Horse Meat Disco is not “Catering to a Mainstream Gay Audience.”: The New Gay Interview
TNG is currently giving away an HMD vinyl set. Check it out!
My first introduction to the UK queer disco party Horse Meat Disco was when the band Hercules and Love Affair wore their shirts onstage at the 9:30 Club. Since said shirts included a ferrari logo with a giant boner I made a point of looking them up, and have been following the guys since. Their raunchy disco/dance party is a staple at The Eagle in London, and they recently did a (too-brief) tour of the US in support of their new mix, Horse Meat Disco 2.
Well, they do say that the next best thing to being there is talking to lead DJ Luke Howard on the phone, and I can concur. In the interview below, he gives us the skinny on what HMD actually is, how luke got into disco and what is so special about Donna Summer. And once you’re done reading that, I suggest you listen to the mix below from the album and wait with baited asses until they come back.
The New Gay: So, what exactly is Horse Meat Disco? How do you guys define yourselves?
Luke Howard: It’s a night at The Eagle in London every Sunday. There are four DJs: myself, Filthy Luka… and other guys. It started seven, eight years ago. It’s a party where we play all types of dance music but focus on 70’s and 80’s. There’s underground stuff, new stuff, house. It’s just a fun night out. We, we attract a real cross section of queens and gay-friendly straights. We’re not really one thing to anybody but we’re everything to everybody. But we’re not very tribal. You get bear-y types, young club kid-y types. We have a guy who just stands there naked all night.
TNG: I saw you guys put out a new mix CD. Is it an extension of your HMD work, or a souvenir?
LH: We had one out last year, so this is Volume Two. It’s just some of our favorite music. We tried to pick stuff that hasn’t been released on CD before. Not super rare or obscure, but just not revived. We try to pick things that are unusual vs. just a classics compilation. We’re really happy with it, what else can I say? The party started on a Sunday, just in a small bar with an intimate dance floor, nice lights, then it became really popular. We got offered to play festivals in the UK, dates in Europe and it snowballed from there. Having the CD helped get the name out and now we have a Berlin residency every two months and a residency in Lisbon at club called Lux. The CD is like a night out at Horse Meat, it’s a nice mix, that’s what we tried to create when we did it.
There’s a track called “First Be a Woman,” our friend Daniel Wang introduced us to when he played there. It’s become a real anthem, Prior to that the anthem was “In The Evening” by Sheryl Lee Ralph, its a sing-along moment. Another thing that has been really great about the Eagle is because it’s been so much a fun place we’ve attracted big name guests that really wanted to play. We’ve had people like Dimitri from Paris, Derek Carter, LCD Soundsytem’s James Murphy. It’s been nice to get people that maybe would play bigger things to play in a more intimate surrounding.
TNG: Speaking of James, my first into to you guys was when I saw his label mates Hercules and Love Affair wearing your shirts at a DC show…
LH: Tight, right, we’ve had Andy Butler play quite few times. We knew him before he was famous for Hercules. He was a friend prior to that.
TNG Do you have anything to do with dirty disco being back in vogue?
LH: I think we happened to be doing it at a time when other people got interested, but we were already up and running so people looked at us as a zeitgeist of the new disco scene. It’s quite nice. When you have a new theme then a lot of people jump on the bandwagon, but we were the bandwagon. There’s a lot more people interested in that form and genre of music, there’s such a big online presence of people, there’s a lot of “blog disco” around, people share info and are obsessive about which DJ’s play what, knowing the catalogue numbers of disco music. It really helps.
It’s nice to know that disco has regained its rightful important place in the history of music and dance music. I think it got a lot of shit over the years because of the “disco sucks” movement and now it’s really seen as a really credible and creative force for good in music.
TNG: I think it was such a force in the gay scene that people needed to react to it and get away from it for a while.
LH: In the UK, house and harder types of house music dominated. They still do really, we might be succesful and have CDs and go on tours, but we’re on the margins.We’re not in a mainstream gay club, we’re in the smaller and on the underground of things. We’re not catering to the mainstream gay audience. There was definitely space for us to be there. I think house got quite boring towards the begining of this decade, and then there was the electro thing, that was more interesting than it got more formulaic and boring. What’s great about HMD is that we dip into all types of disco and dance, all different BPMs. We’re not playing one sound at a certain tempo all night. We’re going from 135 to 90 beats per minute. It’s more interesting, I think.
TNG: How old are are, if you don’t mind me asking?
LH: I’m 41
TNG: Then you were pretty young during disco’s hay-day. How’d you get so into it?
LH: I was always a closet disco fan.I remember it the first time around but wasn’t going out so didn’t have the experience of what it meant, but in ‘77 my cousin bought I feel love. We spent the whole summer freaking out to it in the living room, having dancing comepetions. I wasn’t aware there was a whole phenomenon going on.
When I started going to clubs in 1983, I’m from Sheffield, like the Human League, I had quite a culture for electro music. The HL started quite underground before thy became really famous. I guess I just wanted to go out dancing and go t o clubs. I started going at 14, wild child, and haven’t really stopped. It was wanting to dance that got me into disco.
TNG: What are your favorite contemporary disco acts?
LH: I like Lindstrom, I like Prince of Commerce, Hercules and Love Affair, Playgroup, but their from way back at the beginning of the aughties and haven’t had a record since. They’re really good, in the vein of influenced-by-80s dance music. A bit punk-funk, punky disco style. I like LCD Soundsystem, and I like Airplane as well, and… is that enough? I love them all!
TNG: Do you know Music Go Music?
LH: No, I don’t know much about new disco. I don’t buy that much of it. I’ll tell you who I do like: Holy Ghost. They’re really good. Say them, I like them, that’ll make me sound good. I just love Diana Ross and Donna Summer and Giorgio Morodor. Whatever Donna Summer said about the gays, I don’t think she did really said it. Maybe she was misquoted? I’ve forgiven her. I just think the music she made with Giorgio was incredible. It can’t be touched. I played McArthur Park the other night, full suite, and just thinking about it is making me get goosebumps.
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