Last week we got down to Clockwork’s promo mix for this Saturday’s Life and Death records showcase but the second act to get on it with the pre- party sonic experience are Thugfucker (a name devised to keep it out of the commercial sphere of club music). Decisively underground, the New York come Iceland duo made up of Greg Oreck & Holmar Filipsson have a rich history embedded in The Big Apple’s off the beaten track party scene - avoiding the shiny lights and fighting their way through a dance prohibition that swept the city earlier this decade.
Thugfucker have triumphed to maintain their underground spirit both through Greg’s label, Live and Death, and most importantly as a DJ partnership primed for after hours grooves bringing just the right kind of beats to Room Three this Saturday. Tune into their fabric Promo Mix and read on to get to know the real story and sound of Thugfucker.
Tell us how you guys met, what’s the background to your friendship?
Well we'd sort of moved in similar circles for a long time in New York but didn't really know each other. Like moving in concentric circles in the same scene. But we finally ended up getting into a long discussion at a party Holmar was throwing and we realized we were really cut from the same cloth, so to speak. We became good friends pretty quickly and by now really do feel like brothers from another mother.
What was the defining moment that made Thugfucker? Can you tell us who does what exactly?
It was above a former brothel in Chintatown where Holmar was throwing that party. We were both in the middle of the dancefloor, which of course is where some of the best ideas come. We were communing with the universe and with each other and with several drinks when suddenly we realized that we had to unite forces in order to help the plight of genetically Rhythmblind. So after setting up a charitable foundation just for that purpose, making music together seemed like a logical thing next step...
As for what we do, we both do a bit of everything and when things are really going along nicely there seems to be a fair bit of mental telepathy involved. But when there's tom programming to be done, that's usually Holmar. He's unstoppable when it comes to the tom-tom drums. Really.. it's impressive.
What’s in the name Thugfucker?
The name does come with all kinds of things built into it.. some of which we knew at the time we came up with it, others we've slowly realized along the way.
We knew from the start that with a name like Thugfucker we were never going to be sold in Wal-Mart or any place like that -- which suits us just fine. Also, we're pretty sure it's impossible to take ourselves too seriously or get our heads stuck too far up our own asses with a name like that. And then of course you don't get a lot of random people seeing the name Thugfucker and thinking "oh yeah, that sounds like something i'd be into". So as a result the people who do come out to party with us have either heard us, heard our music or heard enough about us from friends that they get the the sort of eclectic, "good vibes but let's party hard" feeling that we're about. Basically we have this silly yet really hard sounding name which works out to be a bit of verbal camouflage for what we're really like. Keeps out the riff-raff.. and then of course the people who know, really know.
What’s life like in New York? How is the city an inspiration to you and the music you make?
Super inspiring. Greg left for 8 years living in Europe but he's back now and we both really love this city. Right now there's actually tons of great stuff going on and coming out of New York in terms of nightlife and dance music. But even in the periods when NYC might not have been on top of it's nightlife game what has always made this city unique is the people. There's so much diversity and everyone somehow gets along and connects together in ways that all kinds of interesting things come out of it.
Plus this place can be totally insane sometimes. In all the various ways that we like. It's like gas for our engine.. or some other better metaphor. Anyway, we try to take it, make nice things out of it and then take the feeling with us when we travel...
Tell us about some of the first parties you put on and how have you seen things changed in the scene over the years?
The first parties we threw in New York were in the shadow of Giuliani's crackdown on clubland in NYC in the late nineties. He had just started reinforcing this old cabaret law that prohibited dancing in venues unless they had a special permit -- which was basically impossible for smaller venues to attain. So most clubs where we made parties were battling this issue and staff were running around asking people not to dance. It got so bad that Giuiliani actually had a cabaret squad raiding bars and clubs looking for dancing people and if they would find people moving and shaking big fines were issued, venues were shut down and even the DJ's sometimes had to pay fines. It was ridiculous and it was definitely a dance prohibition era back then. The parties were really fun but always colored by the enforcement of this law and ultimately when the parties got bigger we were forced to move to more commercial venues.
Those parties were fun too of course but after 9/11 happened things went into a real low period. But now NYC is very different, dance prohibition is gone, (Guiliani is divorced and has lost all of his hair and credibility) and tons of great parties are happening.
What are your thoughts on the new wave in slow house territory, and RnB edits… it’s a sound you have been pursuing? How do you feel the sound with develop next year?
It seems like the new wave of music happening at the moment is even bigger than just that sound.. though certainly that's been a starting point for a lot of what's happening now -- and it's a sound we do like quite a bit, though not exclusively. Overall it feels like there's a lot more dance music that's taking cues from pop, R&B, soul and alternative/indie music.. the music's becoming more songlike and less about DJ tools (not that there isn't a place for those). People are taking ideas and sounds and structures from all these other styles and bringing them to a different level. It's exciting because while it's got a lot of familiar elements it doesn't feel like retreading over old territory, it's very new and evolving. And there's so many people doing great stuff right now. Tons of great, amazing music and a lot of it made by people we know and who we happen to like a lot on a personal level. The underground music scene is in a really good place right now and is still getting better all the time. It's a really exciting time to be a part of all of this.
