WORDS: Alex Caslano
“Lucky is an understatement. I feel blessed to have been born during the cultural movement that became known as house.” For Honey Dijon it was perhaps inevitable that she would become embedded in club culture. Born and raised in Chicago before moving to New York in the 90s, she was partying at Ron Hardy's legendary Music Box before most of us had even stepped on a dancefloor. “My roots run deep and I carry that energy with me and try to express that through my sets” she tells us ahead of a date with Stay Fresh at the Sub Club this Friday.
Inspired and influenced by Derrick Carter and Danny Tenaglia (who she met during her formative years and still counts as friends), it’s unsurprising that she has developed a unique, incendiary style when it comes to playing and presenting music. “They are both masters of their craft in different ways” she says of her mentors. “Derrick is technically one of the best DJs in the world. I learned so much from him because in Chicago it was all about the art of the blend and being creative. Derrick and Danny both share that sense of presenting music in unexpected ways. I am so lucky that I got to hear both of them, from basement parties to big rooms and one on one.”
Seamlessly mixing bumping house and jamming techno, while also injecting the style and panache that comes with the classic sounds of New York, Honey is in high demand the world over, becoming increasingly recognised for her productions as well as her skills behind the decks. But having played everywhere from Berghain to Sankeys, the prospect of returning to the Sub Club has got her excited. “To me it remains one of the best underground clubs in the world” she says, “it’s largely due to its residents Harry and Dom and the values that the club has stuck to - it's always been about the music and that integrity has stood the test of time.”
Check out Honey Dijon’s recent hook-ups with Tim K below, as well as a recently recorded live mix inspired by a trip to Japan:
You can also read our full interview with Honey Dijon below, talking more about her relationship with Derrick Carter and Danny Tenaglia, what it was like living in 90s New York and why she’s looking forward to getting back to the Subbie:
SynthGlasgow: The last time you played at the Sub Club it was a special house and disco classics set; what are your memories of the Sub Club and how does it compare to other underground clubs you’ve played?
Honey Dijon: I love Sub Club. To me it remains one of the best underground clubs in the world. It is largely due to its residents Harry and Dom and the values that the club has stuck to - it's always been about the music and that integrity has stood the test of time. I don't compare clubs to each other. Each city has their vibe and as an invited guest I try to respect the culture of that city. Never compare and appreciate each place or club on its own terms.
SG: You have roots in two of the most important cities for dance music the world over, Chicago and New York; do you feel lucky to have such a strong connection with these iconic places?
HD: Lucky is an understatement. I feel blessed to have been born during a cultural movement that became known as house. Chicago is the birthplace of house but NYC was a disco town and house is a continuation of disco. You can't have one without the other. Frankie Knuckles was born in the Bronx and a protégé of Larry Levan. When he moved to Chicago from NYC he took with him his experience as an NYC DJ and fused disco and r&b with the analogue gear that was becoming more affordable. Using reel-to-reel tape machines, doing edits and extending breaks with drum machines gave birth to house. My roots run deep and I carry that energy with me and try to express that through my sets.
SG: You were influenced by Derrick Carter in Chicago and similarly, Danny Tenaglia in New York; how did you come to meet them both and what impact did they have on what you were playing and the way your were playing it?
HD: They are both masters of their craft in different ways. Derrick is technically one of the best DJs in the world. I learned so much from him because in Chicago it was all about the art of the blend and being creative and taking risks with EQ, beat juggling, throwing a curve ball. I met Derrick through my sister's best friend who was dating a friend of his. She told him about me and me about him as she thought we would get along through our love of music. I went to meet him at a record shop where he was working at the time and we instantly clicked. He has been my best friend and supporter ever since.
Danny I met through Derrick oddly enough. Derrick worked at Cajual for a while and when I moved to NYC he told me to look up Kevin McHugh who ran a label called Maxi Records. Kevin also managed Danny at the time. He invited me to a party that Danny was spinning at and walked right up to him and said “I’m going to make a record with you one day” lol. He looked at me with horror and surprise but he must have seen something in me and we became friends. We laugh about it to this day. When he became resident at Twilo it changed my life. He sonically introduced me to techno, minimal, electro, and the deep tribal sound of NYC. There is no one who can present music the way Danny did and does. His marathon sets and his sense of drama and risk taking are unequalled. Derrick and Danny ironically both share that sense of presenting music in unexpected ways. I am so lucky that I got to hear both of them, from basement parties to big rooms and one on one. I like to think I thank both of them musically every time I play.
SG: We can imagine that 90s New York was a really special time and place, not just for house music, but other genres like hip hop too. What would you describe as the most exciting and inspiring aspects of living in 90s New York?
HD: It was sexy, dirty, and fun. It wasn't so gentrified; it was before the internet spoiled all the secrets, and there was a sense of community through people who made their living and their art in a city that was affordable and embraced diversity and celebrated individuality. It's all changed now. There is still vibrant nightlife here but it's in Brooklyn. NYC has become a place to consume and not create.
SG: This year you’ve played everywhere from Finland to Portugal on a gigging schedule which is pretty much relentless! Do you absorb culture and music from your shows abroad? And does that feed into your sets?
HD: One of the great things about being a touring DJ is that it gives you the opportunity to see how people around the world experience music and party. You just can't get that experience if you don't witness it first hand. It's a gift to be exposed to different cultures and sounds: people share their music with you, turn you on to new sounds and different record shops stock their wares according to the demands of their scene. It all filters into my work and it's great to hear other DJs and be inspired by their musical presentation.
SG: You have a passion for fashion and have provided the soundtrack to many fashion shows, including Louis Vuitton. What excites you about the relationship between music and fashion? Does one influence the other with regards to your own style?
HD: I think art, music and fashion all intersect, but I don't really differentiate between them. Music can inspire fashion through its culture, surrounding a particular band or movement; fashion can inspire artists in the way they communicate and express themselves, and art can stimulate visually. I have bought many a record or discovered many artists simply because the cover or label art was hot. I think they are all in bed with one another and make great lovers.
SG: We like to ask DJs who are visiting Glasgow to tell us about one record which is a set standout at the moment and you can’t wait to play – what’s been doing it for you recently and why?
HD: My biggest record for 2015 has got be ‘Hit N Quit It’ by Cratebug. No matter what club I play, big or small, for techno or house heads it resonates with so many people. It's familiar yet completely surprising and fresh. I drop it in every set I play. It's definitely a new classic for me that can be manipulated sonically in so many ways.
SG: Finally, as we’re nearing the end of the year, what’s been your highlight of 2015 and what are you most looking forward to in 2016?
HD: The highlight for me is to still be able to share my love of music with people all around the world. I feel so lucky to be able to make a living as an artist and hone my craft and constantly be inspired by house and techno. The music and culture is 30 years old now, it has moved from the underground to the mainstream and back again and I still get excited when I hear a hot-ass tune.