79.5 Tune In to “Club Level” and Do Double-Duty Vocal Support After a Year Without Tours

Photo Credit: Rosie Cohe

Throughout much of September, Kate Mattison and Lola Adanna have been working double-duty at concert venues across the U.S. The New York-based vocalists are the core of disco-soul group 79.5 and they’ve been opening for Durand Jones & the Indications since earlier in the month. Mattison and Adanna are also the headliner’s backup singers. 

“We manifest it,” says Adanna of the touring situation. “We put that bug in their ear. I don’t think they really thought about it until we approached them with the idea.”

For the eight shows that had transpired before this interview, Mattison and Adanna performed as 79.5, wearing a different outfit for each opening set. Then, as the band and crew struck the stage post-performance, the two singers would quickly change into their outfits for the Durand Jones set, warm up with that band and then return to the stage. “We are on every day for soundcheck starting at 4 and we’re not done until midnight,” says Mattison. When Audiofemme caught up with Mattison and Adanna, they were enjoying time off in Las Vegas, in between gigs in Salt Lake City and San Diego. After this stretch of the tour ends on the West Coast, they’ll continue on the road as backup singers when Durand Jones & the Indications joins My Morning Jacket

This is their first time 79.5 has been on the road since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mattison and Adanna are in agreement that the chance to be able to work again has been a big opportunity. “We just feel really blessed and really lucky and we’re going to keep going with it,” says Mattison.

The crowds have been varied from city to city. “I feel like every single crowd, every single night, has been different,” says Mattison. “Sometimes we get young kids and other times we get the grown and sexy crowd.”

It’s also giving them a chance to introduce audiences from Boston to Los Angeles to the sound that’s been evolving within the band. Their recent single “Club Level” is a funky disco jam wrapped up dreamy psychedelia, an amalgam of staticky radio transmissions like the imaginary station the band is named for. “The band now kind of morphed into this psychedelic jazz girl group-y harmonic freakout sometimes,” says Mattison. “It’s super cool and there’s a lot of space for this band to grow and we get to show off what we do to an audience that has maybe never heard us before.”

“We still have the 79.5 sound, but we’re also experimenting with different sounds and different types of music,” says Adanna. “So, I think that’s really exiting too, getting people prepared for it.”

Mattison launched the 79.5 project in 2010 and it long had a revolving lineup. By the time the group released debut full-length Predictions in 2018, a lot of the songs had been around for years. She and Adanna met as backup singers for Durand Jones & the Indications. “We just loved singing together,” Mattison says, so they continued to do that in 79.5.

In the process, 79.5 has become a more collaborative project. “I think that our voices blend together,” says Adanna. “We don’t necessarily have the same timbre of voice, but we complement each other so well.”

“Honestly, it just felt so natural,” adds Mattison. 

“I also think that with the times that we’re going through right now— race, gender, all that— I think it’s beautiful to see two women, one Black and one white, come together and have really strong men back us up as well,” says Adanna.

Their influences are varied as well. Mattison, who is also a pianist, mentions Janet Jackson, Todd Rundgren and Alice Coltrane. Adanna says that, when it comes to both aesthetic and vocal influences, she’s drawn to Donna Summer and Diana Ross for this project. It’s a different vibe for the singer, who describes herself as “beltastic.” With 79.5, though, she has to take a more understated approach. “For me, it’s easy to belt,” she says. “To pull it back was a challenge and it was a welcome challenge.”

On the road, where they’re singing in two sets per gig, they’ve had to take it easy on their voices when they can. “We have lots of remedies,” says Adanna; tea, honey and lozenges are among them. “Anything that can protect the voice because we’re singing double-time and you want to give 100% at every show, so you definitely have to take care of your vocals,” she adds. Mattison brought along her mat to do some yoga too, but finding time to practice in the midst of tour has been a challenge.

It’s been an intense schedule for Mattison and Adanna, but they seem to welcome it after more than a year without tours. “It feels amazing because we get to work again,” says Mattison. “Who knows what’s going to happen after this with the entertainment industry, but right now, we’re just trying to live in the present.”

Follow 79.5 on Instagram and Twitter for ongoing updates.

Michelle Rose Makes Her Own Dreams Come True “One Promise At a Time”

Photo Credit: Daniel Giovanniello

The same earworm plays in nearly every episode of the final two seasons of Comedy Central’s Broad City; it’s in the bodega, it’s on the radio, someone’s performing it at karaoke. Fans of the show are probably already humming (or belting) its singular refrain: “I am LEAAAAAANNNE!” Though Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson created the show’s most memorable Easter egg as a spoof on Lady Gaga’s Joanne persona, there’s a talented industry vet at the helm of the studio version – and our readers are likely already familiar with her.

Longtime Audiofemme contributor Michelle Rose, in fact, is the Leanne – and she didn’t just stop at tracking vocals for Broad City. She turned “Leanne” into a full-blown performance piece, evidenced by a karaoke-style video shot at Baby’s All Right just after the show’s fifth season wrapped. The opportunity came about because Rose was naturally doing what she does best – striking up a conversation with a random stranger at the right time. “I’m a sticky person who constantly just wants to enter new spaces and meet new people,” she explains. In this case, that person was the show’s music supervisor, MattFX, who brought in Ary Warnaar of ANAMANAGUCHI to helm production; the rest is history.

Rose’s professional history is long and storied: she’s a classically trained cellist and played alongside her sister Sarah Frances in Frances Rose off and on since 2011; she interned at PAPER and worked in experimental theatre; had a songwriting deal with Warner/Chappell; and most recently curated events as the Program Manager at Soho House, where she helmed their Future Female Sounds series. But when the pandemic hit, there was no more networking, no more booking, no more events. Reeling from the loss of her livelihood, in the throes of a toxic relationship mired in tension and distrust, and still grieving her father who’d succumbed to cancer in 2018, Rose set out to fulfill his dying wish.

“One of the last things he wrote down for me after he lost his ability to speak was to use my skills,” Rose says. Coming from a master of the flat-top guitar, music teacher, and mentor who played with Pete Seeger and Les Paul among others, she felt the weight of her dad’s last request heavy on her shoulders. But it would be years before she put pen to paper to write “one promise at a time,” premiering today via Audiofemme.

Written at the start of the pandemic, “one promise” channels the pop-punk energy Rose gravitated toward as an angsty teen coming of age in Hudson Valley, while its DIY production recalls the scrappy grit of Kathleen Hanna’s post-riot grrl electro project Le Tigre. She finally vents long-simmering frustrations built up over years of pushing her own ambitions aside to make other people’s dreams come true. “I love doing that, but I had to find a balance being an artist,” she says. “The song became an anthem for myself that I was ready to call out all of these false promises and expectations that were orbiting my life at the time. I was ready for not only a pivot, but a catalyst of growth.”

That growth is richly documented on Rose’s forthcoming EP, arriving early 2022 (in the meantime, she plans to release a new single every five weeks or so). The EP underscores the importance she felt in showing up as authentic and autonomous, to tell her story transparently, and to put the music first. Appropriately, the EP is called it’s about time, expressing Rose’s playful impatience, as well as holding space for all the weeks, months, and years that slipped by while life got in the way.

“A lot of these songs are about the literal passing of time and personal growth, and over time, coming to these realizations,” she explains. Minimal break-up jam “i don’t see you in my dreams,” for instance, was written before Rose’s doomed relationship officially ended; subconsciously, she knew it was already over. “These songs are a piece of self knowledge,” she says.

