We recently had the chance to discuss with Justin Carter from Mister Saturday Night. Mister Saturday Night was founded in 2009 and he’s without any doubt one of the best party in New York City. Eamon and Justin, the guys behing Mister Saturday Night, understand well how to draw a perfect party. They even write a manifesto about it ! They recently turn their Saturday night fever into a promising and compelling label. These guys must be the crème-de-la-crème of New York’s nightlife.
 
 
High Five Magazine : Hi Justin: How are you? You just came back from Europe. How was your tour?
 
Justin from Mister Saturday Night : I’m fine, thank you. The tour was really, really nice. We played at some special parties in some unique locations. In between the gigs, I had some time to spend in Italy, to see some friends. It was a nice trip, yeah!
 
Where have you been in Italy?
 
I was in Florence, in Venice, in the Tuscan Countryside and in a small town call Spoleto, which is in Umbria, an hour or so from Rome. The trip was fantastic. 
Actually, I lived in Florence for a little while. It was really nice to catch up with some old friends, introduce them to my wife, to visit some places I used to go…
 
How were the parties you played in Europe? I know you played at Wanderlust in Paris, at Panorama Bar in Berlin and Corsica Studios in London.
 
Panorama Bar was quite special. It’s funny because you hear so many good things about the place and… you know, I’ve even been there to dance before, as I lived in Berlin for a little while as well. I would go there on a Sunday afternoon sometimes or when a friend in town played… But it never seemed so special as when we played this time. We played early Sunday morning from 5am to 9am. When we began, it was dark outside, and by the time we finished, the sun was up, and you could see it coming in through the shutters. It was just special. Exceeded my expectations. I thought playing there would be good, but it was just exceptional. Everybody was on the same wavelength; we could be pretty free with what we played. It was great!
Later that day, Eamon had to go back to London, so I continued on to the Golden Pudel in Hamburg, all by myself. And I think the Golden Pudel is my favourite place outside our own parties. Very magical. It’s funny because it’s very different from the Panorama Bar. It’s a very small room, a very simple DJ Booth, it doesn’t have monitors – you can just take one of the room’s monitor speakers and turn it toward you. It’s almost like a little bar with a dancefloor in it.
 
I never had the chance to go there. Could we compare it to Robert Johnson, for example ?
 
It’s even smaller than Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson has this pristine sound system while The Golden Pudel has a pretty common sound system. It works perfectly for the room, but it’s not like they have a remarkable sound system with someone in there tuning it everyday. It’s all about the vibe and the fact that all the people who work there are somehow involved in the club in a creative way. In addition to being the bartender, or the person who picks you up from the train station, everybody takes part in some other way. You can feel there is family there.
You also have a crowd of just totally different kind of people. There is Senegalese
 community in Hamburg, and quite a few of them were there. There is also this guy… everybody calls him ‘The Wizard’ and …
 
Could he be Jeff Mills?
 
Ha-ha, no, it’s not Jeff Mills. He wears a cape and a wizard hat. His name is Arthur actually… maybe you have a future in front of you as a wizard! He also has a long beard. He’s just a really, really, sweet guy, very excited about the music. He’s been coming there for twenty years, or something like that. He’s a real character! He’s embraced there, and you understand it almost immediately. There are many places where you won’t be embraced if you dress like a wizard.
 
It’s like he was running the place. He represents the Golden Pudel’s spirit in some ways.
 
Yeah, totally! He’s a known staple there! The last time we played there I was taking to some friends and they asked me: “ Did you meet the wizard?” and I didn’t. This time, the wizard was there!
Another thing about the Golden Pudel: They have a really open music policy. I’ve only played there two times but I was able to play anything that I wanted to, at anytime of the night. I was able to play a French ballad, a song called “Seul” by Henri Salvador, at 4:30 in the morning, and people were slow dancing. And then I played a drum and bass track and people stayed with me. It was so great!
The Golden Pudel is on the to-do list for anyone who’s really serious about music. Such an interesting community there.
 
 
 
 
As you travelled in Europe, would you say that the European public is different compared to the United State?
 
There is a difference in the way that nightlife has developed in Europe as opposed to the States. The consequences of that are stunning. When Chicago house was happening in the early 80s, this music was popular in Chicago. Then there was an exchange between Chicago and Detroit, due to the proximity of the cities, but the music wasn’t embraced on the national radio, while it was a common thing to hear it in the UK. It was in the top charts at some point. The UK is often the tastemaker for the rest of Europe, and even in many ways for the States, so from the popularity it gained there, it made its way into the rest of Europe, and it became something that was much more common to hear than in the States. 
Nowadays in the States, the perception of club music might be changing a bit thanks to the popularity of dubstep and such, but it’s historically been outsider music, counter-cultural music. Because of that, the scenes are very insular here in the States. In Europe, you could play club music and nobody will think twice about it. It’s a relatively normal music. In Europe, house music has made a way into the consciousness of people.
There is also a difference in licensing, as far as clubs and bars and drinking goes. It means that people can drink legally at an earlier age. It causes a different perception of alcohol. When we played at Wanderlust for example, there was a bunch of really young people out there. It’s not like they have to sneak in or use a fake ID to go there. It’s okay for them to be eighteen. From early on, you can have an experience with nightlife. But in the States, you’ve got to be a certain age to go out.
 
