Best Gay Bars in LA: Where to Drink, Dance and Get Debaucherous for Pride

best-gay-bars-in-la

Ready for Pride, Angelenos? If you don’t know where to go to celebrate this weekend, BlackBook has you covered — we’ve curated a list of the best gay bars in Los Angeles, whether you want to dance till dawn, drink for cheap, or smoke your lungs out.

Best Bar for Cheap Drinks

The Bayou – This NOLA-themed bar boasts not one, but two happy hours (4 PM – 8 PM; 10:30 PM – 12:30 AM), that’ll get you $2 Buds and $4 well dranks. Highlights from their southern comfort goodness menu include mash puppies and mango catfish, which may not be good for the waistline but will help with your hangover tomorrow. (8939 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-273-3303)

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Best Bar for Smoking 

The Abbey – With the honor of two of Logo’s “Best Gay Bar in the World” awards and the fact that it was Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite pub, The Abbey is a very typical WeHo experience. Aside from 10 oz. martinis, free phone charging stations and a menu crafted by Cleo chef Danny Elmaleh, half the bar is a smoke-friendly patio, so feel free to light up between mimosas. All day Pride celebrations take place from Thursday 6/11 to Tuesday 6/16, ending at 2 AM. (692 North Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-289-8410) 

Best Bar for Celeb-Spotting

PUMP – Real Housewives star Lisa Vanderpump’s vanity project amounts to a surprisingly good restaurant and bar. One hundred-year-old olive trees throw some shade onto the Tuscan-themed restaurant, where the fare is standard Italian-New American. Great for a classy Sunday brunch after a night of partying, and, given the owner, it’s likely you’ll spot a celeb or two. (8948 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-657-PUMP)

Best Bar with a View

Perch – Not the gayest bar on the list, but this rooftop lounge has a spectacular view of the LA skyline plus a fabulous French menu to boot. Good if you want to get a little classy and nibble on truffle fries. (448 S Hill St, Downtown; 213-802-1770)

A photo posted by Perch (@perchlosangeles) on


Best Bar for a Casual Drink

GYM Bar – Pitchers, catchers, tight-ends…oh, there’s also sports here. Even if you don’t want to watch the Dodgers, GYM is a low-key spot that’s usually never very crowded. Chill atmosphere, strong drinks, and a Five Guys next door make it the perfect place to unwind after celebrating or to pregame the night ahead. (8738 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-659-2004)

Best Bar for a Casual Fuck

Fubar – Their tagline “Not Your Father’s Gay Bar” sums it up. Dimly lit and the perfect amount of seedy, the bar has more of a New York feel than PUMP or Penthouse. It positively oozes sex, so if you’re looking, you’ll probably find someone. (7994 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-654-0396)

Best Bar for Underground Queer Fun

Faultline – This dark, queer bar is more underground than other sites on this list; neon, leather, levis and porn conflate into an East Hollywood hole-in-the-wall. This Saturday June 13 will be their Pride Edition, hosted by makeup artist and RuPaul confidante Mathu Andersen. (4216 Melrose Ave, East Hollywood; 323-660-0889)

A photo posted by faultlinebar (@faultlinebar) on

Best Bar for Dancing

Micky’s – Their Saturday Night Dance Party (no cover before midnight) is electric, and you can score $5 cocktails from 10 – 11 PM. (8857 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-657-1176)

Best Bar for Kitsch + Camp

Oil Can Harry’s – Fierce and retro and covered in cow hides, Oil Can Harry’s is pure freewheeling fun in the Valley. Line dancing go-go boys and a retro disco dance party on Saturday June 13 round out a kitschy, country bar (11502 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; 818-760-9749)

Pizzeria Mozza

PIZZERIA MOZZA

641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles CA 90036
(323) 297-0101

