Penguin Prison Interview After Dim Mak Studio Performance
Dim Mak Studios presented its weekly dance party tradition “Dim Mak Tuesdays” last night, this time with French Express Label throwing a one night disco marathon of back to back performances from Moon Boots, Perseus, Amtrac, and special guest Penguin Prison! Chris Glover, aka Penguin Prison, has formed quite a large following in the New York disco scene, and this week he spent the last few days leaving his mark in Hollywood.
The set opened with Dim Mak’s resident Bones, followed by Amtrac’s low-key, soul/house mixing, which segued into our man of the hour. Glover opened his set with a transition from Amtrac’s belittled closer into The Magician’s club heater “I Don’t Know What To Do, ft. Jeppe (Erkka Remix)”. He followed with his own collaboration, RAC’s “Hollywood (ft Penguin Prison)”, where he provided live vocals for his section. Typically I’m apprehensive to an act of this nature, MC’s have a stale and tacky attitude that interrupts the listening experience, but Glover has an advantage with his amazing voice, it just added a touch of organic charisma to the performance. Although predominately touring with his band, he can definitely hold it together behind the tables. His cuts were precise and the queues well executed. The set was a great mix of contemporary nu-disco chart hits and that Brooklyn DFA disco sound, rich in his heritage. The actual components of the DJ sets were short of revolutionary, basic Pioneer mixers and CDJ software shared by all the artists performing, but because Glover spins tracks that he can proudly stand behind as a producer, he has a lot more integrity than that of your typical resident jockey. At first the crowd was a frail, sparse gathering of teenagers spread across the club’s vast dance floor, cluelessly watching the resident and Amtrac until just before 11:00, when it evolved into a wall-to-wall assembly of Penguin partiers with their game faces on. His closing “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by the influential predecessor Prince, in which he also did a stellar vocal accompaniment to, threw the crowd into fifth gear. The night was far from culmination, Moon Boots and Perseus were basically given the crowd on a silver platter and they kept Dim Mak’s disco ball shining far beyond his Manhattan stylings.
When considering the turntable’s widespread assimilation into almost every establishment in the world that provides live entertainment, it’s essential to maintain intrinsic creativity and use the technology to exploit original ideas, not the ideas of others. Otherwise you’re just a device used for stimulation. Penguin Prison is a true artist in both the production and live performance aspects. He constantly devotes his time to the studio, and adamantly manifests those creations live. After the performance, I caught up with Chris for a brief interview:
T & A: Which do you prefer more, performing with your band, or doing DJ sets?
Chris: Definitely band. I mean, they’re two different things really. I’m trying to incorporate a live element in my DJ sets, singing while I spin, showing fans a good time.
T & A: Do you change up your sets from show to show on tour?
Chris: Yeah, I never know what I’m going to do. I don’t know, I guess I’m trying to do new things with my set everytime.
T & A: Do you improvise the sets or mixes at all?
Chris: Certain songs I like to play. I want to play my own songs, fans like to hear my tracks, so I try to show them that
T & A: Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost did some of the synths on your latest album, do you have a relationship with James Murphy or DFA as well? Have you ever considerd signing to the label?
Chris: Well I know some DFA artists, I’ve spent time in the studio with DFA artists. I have a lot influence from those guys. Downtown records is my label now, we’ve got artists like Major Lazer, Gnarley Barkley, Santigold, the labels good for the music I’m trying to make.
T & A: I know you’re really into playing the guitar, what kind of guitar do you prefer?
Chris: Fender Stratocaster. I’ve tried others, but I like the strat the best.
T & A: What made you stick with the disco-pop/electronic style? You’re style has ranged from punk to hip-hop over the years, and now this.
Chris: I think what I’m doing now fits my voice well. Talking Heads, Prince, Michael Jackson are all influences. I’m trying to give a modern take on them.
Penguin Prison will headed home for a DJ set September 12th in New York, and back here in L.A. early October for Filter’s Future Collide Festival. Self-titled album is out now, and be sure to check out Dim Mak on Tuesday nights! 1643 Cosmo st Hollywood, CA