You discover the nightlife as an older person, and therefore discover house music later as well?
 
People do discover it later. If you’re eighteen years old, you have to do something illegal to get in. But it also adds this kind of subversion into the counter-culture identity of house music. Even in a small way.
In Europe, the acceptance of the music over the long term combined with the fact that drinking at an early age is accepted makes a younger and more open-minded crowd for the music.
There is also a negative side: Sometimes, people just go out and have no ideas what’s going on. If you don’t play in a venue known for playing really good music, you can meet a big crowd composed of ignorant kids. They don’t really have an idea of what’s going on musically. They just want to go out. Like I said, overall it can really be good, but it can also be a bit annoying. It necessitates that clubs have proper policies and that they be selective at the door.
 
Was it the case at Wanderlust?
 
Hm … Yes! I don’t want to talk trash, I was so happy they let us play for them. We eventually felt we could play like we wanted to, but the first hours it was hard work. You could see there were a lot of kids. Based on what was going on outside and the questions we were being asked, it was pretty clear they were more into electro-style music. We chose to play whole sides of more mellow records in the beginning of night, in order to warm-up the room and create a vibe and really get something going…
 
But having a hard-work crowd can be an exciting challenge.
 
Exactly! Every place is different, and it’s on the DJ to figure out a way to connect with people. I’ll never do something I’m not comfortable with just to make people happy. It’s just not a healthy thing to do. We have to figure out a way to connect with people by playing our music. In the beginning, there were people coming and asking us “Is this what you’re going to play all night? What kind of music do you play?”
 
That’s a silly question…
 
Right. After 1:30, when we got into a groove, nobody asked us this kind of question anymore…
 
Did you have time to visit our lovely city outside of Wanderlust?
 
Well, not so much this time, but I’ve been to Paris few times before. I had more time in Rennes, in the West of France. What an experience, in a really special town as well.
 
Yeah, Rennes is amazing; it’s a student town. It could be compared to Bristol in the UK.
 
Yes, exactly. I had a similar experience in Bristol as Rennes. Both are beautiful old towns. The crowd was young but they really knew what was going on.I was in Paris the night before going to Rennes. Eamon and I are big supporters of Jerôme Barbé. He’s an audio equipment designer. He’s developed this unique rotary travel mixer called the “DJR 400”. Eamon and I bought one a couple of years ago and it became an important part of the way we played. At one point, it broke last year and we had to come back to Jerôme to fix it. We felt naked! So we decided we would buy a second one to make sure if we ever had to send one in for repair again that we would have a second. I came to Paris the night before the gig in Rennes to pick the mixer up from the man himself. I was happy to see his workshop and look at the new things he was working on. He’s such a special guy; it was wonderful to meet him. Any DJs reading this interview should definitely check this mixer. I think it’s one of the best soundings mixers existing.
 
 

 

 
Could you tell us how Mister Saturday night began. How did you meet Eamon?
 
New York, probably like most cities, has a musical community. If you’re a DJ and you’re playing out, doing parties, you ending up running across everybody that’s in the community. That’s how I met Eamon, basically. I was working as the music director for a club called APT, Eamon was doing parties in a club called Studio B, and we just got in touch with each other. I asked him to be co-resident with Afrika Bambaataa for a party. Unfortunately, the party wasn’t very successful.
 
Because it was on a Tuesday, right? (as referred to the LWE interview)
 
Exactly. Not a great night for a party. But the plus side was that I got to work with Eamon, and I realised through that experience that he took things very seriously. We started to do Sunday parties together; they were called Sunday Best back then. Through that, we also became aware we also had things in common musically, and we decided to start Mister Saturday Night together. It started in January 2009. Almost five years we’ve been doing it now… Wow!
 
Was it already a success back in 2009?
 
We started the party in a club called Santos Party Houseand the intention was to be a weekly. But there were many problems with the management, and they ended up giving us a spotty schedule, and it was hard to gain momentum. We did like 9 or 10 parties in four months. The club was expecting one thousand people there every single night we did the party, but they never gave us the consistency, and, moreover, it was a really unrealistic goal.
 
That’s why you decided to move from nightclubs to flats or lofts?

Before Eamon and I worked together, I did parties in lofts and warehouse spaces. That’s how I learned to do parties in the first place. It has always been, in my opinion, a superior experience to the club experience, and so after Mister Saturday Night stopped at Santos, it was the obvious move.
It’s almost as if Mister Saturday Night begun in October 2009. It really became what Mister Saturday Night is now when we moved to the loft space. That’s when we really began to control the whole experience.
 
 
What are the ingredients to cook up a perfect party?

It’s funny because we just made a manifesto in order to set up Mister Saturday Night in other cities. We made a list of the things very important for us. Here is the manifesto:
 
There are a lot of items in there, but a staff that treats customers well is the absolute most important. It’s the most obvious thing ever, but it’s surprising how often places and parties get it wrong. Maybe you can’t afford the best sound system, but you can always afford to treat people well. If your security guards greet people with a smile, or your door person is pleasant, then your party is already off to a good start. If not, you’re potentially damaging your party. The people coming to the party have to feel like they’re respected.
 
