November 08 2018

Solarplexia Rising

New York-Le Bain
We chat with NY nightlife agitators Seth Magoon and Mike Guimond of the party collective Solarplexia, before they play Le Bain on Friday November 23rd.
LE BAIN: You are the masterminds behind the party collective Solarplexia. How did you start?
MIKE: I started the collective in 2015, after having moved home from a year of study abroad in Berlin. Naturally inspired by the German capital, I wanted to produce as well as consume the nightlife culture I became obsessed with while living overseas. There, I was working for Leisure System records in Friedrichshain, and over the summer transitioning back to NYC I was working for Output in Brooklyn. Since I had already been DJing for four years it made sense to start promoting; I was upset with the New York status quo and lack of attention to detail at American club nights. I threw my first "official" party on November 22nd, 2015 at Elvis Guesthouse, where I met Seth.

SETH: Before that night, Mike and I didn't know each other; we were in different grades and separate social circles. That changed during the spring semester where we shared a class, starting spinning casually together. In August we teamed up to throw a DIY party on the Bowery... it was in his (then) bosses' penthouse when his boss was out of town for the weekend and he had the keys. We brought in sound, our teammate Jordan made an impromptu digital flyer, and all of us sent it to everyone we knew. The place was packed before midnight.

Seth Magoon, Ata (of legendary German club Robert Johnson) and Mike GuimondPhotos by Joey Walker

Seth Magoon, Ata (of legendary German club Robert Johnson) and Mike Guimond
Photos by Joey Walker

"The highest form of happiness on Earth.”
Seth, you’re a very active actor of the NY dance music scene: DJ, party producer, label manager, project manager for the festival BEMF… What do you find the most exciting thing happening right now?
SETH: I’ve been incredibly lucky with the opportunities I’ve had over the past six years. From a handful of internships with [talent agency] AM Only to more recent developments with BEMF and Soul Clap Records. From this lens, I’m most impressed with the level the city has elevated to bookings-wise. NY is practically on par with most major European cities in this regard... Yet I’m most inspired and excited by my nights out taking chances on the smaller grassroots, nomadic parties. Whether they utilize familiar club spaces or take risks in the DIY space, the collectives who are able to curate an excellent crowd and offer a night injected with profound meaning, the ones who can transform familiar spaces into really warm, safe, cathartic spaces... these are the opportunities to dance I find most rewarding.

Mike, you're on the same page?
MIKE: Without a doubt, Barbie Bertisch and Paul Raffaele are, to me, the most exciting thing in New York nightlife right now. I don't want to shed light on what exactly they're doing since it may bring unwanted attention to their scene... But if you're reading this: seek them out, go to their gigs, and you'll know what I mean. The last 'Barbie & Paul' function I went to last weekend had me re-thinking the dance floor experience for days on end. Love Injection is the truth. 

You say Solarplexia is "the highest form of happiness on Earth”. Do you think dance music in general should be about hedonism or should it go more into politics and social action?
SETH: Both are important. You're wrong if you think nightlife isn't inherently political. We've donated door profits to social justice organizations in the past and try as hard as humanly possible to book diverse intersectional lineups. 

MIKE: Our internal motto at Solar is Experience Over Everything. I obsess over how our guests are experiencing our party at every given moment. With that being said, politics live on the dance floor. Katie Shane is who got me smart on that many years ago – she's a great figure in the Brooklyn scene who is constantly fighting for social equality in the club. We wouldn't be where we are today without her.
Solarplexia ICN: Robert Johnson feat. Ata b2b Lauer

You just launched your new party series, ICN ‘International Clubbing Night’, which "focuses on hosting international collectives, nightclub resident DJs, or record labels"... What's your top 3? 
MIKEKHIDI in Tbilisi – the side room at this club has an energy unlike anywhere else I've seen relative to the clubbing demographic. The resident OTHR has been serving intense techno to Georgian youth for a couple of years now. Lattex+ in Florence – this collective is really the group of people responsible for delivering proper electronic music to the sleepy Tuscan city, and it was my entry into electronic music in 2012 while living there. Salon Zur Wilden Renate in Berlin – the amount of creativity infused into this reappropriated apartment complex with multiple rooms for dancing is awesome. I always walk away inspired from dancing there. It typically has disco on the bill, which is a great taste of color in the dark techno city.  

SETH: From a label point of view, here are my favorites: Full Pupp Records – Run by Prins Thomas out of Oslo, Norway, the label releases the works of only Norwegian talent, and in my mind is those crazy little labels that depict the region's sound so well. Wonky, Retro-Futuristic Disco House. Far East Recordings –There are so many amazing Japanese artists which could and should be highlighted, but Far East’s Soichi Terada and Shinichiro Yokota are two legends who just fill me with joy. Phoenix G: despite getting a hard no from his agent, the dream still lives on... a label showcase with MR. G and artists from his UK based imprint Phoenix G, is the ICN I absolutely need.

Mike, you worked at The Standard, right? How's it feel coming back "on property" in a different way?
MIKE:  [Laughs] I was a bellboy all senior year working three days a week at the East Village hotel. On Thursday evenings, Justin Strauss would play the cafe and in the lobby we would get to hear his beats through the speaker system. It was amazing, I would run into the bell closet and Shazam what was playing whenever I didn't have to deal with a guest. I once ran up to him in uniform (bowtie-and-all) and introduced myself and stumbled all over my words. He didn't care, was warm and grateful, and in that moment really left a mark on me. 

On Friday, November 23rd, Le Bain presents 
Seth Magoon & Mike Guimond (Solarplexia)
10pm | The Standard, High Line