Summer & Father’s Day Brings on Thompson LES Hotel’s Party Series and a New Tattoo

Tonight my favorite DJ (not named Paul Sevigny) Mr. Jonny Lennon will provide the sounds by the pool at the Thompson LES Hotel. Ford Models will be hosting tonight and once a month. This sounds like way too much sexy-time fun for me and besides, I married a Ford Model 28 years ago so… been there, done that. Sal Imposimato, the recently-added corporate director of entertainment for Commune Hotels – the parent company that manages both Thompson Hotels and Joie de Vivre Hotels – is making his mark revitalizing the scene there.

They have a rock and roll movie series presented by Topshop that occurs the first Thursday of every month. It’s called “Pool Party Babylon.” They also have a weekly Tuesday party which, this week, presented Scorpio Rising by director Kenneth Anger and honored Mudhoney’s 20th Anniversary. DJ Miss Guy does the honors. Their locals-only Wednesday weekly is hosted by Creatures of Comfort and features DJs Amy Yao and Cameron Mesirow.

This Friday, starting at 2pm, Steven Hamilton hosts with resident DJ Jasper Stapleton and special guest Nick Catchdubs of Fool’s Gold fame. The programming is fresh, forward, and fun…and conveniently located. Sal did the most amazing job when he was with Morgans Hotels Group, totally getting me way uptown to the Hudson or way downtown to the Mondrian. Now that he has hung his hat near civilized humans, I’ll be around… a lot.

This Sunday is Father’s Day and I got an anchor tattoo that says DAD in honor of the day courtesy of Sailor Jerry who did half the hood over at 3Kings the other night. My dad Bernie just celebrated his 90th birthday. He joined the Navy on June 8th, 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the day before. If you are looking for me to attend a gala, a soiree or shindig on a Sunday, I always pass as me and mine dine with mom and dad.

I have the blessing of being able to look at nightlife from an insider/outsider perspective. From where I stand I see a lot of people chasing a lot of money and girls and other things without a sense of what is important. When the shit hits the fan, as it famously did for me, there are few you can depend on. My family was there. So take a minute or an hour to visit, call, or remember your dad before returning to the fray. A tattoo may be drastic but if you want one, call Alex McWatt or any of the other talented folks over at 3Kings. Tell them Uncle Steve sent ya.

Fool’s Gold Debuts Its First-Ever Artists Series Tonight

If you haven’t yet checked out the still relatively new Fool’s Gold store-slash-headquarters in Williamsburg, then you best get on that. A particularly good time to go would be tonight, from 7 to 9. If you do, you’ll find the first installment of FG’s “Artist Series,” a special event where the label’s art director, Dust La Rock, curates a collection of products from some of his favorite makers of things.

The inaugural “Artist Series” kicks off with limited edition shirts and prints from Chicago’s Cody Hudson and Brooklyn’s JK5. Check out the full details below.

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New York Openings: Fool’s Gold, Aritzia, Superdry

Fool’s Gold (Williamsburg) – BK label gets a flagship for all your “music, gear and general swag-related needs.” ● Aritzia (Soho) – Vancouver womenswear expert brings its eight distinctive lines to a major Broadway corner. ● Superdry (Lower Manhattan) – Japanese-inspired Brit brand will keep you looking supercool.

The Fool’s Gold Retail Space Celebrates Its Opening Tonight

Brooklyn just got a whole lot more Brooklyn, everyone. Today marks the official opening of Fool’s Gold Records, the store! The New York indie label launched by A-Trak and his pal Nick Catchdubs has, for years, helped to establish acts like Duck Sauce, Kid Cudi, and Kid Sister as some of the best music DJs have to offer. Back in April, A-Trak, who used to tour as Kanye West’s DJ, teased the store to BlackBook, saying “We’ll be selling all of our records, obviously, but at Fool’s Gold we do a lot of design and work with a lot of brands to make cool products, so pretty much anything we’ve designed or developed with other companies, we’ll be selling.” He also mentioned a launch party, which—guess what—is happening tonight.

From 5-7pm, at 536 Metropolitan, you can check out everything the store (which doubles as office headquarters) has to offer. That includes: a collection of FG-designed luxury laptops, iPad and digital camera cases from the Italian company Pijama, and, before it’s even been officially announced, a collaboration with Members Only to create a limited-edition leather jacket. Speaking of which, A-Trak, along with with his brother Dave 1 of Chromeo and Nick Catchdubs, will be celebrating the Members Only collab with some DJ sets and drinking later tonight at Westway, starting at 8pm. Should be some night!