They’re also a roadmap to Rose’s eclectic musical tastes. There’s dance punk circa New York City’s electro indie golden era, when Rose first arrived in the city after studying at Bennington College. There are vocal nods to Madonna and Britney Spears and sonic odes to hyperpop and disco. “I just felt like the world really wanted pop music that was coming from a simplistic place, like direct songs from a place of empowerment that didn’t need to be theatrical and larger than life,” Rose says, her music biz savvy showing. “People want brooding, vulnerable, disco songs in simple registers that we can sing along to, these kind of pop punk-adjacent, female-fronted anthems.”

Photo Credit: Daniel Giovanniello

Rose is lyrically vulnerable on each track, but they also embody the lightness of the songs she loved in her youth. “I really love that bright, shimmery, escapist pop,” she enthuses. Surprisingly, most of her demos start out as “sad country songs,” but Rose never felt that was true to what she wanted her sound to be. “I really wanted to make something upbeat and fun and electronic. I have the language and vocabulary for electronic music but I know that I’m not the fastest engineer and can’t really capture my ideas in real time as they come.” She’d often thought to herself, “Why can’t I just meet some indie kid who makes electronic pop music in Brooklyn and like, make a record?” And then, she did.

After dipping her toes into performing solo again (or making a splash, depending on who you ask), a mutual friend introduced her to Godmode alum Tyler McCauley. It had been years since someone had offered to connect Rose with a producer (“Everyone thinks that I know everyone and that I’m just the queen of networking but I had no one to work with!” she says, lamenting the “elaborate coffee meetings” with so-called producers who wanted steep fees for unheard beats).

“I said to him: I don’t really have any kind of budget and no label. I’m looking to do something really collaborative,” Rose remembers. She and McCauley instantly found common ground, surprised they hadn’t met sooner via the one of the many serendipitous links between them. But most importantly, says Rose, “our skillsets worked well together – I was more experienced with pop toplining, writing quick hooks, and song structure, and my ear is really strong. He was a super fast engineer, really good with electronic sounds and synthesizers and disco and dance music.”

“But also, just the fact that he wanted to work together was so meaningful for me,” she adds. “We genuinely had fun together – it was something we looked forward to, an escape. It felt really cosmic and super cool and we just kept going.” “one promise” was the first song they finished together, and in the year since, they’ve completed more than a dozen.

As it’s about time began to take shape, Rose says she felt euphoric. “Any experience I had in the past that made me feel jaded or question if I should keep going totally washed away, because I was having so much fun making this music,” she recalls. “People can really get swept up in the idea of what something can become and then so much time passes you don’t get started. I was told that I’m too pop for indie but too indie for pop. Now that’s a whole genre and there’s space for that.”

And Michelle Rose is done waiting. “I want to re-enter the community with a more authentic sense of self than just being passive and longing,” she says. “I could go all these different directions, do whatever’s on my mind. But I want my passion within pop culture to have substance and to be rooted in something I’m creating. It took a lot to reawaken that, but now it feels nothing but honest to be moving into this next chapter.”

Follow Michelle Rose on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

Retro-Futuristic Aesthetics and “Broken Heart Syndrome” Inspire New Album From L’Impératrice

Photo Credit: Théo Gosselin

In the video for “Hématome,” released on March 11 by French six-piece disco group L’Impératrice, a gorilla tries to fit into the human world and is broken-hearted when she can’t do that. It’s a devastating and beautiful animated sci-fi clip directed by French artists Roxane Lumeret and Jocelyn Charles, and produced by Studio Remembers. 

“The funny thing is that they deliver a very different interpretation of the song,” says Flore Benguigui, singer for  L’Impératrice, on a recent video call from Paris. When Benguigui wrote the lyrics in French, she was thinking about breakups, social media and ghosting – “finding that somebody disappears from your life, but at the same time, is still accessible through social media,” she explains.

The team behind the video imagined a different story for the song, but, Benguigui notes, their take also fits the lyrics. “Crazily, it really works and it’s not the same interpretation at all and it’s not the same way that I feel the lyrics,” she says. “For me, that’s very interesting because it really gives another life to the song. It opens it to another audience and another reading. They really did an amazing job with that song.”

For L’Impératrice, aesthetics are very important. “We don’t release many videos,” says keyboardist Charles de Boisseguin, “but every time we have to choose a song, we make sure that the director that we’re going to work with shares our references and influences.”

The same can be said for the cover of Tako Tsubo, the band’s sophomore album, released March 26. Illustrated by comic book and animation artist Ugo Bienvenu, who also co-founded Studio Remembers, the cover depicts the Moirai, or Fates, from Greek mythology with a sci-fi edge reminiscent of the late, great French cartoonist Moebius. “That’s why we work with him, because we share those references – Moebius. Maybe Roy Lichtenstein,” says de Boisseguin. 

The album takes its name from the medical phenomenon sometimes known as “broken-heart syndrome,” where the heart’s left ventricle weakens as the result of a physically or emotionally stressful event. 

As she was writing for the album, Benguigui noticed that her lyrics were tapping into situations of “being on the edge of things, being different in all kinds of ways.” She  heard about the takotsubo phenomenon on a podcast and it struck a chord with her. “The idea of the takotsubo is about creating a rupture in the continuity of things,” she says. “An emotion just gets too big and overwhelms everything and just breaks the course of things.” 

L’Impératrice began working on the album in early 2019, while staying in Morocco. Following a tour of the U.S. and Mexico, they continued writing and recording in France. “It took us almost a year to compose,” says de Boisseguin. 

That a tour came in the midst of the process impacted the results. “I think that the new album has been fed by all these different places and also by the tour,” says Benguigui. “Probably, this also influenced us a lot because it was a big experience for us.” 

“The fact that we discovered new fans, a new audience, in L.A. and New York. D.C., Chicago and then in Mexico, gave us new ideas to compose this album,” says de Boisseguin.

For Tako Tsubo, they worked with producer Renaud Letang. The album was mixed by Neal Pogue (Tyler the Creator) and mastered by Mike Bozzi , who won a Grammy for this work on Childish Gambino’s single “This Is America.” 

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the band opted to write and record one more song for the album, “Submarine,” while the members were situated in home studios in different parts of France. Normally, Benguigui explains, when they write and record, they work in teams, so the process of creating “Submarine” while physically separated wasn’t particularly difficult for them. They were able to send each other parts for the song and build off of them. “That was a really cool experience because it was maybe the only good memory we have of the lockdown,” says Benguigui. 

Throughout 2020, they teased fans with material from Tako Tsubo. A video for “Fou” was released in early April. Live clips for “Voodoo?” and “Anomalie Blue” followed in June and December, respectively. They kickstarted 2021 with a killer video for “Peur des filles.” Directed by Aube Perrie, the clip draws from mid-20th century design and campy sci-fi and horror movies, building on the retro-futuristic aesthetic influences that they appreciate. “The costumes, the set design was incredible,” says Benguigui. It was also an intense shoot, she says, with lots of fake blood. 

“We spent four or five hours under the table with our heads on some plates with real food.  It was really long and really smelly,” de Boisseguin recalls. “I was basically stuck under a table with meat on top and I couldn’t move to scratch my nose or anything.”

The result, though, was impressive, something de Boisseguin likens in style to the Tim Burton film Mars Attacks.

Says Benguigui, “It was worth it.” 

