The legendary DJ from New York's Studio 54 and London's Ministry of Sound talks about disco, Queens and his favourite places in Geneva.
By Kit Macdonald|
Bert Bevans was born in Belize (then known as British Honduras) and moved to Queens in New York as a teenager in the early 1970s, where he began his DJing career playing at block parties in the area. He went on to be a resident or regular guest at a plethora of legendary NY disco-era spots such as Studio 54 and The Paradise Garage. In 1991 he and Justin Berkmann set up the Ministry of Sound in London, with he, Berkmann and Larry Levan among the club's first resident DJs. He currently lives in Phuket, Thailand, where he has helped to set up a club named Seduction. He will begin a new residency at Silencio in Geneva in September.
Was your move to Queens as a youngster responsible for your love of music?
Actually my mother was responsible for that while we still lived back in Belize - there was always music in my house, on Sundays it'd be gospel all day, from sunrise to midnight, and the other days there'd be everything - jazz, funk, soul and everything else.
Who were the most influential people and places in New York when you were finding your feet as a DJ?
When I was really young I started working in a record shop named Meldoy Song Shops and in my first week I heard Nicky Siano, Richie Kazar, Tee Scott and David Mancuso, and after that I was hooked. I saw them using music to manipulate people, to make them have a good time, and knew that was what I wanted to do too.
You travel constantly as a DJ, where are your favourite places in the world to play just now?
South America is amazing, countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay are wicked for music. Posh Club in Florianopolis, in the south of Brazil near Argentina, Uruguay and Paragauy is the wildest party I've played in years.
How would you describe the sets you play these days?
Disco/house, but it depends on the party how much classic disco and how much newer house music I'll play. A lot of crowds just want to hear classic-era disco from me but that's definitely not the only thing I like to play.
Have you played in Switzerland much before? Where are your favourite clubs?
Yes I've spent a lot of time there, and I love it! New York Club in Neuchatel was the business, that's where house music really started in Switzerland. I've played all the major places apart from Mad Club in Lausanne, where I'd love to play, but they won't book me because I once played D! Club in the city (laughs). Sometimes for an industry that's meant to be all about music and love it can amazing how much everyone hates each other.