A-Trak on the New Duck Sauce Album & the First ‘Fool’s Gold’ Store

It’s primed to be a busy year for A-Trak. Less than halfway through his current North American tour (which makes a stop at New York’s Terminal 5 on Saturday night), the Montreal-born, New York-based DJ still has a lot to look forward to. Next month, he’ll open the first official store for his Fool’s Gold record label in Williamsburg. In the fall he’ll drop the debut album from Duck Sauce (his side project with Armand Van Helden, which racked up over 50 million YouTube views for their “Barbara Streisand” video), and, maybe then, he’ll find some time to work on that solo album.

On trying to meet Barbara Streisand: We’re still working on it, she runs in different circles. It’s only in the last month that we got any type of communication or word from her at all. For months the song was out and there was no way of knowing if she’d heard it. Finally, a few weeks ago I heard from two or three people (all within the span of a week) that she’d heard it. She likes the song, she’s into it and we’d love to meet her.

On explaining the song’s title to Barbara Streisand: I would say: We just thought it sounded cool. The syllables in that part of the song…it sounded cool.

On possible titles for the “Barbara Streisand” sequel: Mel Torme, Engelbert Humperdinck, maybe Lyle Lovett? I’m just thinking of names here. You’ve gotta turn your brain off and see what pops in.

On Duck Sauce’s debut album: We were working on the album before I left to tour. All of the songs are ready now and we’re just fine-tuning the way they’re all going to fit into the album, the listening format and all of that. So far, Duck Sauce has made singles that end up playing on the radio and TV but they’re really formatted like DJ songs—they’re club records with very few changes. For the album we wanted to keep it more interesting and a little weirder so a little bit more work went into the sound.

On Duck Sauce’s trademark sound: There definitely is a Duck Sauce “sound” that we figured out from the beginning and there is such a thing as “sounding like Duck Sauce.” When we make our songs we stick to that but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that there’s a formula, because there are some curveballs and surprises and that’s part of the Duck Sauce sound. When we first came out with the song “Anyway” people said it was a return to disco house, and then we made a song like “Barbara Streisand” that sampled more 80s/British punky stuff. In the same way, the new material for the album has surprises in terms of what we’re sampling and what musical genres we’re playing with. But at the end of the day it’s always about finding the most catchy, quirky loops, and making songs that are often very simple but at the core make people react, crack up, dance, and have a good time. On working with Armand Van Helden: When we work as Duck Sauce, things move really quickly and it’s a lot more fluid a process than when I work by myself, because you can sort of pass the ball back and forth. There’s rarely any road blocks or potholes since we take turns working on stuff and we always work together.

On naming the album and songs: One of the last missing pieces is the name of the album, but all the songs have great names. It’s one of the things I’m proudest of—the names of the songs. If a song has a great name it kind of has to be good. There are good songs that don’t have great names, but if I look at a tracklisting and the song titles seem inspired, chances are the song has to be very good. We haven’t divulged new titles so I’m going to keep it under wraps, but when we do reveal the tracklisting in the coming months, people are going to be like “yep” I remember when he said that.

On the first official Fool’s Gold store: We’re opening up a shop in New York next month. It’s in Williamsburg and our office will be in the back of it. We’ll be selling all of our records, obviously, but at Fool’s Gold we do a lot of design and work with a lot of brands to make cool products, so pretty much anything we’ve designed or developed with other companies, we’ll be selling. I used to collaborate with clothing lines myself but recently I’ve been bringing all of that to Fool’s Gold, so we’ll be selling everything from letterheads to leather jackets. We’re planning a launch party next month when I get back from touring. Like all Fool’s Gold projects, the design was handled in-house, and all artwork on display–custom Fool’s Gold wallpaper that is hanging in the store–will be from our art director Dust La Rock. (Preview some of his handiwork on the cover of the all Fool’s Gold-issue of Frank151.)

On his upcoming solo album: That’s for next year. It’s something I’ve been flirting with for a little while now, but it’s still in the exploration phase, I haven’t really sat down and dug into it. Once the Duck Sauce album is out then I’ll think about it some more. There’s definitely going to be some hip-hop material on my album, while the Duck Sauce album just has more of a hip-hop spirit and a hip-hop attitude.

On new acquisitions at Fool’s Gold: We just signed Danny Brown, a rapper from Detroit who’s really amazing and we have two other signings that are about to be wrapped up—they’re bands that can’t even really fit into genres.