Follow L’Impératrice on Facebook and Instagram for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: Blow Pop Finds Escape in ’80s Sounds with “Friendly” Premiere

Before the pandemic, Keaton Butler and Avery Reidy were just friends. They were also living the hodge-podge lifestyles that most working musicians end up scraping together to make ends meet. Butler was bartending, engineering sound for live shows, and performing in three different bands. Reidy was traveling around the country every week, Monday through Thursday, working as an acoustics consultant. Since the pandemic hit, their lives have changed drastically: they went from performing on stage to performing on screen; Butler transformed from country queen to bubble gum goddess; and the duo went from being friends to becoming lovers. Blow Pop is the amalgamation of years and friendship between Butler and Reidy, a shared love of Prince and Donna Summers, and a need to escape into something light during these heavy times. 

“It’s sort of like a break to us,” Reidy says. “Just fun and easily digestible… no frills. It felt like we needed it for ourselves, and we thought maybe people would enjoy it.” Last year, they released three songs – “Put You Down” in June, with “So Right” and “Nobody” following in November. But Blow Pop is just getting started.

Like the 7″ singles of decades past, Just Friends – out digitally this Friday – is comprised of two songs: A-side “Friendly” premieres today, exclusively via Audiofemme. The couple recorded both tracks while staying with family in Florida; traveling there meant they had to trade in their usual array of instruments for a single midi keyboard and a mic. This change in medium opened new doors of creativity for the pair, who wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered the songs on their own. Instead of acoustic guitar, they layered synths and booming percussion to create a wall of sound that supports Butler’s impermeable vocals. 

On “Friendly,” Butler tells the familiar tale of reconciling with an ex. The song opens with sparse electric piano and Butler singing, “Won’t you treat me again like you did back in the old days/Cuz I want nothing more than for us like before to be friendly/I’ve heard through our friends that you’d rather pretend you don’t know me/But I’ve spent way too long feeling like I did wrong/That’s the old me.” The percussion comes cascading in as Butler vows not to let hard feelings get in the way of her happiness. Her unapologetic lyrics and nostalgic melodies are reminiscent of ’80s pop queens, which is fitting considering she has Debbie Harry’s face tattooed on her arm. “She’s like my idol,” says Butler. “My biggest influence writing for this project is probably Blondie.” 

Aside from Blondie, Butler says Dua Lipa has had a big influence on her effervescent songwriting. “Over the summer, I just wanted [to listen to] something really happy,” says Butler. “So I was just listening to Dua Lipa a lot.” Like so many of us over the last year, Butler and Reidy have been searching for ways to escape, to pretend reality is anything other than being in the same apartment everyday, doing the same thing. Blow Pop is not only a sonic escape, but also a complete role play – an opportunity to immerse themselves in different characters that live far outside of constricting reality. 

Both Reidy and Butler are well accustomed to performing; whether it’s for Butler’s pre-pandemic country night, charading as Missy Mae at Trixie’s Bar, or Reidy’s proclivity for acting out random scenarios with strangers, it’s clear that both of them get a high from taking on various identities. “It’s a big mental escape for me,” explains Reidy. “Even doing mundane things when I was working a nine to five felt like performing to me. I used to… do these noise surveys where I’d just have to talk to like a million people and it was like a character – like I turn this different person on. It’s kind of always how I’ve looked at life.” The world’s a stage, so they say.

The couple definitely harness their inner glam rockers as Blow Pop. Both “Friendly” and its B-side “Got the Moves” inspire the listener to put on some pink tights and red lipstick and dance like they’re at the disco. “Whenever we do a photoshoot, I only wear her clothes,” says Reidy. “That’s been the norm at this point, which is why we’re so colorful and fun.”

Just Friends is yet another beautiful, bright piece of music to come out of the rubble of this year, speaking to the buoyancy of pop music and the resilience of people who make it.

Follow Blow Pop on Instagram for ongoing updates.

Even With the Clubs Closed, 2020 Has Been a Stellar Year for Disco

I don’t think I’ve ever listened to as much disco as I have in 2020. That’s saying a lot for someone whose regular listening habits include a decent dose of the dance floor singles of the 1970s and the many grooves that have spun off from it in the decades that follow. 

This year was different, for reasons that really don’t need to be rehashed; in the nine months that have passed since the clubs closed, though, disco has motivated me on the treadmill and while I’ve hustled at my desk. It’s lured me down internet rabbit holes that have nothing to do with pandemics or U.S. elections. While there were plenty of nights where I was fueled by the catalogs of the Bee-Gees and Giorgio Moroder, most of what’s been on my stuck-at-home playlist is new. That’s the other thing about 2020; it’s been a really good year for disco, even if there’s nowhere to play it in public. 

Kylie Minogue was the most upfront with her intentions. The Australian pop star titled her fifteenth studio album Disco. Much of the album was recorded at home during the lockdown. Knowing that makes the album a joyous gift to everyone who misses the days of balancing cocktails while squeezing through packed dance floors to club-hug your friends. We might wish that we could do this with “Magic” or “Say Something” playing in the background, but, for the time being, the album will play in full as we connect through text messages and video calls. 

Róisín Murphy dropped her latest album, Róisín Machine, in October. At nearly an hour in length, it’s a dive into the sounds that have influenced the beloved singer throughout her life and career, even giving new perspective to pre-pandemic singles like “Incapable” and “Narcissus.” With a visual language that recalls punk and post-punk, Murphy gives a nod to the genre-blurring club culture of the early ’80s. 

Jessie Ware drew from the late ’70s and early ’80s, often recalling the late, great Teena Marie on her fourth album, What’s Your Pleasure? Released in June, Ware gave fans a summer of jams so sticky that songs like “Step Into My Life,” “Ooh La La” and “Save a Kiss” could easily remain in your head the morning after you heard them, as if you had heard them while out on the town.

And then there’s Dua Lipa, whose hit album, Future Nostalgia was followed this summer by Club Future Nostalgia. Helmed by The Blessed Madonna and featuring contribution from Dimitri from Paris, Jacques Lu Cont and others, the remix album allowed fans to bring the discotheque into their homes. 

In a year of virtual crate digging through sources like Bandcamp, Beatport and Traxsource, I’ve been filling carts and making wish lists with releases from labels like Midnight Riot, based in London, and Glitterbeat, from Hamburg. The latter released Migrant Birds, an homage to Middle Eastern disco from TootArd that’s become one of my favorite albums of the year. Partyfine, founded by French DJ/producer Yuksek, is another one of my go-to labels in 2020. Yuksek’s own full-length, Nosso Ritmo, is packed with goodies, particularly “G.F.Y.,” which features Queen Rose on vocals and sums up the encounters with creepy, overeager club guys that I definitely haven’t missed this year. Partyfine also released “Gang,” from French musician Anoraak with Sarah Maison on vocals, a cut with such a fierce, early ’80s vibe that it became a personal obsession. I’ve also been collecting tunes from producers/remixers like Hotmood and Monsieur Van Pratt, both from Mexico, and Ladies on Mars, from Argentina, who all have a great sense for balancing classic and modern dance music. 

I’m using disco here in the broadest sense of the word. Khruangbin usually gets the psychedelic tag, but “Time (You and I),” from their album Mordechai, is disco. U.S. Girls is known more for indie pop, but “Overtime,” from her 2020 album Heavy Light, is a stomper in the vein of northern soul that became 100% disco when Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost! remixed it. Then there’s The Diabolical Liberties, who released their debut full-length High Protection & the Sportswear Mystics this year. The album is filled with funky, dubby punk, not unlike what bands like Gang of Four and The Clash did 40 years ago. Ultraflex, an Icelandic/Norwegian duo who released their debut album, Visions of Ultraflex, this year, look more towards the synth-heavy dance music of the ’80s, but that’s totally disco too. 

