Every week or thereabouts, Mutant Dance Moves takes you to the shadowy corners of the dancefloor and the fringes of contemporary electronic music, where new strains and dance moves are evolving.
That first wintry month in January of 2009, DJs Justin Carter, Eamon Harkin, James F@#$’ Friedman and Anthony Khan got together, and the New York City dance music party Mister Saturday Nightwas born. Now renowned for being one of the finest roving underground Brooklyn dance parties happening at the moment, that the first installments actually took place in a traditional brick-and-mortar club in lower Manhattan did not ultimately define the Mister Saturday Night aesthetic. A few months on, solely under the purview of Carter and Harkin, the party pulled up stakes and began to drift into and out of warehouse spaces throughout the outer borough. In four years, there have been plenty of other turns for Mister Saturday Night.
“The biggest change for us was that it shifted from being in a traditional club space to being held in non-traditional non-clubs,” says Justin Carter, during a Friday afternoon from his apartment in the Ft. Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. “What we always try to do with the party is present an experience that builds community and we make our own rules about the experience.” It was a lesson learned from years working in NY’s nightlife industry, from booking Meatpacking District club APT to working for Alphabet City club Nublu. “If you only focus on the music, that means you don’t focus on what it sounds like or if there’s no place to sit or if people are hassled by security; you interrupt that basic social experience that people have and also interrupt their experience of the music,” he said. “What people really want is to have a connection with each other on a very basic level.”
In part, that connection is what keeps drawing fans to a Mister Saturday Night party, be it deep in the heart of Bushwick, right next to the J train, in Clinton Hill or at the edge of Prospect Heights. MSN also no longer confined itself solely to Saturday night. In fact, the daytime version of Mister Saturday Night, Mister Sunday (also known as Sunday Best), remains one of the best reasons to stay in New York City during the otherwise sweltering summer months. Where else can you dance to the likes of Theo Parrish, Michael Mayer, Mr. Scruff, and Four Tet under a canopy of trees lining the banks of the toxic Gowanus Canal?
And while the new Mister Sunday season was recently announced, what makes Mister Saturday Night crop up here this week is on strength the dance party’s first vinyl record, a 12” released on Mister Saturday Night Records. “For years, we’d gotten tracks from people and had always thought: ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we could release this?’” Carter says about the party’s next step. “When you’re throwing a party, people just send you music. And so it starts to make sense to start a label.” So the duo sent out a mass email asking for new music and the responses rolled in: “One weekend, we had a gig in Philadelphia, so we rented a Zipcar and loaded all the music onto CDs and listened to it as we drove. None of it felt ‘finished’ though.” The two sent feedback to everybody and one party attendee, a 21-year-old Florida transplant Anthony Naples, soon reworked his original submissions to their satisfaction. “As soon as we heard it, we knew it was our first release,” Carter says. Last week Naples’ three-track single, “Mad Disrespect” saw the light of day. I met Naples at his day job, working for the Captured Tracks indie rock label, and he told me that the single represented some of his earliest forays into producing dance music. “I definitely don’t make music for big room clubs nor for headphone listening either,” he says from the Captured tracks warehouse in Greenpoint. He cited influences like Sex Tags Mania and Actress on his productions, but added: “When I think of music in terms of where it will be played, 12-turn-13 (often home to MSN) always comes to mind first and foremost.” “Mad Disrespect” is a perfect fit for the venue, the party and the label itself, exuding warmth with its soulful vocal snippet and vinyl crackle, while raising the energy level in any room. A light touch on the keys informs “Tusk” but I find myself going back to the slightly noisier “Slackness” most of all. Its handclaps and percussion get offset by a menacing synth line and French-flavored vocal snatches that show the young producer already has an ear for tension and release. Naples even DJ’d as warm-up for the Mister Saturday Night party a few weeks back. Not that he stuck around to hear his own tracks when they were debuted at the party. “I actually walked out to use the telephone while they were being played,” Naples confesses. “But I heard later that the response was pretty good.”