Over the last 12 months, Hot Natured have become the major talking point in the ongoing discussion of the evolution of house and techno. Integrating influences from across the board their music has left critics and fans alike lost, clamoring for a pigeon hole to chastise their movements. Inspiring heated exchanges and intense forum debate amongst the house community, put simply, they couldn’t care less, for them what they do is about channeling their own personal inspirations and ideas of the now.
One of the minds behind this new wave of names is Lee Foss - who along with Jamie Jones instigated Hot Natured and its sister label Hot Creations. A conspirator from across the pond who found a home in East London’s burgeoning house scene circa Cross Town Rebels/secretsundaze, Foss maintains London is where his musical home is and a big inspiration for him to build his own career in house music. Ahead of the second Hot Natured Room Three takeover of 2011 we find out how a R&B DJ from Chicago ended up capturing the imagination of a new generation of house music fans as we present his latest mix, ‘Modern Amusement Podcast Episode 01.’
Hi Lee nice to have you speak with fabric and complete our Hot Natured line up here we seem to have spoken to everyone else apart from you...
Thanks, yeah it’s a shame I missed the last party but I’m excited to play at fabric again as every time has been mint and glad that we’ve been well received. It’s one of my absolute favorite places to play.
Our first question has to be when did you meet Jamie Jones and get the idea to form Hot Creations?
I met Jamie In 2001 in Ibiza. He was part of a crew that eventually became some of our closest friends to this day. I had a lot fun with those peoples and the antics from those summer months both good and bad have shaped me as a person and music fan and a DJ. I couldn’t tell you exactly when we met, but I bet he was trying to rip me off some how (joke JJ) I did 3 seasons in Ibiza with him and the group of friends we gained from was so special.
I had to go back to Chicago for the 4 years after that but I kept in close contact with Jamie and tried to support his career as he started touring and bring him to Chicago and other U.S. cities as his career flourished. I also started DJing regularly and producing but always in a career path a few years behind him, as I saw his success and it gave me the confidence to sort of follow in his mold or footsteps but on my own. The realities of local DJing in Chicago are probably the reason I was so well rounded to begin with as I did old school hip hop nights, new wave nights, 80’s funk and disco nights, and also opened for house/techno/nu-disco DJs, but my favorite music and type of DJing was always influenced by the scenes and sounds I saw coming from east London, and Ibiza and what JJ was doing.
When I saw the opportunities available to start my own brand and do really cool events if I moved to L.A. It gave Jamie and I more opportunities to spend time together and it gave us an outlet to start working together.
We worked on EP together for Culprit in the summer of 2008 and it clicked really well and we planned to do more work and at the same time we both had edits of 80’s funk/disco, and current pop and hip hop that needed an outlet. Initially we were looking for a name for our original production outlet and started thinking of doing an edits label, and a series of parties at the end of festival weekends that would showcase our shared interest in a wide range of music like disco, 80s funk, edits, 90’s hip hop etc.
Hot Natured was the name that jumped to me as the edit label/edit artist name/party name. As we continued to work we realized the name was too good not to use for our original production alias and it became the general brand name. Hot Creations came about as it became clear we needed an original production vinyl and digital label as an outlet for the music that was growing around the group of friends who shared our interests and aesthetics. Jamie came up with that name and I think its perfect for the main label.
You’re originally from Chicago, famous for its house scene but it’s not the house scene you got into but you were actually playing R&B while you lived there - why do you think that was and R&B was your main musical inspiration and outlet for so long?
I was initially involved in the house scene in Chicago as those were my favourite parties to go to, but the main music I listened to in high school and university was hip hop and R&B and I did go out to hip hop nights as well as rave’s and house nights. Going to Europe in 2001 focused my attention on house/techno/electro, when I came back and started DJing properly in Chicago in 2004 the thought of DJing hip hop wouldn’t have even crossed my mind as I’d stopped paying attention to it for the most part. But I did have the background in it that it was a skill set, especially in what people consider to be the golden era of hip hop and R&B.
Over the next few years as I was focusing on house and struggling to earn a living as DJ in Chicago, I started playing other genres, initially out of necessity because playing house in Chicago will not earn you a living, ever. I started doing residencies where I could get them and playing the music that worked that was the most credible I could get away with. Usually that was classic hip-hop, R&B, 80’s funk, disco, new wave, Daft Punk, whatever. R&B and hip-hop were great for me to play because I had the music and I knew what was corny and what was good.
Necessity was the mother of invention, but it taught me so much about music because when people requested songs, I would go out and get them or it would remind me of songs I’d forgotten. I became really good at playing hip hop and R&B and I became a resident in Chicago’s most famous hip-hop club Funky Buddha Lounge.
I think 90’s hip hop and R&B has always stuck with me because I lived it in my teens and early 20’s. That’s such an important point in your musical development and that’s the music that was there for me when I needed someone and music was all I had, and it was the music I had to celebrate with when I was happy. Plus it was ridiculously good then.
Why do you choose to live between LA and London isn’t one home enough?
