A moment with New York's Duane Harriott

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We recently caught up with well respected New York DJ and general all 'round music buff Duane Harriott. Duane is/has been involved in a lot of interesting musical ventures and projects over the years. We thought it'd be interesting to interview Mr Harriott and it certainly proved to be. We were also given a sensational mix from the man for your listening pleasure, which you can download here:

1. Where are you from and where do you reside?

I was born in Queens.(NYC). My father was from Kingston, Jamaica, My mother was American with strong ties to the South..New Orleans to be exact. I spent most of my formative years in Lincoln, Nebraska..a University town in the midwest known for it's Corn production...and that's about it. I moved back to New York when I was 22. I was living in Harlem for 8 years, but I just moved to Brooklyn with my Girlfriend 5 months ago.

2. Tell us about the mix you generously gave us and about Trophy.

Well, it's a live recording from one of two residency I have in the Rotten Apple. Trophy is this cool bar in Williamsburg that has only been around for 6 months, but they have one of the best music policies of any new bar/club in NYC. Already they've had Lee Douglas, Tim "Love" lee, James Murphy,Jaques Renault, Dj Vadim and Brennan Green play there . They always record the sets and post them up on their blogsite (www.trophybar.com if you wanna check 'em out), but they generously allowed me to give this recording to you.
They've actually been a godsend because It's very difficult for a lot of well-regarded NY Deejays and producers to hold onto residencies in the city right now. We've been overrun with expensive bottle service style clubs and there isn't a lot of places you can play now...All of the aforementioned artists all live here, but can't get a residency for crissakes!
But the owners of Trophy are really into providing a home for local talent. So I love them for that. It's a very small bar, with a kick ass soundsystem and cheap drinks..what more do you need??

As far as the mix is concerned...What you are hearing is exactly the way it went down at 3 am in a small bar, with 30 people on the floor having a proper get down. I've been deejaying since I was 15 for all sorts of mixed crowds and in order to keep a job, I had to learn how to keep a crowd moving all night long over a 5-6 hour period. Over the years I've amassed a lot of dancefloor records, be them disco, house,reggae, rock, funk, hip hop, new wave, whatever both new and old and so I generally start at one place and end up somewhere completely different by the end of the night. I think the first song I played the night of that recording was "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb....and then I ended up at Ron Hardy's edit of "I can't turn around" at 3:30 am as you hear on this mix.
There's also a lot of re-edits on here done by me and colleagues of mine..some of them are exclusive ,so if I hear them posted anywhere else but here..You know that I know where you got them:)

3. Some new and old music that you're really feeling at the moment?

I'm always inspired by my friends and colleagues here in New York. My Bim Marx partner in crime Jorge Velez aka Professor Genius just put out a new digital-only ep that's brill. I'm loving the new Andy Ash double pack on stilove4music. The new Morgan Geist record (especially "Detroit") is great, can't forget my boy Dam-Funk in LA and his soon-to-be-classic "Burgundy City" '12....I'm also loving the new Dungen, Solange Knowles and Deerhoof lp's.

As far as old stuff...i'm always kinda stuck in the past, listening to more old stuff than new, but as of this morning it's The Temptations psych-soul masterpiece, "1990" ..Norman Whitfield R.I.P!!!

4. Give us a rundown on Audio Archeology.

It's basically a music consulting company/DJ/production crew that consists of myself and my best friend Alec Deruggiero. Alec used to be the music director at APT here in New York.He's also put out a couple of great Italo disco mixes under the alias "Italo Deruggiero"... seek 'em out if you can.
We've done a lot of cool work on the mainstream side of things, a few commercials, fashion shows for Zac Posen and H & M,Marc Jacobs...remixes/ production for Jennifer Lopez, Deejaying Elton John's 60th b-day bash!!! If you wanna check out more go to www.audioarcheology.net.
The thing about New York is that you really have to hustle and keep your hands in 2 or 3 projects at a time in order to survive here. The greatest thing about this city and the worst thing is that it's very competitive and you have to always be ready to seek out new challenges and learn to master them quickly, 'cuz everyone here is pretty talented and/or savvy . It can burn you out if you're not careful. But we've had a lot of good things come our way ... it's been exciting and starting the company with Alec is probably one of the smartest things i've ever done.

5. Is it true that you're related to reggae singer/producer Derrick Harriott?

Uh-Huh......."Uncle" Derrick is a very talented cat. My whole family seems to be musically inclined on both sides. My mother was a great gospel singer and pianist, my Father is an accomplished percussionist and directs a large community choir as a hobby. My younger sister is an amazing Gospel, Jazz and Classical piano/singing prodigy. My Uncle Chester is a retired cabaret performer in the UK..my great uncle Joe Harriott is considered one of the finest Jazz musicians to have come out of the UK..his "Indo-Jazz Fusions" LP on Atlantic is absolutely stunning. I'm quite the under-achiever by comparison:)

6. You used to put on Negroclash at APT with Prince Language and DJ Lindsey. How did Negroclash come about and when did it finish up? Share a memorable moment with us from one of these parties if you'd be so kind.

Well, it all start about 6 years ago when "Electroclash" was all the rage in New York and beyond.
Lindsey, Language and I were all friends and we found ourselves at one of those parties and we just thought it was a fiasco. I think we all kind of looked at each other and decided we could do better.

