junior’s throwin craze.” Junior was an integral part of those parties, with both music and inspiration.

Your father was involved in music both on as an artist (being a member of a band) and on a business level (working for Geffen). How has this influenced you?

We grew up in Surrey next to a lot of artists, which I’m sure shaped the upbringing. My dad’s definitely a major influence on me, not so much on the music side of things, but in life. His favorite saying, “Who Give’s A Fuck,” is becoming a favorite saying of mine. Not because I don’t give a fuck, I do, and so does he, but it has a nice ring to it, and I’m starting to see the enlightened message within it.

- Conor

Daniel Wang Podcast and Kendig on Wang Interview

In celebration of our upcoming As You Like It Three Year Anniversary w/ Jeff Mills, Kassem Mosse (live), and Daniel Wang, we’re honored to release an exclusive podcast, thanks to Honey Soundsystem approval, by Daniel Wang and an interview by Honey Soundsystem’s Jason Kendig of Wang.

Your first Balihu release was something of an anthem in Detroit when I was coming up in the scene. On the 12” you had a contest: “name all samples on this record and win a trip to Paris… OR maybe BAL-002 test pressings!” Since this was prior to the ubiquity of the Internet, did you get many submissions? Did anyone win?

You know, since 1993, I’ve only met 2 or maybe 3 people who could name the truly obscure samples on the B-side.  No one ever sent me all 17 sources on one list, but these 2 people, I cant remember who when or where, knew the difficult ones.  Especially B3, that was from an old Philadelphia soul disco compilation, which I found in a junk shop.  Anyhow the contest was just a gag, an attention-grabber…  I don’t even know if the concept of “vinyl trainspotting” existed in the house music scene in 1993.

The last time you played for Honey Soundsystem coincided with our yearly tribute to Patrick Cowley. Do you have a personal favorite record by him?

My favorite came that night thanks to Josh Cheon of HSS: Thank God for Music! The Lyrics say it all! And, Sea Hunt and Right On Target.  Honestly I find the chords and arrangements by Cowley sometimes a bit cheesy.  He didn’t have the jazz and blues, training, which the Philly and East Coast musicians had, he repeats the same 5 chords a lot, but he still had lots of funky inspired moments.

Honey Soundsystem is about to re-release early compositions of Patrick Cowley that were featured in gay porn soundtracks from the 80s. You had a 12” come out on Playhouse Records in 2002 with a song titled “Two Tracks We Made In 1999 For A Gay Leather Video.” Did this actually appear in a film?

Oops discussing Cowley again! Actually, I have the original Falcon porn films, reissued on DVD, with his background music, and there is one piece in the movie “Handsome” which is irresistible! I keep hitting the Rewind button, not for the cum shots, but rather for his bass-lines.  And yes, our Playhouse porn tracks were really on two American porn films in late 1990’s. I think one was called “Big Bear Trucking”, the other one was from the same company but I forgot the title. Never saw the movies myself, unfortunately.

Do you have a favorite synthesizer or drum machine in your collection?

Silly, but all my synths are sort of favorites in their own way, I’ve only kept the ones that I love and use repeatedly. The ARP SOLUS for bass sounds, the Yamaha FS1R for complex digital FM polyphonic sweeps, the Roland TR626 for classic 80s drum sounds.

Not many people know that you also from the Bay Area. Did you find that growing up in this region influenced your musical tastes? Or did that develop later?

Indeed I was born in Oakland, often in San Francisco Chinatown as a child, went to high school San Jose, summer college sessions at UC Berkeley. I was kind of embarrassed about all this in the past, I was happy to let people believe that i was an urbane downtown New Yorker… But after moving to Europe, now that i am older, i have come to see what an unusually beautiful place the Bay Area is, the nature, the amazing conditions for raising kids+ having a family, the easygoing life for gays and alternative communities… Also, growing up, I didn’t feel that being Asian or Chinese was something positive. I really loved Japanese culture, but in the 80s, there was no Margaret Cho, no hyper-cool figures like fashion designed Alexander Wang, or that hot Korean guy on Hawaii Five-O, is that Daniel Kim?

As for music though, I don’t think I learned anything in Bay Area. I mean zero.  In high school, I went to a few cheesy goth clubs which played New Order, Tones On Tail, Stephen Duffy.  It was the soul, jazz and classical that I learned in New York and Europe, which still move me.

Have you always had a green thumb or did that blossom while living in Berlin?

The green thumb totally came in Berlin! And also some cooking skills! In New York, the air was always dirty, even the street trees always-looked half dead to me.  In Berlin, I’ve had more pocket money to spend, more leisure time since my DJ work is always on weekends, and every home market carries plants for 5-8 euros, you name it, palms, succulents, tropical exotics, I bought my juniper bush for about 20 euros and trimmed it into a bonsai myself over these 4 years… But it must be said: Bay Area is botanical paradise. Everything grows splendidly. My brother and his wife both work in the Botanical Gardens and what they show me is amazing, you can’t grow those things open air in northern Europe.

Having traveled through so many countries and airports. Do you have a favorite terminal? Perhaps one where the architecture inspired you while you were waiting for your next flight?

Awww that is such an immodest show-off jetsetter question!  Oslo airport is gorgeous.  All blond pine wood ceilings, dark slate and marble stone floors.  Love it.  Narita Tokyo is of course best for food and gift shopping.  Berlin Tegel is the quickest and the coolest retro airport with its 60s hexagonal geometrical motifs.  Beijing airport is so ugly that it’s shameful.  There’s that distaste for Chinese things again in me.  Dubai was fucking tacky too, fake bronze palms, and bookstores featuring prominently books describing how the film “The Matrix” is a metaphor for the Koran, which shows us that our world is an illusion.  Each country gets the airport that it deserves!

Have you ever considered performing your music live? Or arranging it for a full orchestra to perform?

I think there are only about 2 or 3 pieces I’ve done so far which would even barely qualify as worthy for orchestral arrangement.  But now that I just finished my studio at home, a new phase will start, all gorgeous melodies and harmonies. Then I will accept the offer.

Any countries where you’ve had the most success digging for records?

The country I had most success in was Germany in general, and Berlin in 2001 or so!  This was pre-hipster berlin.  Bins full of obscure European disco with “superSound” pressing quality.  For an American from New York, this was a treasure trove.  Those stores have all been plundered by now.  Also, in 1998 or so, I bought about 70-80 classic italo and electronic records at Eight Ball on East 9th street in NYC for 2 or 3 dollars each.  At that time, GazNevada and il-Discotto etc etc had no market value at all. My luck back then.

Do you have a favorite dish to eat that you can only find when you return home? 

Favorite dish in berlin: can be found in New York as well, but whenever I come home from a long journey, my boyfriend and I only want to eat Vietnamese noodles. Specifically, it’s because Berlin had a large group of Viet immigrants even in the 60s from communist Vietnam to the GDR. So they are like what the Chinese are in SF or the Koreans in LA.  Some people might not know that Germany’s minister of economy is a Vietnamese man who was adopted by German parents, a very smart guy he is too!

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