Interview: Hercules & Love Affair

Posted: April 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , | No Comments »

You managed to get in the spotlight pretty quickly on the back of strong singles on DFA records. Can you shed some light on the project and how it came to fruition?

The project has been developing over a couple of years. I have written music since childhood, and started collaborating with friends on electronic music projects in college. Antony from Antony & The Johnsons tracked some vocals for the Hercules project as long as four years ago. About a year and a half ago, Daniel Wang, a good friend and mentor to me suggested I present the music to DFA. He set up a meeting with them for me, and the rest is history.

How did the collaborations come about? How and why did you pick the people to work with?

The collaborations occurred quite organically, through friendships. Antony and I were friends for a while before we recorded “Blind”. Kim Ann and I as well, before “Classique” or “Athene”. And Nomi, I knew for a while before having her record for me as well. So, historically it has been about using the voices in my personal life.

What were you involved with before Hercules And Love Affair?

I was writing music, and recording with the people around me, while working various jobs during the week. I was a waiter, music journalist, worked in offices, that kind of stuff.

Your output so far features a vast array of references and styles of club music history like shadings of Disco and early House. What were your inspirations and how did they transform into your sound?

My inspiration definitely comes from my childhood love of music. “Situation” by Yazoo is a song that I always refer to as the beginning of the techno-disco bug for me. The combination of such passionate lyrical content and such simple, super spacey analog sounds was magical to me. As a teenager the same concoction was present in house music and I became addicted to that. Often the house producers were sampling disco songs, and when I started hearing the originals, I became very interested in learning about the history of house music and disco. It is all very emotional music to me, sometimes joyous and sometimes full of longing and melancholy and heartbreak and I think those emotional highs and lows in the music are what I chase in my own.

Would you say that you in a way stand for a take on club music that is representative for New York or do you feel that your location is not important for your approach to music?

New York is and was a key to the creation of my music, in the simple fact that it is a hotbed of creativity with amazing creative minds meeting one another daily. Of course, historically a lot of dance music was born here, as was much of contemporary DJ culture, so New York City is undeniably important to my musical heritage. As far as it being representative of New York at the moment, I think it is impossible to confidently assert such a broad statement. I know people who are creating great music and listening to great old records in little towns too.

Do you have a target audience in mind for your concepts or would you say that you wouldn’t mind crossing over from a club to a pop context?

Truthfully, I don’t have an audience in mind when I write music. I am the audience, it is a personal endeavor. But I do tend to write lyrics that remain “open”, that are purposefully open to interpretation (and kind of old fashioned I think) because I don’t like feeling restricted to time or place in my writing. So I think the music might be a little easier to relate to in a way. The record was always intended to be a listen-able one that made you want to dance. Both the listener and the dancer (me!) were considered. So club audience to pop audience? Maybe, sure!

Your album was much anticipated in the connaisseur’s circles of clubland. Did expect such strong support?

I didn’t know what to expect, so the support has been so wonderfully surprising and heartwarming! I always made music that made me want to dance or feel a certain way, so it is really so cool that people are having the responses that they are into it. My record is emotive, personal, full of fun rhythms, great singing and personality, and is rooted in classic dance music from the past thirty years.

Your music seems to combine the dancefloor with a conscious element of both happiness and melancholia. Is that something you pursue, a mixture of several emotions?

My favorite music is always emotional. The best dance music songs to me are bittersweet. They made me want to dance and cry at the same time. Take early Murk productions, for example; they were sonically stark and often lyrically heart wrenching, with the best deepest grooves bumping underneath. As a listener, heartbreak or joy in dance music both really work for me on a physical and emotional level.

Listening to your music I also feel there is a lot of performance potential. Do you have plans to tour with Hercules And Love Affair?

We are rehearsing currently, and we are having a lot of fun. There is a horn section, live drums, bass, keys, dancers! The idea for the live show is really to present them in a bulletproof style that makes the listener want to dance and feel the songs. The songs are open to interpretation and will be sometimes quite different from the record. I am excited about it.

How important are other art contexts to your work?

I am inspired by all sorts of art contexts, so they are very important. I studied modern dance and art history in college. Collaboration is very near the lifeblood of my work, and it extends beyond musicians, producers, and djs. I have worked with dancers, fine artists, and fashion designers to create soundtracks in the past. I am surrounded by friends who work as photographers, designers, sculptors, dancers etc… And I find myself engaged in discussions of those mediums almost as often as I do music.

Are there any special statements with the project you would like to make beyond mere music reception?

Beyond music reception with Hercules and Love Affair, there are a couple of messages about human beings finding strength through being emotionally present/vulnerable, encouraging people to dance as a health remedy, and taking better care of the world. But the boogie is of the utmost importance, so don’t be afraid of the sometimes serious lyrical content!!

De:bug 04/08

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