Chicago is home. I live between L.A. and London for a couple reasons. I couldn’t really be in London full time if I wanted to, I work on temporary 3 month work visas and I do have a flat in London and I spend around half my time there but I don’t have a UK bank account and I haven’t moved most of my stuff over. Unless I felt secure in moving there as a permanent resident or had a more long term secured work situation I would always feel like I needed to keep a flat in the U.S. I’m American, I’m a U.S. Citizen, I travel on a U.S. passport. The situation works great because I feel really at home in London and I love the UK, but I have no interest in being there in the winter. January - end of March I would much rather be in L.A. where its warm and tour North and South America in warm areas. I also like to go to the U.S. around DEMF/Movement, and Burning Man and a tour around the Holidays in November and December.
Add it all up and it just means I split my time pretty evenly. I still have 2 cats in L.A. and an apartment that I love. I go there and it’s me time. I feel like I’m really social in London and I work towards Hot Natured and Hot Creations constantly and am always doing something. When I go to L.A. I feel like I take time to myself, work on Lee Foss projects and play with my cats. I look forward to both things, but I’m always sad when I leave either place. All that being said, I love London. It’s where my friends are and my music scene is.
The music and scene that Hot Natured has created has made some people hot under the collar on the forums in good and bad ways why do you think that is?
Our music is just reaching a lot more people now and getting a lot more attention. It’s not for everybody. If you like it, great… If not ok… move on. I think its just law of averages, more love, more hate…
How do you think Hot Natured is impacting on the house and music scene in general today?
I think definitely a lot more DJs are playing our music than were a year or two ago, and I’d say there are a lot of producers emulating the sound we’ve fostered. I’ve got no problem with that at all. If they’re any good at it, it’s more songs for me to play. It doesn’t worry me if on some level the imitation is a fad, or if some of the focus will go away after a while, I believe in the music I made and I know these things all go in cycles. My sincere hope is that the future will be that the music reaches large enough audiences to fundamentally change what we hear on the radio and on what’s on major labels, but I’m not naïve…
One of the things that has been attributed to your own and Hot Natured’s music is it’s got a strong ‘pop’ element to it, the term ‘underground pop’ is being thrown around for example - do you agree with this?
I think journalists and fans who are chasing a way to categorize Hot Natured, Visionquest, Soul Clap, Art Department, Deniz Kurtel, Wolf + Lamb, etc should recognise is that the thing that we have in common is that we’re all friends and we have been for the last four years as we started releasing music. We support each other, push each others music, play together a lot, but at the core we aren’t even that similar as artists. The fact that we are a new crew of artists and share a lot of fans doesn’t make us a genre.
I know Jamie and I have explicitly refused to do this interview question, but I feel the need to put an end to this now. There is no underground pop, and the fact that there is a group of friends working really hard and putting out a lot of great music they all draw from a lot of different influences doesn’t make it a genre. No one is going to confuse a Lee Foss song with an Art Department song. Ever.
I’m primarily influenced by genres and songs that were marginalized at best when they were new, so I don’t see anything pop about what I do. I love good music so I don’t discriminate against the occasional great pop song but people with taste only see good music, not genres.
With a hectic schedule for it’s duration, what track’s your summer anthem for 2011? Hmm my summer anthem for 2011?? I’m gonna say Miguel Campbell – Be My Baby (Hot Creations) it pushes all my buttons for a summer track. Massive tune off the album!
Ali Love’s vocals on Forward Motion were a match made in heaven, Jamie Jones let slip recently that he'll be featured on the Hot Natured album, can you tell us more about that?
Yeah I’m really excited about the Hot Natured album! Jamie and I had been working towards an album last year and had a lot of cool weird dance floor tracks compiled and wanted to add some vocal ones. Our friend Ben Pound suggested we start working with Ali Love last fall, he needed a remix for his track Moscow Girl and Ali and I had such a good time working on that that I knew he would be perfect for what we were looking for the Hot Natured album.
To be honest the process of working on Forward Motion with Ali was really important because it completely changed our focus and the amount of energy we were putting into Hot Natured. It just clicked and the collaborative lyric and songwriting process really popped for us and we just continued working from there and started working with Kenny Glasgow from Art Department as well. I can’t give away too much but I’m super excited about this album, it’s got a concept, and I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life. I think it’s going to be something really, really special, and its kind of consumed all of us.
We know you have a massive backlog of solo tracks ready to go from your Data Transmission interview earlier this year, any more news on when they’re being release?
My focus is on the Hot Natured album right now. I was hoping this summer I would put out my album as well but you can only go with where the music is taking you.
I feel like I’ve released a lot of music already this year so the output speaks for itself, but yeah, I’ve got unreleased tracks and I’m working on an album. But priorities being what they are the Hot Natured album comes first.
Can you introduce this mix to our readers for us?
I received this mix from a future me on a disc labeled Lee Foss Live @ Hot Natured Party Saturn 2082. It was brought by robot called B6 the Backwards Motion Robot. It was shivering and cold to touch, so I take it the time travel process must be freezing. Some time in the near future mankind must have achieved both time travel and a colony on Saturn. Apparently this was a “classics set from the early 2000’s” at a Hot Natured Party on Saturn and “went right off” This was all the information B6 had…
As this mix was made by a future me, or possibly a clone I do not have a tracklist. Enjoy...
Lee Foss will be in Room Three with Jamie Jones on the 2nd July and ‘Starfruit EP’ on Hot Creations is available to buy now.
For an extra treat you can watch the accompanying video below: