Shannon Von Kelly gets gold
1. Tell me a bit about Night Drive.
The basic idea behind Night Drive is that it would be a dance night that could just as easily serve as the illest dance soundtrack or mix tape for a late night cruise, maybe something that would make you want to pull over on the side of a desolate highway and lose your mind in the moonlight, or pile a bunch of friends in your whip and head out for an evening of unknown adventures…
My background is in film as well as DJing, so I wanted to create a kind of cinematic vibe for the night. I’ve worked closely with Jeromie Dorrance and Mario Zoots from Audio Visual Violence Club to integrate specific kinds imagery in their video projections and transform the whole atmosphere of Beauty Bar into something unique and compelling – cool, dark, dramatic & mysterious… I was super excited to have SP3KTR, the graphic designer who does the print work for Night Drive and Neon Knights, craft some amazing movie-style posters, too.
Night Drive is on second Saturdays at Beauty Bar due to an opportunity that came up when a dear friend of mine, musician, photographer, fashionista and all-around taste-maker James Holden decided to make the leap from Denver to Los Angeles last spring. James Holden and James Miles (Yardley) had a gothicalia, millennial nu-wave, synth-pop, indie dance night called Double//Shadow every second Saturday at Beauty Bar, so when Holden pulled the trigger on his decision to move, he approached me with the idea of stepping into his slot with Miles and doing a blend of Neon Knights and Double//Shadow – Neon Shadow or Shadowy Knights, if you will. It came up rather naturally and I jumped at the chance. Beauty Bar is pretty laid back and easy to work with as far as clubs go. Actually, especially considering how clubs often operate. They’ve backed all of our ideas for creating a unique vibe for our night and even supplied some new equipment for our custom video projections. Monthly parties are kind of ideal, in my opinion, so as to keep things special and fresh, leaving people wanting more and looking forward to the next party…
2. What makes your partnership with Double Shadow’s James Yardley unique?
I think a lot of what makes this combo unique and awesome is that freshness and excitement of working with someone you’ve known for years, but are just now getting to know each other better by teaming up on a new endeavor. Miles has played in bands for years, so he seems to come at deejaying from the standpoint of a finely-tuned musician’s ear. He sometimes leans toward tracks with guitary elements and live musical sounds because of that, which keeps things raw. We seem to have a lot of overlapping tastes – our mutual love of Kitsuné releases, for example – but the music we seek out and spin often ends up being pretty varied, which is a pleasant surprise. Sometimes you DJ with someone and they play half of the songs you were hoping to play, but we actually end up spinning a pretty wide variety of indie dance, synth pop, electro, nu-disco, etc. I’d say I’m more on the electronic/programmed side of things, but I think our selections and styles give us a wide spectrum, yet still we greatly compliment one another.
3. You also run things at Neon Knights. How do the two nights compare?
There are a lot of similarities in how I approach Neon Knights as Night Drive, but each is held in a very different kind of space and I try to give each night its own distinct flavor. The Meadowlark, where Neon Knights takes place the fourth or fifth Friday of the month, has such a different vibe than Beauty Bar. It’s much smaller and has a huge awesome patio to hang out on. It has this great European cellar cafe thing going for it, too. But beyond the ambiance, it has a great dancefloor to experiment with music – a kind of awesome testing ground, especially with guest DJs. It’s the perfect place to lay down a bumpin’ groove and lure people into dancing and lather ‘em into a frenzy. The same thing could be said for Night Drive, but I think the expectations of people coming to Beauty Bar are a bit different, and therefore the floor flows differently. My personal goal was to try to push Night Drive toward getting heavier on electro end of the spectrum toward the end of the night, especially since it is a bigger space and soundsystem. That can be a bit overwhelming in a small space like at Neon.
4. You’re committed to playing vinyl. The dj world seems to be going in the opposite direction. Why records?
I got started DJing on vinyl a dozen years ago or so, and just never made the digital leap. Besides, I reeeeeally don’t want to stare at another computer screen any longer than I need to. I love the touchy-tactile experience of mixing records – the grabbing, sliding, nudging is actually kinda sexy – and the fullness of the sound it reproduces… Plus it’s a fun challenge to see what tracks I can hunt down on vinyl. Not everything is pressed on wax (although I’ve had thoughts of making a sort of Von Kelly DJ Kicks release – digital tracks pressed to vinyl that don’t exist, or are too hard to find on vinyl) but it’s really surprising to see how much still is. But really, I do it for the glamor and exercise of carrying crates.
5. Anything you want to reveal about your set this weekend?
I love throwing curve-ball tracks into a set! There’s nothing like the challenge of dropping an unexpected song or random request (providing I have it in my record bag) into the mix, and it’s a blast slipping a pop track or say, classic favorite industrial track into a set that’s really going and seeing how the dance floor reacts. Keep an ear out for (soaked with guilt, but you know- ) Marilyn Manson and Justin Bieber remixes as well as some IN-credible new tracks from Footprintz, i:cube, Major Lazer, Drums of Death and some blazin’ new tracks on Hot Creations records… Trust me, it’ll make sense.
6. Gold or silver?
I think I’m transitioning from silver to gold… Silver’s a staple. Gold’s a statement.
Night Drive is every second Saturday from 9pm-2am
at Beauty Bar on Pearl and 13th. Don’t be square…