Sometime during the summer, thanks to a compilation from Berlin label Toy Tonics, I was turned on to Phenomenal Handclap Band. They’ve been around in various forms for years – I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t heard them until now – but they also dropped the album PHB in May. This was exactly the music that I had been craving, from the psychedelic funk of “Skyline” and “The Healer” to the new wave-ish “Do What You Like” and Italo-leaning “Riot” to the gospel-tinged “Judge Not.” It’s disco at its most eclectic. PHB became part of this year’s listening habits and I was excited to hear them guest on Love and Dancing, the debut from U.K. DJ crew Horse Meat Disco

All this, though, is just scratching the surface. There is so much in this year’s treasure trove of music, from Scissor Sisters singer Jake Shears channeling Sylvester on “Meltdown” to The Shapeshifters teaming up with actor Billy Porter for “Finally Ready” to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s cover of early ’00s Eurodisco hit “Crying at the Discotheque.”  

Not all of this music came about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some were released before mid-March. Others may have been in-the-works, or fully recorded, before lockdown. However, their release in 2020 has made the year at home a little more bearable. 

Róisín Murphy Releases The Disco We Need Right Now

Photo Credit: Adrian Samson

More than a decade ago, Róisín Murphy had talked to Sheffield-based producer Richard Barratt (aka Crooked Man and DJ Parrot) about taking their collaborative work from her album Overpowered further. 

“It was intended to be a big project at the start, but we got waylaid a few times,” says Murphy by phone from her home in London. Murphy wanted to dig deeper into the styles of dance music and club culture that they both knew – everything from disco to rare groove to electro – “with this feeling of Sheffield in it somehow as well.” 

They came up with “Simulation” and “Jealousy,” both of which were released as singles, over a period of a few years. Then they went on to other projects. Murphy covered Italian songs on the EP Mi Senti, and released the albums Hairless Toys (2015) and Take Her Up to Monto (2016). She collaborated with producer Maurice Fulton, something that she had been wanting to do for years. When Barratt released their track “Incapable” through his own label, Bitter End, the single became a club hit and led to a record deal. 

Out on October 2, Róisín Machine is the fifth solo full-length from the revered singer, who came to prominence in the 1990s as half of the duo Moloko. It is a ten-song journey through the dance floor influences that have shaped Murphy’s life and career, filled with spacey synths, epic strings, slow grooves and banger beats. All these elements are linked together by an impassioned voice that can make you forget your troubles for a moment, even when she is singing about the thing that’s bringing you down. Róisín Machine is the disco album we need right now.

“I feel my story is still untold,” Murphy announces at the start of Róisín Machine. She tells this story – at least part of it – through the musical choices on the album as well as the through its visual presentation, drawing from post-punk art and fashion. It’s inspired in part by an exhibition from artist and musician Cosey Fanni Tutti. Another inspiration was reading about ’80s clubs like New York’s famed Danceteria, where DJs mixed genres like rock and pop and soul, bringing together diverse crowds. “This is what I’ve grown out of,” she says, “the scenes that I’ve been involved in and have grown out of – this mix.”

Born in Ireland, Murphy was 12 when she moved to Manchester and came of age as the city’s club scene flourished in the late ’80s and early ’90s. “I went to Hacienda, obviously. It wasn’t my favorite because it was too big and didn’t sound that great,” she says. “I really like clubs that envelope you, so there were a few of those types of clubs in Manchester.” 

At 18, she moved to Sheffield. “The whole thing had an ecosystem, whereby everybody was doing something in Sheffield,” she recalls. She would see the same DJs play multiple times a week. “It wasn’t like you had a checklist of a gazillion DJs to say I had seen,” she says. “You got to see your guys and your scene and they had enough education and understanding and breadth of knowledge of music to last three lifetimes just listening to them.” In Sheffield, she and producer Mark Brydon formed Moloko. 

Shortly after the release of Moloko’s debut album, Murphy headed to New York and explored the city’s club scene. She immersed herself on the dance floor of parties like Body & Soul. “It blew my mind,” she says. Murphy recalls watching the eclectic mix of dance styles on the floor and trying to follow the movies – “Badly, in my case,” she adds – while coming to understand the music and its origins. 

She also met Francois Kevorkian, the longtime DJ and producer/remixer who co-founded Body & Soul. “He called everything disco. He would talk about house records. It’s a disco record. It would be some sort of dub techno disco record,” she says. “So, I realized that everything was disco when I was there.”

In the years that followed, Murphy herself would become a disco queen. Moloko released four albums between the mid-1990s and early- 2000s. Notably, their hit “Sing It Back” remains a dance floor favorite. As a solo artist, Murphy kept fans hooked with songs that compel you to dance and sing and release every bit of tension held inside of you. 

Fast forward to spring of 2020. Most of the world was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it was now obvious that the future of nightclubs was in a precarious state. Online, though, Murphy brought us disco from her home with a six-song collection of performance videos. She appeared in shimmering costumes, bouncing around in front of a sofa and chair as a collection of video footage surrounded, and sometimes seemed to engulf, her. These were based on the live show she had put together for dance clubs. 

In late September, she released another isolation performance video, this time from Ibiza, where she sang “Something More” while roaming the grounds of a villa, giving a bit of daydream fodder to those still mostly stuck at home. 

Róisín Machine is more than the album. It’s also all the associated remixes and alternate versions of this body of songs. “The attitude to the album was almost like this was a proper album somewhere else and we dubbed it, or we augmented it, changed it,” Murphy explains, “and all this music that we’re into comes out of this idea of dubbing and extending and changing and the record never being finished.”

It became music made for a time when everything is in flux. Remixes of “Incapable” and “Narcissus” were disco that moved club kids pre-pandemic. The album could certainly be disco for the home. Certain tracks, or remixes of songs, might be part of the score for virtual club nights. The videos are there for when you’re craving live shows. And when venues start reopening, there’s enough variety in the material to find something that works no matter what kind of restrictions are placed on DJ nights. Though the future of the nightlife that inspired the album is incredibly uncertain, Róisín Machine provides all-purpose disco for whatever comes next.

Follow Róisín Murphy on Facebook for ongoing updates.

White Folks Rioted at Disco Demolition Night – But Didn’t Silence Dance Music’s Black & LGBTQ Voices

It was 79 degrees outside when local DJ Steve Dahl set fire to a crate of disco records in a publicity stunt so hot, it scorched music history. Disco Demolition Night happened in Chicago on July 12, 1979. But in many ways, the event doesn’t feel too distant.

Blowing up records was supposed to boost ticket sales for White Sox games. Higher-ups at Comiskey Park were looking for ideas to get butts in seats, and rock-radio personality Dahl pitched this: If patrons sacrificed a disco album at the door, they could get in for 98 cents (about $3.50 in today’s money). On a good night, the ball park could attract 15,000 to 20,000 people. That evening, Dahl attracted almost 50,000 individuals — all eager to see a genre created by and for women, queer people, and people of color go up in flames.

Even now, talking to progressive people of that generation, I’ll hear that disco was music of the elites. I have to understand, they insist, that disco was about an urbane cosmopolitanism, and that’s really what Disco Demolition Night was rebelling against. Disco was driven by electronic sounds, not “real” instruments, and it’s vapid plasticity was embodied by Studio 54: beautiful celebrities, expensive clothing, and a bacchanalian excess that was alienating to “ordinary” people.