Pizzeria Mozza is one of those rare gems that appeals to both high-end gourmands and old fashioned lovers of delicious, unfussy pizza. That’s why this Hancock Park restaurant is booked solid weeks in advance. But good things come to those who wait, so call ahead for a reservation—even if it’s two months from now—and mark it on your calendar in big red letters. When the day arrives, gather your friends and get ready for some of the most succulent, satisfying pizza you’ve ever tasted. This is a place to see and be seen, with plenty of celebrity sightings, so wear your best casual-cool outfit and walk in like you own the place. Start with a bottle of Chianti and a plate of elevated antipasti like baby eggplant al forno with mint yogurt. They’ll set the stage for the pizza you came here for, so listen to audible gasps of delight when pies beautiful enough to display in a gallery land on your table. The wide variety makes sharing a requirement. The funghi misti, for example, is a mushroom masterpiece, while the most ardent of meat lovers will swoon over the salami, sausage, and guanciale pie. You’ll feel a bond as you fight over a last scrumptious slice of the squash blossom pizza. Good luck trying to figure out which divine thin crust you liked best. Can’t decide? Plan another night to do it all over again. Just be patient—Mozza is one popular place.

– See more at Love This City

Cafe 50’s

CAFE 50’s

11623 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90025
(310) 479-1955

When it’s time to treat the kids—and yourself—to a meal out, bring the whole family to Cafe 50’s in Sawtelle, where chocolate malts, poodle skirts, and doo-wop live on. Your children will smile the second they step inside, as will you when you see the amazing “blue plate specials,” which include comfort-food classics like meatloaf, southern fried chicken, and grilled pork chops. This entertaining diner does all the work in keeping the little ones occupied, with colorful booths equipped with personal jukeboxes and walls lined with ‘50s memorabilia. There’s even a vintage TV set showing classic shows and newsreels. Let the little rascals play Connect Four while you peruse a menu overflowing with well-executed versions of diner classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Target “Pee Wee Wednesdays,” and children under 10 will eat free with every adult meal purchased. Show that you’re a kid at heart by joining the fun on monthly “Wacky Wednesdays,” when everyone wears pajamas to dinner. You’ll get a free meal when you buy a drink, which will almost make the embarrassment worth it. Be sure to pose for photos in your fuzzy PJ’s and bunny slippers, if only to prove to your friends that you’ll do anything for your kids.

– See more at Love This City

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe – Cuba Goodies

PORTO’S BAKERY & CAFE

3614 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank CA 91505
(818) 846-9100

Somebody once said that too much of a good thing isn’t good for you. That somebody had obviously never been to Porto’s Bakery & Cafe. For your next lunch outing, round up your hungry friends and head over to this Magnolia Boulevard eatery, an L.A. institution since 1960. Cuban-influenced and family-owned from the beginning, Porto’s is always packed, and for good reason: it has some of the most delicious food in the area at prices almost anyone can stomach, so bring comfy shoes for the line and a big appetite for the table. When your eyes catch the sea of delicious treats in the display case, your belly will growl with anticipation. Yes, the sweets here are to die for, but start on the savory side of the menu with pork tamales, chicken empanadas, and maybe a potato ball or two. The food here is satisfyingly filling, but somehow you’ll find room in your belly for some dessert. Here’s where you’ll want to order just about everything, from the chocolate biscotti to the dulce de leche cake to a light, fluffy, and amazing slice of pineapple custard Cuban cake. Most treats only cost a buck or two, so your wallet will barely show a dent. The staff behind the counter is masterful at slinging foods with enthusiastic precision. And don’t forget to order a round of cortaditos, Cuban-style espresso topped with steamed milk that packs just enough of a punch to get you through the rest of your day in good spirits. Hanging out with friends and relishing amazing food is a very good thing. You can never get too much of that.