"Negroclash" was a term we used jokingly amongst our friends, poking fun at the fact that there were hardly any black people at the party and that they never really played any old "Electro" there. We were
wondering how you could call yourselves "Electro" anything and not play "Planet rock" or Cybotron and
we'd be like "oh that's negroclash, that ain't electroclash". But then the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. So for like 3 and half years every 3rd Thursday at APT, we threw that party. We invited Juan Atkins,Mr Fingers, Afrika Bambaataa, Red Alert, Maurice Fulton, Freddie Fresh, DJ Spinna and DJ Technics,and a bunch of others to come and play with us. They were All amazing, epic and special parties in there own way. Hearing Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers play was really special, because the last time he played n New York prior to that night was in '86 at the Paradise Garage! DJ Technics debuted in NY at our party...but the thing I'm most proud of is the fact that so many people who attended regularly still regard itas one of their fave NYC parties of all time.

It ended as a monthly in like December of 2005...We basically got exhausted putting on such a party/event every month, but we're still good friends and we still play together occasionally. We just did
something together about a month ago actually.

7. Tell us a bit about the Bim Marx project you're working on and any other musical projects you're currently involved in.

The Bim Marx is a fun re-edit project Jorge Velez( aka Professor genius) and I do. We're both huge fans of early productions of Armando, Danny Krivit, Kerri Chandler and those dirty Chicago edits of the late, great Hardy. We kinda felt like the human, jackin' aspects of that sound has all but disappeared, and we wanted to do something that tapped into that urban, dirty, off-kiltered sound.

We have a mix cd coming out in a month that is all re-edits of stuff we did together and there's a 12 inch coming out in November on stilove4music, which features keyboard work from Dam-Funk....the "Adam & Eve" edit you hear at the beginning of the mix is a "Bim Marx" edit"

I'm just now starting to work on some remixes for Tom Vek, NYC all-girl experimental band RIngs, and some hip hop stuff that'll probably be out late this year or early '09.

8. How do you think digital downloads are effecting the way both consumers and artists relate to music these days? Do you see there being more positives than negatives to the digital era or vice versa?

Wow, well I've worked at Other Music in NYC for over 6 years and that's probably one of the most successful indie record stores in America. They've started a digital download site last year and they've found it's harder to get someone to pay a dollar and change for a download than it is to get someone to pay $25 for a record they really want. You can't make or expect people to pay for something that they think they should be getting for free.
I think that digital downloading is here to stay, but it does make music a bit of a disposable commodity for a lotta people i'm afraid...the upside is that it makes it a lot easier for artists to cut out the middle man (labels) and present the music on your own terms and build a grassroots audience from the ground up.It has however spawned this fickle indie-hipster blogging crowd and if you are embraced by them, it's a lot harder to keep their attention,'cuz they'll be on to the next big thing and won't necessarily stay loyal..especially amongst dance music communities. I don't think that a lot of people like something 'cuz they think it's great music..i think they like it 'cuz it's new music.Once it's not new anymore, there's no real reason for them to revisit it. You don't have to stare at this cd or record in your collection anymore, you can just delete the mp3 and forget about it forever.
If you a buy a record, cd, tape, etc. You're already a bit more emotionally invested in it,
'cuz you have to unwrap it and put in a player, or pull it out of a sleeve and place it on a t.table and take the time to listen to it. Even if you dislike it, you had to attempt to connect with it. Records and Cd's kind of demand that attempt at a connection with you..mp3's don't necessarily.
I love the convenience of them mp3's as a dj I must say, but I think that convenience has made it a lot harder to connect with listeners in an honest way.

That said, I think that it's great that people from around the world can find a music community and connect with likeminded artists on line and share music easily..i mean, I just gave you a dj set from a teeny bar in NYC to post up. When I was a teenager in Nebraska, I had to reeeally dig to find just 10 people in my town who knew and cared about Detroit Techno in '91. Now, that same teenage me in '09 can go to an Australian blog and listen to a bunch of dj mixes, one of which was recorded at a
bar in NYC and discuss it with a bunch of other people around the world if he chooses to. That's amazing!!!

9. Best/funniest request you've ever had whilst DJ'ing? We'd love a detailed discription.

Oh my god...i've learned to tune them out over the years, so they're in one ear and out the other.
But the most amusing one from the past few months was one from Spike Lee.
I was deejaying a pretty bourgie cocktail party in May and he came up and demanded to
hear "Sensual Seduction" ...I was like "really"? "It's 5 in the afternoon..it's kinda early don't you think"?
He was like .."this party neeeds some seduction". Amused, I obliged him and he preceeded to
two-step in front of me yelling "Snooooop..that's my nigga" the whole duration of the song, then he asked me for a mix cd...

Big thanks to Duane for taking the time out to answer our questions so extensively and for the great mix he gave us. Make sure you check out his new Bim Marx project with Jorge Velez (the Professor Genius). This link will take you there...

3 comments:

Charlie said...

Really cool stuff and totally refreshing perspective, awesome mix to boot! big thanks for this

sarah said...

Untitled 54:30 pastor chris honnery "How TO Have A Good And Lasting Marriage"
- This was the track name that itunes came up with when I imported the mix. Says it all really, amen!

hanson ono. said...

can a thug get a playlist of this mix pliz or whut???