Never mind that Chic’s “Le Freak — which ranked number three on Billboard’s top singles of 1979 — is an ironic celebration of the nightclub; its refrain comes from being told to “fuck off” (which became “freak off,” then “freak out”) by Studio 54’s doorman. Sometimes even the “elites” didn’t fit into their own scene, and that element of exclusivity was part of the charm. In that sense, “Le Freak” proves the ultimate expression of disco as a space where anger and joy coexist, especially for those at the margins. That sentiment is rooted in the genre’s anti-fascist beginnings.

As Peter Shapiro describes in his book Turn the Beat Around, the music can be traced back to a small French club called La Discothéque that operated during German occupation. Even though Hitler considered it beneath “good” citizens, he did little to slow France’s famous nightlife, believing it would keep Parisians too distracted to resist German control. While popular clubs like the Moulin Rouge adapted to cater to Nazi officers, holes-in-the-wall such as La Discothéque used cultural contraband like jazz music to identify themselves as safe spaces for plotting against the Third Reich.

Under Nazi rule, large public assemblies and dancing were forbidden. This made underground clubs (which were often, literally, in basements) necessary sites for political organizing — but also for laughter and fun. When WWII ended, La Discothéque and similar spots endured because they continued presenting an escape from the repressive forces of daily life. Europe was taking strict austerity measures, and radio broadcasts were treated as public services that disseminated news and cultural ideals of music. To hit a place like La Discothéque meant experiencing moments of revelry and soundtracks not prescribed by the state.

In the post-war years, La Discothéque’s club model — screening clientele, foregoing live bands for curated selections of recorded music, and offering something out of the ordinary, even bordering on decadent — trickled across Europe and was eventually adapted in major cities across the United States. In 1970, a gay man named David Mancuso who’d been hosting record-playing parties since the mid-60s began hosting invite-only events in his apartment. Part of his goal was to provide a community for gay men to dance and socialize without fear of police violence — what the Stonewall riots had responded to a year before. Crowds flocked to hear his state-of-the-art audio equipment flood the space with rhythmic, soulful music, often with Afro-Latinx roots. Eventually, his apartment was christened The Loft.

As audio engineer Alex Rosner recalled in Bill Brewster’s Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, “[The Loft] was probably about sixty percent Black and seventy percent gay…There was a mix of sexual orientation, races, [and] economic groups. A real mix, where the common denominator was music.”

Mancuso helped DJs pool music for hosting dance parties, and the sound and vibe of his parties spread across New York, getting appropriated by private parties as much as dance clubs. It’s worth noting that, during this time, New York City was not unlike much of Europe after WWII. Infrastructure was weak, crime was high, and the city was verging on bankruptcy. American culture was also nursing a cultural hangover from ’60s idealism. Hip hop and punk are often referenced as disparate responses to shared conditions, but disco should also be seen as a reaction to systemic failures. Who bore the brunt of New York’s social problems? Queer, Black, and Brown communities. Some of them just danced their troubles away.

This is what’s coded into disco music. Listen to some of its most popular tracks: “I Will Survive” is about Gloria Gaynor finding joy and strength despite her most challenging moments, and it became a rallying cry for AIDs activists. Legendary gay group Village People wrote YMCA to celebrate the organization for providing affordable, temporary, single occupancy rooms to people experiencing homelessness. The subtext was, if you’re gay and on the streets, don’t despair: It’s fun to stay at the YMCA. Amii Stewart’s album Knock on Wood and the video supporting its title track are stunning examples of Afrofuturism. Though a cover, Stewart’s version of “Knock on Wood” is the best known one, and it survives as a gay anthem.

In this light, it’s easy to see why numerous musicians and scholars have described Disco Demolition Night as an outpouring of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Footage from that evening shows white people — mostly men — clamoring into the gates, hurling records like frisbees, throwing beer bottles and shoes at ball players, and eventually swarming the field in what was later deemed a riot. Of course, Dahl still pleads the event was harmless fun. Don’t we know white men were losing their place in the world? Working class ones especially didn’t know where to get a suit or how to get into a fancy city club, so can you blame them for lashing out at what, to them, were symbols of that? This, a year before Reagan’s campaign to “Make America Great Again.”

Comiskey Park was located on the Southwest side in a neighborhood called Armour Square, which hugs Bridgeport from the east. The stadium was demolished in 1991, and a new one was built in Bridgeport, eventually renamed Guaranteed Rate Field. Last year, the White Sox commemorated the 40th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night a full month before the original event: Pride month. And last Wednesday, June 3, white vigilantes swarmed the streets of Bridgeport armed with baseball bats, pipes, and two-by-fours, harassing and intimidating people returning from a nearby Black Lives Matter march— all while cops looked on. Scared Bridgeport residents streamed videos of it on social media (and I got frantic texts from friends in the neighborhood).

It’s hard to think about these facts and not hear Dahl’s words echoing. It’s just harmless fun, right? Working class white men aren’t sure of their place in the world.

But it’s also hard not to think about what happened to popular music after Disco Demolition Night. DJ Frankie Knuckles was a frequenter of The Loft, and he transported that sensibility with him when he relocated from the Bronx to Chicago in 1977. Here, he DJed at a spot called the Warehouse, a members-only club that catered to gay, mostly Black men, and he developed a disco-based party sound so popular, it forced the club to suspend its membership policy. In the early ’80s, he opened his own spot, the Power Plant, and used a drum machine to overlay heavy, bare-bones beats across disco tracks. This was the birth of house.

Early house innovator Vince Lawrence was an usher at Disco Demolition Night. He told NPR, “It’s ironic, that while you were blowing up disco records you were helping to create [house music]. … It’s funny how things work out.”

Disco Demolition Night heralded a conservatism that’s ideologically alive but has lessened its influence on pop music. Over time, what really got blown up was the cultural hegemony of straight white male rock. Maybe hetero-capitalist patriarchy is next.

The Foxies Weave Punk, Pop and Disco Into the Fabric of Nashville’s Music Scene

Photo Credit: Chance Edwards

While Nashville stands as the capital of country music, there are countless artists who prove it’s sacred ground for all genres. The Foxies are one example, with their self-described “goth disco” and “glitter punk” infusion establishing them as a noteworthy player in Nashville’s underground music scene.

Frontwoman Julia Bullock rose to fame with her audition on season two of the U.S. version of The X Factor in 2012. She formed the Nashville-based band The Foxies in 2014 after joining forces with guitarist Jake Ohlbaum, Rob Bodley on drums and former bassist Kyle Talbot. The trio pulls from a dynamic blend of alt-rock, funk-pop and disco to create infectious melodies and tongue-in-cheek lyrics that demonstrate how Nashville’s artistry expands far beyond the horizon of country music. As Bullock boasts a look that draws to mind Paramore’s Hayley Williams, matched with a voice like that of Gwen Stefani, the group has crafted a sound with a lighter, more playful attitude.

The trio is set to release a new six-song EP, Growing Up is Dead, on May 29th. Bullock declares herself as a proud “Anti Socialite” on the EP’s opening track, inviting her friends to the party in her head while “sipping on Capri Sun” to get a hit of ’90s nostalgia. Meanwhile, “Call Me When Your Phone Dies,” described as an “ode to the fuck boys,” sticks it to a disappointing lover before the screaming “Neon Thoughts” dishes out a healthy dose of electronic disco. The projects ends on a groove with “Deep Sea Diver,” Bullock’s mystifying vocals layered over a pop-rock beat.

