Q- You are originally from San Francisco I believe, what age were you when you moved to New York and what prompted the move?
A funny question. Most people did think that I moved to New York because of the amount of time I spent there. I actually moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco. At that time I did about all I could do there and I needed a change of pace. Los Angeles was doing lots of warehouse parties and the clubs were really really good. I went to New York in '89 for what was called the New Music Seminar. It later moved to Miami and became WMC. When I went to New York the vibe was thick - everything from House, Hip Hop, Reggae and everything in between was happening there. On that trip I went to the Red Zone(twice once for Dmitry from Deee-lite and once for David Morales), The World (once for Afrika Bambatta and once for Frankie Knuckles),The Choice, Payday and Mars. The record stores blew me away.
Q- When did you start playing at the Roxy and how did you land your first gig?
Actually the Roxy came later. A DJ by the name of Frankie Bones came to LA to play in 1990 and he would always come to our afterhours club that would start at 3am and go till 11am. He invited me to play at his party called Storm Rave in Brooklyn then I got asked to play at Disco 2000 for Keoki, and Micheal Alig (of Party Monster Fame). At Disco 2000 I met such people as DJ Hell, Sven Vath, Paul Van Dyk and a young Jeff Mills. The Building and Save the Robots in Alphabet City were some other clubs that I would play at, The Roxy came in a little later. The thing about The Roxy was the sheer size and history behind it. We did Fridays for a while there and the thing you have to remember is there wasn’t such a thing as a touring DJ back then, so some of the DJ’s were a little confused as to what was going on.
Q- What was the vibe in New York back then?
New York was just insane. It seemed like there was always something to do at any hour. People on the streets everywhere, so many cultures and vibes in Manhattan at that time. A true melting pot. What I really liked about the clubs is that you would hear all kinds of music (no playing it safe) and the thing that was cool was that clubs were ran by people who really were into music.
You had the enviable opportunity of playing on Twilo's Phazon sound system during your residency there was it as good as people lament? How does it compare to say Room One at Fabric?
Very good question. I think both Steve Dash (Twilo) and Snjay (Fabric) are both on their game. They are two completely different rooms.Twilo had a much bigger dancefloor. At Fabric the sheer boom is enough to scare the weak at heart. I had the pleasure of playing the Sound Factory twice and that system was all analog. A super ferocious system, that never made your ears tired. I would spend hours in there without getting bored. You would hear records in there that would never sound as good anywhere else - well maybe at the paradox in Baltimore.
Was the beginning of Sublevel a kind reaction to the disenchantment to what was happening in New York?
Sublevel came at a time when most of the clubs were getting stale. We wanted to do something for our own dance community. The parties start at 10pm and have been known to go as late as 11am. I would play the whole time in the beginning. We decided that we wanted to bring guests that might not otherwise make it to LA, to show people that there is a lot more to Los Angeles than what they saw on TV. We were looking to get the crowds to mix with each other again.
You found your own loft space in LA and installed your own sound system and lighting etc, it must have been quite satisfying to take what you were doing out of the club environment and stamp your own style on a party like this.
In the beginning we had a loft that was 3 stories up in this building in downtown LA. It was only 400-500 people but they would stay all night. We would cover all the windows so you wouldn’t have a concept of time. People would come up to us at the end of the night, and say damn I’ve been here 9 hours. We pretty much have the same core of people 11 years later. It’s also our place to break new music, play lost classics and do our live shows.
I take it the authorities in LA are more tolerant of all night parties than they are in New York?
They aren’t exactly happy about it, But we are strictly 21 and over at the door. We get the necessary permits.
And Sublevel in LA now, where do you hold your parties?
We use lofts, movie soundstages, theatres, warehouses, rooftops, church’s and anything else that’s unusual and different.
Have you noticed a resurgence of house music in LA in recent years and has your crowd at Sublevel changed much over the years?
House music never went anywhere in LA. If anything it just has just gotten bigger. Sublevel has always been a place to play many styles of music at. You would always hear House, Acid, Techno and Disco through the course of a night. We always have people come and go but our core crowd is still in it with us. There are some people who may have only missed one or two parties in the last 10 years.
You have played London many times in the past but would I be right in saying this would be mostly for big clubs like Fabric? Next weeks party with Yoyoyo 90s Jam is a bit more on the DIY trip, what kind of vibe are your going to be breaking out?
I have played a lot of the bigger clubs in London, that’s for sure. I’ve also played Notting Hill Arts Club, East Village, the original Sectretsundaze spot on Brick Lane, and many other cozy places as well. At the YoYoYo party I am going to bring my 90’s inner child out with me. There will be a lot of B-sides getting played that night along with some familiar forgotten jams.
One final question…your Discogs page says that you toured with Timothy Leary? As in "Turn on, tune in, drop out" Timothy Leary? Can you tell us a little about that please? : )
OH MY. I never set up a Discgogs page. Saying that, this is half right. I wouldn’t call a couple of shows a tour but the one that really sticks out is him speaking at the Reagan Library (Yes Ronald Regan!). He had a lot to say about how the government tested LSD out on him then I would go on and play after him. A match made in heaven? : )
Catch Doc Martin performing his 90's set at YoYoYo 90's Jam this weekend