Chitchat from Electric Zoo
We talk to some of the festival's stars.
Wed Sep 14 2011
Photograph: Bennett Sell-Kline
The beats were big and the bass was booming, but TONY’s ringing ears still managed to take in what some of the big names, up-and-comers, and party people at the recent, three-day Electric Zoo festival had to say.
RECOMMENDED: Complete Electric Zoo guide
Josh Wink, techno superstar
I used to do a lot of these kinds of things in New York—though not quite as big—back in the rave days. I was doing the rounds back then. I did Caffeine, I did NASA, I did Storm Rave—I did a bunch of them. That was back in…well, I not gonna say how long ago that was! But these are lots of fun. The beautiful thing about being a DJ, at least for me, is that you can always be spontaneous. Like, when I was just putting my stuff in the tent, a couple of guys snuck behind the stage. I heard they had an accent and asked where they were from. They said, “We are from Colombia and we came here to see Josh Wink! We want to hear [Wink’s 1995 classic] “Don’t Laugh!” So maybe I will play that. If I get inspired by something I hear or see, or by something that somebody says, that can change what I play.
West Coast beat maven Jennifer Lee, better known as Tokimonsta
Since I was playing the first set of the last day, I wasn’t expecting very much, but I think it went over pretty well. I know I wouldn’t have been here that early, but there were a lot of people who came, and a lot of them specifically came to see me, which was very nice. At least I think they were here to see me—I could see people wearing Brainfeeder T-shirts, and they were listening pretty intently. Actually, I shouldn’t assume they were here to see me, but the fact that they were here and seemed to enjoy it is nice. I’ve been playing a lot of festivals this year—some really iconic festivals—and since I never dreamed I would be doing this at all, it’s pretty amazing. When I started making music, I had no intention of even being able to do a live performance. And now I’m playing things like Electric Zoo and Coachella. It’s like, maybe I’m doing something right!
The Martinez Brothers, young house gods
Our set was phenomenal, mainly because we were playing at Electric Zoo, back here in NYC. Being home and playing for people you know is amazing.
Minimal maestro Richie Hawtin, whose live set under his Plastikman moniker was canceled for technical reasons
Calling off the Plastikman show was a huge disappointment; we had been planning this for months. You know, the first time I was supposed to do Plastikman live in New York, I didn’t get here—I got kicked out of the country. And now, 16 years later, we have technical problems. It’s like, when will Plastikman actually get to New York? We’ll find a way one of these days. Luckily, I have my Richie Hawtin side, and can do DJ sets, so I feel like I get to give something back to the people who came to see me. I’m playing the Sunday School tent tonight. I was over there a couple of days ago, and it had a really good vibe—that tent always has a fun feel, and I’m planning on having a lot of fun. And I’ve also been having fun hearing sets from Carl Cox, Josh Wink and a bunch of other people I know. I wanted to hear Skrillex yesterday, but instead I went to the U.S. Open and saw Federer kick ass! Those people are machines, like the Terminator. That’s what happens when your father forces you out onto a tennis court at four years old. Crazy—but the result is quite interesting.
Pedro “Busy P” Winter, head of the Parisian label Ed Banger
This is my second Electric Zoo. When I did it two years ago, I brought my mom and it was so much fun. She thought the crowd was a little funny, though! Electronic music seems to be getting really crazy in the U.S., right? It’s different here than in Europe, but it would be sad if a European and an American and a Japanese festival were all the same. The energy is the same, but people party differently all over the world. We are all jumping up and down at approximately the same height, but people are different all over.
Rob Fernandez, superpromoter
How many people are here, like 25,000? Wait, I brought a clicker—let me check it. Yep, 25,000! Actually, I have no idea, but there are a lot of people here. It’s fantastic. And now we’re going to check out Loco Dice!
Tommy Lee—yep, that Tommy Lee—and his partner, DJ Aero
DJ Aero: Tommy is fully into this. Think about it: Every drum solo in every Mötley Crüe record ever has electronic elements in them. There are loops, triggers and so on. So it’s not that big a stretch. It’s weird to me that people wouldn’t think that he likes dance music—but the die-hard Mötley Crüe fans sure don’t understand it.
Tommy Lee: I am so not fucking around with playing dance music. But I have to tell you, this has probably been the hardest transition in my life. It’s been really hard to get people to take Aero and I seriously. People are like, “Oh, what the fuck—he’s a rock guy. What does he know about dance music?” Well, they don’t know that I’ve been a fan of dance music for years, even before Mötley. I love fuckin’ R&B; I love fuckin’ disco; I love fuckin’ house music. And being a drummer, I’ve always been attracted to the beat. But people’s perception of it has made this extremely difficult. I do feel that we are finally breaking through, though. They’re finally beginning to say, “Well, maybe he is really serious about this!”
DJ Aero: We’re playing on the Deadmau5 tour right now, and a lot of those kids don’t even know who Mötley Crüe is. We’re just two guys on the stage playing music.
David Hollands, veteran NYC DJ
These kinds of festivals are so popular in the rest of the world, and it’s really about time that we had something like this in New York. They’re setting a high bar for how things can be done here in America. It’s a nice environment, I really like the production value—and there are plenty of food options, so I’m happy.
Sebastian, French producer from the Ed Banger label
TONY: The album cover for your last album, Total, was a photo of you kissing yourself. What’s up with that?
Sebastian: Why are you asking? Why would you think that is controversial? Artists kiss themselves in their art all the time; they really like themselves. I just wanted to make it real. It’s a kind of a joke, of course, but in the U.S., when you make a joke, you always have to say, “I am kidding.” I did not want to say “I am kidding.” Also, right now it seems to be very much in fashion to say that you hate yourself, and I wanted to do the inverse, you know?
Hidden Recordings’ Deepak Sharma, who played an opening set on Day 3
Playing at 11am—that’s always sort of the sacrificial-lamb hour. But today…what a crowd! People were energetic and really into it. A lot of them were probably here for other DJs and probably had no idea who I was, but that’s okay. These kind of things help get your name out, and if you do a good job, maybe people will tell their friends and come next time.
John Digweed, elder statesman of electronic house
I had a really good time playing here last year. I did the Sunday School stage last year, and this year I’m doing the main stage. So I guess I am moving up in the world! But even though I’m playing on the same stage with people like David Guetta, I’m not going to play any more commercially than normal. I can only be true to myself. And I’ve done a few of these before, so I’m sure I’ll be fine!
Felix Feygin and Michael Banks, the disco daddies of Chordashian
Banks: We played at 11am. Why weren’t you here?Feygin: Yeah, I was here!
TONY: You told me earlier that nobody was here yet!
Banks: Oh, there were at least five people.
Feygin: Whatever the case, we are extremely happy to have been invited to play this festival. Why am I now speaking like a fucking loser? But really, we were super happy to be here.
Banks: I was also very happy to hear Luciano playing Britney Spears’s “Toxic” over a house beat. That made my day. No—that made my life.