The Foxies have released a pair of EPs, 2016’s Oblivion and Battery in 2019, along with singles like the thumping, reggae-like “Be Afraid Boy” that appeared in an episode of the CW’s 2018 reboot of Charmed. They’ve also graced a range of stages from LGBTQ-friendly The Lipstick Lounge in East Nashville to Bonnaroo Festival and South by Southwest. The intoxicating air of The Foxies’ dreamy synth pop melodies sound like they were plucked out of L.A. and transported to Music City. Mixing this ethereal sound with a rock edge and a punk attitude, The Foxies breathe new life into Nashville’s underrated pop scene. They support this diverse mix with equally vibrant imagery of neon colors and quirky music videos reminiscent of the ’80s, but with a modern twist.

Comparing rock music to that of a slumbering bear, Bullock declares that The Foxies hope to awaken the beast with their new project – and we have no doubt they’re up to the task.

Follow The Foxies on Facebook for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: Moon King Adopts Detroit Dance Music on Voice of Lovers

Originally from Toronto, Daniel Benjamin has been hopping from city to city for the past ten years. The longest time he’s stayed in one place were the three years he spent in Hamtramck, Michigan – a multicultural haven tucked within Detroit’s city limits – and that period ended up having a heavy hand in shaping the sound for his electronic dance project, Moon King. His latest record, Voice of Lovers, was released last week and is a testament to the imprint Detroit’s DJ scene has had on his creative process.

The record sashays between decades and genres, all unified by its undeniable head-bopping feel. A far skip from his first release, Secret Life, Benjamin explains that something clicked when he set foot in Detroit. “I was going out a lot and listening to really great DJs and seeing the way the music affects people,” says Benjamin. It’s no secret (to most) that Detroit is home to some incredible DJs and electronic musicians, and Benjamin took full advantage of all the city has to offer; Mondays at Motor City Wine, Freakish Pleasures parties, and dancing to a particularly influential DJ for him, Scott Zacharias.

“I think he’s inspiring for making music and collecting records and stuff,” says Benjamin. “He can play synth-pop and disco and music from South America and Pakistan or Turkey all in the same set and have it aesthetically fit together and get people dancing – that to me is amazing. I didn’t realize until I came to Detroit that that was a thing.” Benjamin’s adoration for mesmerizing dance music is evident throughout the record. Lyricism takes a backseat to rhythm but still strings together a narrative of Benjamin’s nomadic lifestyle and trials of trying to live in the US as a Canadian Citizen.

“USA Today” can be read as an ironic title for an interpretive dance track, but the urgency in both the beat and the repetitive lyrics feel like Benjamin is trying to manifest his own destiny. After multiple failed attempts at getting a green card, Benjamin was forced to leave Detroit, one of the only places he’s ever felt a true sense of community. “I felt at home there. The community of people that I found myself surrounded by, I feel like they really want me there,” Benjamin explains. “I don’t really feel that way anywhere else. Life’s a bitch.”

But Benjamin didn’t leave Detroit without making lasting creative friendships along the way. In fact, Detroit’s own Vespre (Kaylan Waterman) makes an appearance on VOL and will join Benjamin for his Detroit show on June 22nd. For now, it’s back on the road for Benjamin until July, doing what he does best – making the world dance.

Listen to Voice of Lovers in full below.

ONLY NOISE: Adult Entertainment

In 1997, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson was racking up a lot of “firsts.” He released his first major feature, Boogie Nights, which garnered his first Oscar nomination. Moreover, Boogie Nights was the first widely celebrated Hollywood film about the Golden Age of pornography. Set in 1970s San Fernando Valley, California (aka “Porn Valley”), the film chronicles the rise, fall, and redemption of fictional adult film star Dirk Diggler and his adopted family of pornstars, directors, and one particularly eager Boom Operator.  But despite the movie’s racy subject matter, its initial frames unfold like a glittering homage to ‘70s club culture. There’s a nightclub marquee, a neon dancefloor, the graceful twirl of a babe on roller skatesand it all shakes to the tune of the Emotions’ 1977 megahit “Best of My Love.” Like any successful period film, Boogie Nights is punctuated by the hits of its respective eras; there’s “Low Rider” by War, “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate, and a brilliant sync of Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” with a particularly tense scene at a drug lord’s lair. Though it’s not the focus of the film, the Boogie Nights soundtrack reminds me that there once was an implicit relationship between music and pornography.

This topic is fresh in my mind in part because I recently re-watched Boogie Nights for the first time in over 10 years, but also because of a recent announcement from Pornhub, the most visited adult film site on the web. According to a statement from the website, Pornhub is set to feature a new series of films as part of “The Visionaries Directors’ Club.” The movies will be directed by “creatives of all kinds” and will aim to “diversify porn production and help create more varied content—paying particular attention to Pornhub’s female audience.” First up in the Visionaries Directors’ Club is “The Gift,” an all-female porno directed by New York rapper Young M.A. According to Pornhub, “The Gift” will feature the MC’s music in “key scenes,” though the recently-released trailer does not reveal the placement of her songs.

As it turns out, Young M.A.’s tracks score everything but “key scenes” in “The Gift,” a porno that finds birthday girl Gina Valentina getting lured to an L.A. dream home by her girlfriend (Honey Gold), where eight other women are getting it on all over the house. After calling 555-6969 to get the mansion’s address (it’s on Cumming Street), Valentina approaches the house precariously to the bump of Young M.A.’s “Hot Sauce.” This brief scene summarizes how the rapper’s music will be utilized throughout the movie: largely as background noise while Valentina traverses from room to room, discovering what fleshy delights await her. The ominous synths of “Same Set” trail Valentina as she walks away from two women in the kitchen getting creative with a can of whip cream; “Walk” slinks along as Valentina, er, walks from one end of the pool to the next; and “Praktice” creeps in after Gold and Valentina recover from their cumulative 83 orgasms, kissing and hugging as we fade to credits. As I suspected, the music in “The Gift” was not integral to the action, but relegated to interim shots, filling the space between hi-def fucking like a sonic crossfade.

There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. I personally associate porn music with either cheesy European orgy scenes or softcore X Art films. But music wasn’t always shoved to the sidelines in erotic movies. While contemporary porn either limits music to intro and outro scenes, or omits it altogether, a soundtrack was once crucial to the porno narrative. Take the most famous porn of all time: 1972’s Deep Throat. Not only did Jerry Gerard’s masterpiece boast a 60 minute runtime, but it kicked off with a credit reel commensurate with feature films (the Key Grip doesn’t mean what you’d expect). And, like a Hollywood movie, one of its most notable features (aside from Linda Lovelace’s roomy esophagus) was the music that accompanied nearly every scene. The opening shot of Lovelace driving home through suburbia is set to a bizarre, carnivalesque synth track. An early scene involving Lovelace’s friend receiving cunnilingus in the kitchen rolls to a funky psych jam, while she utters memorable lines like, “Mind if I smoke, while you’re eating?” And then of course, there is the inexplicable Deep Throat theme song, which is part church organ hymn and randy ballad. The lyrics are beyond silly: “Deep throat/Deeper than deep throat,” sings a male voice hovering just above the Hammond B3. “That’s all she wrote.” Every word that rhymes with “throat” is thrown in here, even “goat,”  because like most things in pornography, it is subtle. While the film’s soundtrack certainly doesn’t aid arousal, it is indicative of Golden Age pornography’s tone – fun, narrative, fantastical, and slightly absurd.