You said you wanted to export the party to others cities. Tell me about that?
 
We don’t know how it will pan out just yet, but we’re currently trying to set up a regular Mister Saturday Night in London. The first one will occur on November 23rd.
 
We’ll be there!

We’re doing this one at Dance Tunnel, with the guys from Black Atlantic. We met them when we played at Joy Orbison’s party and got along with them quite well. 
It’s not like we’re going to set up Mister Saturday Night in every city of Europe, though. We need the right partners to do this. 
 
How’s the current nightlife in the Big Apple? Is it different when you go out in Brooklyn than in Manhattan? Is it still well living or is New York a “second city club” as LWE described it?
 
The city is a really interesting place to go out. New York’s nightlife has always been here, even in the era where Giuliani was cracking down on big clubs. Now, it’s burgeoning in a serious way again.
London or Berlin are cities where there are so many nightlife options. These are cities where the nightlife culture is really, really rich. I lived in Berlin for a while. I went out a lot. But the most special nights I’ve ever had have been in New York. Back in Berlin, I had the impression that people didn’t go for it as much, because they had access to it all the time.  It’s hard to impress them because every night of the week, they can go out and see who they want, whenever they want.
In New York, because it’s more of a challenge to make something happen, when it does, people really, really appreciate it. There’s, of course, a lot of room to grow: It’s still need proper clubs that will create their own aesthetic. We don’t really have many of those now, but I am hopeful that it will happen.
We’re on the way to having some great nightlife spots and a healthy nightlife scene. Output opened in the last year, and I think it bodes well for the overall scene. It’s a real club, functioning in Brooklyn, booking solid artists to play. They don’t do things exactly as I would, but they are giving it a go, and others can look to them as an example that it is possible to make something happen.
 
 
Let’s speak a bit about your label. The first release was ‘Mad Disrespect’ by Anthony NaplesA lovely track! The last releases were one EP called ‘Deposit’ by Hank Jackson and one another EP called ‘Yacht Cruiser’ by LumigraphTell me how did you meet these guys?

We’ve met almost all of the artists on the label through the party. Except for Dark Sky, they were all coming to the party, and they eventually just sent us music, because they felt connected to the party. What’s interesting to me about it, though, is the different kinds of music that each of these artists have sent us. Archie Pelago and Hank Jackson’s music couldn’t be more different, but they still both felt compelled to send us the music after being at our parties. I really love that.
 
What’s coming in the future? What’s next?

We have two more records from new artists coming in the next couple months, and we’re talking to another artist now about signing his tracks. After we release those, we want to release other tracks by the artists already signed on the label. We’ll also probably release a compilation of the label’s releases that will be available in digital format next year.
We don’t have plans beyond that, because we are focused on learning how things work before we get too ambitious. Learning to press vinyl and release it has been a process. We feel good about that process now, so we’re looking toward the compilation, releasing music digitally and such. But that will be a new learning process for us, and we want to make sure we get it right before we commit to doing more.
 
Would you say that Mister Saturday Night has its own proper musical identity?

If you compare the Archie Pelago’s record and the Hank Jackson’s recordthere is not so much similarity (laugh). Although, in both of these records, there is development and musicality. We don’t really release tracky music, tools that are just for the dancefloor.
 
To conclude with this conversation, here are some effortless questions. What are the last records you bought?
 
I just bought a Mowest compilation that Light In The Attic did. There’s a great song on it called “Our Lives Our Shaped By What We Love” by a band called Odyssey. There are a couple other bands called Odyssey that I own records by. There was a Vangelis project called Odyssey, and they put out a great 45 called “Who?” and then, of course, there’s the great cover of Richie Havens’ “Going Back To My Roots” by yet another group called Odyssey. I suppose this Mowest comp was a way of me completing that collection.
 
It’s a funny collection. It’s better than collecting stamps.
 
Oh, you know, stamps are nice, too!
 
Would you like to promote an underrated artist at the moment? Someone you would find interesting.
 
Yes, totally! There is this guy called Alex Falk. He’s from Tennessee, I think. He made a killer song called “Terse” that I’ve been playing a lot. There’s a small scene of great techno being made in the southeast of the US. I’m originally from North Carolina, so it makes me really happy to hear good dance music coming from down there.
 
Do you make barbecues for your guests? It would be perfect on Mister Sunday, isn’t it?
 
We don’t! But we always have bagels; proper New-York Bagels at 4 o’clock in the morning, when people need something to fill up their empty bellies. It’s good late-night food.
 
It leads me to my final question. As you might know, we love food and wine in France. That’s our speciality. Dancing, playing records can lead you to eat a horse. What’s your special meal after a good party?
 
I like a good breakfast. Some nice fresh baked bread, toasted, with avocado sprinkled with chilli flakes, sea salt and sesame oil. Add some fried eggs sunny side-up.

Now I’m hungry! Well, thanks you so much Justin! Long live Mister Saturday Night. See you in London or in New York!



interviewed by Des Races.


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