jeudi 1 septembre 2011
CRANKING UP THE HEAT WITH CROSSTOWN REBELS
London-born Damian Lazarus has always been an instrumental member of the dance music community – he was responsible for bringing electro-clash to a wider audience when he signed its reigning anthems, Felix Da Housecat’s Silver Screen Shower Scene and Tiga and Zyntherius’s Sunglasses at Night, in the early noughties.
But it is with this later imprint that Lazarus has captured the ears and hearts of underground electronic music fans around the world. Since he relocated to Los Angeles in 2009, Crosstown Rebels has become an unstoppable futuristic dance force, with ice-cool house-driven acts like Jamie Jones, the Visionquest collective, Art Department and Deniz Kurtel.
This month they’re doing their best to set it all ablaze as they head for the Nevada desert, to Burning Man, next week. But not before they throw another of their legendary Get Lost parties at The Music Box in Hollywood on Saturday. And, of course, there’s a new Lazpod to prepare you for it all...
Hi Damian. What are you doing at Burning Man this year?
Last year, the first time we went, we had some friends that were getting married in the desert who had organised a camp for everyone. But this time I decided in my ultimate wisdom that we should build our own camp. I’ve got 80 friends from all over the world joining us and helping to build it. We were inspired by the movie ‘Liquid Sky’, which is a very bizarre 1980s New York-set fashion movie: it has some amazing outfits and incredible dance moves and we’re recreating those and the set. We’re also doing a ‘Liquid Sky’ versus the Robot Heart party – Robot Heart are from San Francisco and they have a $1.5m soundsystem on the back of a truck. That’s going to be with me, Jamie Jones, Deniz Kurtel live, Art Department and the full Crosstown Rebels crew.
It sounds like quite an undertaking...
It really is. This has been 365 days in the making. We started getting it together as soon as we got back from Burning Man last year. I also started to formulate the next Lazpod, which came out this week: it’s my ode to the desert. There were a few people that were going to come with us this year, actually, like Richie Hawtin and Ali Dubfire, but they both bottled it! A week in the desert isn’t for everyone, it’s like living with and being at the mercy of the elements, and you have to be really prepared.
It doesn’t seem like many discerning electronic artists have played there in the past…
First of all, it’s an arts festival, not like a music festival. Musically, the place never seemed to be that bothered about pushing music. It’s only a few of us party people, those who like to experience something different, that have been going. I think Lee Burridge was going out there a lot and he was really instrumental in getting me to try it out. And we’re now starting to bring our crews and put parties on. Hot Natured, Wolf + Lamb, Visionquest – we’re all doing something this year at Burning Man.
Are you doing anything special in your camp?
We’ll have art installations, a soundsystem, a free cocktail bar, a hammock forest area, a golden pyramid in which this guy, Dr. Whiskers, is going to hold an advice surgery and Mr C is doing morning meditation classes. I know it sounds really hippy but you’ll have to see how it’s being presented: it’s all really futuristic shit.
And Get Lost is the warm-up. How has that party become so legendary?
I started Get Lost six years ago in Miami – I wanted to have our own party for the Winter Music Conference to represent the sound of Crosstown Rebels when we were just a young, fledgling label and it has grown to become part of the staple diet of the underground parties at WMC. The original idea of Get Lost was very heady, very trippy – it came after a summer of, err, experimentation. So for this one, we’ve got a new venue, The Music Box, which is the old Henry Fonda theatre in Hollywood. I’ve been working with three different artists for it: the third person is creating a custom-made DJ booth for us to use. He made me something before with monsters in cables and weird taxidermy coming out of the DJ booth and smoke machines behind it. It’s just the attention to detail that makes this party really special.
You’ve said in interviews that Crosstown Rebels sets the agenda for the future of dance music. What does that look like right now?
It’s exciting. I’m about to introduce three or four brand new acts, artists that people have never heard before, that I’ve signed. So while we’ve still got our key artists on board making music – there’s going to be a new Jamie Jones album next year, something from Deniz Kurtel and Art Department together and there’s a new Maceo Plex album coming out – I’ve got these brand new artists with albums about to drop too.
What does it take to become a family member?
You have to have a good smile!