On Pornhub’s “Vintage” category page, you can watch the original, full-length cut of Deep Throat, but you can also scroll through decades of adult films, many of which are based on similarly ramshackle plots. There’s “Married Wife Cheats on Hubby,” a “Baywatch” parody called, you guessed it, “Babewatch,” and one simply titled “Vampires.” Many of these oldies feature music more prominently that contemporary pornographythough none as bewildering as the Deep Throat OST. Watching vintage porn often feels like more of a novelty than anything truly seductive, and a big part of that is the music (and the proliferation of mustaches). Quite frankly, it’s distracting, and I think that would remain the case if the songs used were actually good. A great song is a powerful thing, and would likely rip the viewer away from whatever the tiny bodies on their laptop are doing at the moment. Ultimately, it makes sense that porn consumers want crisp, uninterrupted audio to go with their high definition, tight angle shots. Sure, Pornhub offers sections for “vintage” porn and movies that sync top hits to hardcore sex scenes, but these are by no means the most popular categories on the site.

So what does the Visionaries Directors’ Club mean for the long term relationship between music and pornography? Probably not too much. But the series could be a possibility for Pornhub to lend the director’s chair to artists with radical and nuanced takes on sexuality, especially since their goal with the project is to “diversify porn production and help create more varied content.” What if the directors they recruited already had a rich visual language of their own, and plenty of work investigating sexuality and the human body? What if these Visionaries reflected a few of the niche communities that the porn community relies on? What would pornos directed by folks like Jenny Hval, Genesis P-Orridge, SOPHIE, Diamanda Galas, CupcakKe, or Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas look like, for instance? Something tells me we’ll never find out.

ONLY NOISE: One Ball to Rule Them All


The town I grew up in didn’t have a roller rink. Sure, there was a five-lane bowling alley and a one-screen movie theater, but roller rinks were too big for the bite-sized britches of Arlington, Washington. There are many consequences of a town with no roller rink – namely that it becomes by default a town with no disco ball, and that is no place to live, my friends. Marysville, Washington, the next town over, was no place to live either, but it had something we Arlingtonians did not: a roller rink. With skates, and shakes, and a disco ball.

Songs by Bee Gees, Chic, and Donna Summer did not score my first orbit around the glitter ball. I was miles and decades removed from the wonder years of Studio 54 and Paradise Garage, but the tidal pull of the mirrored globe translates across time and space. With its galaxy of glittering infinity, the disco ball’s only message is: keep moving.

Today marks yet another internet-spawned holiday you didn’t know about: National Disco Ball Day. But before you deck the dancehalls with balls of disco, or flock to Pinterest for mirror ball cake recipes, let’s consider the disco ball in all its pop culture glory. Oddly never out of fashion, disco balls have been spinning for around 100 years, though under varying monikers. Mirror ball, glitter ball, and “myriad reflector” were runner-ups to the genre-specific name that stuck.

An early and particularly odd usage of the sparkly decoration can be found on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website. A 1912 image of a “Sun Parlor for Tuberculosis Patients” (which was located in the Milwaukee Hospital for Insane, might I add) appears pleasantly mundane – until you glance up at the photo’s topmost edge, and see a mirrored sphere shining down on the vacant room. The image is jarring with its backwards anachronism, giving off a A Kid in King Arthur’s Court feeling of displacement; I scratch my head upon seeing this objet de disco thrust into a pre-disco atmosphere.

The disco ball traces back even further than that however, as Vice’s thump outlet details in their in-depth history of the ball. The disco ball’s first reported appearance cropped up in an 1897 issue of the Electrical Worker, which referred to a “mirrored ball” hanging over the attendees of a N.B.E.W. electrician’s union party in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Despite the disco ball’s varied history, it goes without saying that the glitter globe is not known for its psychiatric hospital tenure, or electrician’s party debut. Rather, it was the flame that “burn baby” burned its way through “Disco Inferno.” While its roots dig much deeper, the dance floor ornament’s cultural capital skyrocketed in the disco days, and at that time, Louisville, Kentucky manufacturer Omega National Products had already been the unofficial home of the disco ball for 20 years, making 90% of the world’s spheres at their peak. This boom in bling balls was surely due to disco fever, as every New York discotheque worth its salt had one. Paradise Garage, Crisco Disco, The Loft, and many other disco havens were bathed in specks of light cast by their own mirror balls, dutifully twirling above the heads of boogying regulars.

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The Paradise Garage, 1979. Photo by Bill Bernstein

Back in ‘90s Marysville, we weren’t snorting snow in gilded bathrooms or shacking up with Bianca Jagger. We were eight, and while it wasn’t a New York City night club, the Marysville skating rink was just about the coolest place an eight year old could throw a birthday party in a 20 mile radius. We didn’t have drugs or Halston dresses, but we were rich with ice cream cake and the flavored roll-on lip-gloss the rink sold for $3 (I’m still convinced it was fruit-flavored vegetable oil). The DJ? Certainly not Larry Levan or Frankie Knuckles. I’m fairly sure there wasn’t even a human behind the music programming at all, but a CD that favored acts like Shaggy, LeAnn Rimes, and Hanson. Such were the times.

Naturally, there’s no comparison between the glamorous disco clubs of the ‘70s and my barely-local roller rink, but they both boasted that mirrored mosaic sphere that is the disco ball; and that’s one of the most magical things about it. Aside from its overwhelming ability to *sparkle*, the disco ball is a remarkably democratic piece of party paraphernalia. Even if you aren’t among the rich and famous folks about town, chances are you can afford a seat at a bar with a disco ball overhead, or better yet, your own for home use. This may not have been the case in the early 1970s, when manufacturers like Omega were charging around $4,000 for a 48-inch ball. These days you can nab one second-hand, buy an inflatable version, or even make your own. The possibilities are endless, and the emblem is timeless.

New York’s own Museum of Sex recognized this timelessness; the museum has enshrined the disco era in Night Fever: New York Disco 1977-1979, a collection of photographs by Bill Bernstein, who captured iconic nightlife images at joints like Studio 54, Xenon, Electric Circus, and more. Bernstein was the man on the scene, and to honor his exceptional work, MoSex didn’t go the normal route with regards to museum curation. Instead of white walls, frames, and text panels, MoSex transformed their bar into a disco itself, playing nonstop cuts like “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” “Ladies Night,” “A Fifth of Beethoven,” and all the Bee Gees hits you can strut to. According to MoSex’s website, Night Fever includes a “an original Richard Long Audio System (infamously associated with clubs like Studio 54 and Paradise Garage) along with guest appearances by disco-era DJs” and “a retro ‘70s cocktail menu” to enhance the experience. Oh, and a total of SEVEN disco balls. One large ball in the center of the ceiling, and six smaller ones clustered around it, like planets surrounding the sun.

The lasting presence of the disco ball is perhaps its most fascinating quality. It remains a completely relevant symbol (as proven by acts like Madonna, U2, and the English music festival Bestival) despite being completely analog. At the end of the day, the disco ball is merely a sphere covered in mirrored squares of varying size. And yet it is so much more than that. It is a silent choreographer, keeping the room in perpetual motion…an egalitarian beacon, showering everyone with a little bit of spotlight.