– See more at Love This City

Sushi Roku

SUSHI ROKU

8445 W 3rd St Los Angeles CA 90048
(323) 655-6767
sushiroku.com

Drive the streets of Los Angeles and you’ll notice restaurants as diverse as the people. From taco stands to Korean BBQ to spicy Indian fare, the choices span the globe, but one perennial date night favorite stands out from the rest: sushi. When the evening calls for equal measures of fun and romance, take your significant other by the hand and lead the way to Sushi Roku in West Hollywood. Walk in wearing something stylish and you’ll fit right in with the hip crowd at the bar, where an affable bartender will get you and yours into the Asian spirit with a ginger lychee mojito or a “salary man” (Dewar’s 12-year-old  Scotch, daiginjo sake, sour mix, raspberry-cilantro mash).  Once you’re seated, take in the spectacle of skilled sushi chefs putting on a show in the open kitchen. Staff and diners alike cheer as the culinary artists shout back in unison while deftly sculpting fish, seaweed, and rice into food as beautiful as it is delicious. Wrap your hands around hot bowls of miso soup as you plan your attack on the menu. As a “contemporary” sushi restaurant, many dishes take classical Japanese traditions and incorporate non-traditional ingredients from Latin America (jalapeños) and Europe (olive oil) to reveal an eclectic burst of international flavors. Let your date pick a combination of sushi, sashimi, and rolls (the black truffle tempura hand roll is a winner) while you pick the sake. Then clink cups and say kanpai! to the culinary adventure you’re about to share. By the time it’s all gone, you won’t want to leave your table at this chic, ultramodern spot … so don’t. The staff will be happy to pour you another cup of tea to reflect on a sublime experience.

– See more at Love This City

Exclusive: Nur Khan on Guns N’ Roses Show at Hiro Ballroom, Burlesque King Ivan Kane On Revel Resort

I wouldn’t recognize Fashion Week if Nur Khan wasn’t presenting one or more serious Rock and Roll shows. Fresh off The Kills‘ 10 Year Anniversary party hosted by Lovecat Magazine the other night, Nur throws Guns N’ Roses into the Hiro Ballroom. Talk around town has Mark Packer soon converting the space into a Tao Downtown, gobbling up Hiro and Matsuri in the process. Nur was the hero at Hiro when it was what it was. He is seriously happy about sending his old turf off with a bang. I caught up with him and gave my regrets.I cannot attend, as I will be DJing with Kelle Calco at Hotel Chantelle while all the hoopla is hooplaing. I asked Nur all about it.

The rumor was that the show was going to be at The Electric Room but it got too big a thing and now it’s at Hiro. In the future, you plan on doing a lot of shows at The Electric Room. How do you shows there….logistically?
I just did my first show there the other night. I remove furniture in front of a fireplace and half of the room. Set the PA and backline up in front of the fireplace – very similar to what I created with the Rose Bar sessions. You get the idea. You were at some of them. I see The Electric Room as a better fit for emerging bands. I’m doing this at Hiro; it’s sort of my two cents into the goodbye. The town is losing another rock and roll room. I’m going to have to build another. We’d still be at Don Hill’s if he hadn’t died. This show at Hiro is all out …confetti canons, arealists. It’s the last hurrah before Mark Packer takes Hiro and Matsuri over and does what he does to it.  
 
I know why you, me, and everyone and their brothers want these shows …how about the bands…what’s in it for them? Why do they want it?
For the most part, the bands are friends, so relationships are important when it comes to these…  everyone loves these intimate shows. It feels very special and inclusive, like the band is playing in my loft. It’s also a slightly different PR angle for the bands; there’s different press attached to these shows than, say, perhaps a Madison Square Garden show. They get reviewed differently from a different demographic that they don’t get from just a regular concert.  Because the shows are so small and private, they generate a lot of interest. I have gotten bands a lot of editorial work and exposure/campaigns sometimes etc., so the bands benefit from it being a very special show. A lot of VIPs and NYC tastemakers, and just an overall different experience that’s fun to do once in a while. I’m sure at one point all these bands were playing in a garage or something in their early days. They like the fact that these shows are a little "out of the norm" and, like i said, it’s usually friends and family so everyone’s happy to do the shows regardless….
 
