LE BAIN: You'll be playing for the last sunset of the summer '15, in a ‘balearic’ mood. What’s your own definition of balearic? Is there another word you would prefer to use?
I have always said that I do much more than play records, I create atmosphere. During my gig this weekend in Milan, a musician wrote me this: "You made love come into the room, with an incredible groove." "Love Is The Message" has been the song I have been associated with, and this was divine guidance, because Love is always the Message.
You recently released 2 exclusive live mixes of your sets at your seminal New York club, The Gallery, from October 1976. They are so precious! Do you have more of those?
There are several more tapes...what really amazed me was the reaction: over 70,000 listens, and the comments go on and on. There has come a time in our musical evolution where we are longing for music, played by musicians, and words with a message, are cutting through all the gimmicks and reaching a growing portion of our dancing society. We are ready to rediscover the complexity in music. The popularity of that tape 10 years ago would have been minimal...things are changing.
From a club culture perspective, those recordings are pure treasures as they witness the birth of the club scene as we know it today. Back in the early 70’s at the Gallery, were you aware of the cultural impact you would have in the coming decades?
No, I didn't realize the impact we were having. I was so young, 17, when the Gallery opened. Others knew there was a special element of the Gallery, that's why the 12 students from NYU filmed the Gallery experience for the movie Love Is The Message.
Another anecdote is about you and Larry Levan, going to ride the bumper cars in Coney Island. Could you tell us about you and Larry at that specific time? What were your aspirations and your feelings?
We were friends, experiencing a good time together. Larry and I were so close at one point, for nearly two years, we were always together. I remember we hadn't seen each other for a while, and we wanted to just spend personal time together. We ended up in Coney, riding the rides and listening to the music. It was scary, because we got on the ride, and they started playing "Love Is The Message"... I don't think they knew who we were, yet there it was, that message, being spread all over.
That bumper car venue (the Coney Island Eldorado Auto Skooters) is special: its sound system was designed by Richard Long, the same sound engineer who did Studio 54’s and Paradise Garage’s system...
Richard Long was so much more than a sound engineer, he was a sound designer. He designed and built several types of bass horns which live on in the clubs today. Most popular is the Bertha, built for Larry...The Bertha with the Levan extension, designed for the Garage. Richard was a genius.
Same spot, but we’re in March 2015. You celebrated your 60th birthday at the same car bumper venue. In a way it was bringing you back to where it all began…What's next for Nicky Siano? What do you think is the future of the discothèque?
Please, you want me to give away my secrets? Come and see me on Sunday, experience the Love!
Sunday, September 20th, Le Bain presents Été d'Amour featuring Nicky Siano playing at sunset from 5pm to 9pm. Doors 2pm. The Standard, High Line.
Header photo by Neil Aline