Who are your closest friends in the music world and who do you turn to for advise ever?
Wow, that could be a long list. Seriously... All of us in the Life and Death crew (Manfredi, Matteo, Karm, Federico, Francesco, Sammy, Mikey, Ryan...) are really tight and we really are quite a family. Which always shows through whenever you get a few us in the same place at one time. Seth Troxler has been incredibly helpful and encouraging and is always full of love and support, as have been all the Visionquest crew.. The Art Department guys are definitely soul brothers.. and fellow troublemakers, as is pretty much all of the Wolf + Lamb / Soul Clap crews.. those guys specifically as well as Greg & Nick from No Regular Play, Tanner, Deniz, Ryan (Slow Hands).. oh goddamn, this is starting to feel like a high school yearbook.
But the truth is we really feel like we're amongst such a nice group of people so much of the time, and we really are aware of it and appreciate it...
What’s new on Thugfucker Recordings?
Well for the moment we've kind of put it on hold as Greg's been busy with ‘Life and Death’ and Holmar's been working hard preparing a new label called 'YAH' that's going to be kicking off pretty soon. But we're definitely still gonna revisit it now and again for some special projects and releases. There's also a downtempo label we keep threatening to start up. We are not, however, awesome at time management.
How are you looking forward to your Room Three debut with Clockwork this Saturday? Tell us about the music, vibe and general craziness we can expect from you guys…?
Oh really, you have no idea. Everyone we know who plays at fabric can (and does) go off about how much fun it is to play there. Add to the fact that the whole lineup that night in all of the rooms is great (and lots of friends!) so you know the vibe's gonna be stellar... and then on top of that we're going to be playing all night long in Room Three with our good friends and label mates, Clockwork, which makes it even more fun (and potentially trouble inducing). And it's Greg's birthday that week so that kind of adds a bit of a wild card into the mix. It's definitely going to be a fun night... But yes, it might get messy!
Greg, you founded Life And Death with Manfredi Romano (aka DJ Tennis). Tell us about the label, its music philosophy, the artists on board and plans for the future?
Well we first became close friends during these late night sessions where we'd end up going back and forth playing each other music all night. Stuff we loved and had discovered from who knows where. So when the label started to come together the idea was to try and focus on a sound more informed by our varied tastes in music but that could work on a dancefloor or the kind of afterparty we'd want to end up at with our good friends at 5am. Something a little sideways and skewed but maybe also a little familiar at the same time. Emotional music but not without a sense of humor. Matteo and Karm came on board pretty early on as well and those guys are just amazing and I couldn't imagine doing it without them. Matteo is this amazingly smart young guy with a super wise old soul and Karm is a force of nature. Like some sort of Dionysian wood nymph banshee with a heart of gold. And both of them have incredibly good taste and a musical knowledge way beyond their years.
As for the future, coming up soon is the DJ Tennis EP which I think is gonna blow people away. And a various artists release that's going to introduce a few new people. And more stuff from us and all the crew as well as a few new additions we're all very excited about. And yes, there's some album stuff in the works too. Very excited about the year to come actually...
What are your plans for New Years? Whats the best New Year you’ve ever had?
We're gonna get in lots of trouble in our hometown... Then we're gonna fly to BPM in Mexico and do a Life and Death showcase there with the PillowTalk guys. More trouble. And then to SF to celebrate the birthday of our good friend Dax. And he's no stranger to a good time either. It's definitely going to be a nice beginning of 2012. And then later in the year, if all goes along as predicted, our consciousness is going to shift into something totally different and the world is going to be transformed completely as we move into the next stage of human evolution. So it's probably important to start the year right with a few really good parties right out of the gate.
How far down the line are you with new releases and is the longer-term aim to make albums?
Well we've got lots of things we've been working on.. but it's always hard to predict when things will actually decide to be finished. We've been doing a bunch of collaborations though that are almost ready, including a few with PillowTalk, Deniz Kurtel & Tanner Ross out on Wolf + Lamb at some point. We're also doing a bunch of stuff with this great new artist, Navid, who's doing really cool stuff that we're going to be releasing sometime next year. There's also a bunch of remixes and then another Thugfucker EP coming. And eventually an album too. But we're definitely taking our sweet time with that.
Finally, can you tell us about the mix you have done for us? Set the scene if you will….
A dark room, nice flashing lights, probably a disco ball somewhere lit from afar. Late at night with speakers nice and loud and everyone's seratonin receptors on high alert. An afterparty waiting to happen.