November 06 2014

Face-to-Face with Language

New York-Le Bain

STANDARD CULTURE: You said that you had a "spiritual, church-y experience on a dance floor" and you are "pretty agnostic." Could you tell us more about that night?

PRINCE LANGUAGE: Well, those words can certainly be construed as cliché, especially in the context of discussing dance music and clubs, but it has happened to me on numerous occasions, and it's hard to pick out just one time. But they always seem to involve a loss of self, or more specifically, self-consciousness - a merging with the collective consciousness of the dance floor, and also an engagement with the music that's more along the lines of a communion than a ceremony of familiarity and recognition of familiar songs. It's a specific kind of attention to the abstract qualities of the music, aided by repetition and a diminishing of rational thought, and also a way of thinking with the body through dancing.

Prince Language Live at Le Bain (September 2014)

A body high?

A transcendental, ecstatic experience that is greater than the sum of a room filled with people moving their bodies to amplified, rhythmic music. Losing your mind and gaining some vibes. "Divine communion time is here, kitties," as Father Yod says.

When was the last time you spent a night dancing?

It was a beautifully sunny, warm afternoon, actually, when the legendary Italian DJ Daniele Baldelli played for the first time in the US at the PS1 Warm Up over the summer. It was such a treat to hear him lay down the cosmic sound live and in-person. He played an intensely mixed set of his trademark slowed-down, chugging arpeggiated tracks that lived up to every recording of his that I had heard previously.

As a DJ, what makes Baldelli so special?

Even if you know the record he's playing, it still sounds like him, and his sound. Those are my favorite kinds of DJs, the ones that keep me moving - those who really express their own sensibility and way of listening in the way they mix their records. And I don't know what they're putting in the pasta water or Peroni over there, but he looked pretty good for someone who's been playing records since the early 1970s!

Donald Byrd Think Twice (Edit De Prince Language)

You said that "It's important to know what your records mean"

What I was talking about was simply acknowledging the meaning, usually in the form of lyrical content, of records within the context of a DJ set - even if you are subverting those meanings. Telling stories, even if those stories are complex, contradictory, and made-up. So it's not so much about the specific meaning of records as it is an awareness of those meanings, and how they interact with each other.

Mixing up meanings together.

Is it a love song? Or about heartbreak? Was it a massive obvious hit, or an obscurity? Do I want to get people to dance by hitting them over the head or have it be subtle? DJing comes down to modes of seduction, ultimately. Shifting gears within a set. As in other sensual situations, the slower the build up, the bigger the payoff. That's what's so special about getting to play 6-plus hours on my own at Le Bain.

What recent record really inspired you in that sense of meaning?

Whatever those meanings are, they should be compelling to you personally. Recently I've been digging the new records from Kindness, Bing & Ruth, Wildest Dreams, and Devin Dare.

Azari & III Into The Night (Prince Language Remix)

You are very aware of the political side of dancing and disco. What is the most political statement to make in NYC this fall?

Aside from completely dismantling the police department, Wall Street, the real estate market, and global capitalism, the best we can do is probably be empathetic to one another and listen to as much New Age and gospel music as possible. And free the nipple, of course.

What is your definition of a good Saturday night spent in NYC?

My party at Le Bain! Otherwise, stay in with a good book and a Glenn Gould record because you're not gonna find better music or a night out elsewhere.

Saturday November 22nd, Prince Language returns to Le Bain for his irregular monthly night hosted by Amjad. Doors 10pm. The Standard, High Line.