You order a DJ set? Ya’ wanna’ party? Perhaps this might do the trick then. Last month, DJ Mark Farina visited LA to throw an epic alleyway party off of Hollywood Blvd, and it’s been released for free download! Despite the dominating mainstream glamour that Los Angeles is known for, Hollywood in particular has a surprisingly tasteful underground presence. While Billboard artists were likely filling up the Nokia or the Hollywood Bowl, DEEP Radio hosted an old-school shindig at the King King nightlcub. Farina rocked the place right into Easter Sunday with nearly 4 hours of all-vinyl house music. Grab the recordings below and check it out!
“I look at my job as a modern traveling minstrel, to bring music to as many places as I can, and expose obscure records that, otherwise, might go hidden”. -Mark Farina
Only in major cities like NYC and LA do you hear about some cult acclaimed DJ playing a secret late-night set in a club somewhere. Countless have enviously imagined what it would be like to have been there. Myself and patrons at AV Nightclub in Hollywood got to witness one of these events as LA Riots took to the tables for a surprise set this past Wednesday.
Following the mixing styles of Travis Emmons and Hollywood resident DJ Sid Vicious, LA Riots commenced with a seriously classic house beat, comparable to the likes of Deep Dish or Benassi’s Hypnotica (then again he has been on the scene for quite some time). Building off two-step filtered bass lines, and trickling synth sequences, the set had notes of solid force but with a great ambient mood overlapping too. This rhythm kept on for most of the night. The progression of the transitions and mixing was seamless, and slightly contrary to his productions the set had a much deeper feel to it, as opposed to his own style of harder sample-ridden singles. He played straight into closing hours and finished with a pretty hard hitting slew of final tracks, playing to the role of a Hollywood DJ very well.
In any aspect, its great to see this guy perform. He’s worked with artists including MSTRKRFT and Crystal Method, and produced the “Johnny Cage Theme” for the Mortal Kombat Soundtrack. You really couldn’t ask for better unscheduled house music to sneak up and smack you around for a bit. Not to mention that AV was hosting a circus themed party that night.
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