Saturday’s collaboration with Honey Soundsystem featuring Derrick Carter and Bicep marks the second merging of our crews. Our guests for the night bridge the many influences of both AYLI and Honey. Honey Soundsystem has long been an inspiration to us and we’re particularly excited to introduce the collective as a whole to you with this exclusive podcast and interview. Each of their members stand on their own and together their multitude of skills and attributes makes for a party and collective to be reckoned with. Please take a moment to take in the mix and read the interview. Quality.
JB: For those that might not know, tell us how Honey Soundsystem started. Who were the first members? And how did you all meet?
HS: Honey Soundsystem was the brainchild of Jacob Sperber and Ken Woodard who first collaborated as DJs one summer of 2006 in the midst of dust and wind out in a desert past the shared border of California and Nevada. As time passed we’ve had quite a rotation of djs under the Honey name. But recalling the first time all the current core members of Honey were in the same room was at the Gun Club party here in SF at Moulton Studios. Jacob Sperber, Josh Cheon, Jason Kendig and Robert Yang all arrived at the party without much coordination to see headliners Tim Sweeney and Maurice Fulton. It was a serendipitous affair as it was the first time we saw each other under one roof. At that time it was our shared tastes in music that brought us together. A few months later, Jacob had lured Robert into the Honey fold with pot treats as we listened to Jason Kendig DJ who later had signed on to the honey roster. And Josh Cheon, a regular fixture at all the parties had sealed the deal with his first honey gig for Thanksgiving weekend. By Summer of 2007 we had launched our first party with Robert opening for Todd Terje – our first big name headliner at a one-off at the now defunct Club Rawhide. And by the end of 2007 we had established ourselves as the de facto DJ collective for queers and friends alike to experience great music in an underground, un-Castro type of setting.
JB: Each of you have your own unique sounds and styles. Tell us a bit about your sounds and influences.
HS: Our sound is rooted in the history of dance music. A lot of events that we have curated and produced come from a standpoint of gay history with a lot of reverence for dance floors throughout different waves of underground music. When we first met we had pretty divergent styles. However, rooted in our styles was an everlasting love affair with the history of dance music – which is why our sets complement each other so well.
Disco is an important reference point for us because of Paradise Garage and the kind of music Larry Levan played for a predominantly gay male and straight female crowd. Hi-NRG and the San Francisco Sound of the early 80’s is also important as we draw a lot of reference from bath house music and a lot of background from Patrick Cowley’s days as a producer. Chicago house music is a mainstay in our sets because we consider a lot gay and straight house DJs from mid to late 80’s as our forefathers especially Ron Hardy and the recently passed Frankie Knuckles. 90s music is incorporated into our sets as well as this was another world to reflect upon, on the fact that a lot of queer djs at that point was pretty much ubiquitous.
JB: Decor is integral to your parties. Who takes the lead on the decorations and what makes decor so important to the crew?
HS: Depending on context of the party, decor can either have a vision that is offered by one of the members of the Honey or it can be a stream-of-consciousness exercise. For us, it’s a bit like meditation, or offering a prayer to the party. What we try to complete is a mood or key signature for the party – depending on where we are and who we are at that time and place. It helps us bond with each other much more as we collaborate while strengthening our creative/imaginative muscles before getting on the decks to play. The importance of decor is intention for the party and how we want the end-result to look at the end of the night. But the decor is also ephemeral – we can take it all down and start all over again resetting expectations for each night that we throw an event.
JB: I’ve long said Honey was the best weekly in San Francisco. You decided to recently end the weekly on a high note. What was led to the decision to stop your weekly at Holy Cow?
HS: Producing an event on a weekly basis was becoming more and more automatic and mindless. We felt a growing disconnectedness from the dance floor and attendees, and we wanted a return to something intimate: like the loft party where we had Horsemeat Disco play their first party with us joined by Marina Bitch performing a birthday pole dance routine, or, our signature basement parties in which we produced our parties based on the history of Hi NRG and the life of Patrick Cowley or on Andrew Holleran’s novel Dancer from The Dance.
We wanted people to remember what made the Honey experience so special and to do that we had to go back down to the underground to change things up again and reset expectations.
JB: Thank you for taking the time to introduce Honey Soundsystem to the As You Like It audience and the mix. We can’t wait for Saturday.