ARTIST INTERVIEW + VIDEO REVIEW: Cocovan “Chic (Someone To Love)”

cocovan 3

Part French, part Iranian Cocovan disappeared for about a year—leaving her fans in the art and music world wandering through empty social media sites. Then, like the reincarnations of Madonna’s various styles, Cocovan reemerged as the glam-pop empress that she is now. She then released “Mirage Of Us” to rave responses. Yesterday, she put out the video for her brand new single “Chic (Someone To Love.”) And, yes—it’s just as electric. Cocovan is the creative drive behind the new material, directing the one-shot-behind-the-scenes video. Besides a few seconds of her holding a white hula-hoop and taking off her glam-ed-up leather jacket, it’s all her—dancing so gracefully, swishing her perfect short black hair, and posing like a goddess. This song puts me in the highest spirits, while making me feel like I could’ve been the coolest chick in the 80s. Check out her BRAND NEW video and lovely interview with Audiofemme below. You can also listen to her track here. Did I mention that she is also the biggest sweetheart? We LOVE her!

Greetings, love! The femmes are super excited to have you featured on our page! 

It’s great to meet you too! And I am equally excited to be featured on Audiofemme, thank you so much for your support!

Q: First off, “Chic” is rotating nonstop, I love it. I’ve been blasting it in my car. I feel like I’m in the movie Drive, and I’m living in an 80s-esque film. If you haven’t seen the movie, I feel like you would totally enjoy it. 

Oh thank you! I’m glad to hear that – It makes me happy to think “Chic” is playing somewhere in Brooklyn right now! I love the movie Drive. It’s funny you reference it, because even though I can’t actually drive (I know…), the imagery of driving is somehow a big inspiration to me. While I was writing my EP, I had videos like this one– playing on loop in the studio on a TV while I was writing, as a visual inspiration.

Q: I read that you are influenced by Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Prince. How has it affected your own unique style? (Or any other influences)? 

I think it affected me in the way that it liberated me. I can’t find a way to say it without sounding cheesy- but basically to embrace my quirkiness. Beyond the fact that their music and style have inspired me to create my own, all these artists are muses to me- they guide me. My muses motivate me to push myself everyday, to push myself to always try and create better art.

Q. Your recent project was you directing the video for “Chic.” I can’t wait to see it. Can we expect your creative drive in more videos, etc.?

Hehe! The video is out now! I hope you will enjoy it!

I’ve always been very involved in the visual side of my project. From logos, to artworks, to videos… To me, “Cocovan” is both a visual and musical project. In more recent news, I just shot two new music videos for the next singles! I love making videos, eventually I’d love to direct videos for other artists too.

Q. And in your new song, it gives a very confident look into the future of crushed hearts. Does this come from personal experience?

Well, I guess I’m still on the “crushed heart” side for now, I haven’t found “the one” yet. But yes, it absolutely comes from personal experience. I think it’s even harder to find love in the modern dating world. People treat each other like we’re disposable. It’s difficult to find depth. Or maybe it’s just that I’m entering the Sex And The City age! Anyways, I’m convinced there’s a perfect match on this planet for each one of us. So it’s just a matter of time now!

Q. When can we expect “The Club” to be released? And why have you said this EP is your most important yet?

The Club will come out in the fall. This EP is my most important yet because it is my artistic “rebirth”. Indeed I released a first EP in 2012 that I have since taken down from the internet. At the time, I needed to take time to sit at the studio and allow to evolve sonically. So The Club will be the first EP to be released since that break.

Q. Are you coming to the US (mainly NYC) anytime soon? We would love to have a dance party!

I’ll probably be back soon as I always have NYC withdrawals. I miss the 99c pizzas and the JMZ train. You know I have lived in NYC actually? Here’s a list of all the neighborhoods I have lived in in NYC: Lower East Side, East Village, South Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene (thank you Craigslist). Anyways, I’d love to have a dance party too!

Q. Looks like you love Snapchat. Any favorite filters? And thank you for taking the time out to show us a little bit about you <3

I really love Snapchat, it’s my favorite social media. My snapchat is iamcocovan by the way! Fave filter is the purplish one. I don’t know how to describe this filter, so I figured I’d make a very special exclusive Cocovan x Audiofemme snap just for you guys! See you soon in NYC!

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LIVE REVIEW: Body Language @ Baby’s All Right


Hump day isn’t usually this sexy, but it’s fashion week. I’m not even fully through the door of Baby’s All Right and I’ve already spotted a woman with a balloon animal headband and another in a tomato cape and Zorro hat (no sign of Waldo yet-oh, there he is). And to think I almost didn’t wear these sparkle pants.

All this seems appropriate considering the members of Brooklyn electro-pop outfit Body Language are no strangers to the fashion industry. In 2013 they played a show hosted by makers of brightly colored, suspiciously low-priced socks Joe Fresh. The foursome are themselves a put-together bunch, but in a way that suits their music as opposed to distracting from it. There are so many bands tangled in designer imagery these days, it’s nice to see a group of talented musicians who have their priorities straight.

Before Body Language could get everyone frenzied, we needed to warm up our muscles. Fortunately the night’s opener was Figgy, a.k.a Mike Ferringo, the Massachusetts-born NYC based DJ/producer who’s been making the house rounds lately. Despite the clout, he seemed to be a pretty normal guy who got as much dance out of his set as any good DJ would desire from his audience.

Love or hate the genre, house remixes are still relevant, perhaps more than ever before considering our cultural urge to hunt-hoard-curate, and Ferringo’s background in Jazz is a testament to the rising craft of the remix and the resilient presence of R&B music.

In a recent interview with LA Canvas, he made a simple but pertinent remark when asked to explain R&B’s recent “comeback” and why people love the genre so much:

“The honesty of the vocals, and I don’t necessarily mean lyrics. Soul music will be around forever, it’s not a trend.”

Figgy played for about an hour – or pushed, or programmed for about an hour. I don’t really know the right verb for what DJs do these days, but whatever he did  it was great, and the crowd seemed to agree with a nod of their hips.

I wish I could relay the litany of samples I recognized instantly by ear, but while I enjoyed every moment of his set, I could only pick out “Heart of Glass” and “No Diggity.” The rest was a well-spun web of disco claps and house keys that made it impossible to stand inert. Hats off to you Mr. Figgy.

I was well warmed at this point, but unable to break out of stationary head bobbing. This being the second installment of “going to a show with the cold/flu” I was afraid to dance…could dancing give me pneumonia? Typhus? Scarlett Fever? And then a more jarring question arose: When did I turn into an elder from Footloose?

The great thing about dance music is that you don’t have to think about these things once you hear it. It’s airborne, relentless and contagious…at least it was for the frontal half of the audience. Five minutes into Body Language’s set there was crowd surfing, a shoe to a man’s head, and the all-around pelvic gyrating our grandparent’s feared. Body Language had a few technical errors in the beginning of their set, namely producer/everything-player Grant Wheeler’s Bass acting up, and producer/vocalist/everything-player Matt Young’s levels needing to be more upward pointing.

I don’t mean to get hyperbolic (it just happens) but this is a group of incredibly talented musicians, and that’s not an overstatement. They’ve managed to combine the unpretentious fun of dance music with attentive producing, landing a sound almost as exciting to listen to on headphones as it is to see live. Not a small feat.

Lead vocalist Angelica Bess is in a word: charismatic. She sings with as much ease as she does professionalism. The rest of the band was equally humble, focused and impressively proficient musically. As it turns out, this is no act. After a brief Q+A with the group, AudioFemme discovered that the members of Body Language are not only feel-good beat geniuses-they’re also super nice and down to earth. Kudos times two.