Photo Credit: Terry Richardson

A-Trak on His Record Label’s First Proper Album

At 15 he won the World DJ competition. At 22, he was Kanye West’s tour DJ. And now, at 28, Montreal native A-Trak is the head of his own record label, Fool’s Gold. With a bevy of talented artists signed to the label—including Kid Sister, The Suzan, and his side project, Duck Sauce—he and partner Nick Catchdubs decided it was time to release a compilation album with new tracks from the entire Fool’s Gold roster, called Fools Gold Volume 1. We caught up with A-Track to see just what gave him the itch to scratch, what makes this compilation unique, and what’s next for the ever-evolving artist.

You’re 28 and you already have two record labels under your belt. How does it feel to have so much success at such a young age? I rarely think of it in terms of accomplishments or things that I’m just sitting on. I’m proud of what I’ve done, and starting young is something I’m proud of, too. I hope it opens doors and changes peoples preconceptions of what you can do at a younger age.

What drew you to DJing in the first place? I was just trying to find my own thing to do in music. I grew up very close to my older brother who, even before Chromeo, was already in other bands with friends in high school. I played the piano for a couple of years and gave up on that. I just wanted to find my outlet musically. I tried scratching, literally on my dad’s record player, to see what would happen if I put a record on there and moved it back and forth. That’s what started everything, getting the itch. I just messed with records everyday after school and started taking it pretty seriously right away. It became a passion.

Were there any DJs that you were inspired by when you first started? This was around ’95, and my brother and I were both getting into hip-hop for the first time. We used to listen to more classic rock like Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but the Beastie Boys were probably the transition for me. I just started studying scratches on albums. I remember P-Thug, the other guy in Chromeo, used to come over to the house and Dave would be like, “Hey, look at my little brother, he can scratch!” And he was more into old school hip-hop, so he said, “Oh, you like scratching? You should listen to DJ Jazzy Jeff.” So he gave me a cassette that I really studied a lot, too.

Was there something about the Canadian music scene that was different? Basically, it was just being on the sidelines, compared to America. First of all, I was too young to get into clubs, so all I knew was what I heard on records, or what I saw on video tapes of DJ battles. Or my brother would go to clubs and try and recollect what he heard, and I’d try to understand how to DJ that myself. In the mid ‘90s, it was a time when there were coastal styles for DJing: There was a distinct NY style and a West Coast style, especially when it came to the technical stuff. So me being on the periphery, I was able to take everything in equal doses and make my own little concoction.

So with Fool’s Gold, how do you go about finding the right artists to represent? One of the reasons Nick and I started Fool’s Gold was because we were just surrounded by good music. A lot of it just kind of comes to us, some of it might be friends of ours or just us looking through the internet finding stuff.

We interviewed Kid Sister last year before her album dropped. How did you two hook up? Her brother is a DJ and was starting to make some noise, and he was friends with some of my friends. My publisher was in Chicago and was already starting to look at her, so through a couple of connections I knew who she was. I didn’t even really know that she made music, I was just on tour in the summer of 2006 and started talking to her as I was about to go to Chicago to do a show, and was like, “Wait, you make music?” And then we wrote some songs together a little bit, and started dating at the same time too, so it just all came together.

What kind of sound were you going for in terms of the Fool’s Gold compilation album? The compilation was pretty straightforward for us, because all we did was ask our existing roster to make new songs. At this point, we have a bunch of artists on the label who have put out a record with us, so it wasn’t a question of scouting new artists. We thought for this album, it was a chance to show what these guys are doing. It was with the idea that a lot of these producers and artists have more club or DJ-oriented records and on this CD, the idea was for it to reach more of a general audience. To me, a compilation can play in a shop or a boutique or something that someone can put on at home when they’re getting ready to go out.

Is there a reason you chose to sell the album at Open Ceremony? The concept of putting a record out with a clothing shop is something I’ve seen a bit of in the last couple years—somewhere where the clientele intersects with our fan base. It’s just sort of a reality that nowadays there isn’t that much of a marketplace in traditional record shops for a compilation.

What else do you have coming up for yourself and for the record label? For the label, this is our first official full-length release, so we want to just continue putting out music. We’re also going to be opening a storefront in New York. As far as me, on the music side, now Duck Sauce is doing well. It started as my side project, but now it’s bigger and I do it myself, so just more music for Duck Sauce. And also, working on some sort of 8-track record. I think for myself, just focusing on more production as I continue to do all my various projects.

Do you have any favorite places to go out in New York? In terms of bars, somewhere to just get a drink, I like to go to Barcaro. My last show in New York was at Brooklyn Bowl, and that was great. It kind of feels like one of the more dynamic, inviting, and respectful-to-artists venues in New York, and the food is really good.