NOTE FROM AS YOU LIKE IT:
We know that it’s a trying time for everyone’s finances and especially for the nightlife community who rely on the box office to cover expenses. We’ve always budgeted the costs of our SoundCloud and podcast series from the box office. If you’re able, please donate to As You Like It via PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org. Any amount will help, $1, $3 or $20. Proceeds will be split to recoup the costs lost to the Nightlife shutdown to artists and AYLI.
INTERVIEW BY CHRIS ZALDUA
DJ aliases are an under-appreciated artform. Some of the world’s finest DJs go by their given names, but a good alias gets stuck in your head — and stays there. So it was the first time I came across Sis Girl, the alias of Dov Fischer, a recent Bay Area transplant from Pittsburgh. Puns that good and that catchy don’t come easily.
Their knack for names aside, Sis Girl has made a steady approach on San Francisco dancefloors, building off their work throwing a party in Pittsburgh, MESH, which highlights queer, nonbinary, and female talent from the midwestern and eastern United States. After several appearances behind the booth at The Stud, Public Works, and more, they recently joined forces with Kosmetik, perhaps the city’s most out-there queer DJ crew.
Dov’s responsible for the latest edition of the As You Like It podcast, an hour-long swirl of rubbery minimal techno and cooled-down house flavors. We caught up with Dov to learn more about their background, their approach to party-throwing, and what they’re looking forward to once club-life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Read on and tune in.
CZ: Tell me where you’re from and how you landed in the Bay Area.
DF: I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. The city has an incredible, close-knit scene and is where I fell in love with music. I met my partner, Jordee, at Honcho Campout two years ago. We were long distance for a while, and I fell in love with the city while visiting them. I decided to move here a year ago and have fallen more in love with the city ever since.
CZ: Tell me about your introduction to electronic music, and to club culture. What got you hooked? What’s kept you in it, working on it?
DF: I got into electronic music when I was in high school mainly because of the internet, and started going out to parties and clubs when I was 19. Eventually I found my way into highly influential music spaces like Hot Mass. Looking back on it, the range of genres and sounds in electronic music and how unique it was, those things got me hooked. Then actually being able go out and participate in the community kept me in. There is something really beautiful about sharing music with other people and being able to dance and listen in big groups. Feeling how special that can be inspired me to start throwing my own party and DJing.
CZ: When did you first start DJing? What exactly does “DJing” mean to you?
DF: After being involved in the scene for a few years and then throwing my own party for about a year I decided to start DJing. I was super inspired by all of the people I was surrounded with and wanted to get into it. I had so much music I wanted to share and I wanted to help create special moments for people and build community.
CZ: Let’s talk about your AYLI podcast. How’d you put it together? Is there a particular theme or concept behind the mix?
DF: My AYLI podcast is a bunch of tracks that I’ve really been enjoying lately. With the pandemic and stay-at-home order I’ve found a lot of comfort in music and wanted that to shine through. There’s a mix of weird, minimal, acid, and house which are always my pick to create something trippy that people could relate to outside of the club.
CZ: Tell me about the musical projects you’re involved with. I know you’re a resident DJ for Kosmetik here in San Francisco, but what else have you worked on?
DF: The Kosmetik crew was kind enough to bring me on to the team after playing a few times when I visited. Being a resident and spending time at The Stud really helped connect me with the community here and build relationships. For the past three years, I’ve co-produced a party in Pittsburgh called MESH. My friend Chad Beisner and I started MESH to focus on showcasing regional and national talent from queer, trans, non-binary people, women and more. We’ve thrown a few parties at bars and clubs but have a more permanent space at a DIY venue. We find being able to throw a party at a DIY space really helps people have a different experience than in clubs. Both are great for different reasons, and I’m grateful to have different options.
CZ: I’d love to talk about community. For me, musical communities have always been the backbone of my existence, the principle which I organize my life around. I think for many years, and for many people, particularly those outside queer communities and/or underground electronic/experimental music communities, the impact music has on bringing communities together and solidifying them has always been taken for granted. Now, I feel that changing — the loss of community is suddenly felt by everyone, all at once.
What does community mean to you, particularly in a musical sense? How have musical communities impacted your life, particularly as a queer person? What kind of musical community experience are you looking forward to experiencing again as soon as it is safe to do so?
DF: To me, community is one of the most important parts of what I do. For me, music has been instrumental to building and connecting with community. Sharing in music, both on and off the dance floor, is such a cool thing. Being able come together with like-minded people to expand community makes it even better.
As a queer person, going to queer parties and spaces allowed me meet other queer people, and helped me find out who I was. I got to meet so many people from so many walks of life because of music, and it really helped me with my own personal growth. Queer people can’t always be who they are or feel safe in the real world but being able to have spaces to be who we are as a community really allows us to grow and feel strong and united. That applies for anyone but for me with my queer experience it’s been vital. The dance music community is strong and I’ve been amazed by how we’ve been able to get through the pandemic and still find ways to be together. I know that when this is all over we will all come back stronger then ever and ready to do amazing things.
CZ: On a similar note to the past two questions, what sort of musical projects or work are you looking forward to resuming, once that finally happens? Do you think your priorities or focus will shift or change when we’re on the other side of this moment?
DF: After the pandemic is over and it’s safe for us to be together I’m hoping we all can come back full force. I’m ready to see what everyone has been brewing while pent up. I’m sure amazing things are gonna happen. I think that going through something this hard will bring us even closer and even more aware of health, safety, togetherness and community.
I’m personally excited to get back out there and start sharing spaces, playing music and booking more friends and people I look up to. In October Kosmetik decided to take a break from doing our weekly Wednesday night party but came back in the beginning of March to test the waters on a weekend. We just had residents play and it was a great time, but it was right before shelter in place happened. I’m excited to see what we are gonna do in the future with Kosmetik but as of right now we are unsure how the state of things are going.
MESH was planning on throwing a party in April, which was cancelled. We’re excited to get that back rolling and pick up where we left off as we’re able to.
CZ: Last but not least, tell me about some music you’re listening to right now. What’s got you excited and hooked?
DF: I’ve been listening to a wide range of things. Since the times have been heavy, I’ve been really into mixes that can take me places. For me, that’s looked like; deep listening, uplifting house music, lighter and brighter stuff, and downtempo. My friends, Acid Daddy and Dana have been hosting live streams on Twitch as Club Bubble One. Every Tuesday and Wednesday they host different guests. It’s been so fun to watch. They’ve done a great job with making everyone feel welcome and bring together dynamic selectors. I had the pleasure of playing the first one and it was such a blast.
Putting on a mix and taking a long walk is important to my self-care. A few mixes that have been on rotation for me are, DJ Voices’ fabric x Nowadays, Livwutang’s C-minus mix, and Doc Sleep’s Truancy. Anything Doc Sleep does is a favorite of mine. My friend in Chicago, DJ Hi-Vis, runs an amazing mix series called Beyond/Below. It focuses on deep listening and it’s a great place to look if you’re into that. It has some incredible mixes. She is also a phenomenal DJ and her mixes are all a good go-to for me especially her Mysteries of the Deep recording that just came out. I could keep going because there are so many great mixes out there!