February 27 2018

The Delicate Balance of Darshan Jesrani

New York-Le Bain
We catch up with Darshan Jesrani, one-half of NY duos SIREN and Metro Area, before he plays Le Bain all night on Saturday, March 24th.
LE BAIN: Last time we chatted, you were just creating your label, Startree, and releasing your first single with SIREN. That was three years ago! Looking back at those three years, what have been the highlights?
DARSHAN JESRANI: This has been a period of simmering, but there have been a few. Startree’s second single, "Disco Engine,” which myself and my friend Chelsea Adewunmi sing, got a great reaction from people and a lot of play from those who knew. Someday I’ll figure out how to run a label and do press–questions like this certainly help, so thank you! SIREN has had an intense and really productive run. Our third single, Paradise,” was remixed by Gavin Rayna Russom, who turned our spacey, soulful track into a dark, techno grinder, and Compost was game to do a really nice package concept, which Dennis came up with. This record sounded crazy on the system at Le Bain last time I played it.
"It’s a very delicate balance of idealism, beauty, and the shrewdness to be able to exist in the actual world."
You DJed at Le Bain with Morgan Geist as Metro Area last summer as you guys were re-releasing your debut album for its 15th anniversary. Fifteen years after the release, what was the updated feedback you got about that album?
It’s weird, people really loved this record when it first came out, but the updated feedback I’m getting is that some of these people now genuinely regret expressing such love for it and feel really badly for doing so. They have written really heart-rending, tearful letters to us. It’s a real problem for them!  [Laughs.] I’m kidding. People have said all kinds of great things, I guess mostly looking at it through the lens of what has happened in dance music over the past 15 years–the sounds and trends, etc.

You’ve been pretty busy touringEgypt, Croatia, Brazil...that sounds better than Berlin, doesn’t it? Seriously, how do those exotic gigs inspire you as an artist? 
I have loved playing in all of these places. It has been a dream, really. I feel like all of these are events I can relate to on some musical/vibrational level and are less about the business. Of course there’s business involved–there has to be–but I think the priority with these events is some ideal of musical curation and to allow their crowds an experience, which is special.

What do those gigs tell you about the state of the scene?
I’m not sure what this says about the state of the scene except maybe that these kinds of things are more necessary than ever in the face of so much commercialism, even within a scene which prides itself on being a counterculture or a refuge from the money and power dynamics of the wider world.
Darshan Jesrani's "Live From the Adriatic" (2017)

A lot of cool new spaces have opened in the city in the last couple of years. Is NYC still a "pain in the ass" as far as the club scene is concerned? 
NYC won’t stop being a pain in the ass (for living, and dancing) until the people–all the people–have more access to its real estate. There have definitely been some encouraging new developments–the repeal of the cabaret law, the importance of dancing and club culture back in the public conversation, some cool new spots–but we still have a way to go, in my humble opinion.

I had never heard about the Starck Club in Dallas in the '80s until you mentioned it. Can you tell us what you learned about the Starck Club?
I think this really relates to what you were asking before, about the exotic gigs and also, again, to the issue of real estate. Philippe Starck, by his own admission, wanted to create an other-worldly experience for people. Something truly special and a little crazy. He manifested that vision into the physical building with every bit of material and all of his design choices. That’s point number one for me, that the vision is the driver of the entire project. It’s the same story throughout clubbing’s brief history. All of the great places have had this going on. The Loft, the Garage, the Saint, Berghain. It’s a very delicate balance of idealism, beauty, and the shrewdness to be able to exist in the actual world.  

On Saturday, March 24th, Le Bain presents Darshan Jesrani
10pm | The Standard, High Line

Header photo by Neil Aline