What are you up to?
I am so busy just focusing on Fashion Week right now. I’m swamped with events this week. Task #1 is trying to keep up with an email every 30 seconds this week !!
 
Another Fashion Week frenzy….what’s driving you these days, besides money…besides being surrounded by fast woman and gallant men?
Haha. That’s funny!!!  What’s driving me?? I enjoy what I do and as you know, I am super passionate about music (and design, like yourself)… I really am thrilled with the way The Electric Room came out…  I just finished having another custom- designed mirror today – big clockwork orange eyes, back painted on glass behind the whole DJ area. What drives me is to create something new, designing the clubs, and I like to shake things up when I can and go in different directions when there is a trend happening in town. If everyone is going right,  I like to go left!!!  But always stay consistent with my music programs, which are geared for a musically literate clientele!!! Please!!!!  Come to the Guns N’ Roses show I’m doing tonight. It’s gonna be a full-on electric three-hour set!!!
 
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Ivan Kane headshot
 
I am a regular visitor to Atlantic City and it makes me happy that the resort Revel, for so long an empty monolith on the beach, is getting geared up to open. Previews begin April 2nd, and the opening is on May 25th, kicking-off Memorial Day weekend.  One of the entertainment editions to speak of is Burlesque Maestro Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Nightclub. I asked Ivan to tell me all about it:
 
This isnt my dad’s AC and the Revel figures to take it to another level. What is AC 2012? Where is it going and what does the Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Nightclub do to the AC game?
I have always been known for expanding the genre of burlesque and creating a unique, sexy, and sensual vibe.  It’s a bigger experience than one usually finds in a nightclub environment.
 
Royal Jelly sounds sticky and sweet. Where does the name come from?
Queen bees are made, not born, and Royal Jelly is the key ingredient to the burlesque royalty found only at Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub.  
 
Burlesque in NYC has become a staple, yet only a couple of years ago it was relegated to off-nights in out of the way places. Now, it’s a boom town with serious shows almost nightly. NYC is enjoying a burlesque renaissance. Will this renaissance translate to South Jersey and Vegas by the beach?
Burlesque entered the pop culture lexicon with the phenomenal success of Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce in Hollywood and at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Now I am bringing my burlesque to the east coast with an unparalleled nightclub experience that I created exclusively for Revel Atlantic City.
 
Revel has been a long time coming. When did the idea of your joint form and what will it look like?  
I am very excited to be a part of Revel; it has been a long time coming. Royal Jelly is a nightclub-in-the-round, where the DJs and dancing are complemented by the drama and excitement of the burlesque shows. Royal Jelly was designed to be exciting no matter where you turn, with multiple stages and flying catwalks that drop from the sky, animating the entire space.
 
How do you clone yourself? Will you always be around or sometimes in LA or NYC or Vegas? What capable person or persons will spot you when you’re afar?  
I touch everything Royal Jelly, but I surround myself with incredibly talented, able, and creative people. Because we are producing highly produced shows every night, I am never too far away for too long a period.  

Chasing Dreams: Talking with Rock Star Emily Lazar, 18-Person Hungry March Band Performs Tonight

I used to tell all my potential first-time nightlife industry employees a little ditty before they actually agreed to come aboard. If you are a regular reader (well, you must be quite irregular for that) you have heard this before… and now you’ll here it again: I told the people working for me to have an exit strategy. The money is good. The people, the celebrities, the action can be an addiction – but the life, except for a few, has an expiration date. When it’s over, you have to have a way to support yourself. It ends when you need a change but no one will hire you because they want younger, or you just can’t put in the hours anymore, or the "distractions" of the night become a real problem. I would tell them nightlife is like a rollercoaster…you pay a little money to get on and the first thing you do is go up a great hill and from there at the top it seems like you can see forever, when in reality you are seeing just a bit more. Then its a fast ride down and around, thrills spill treacherous curves, some screams, some fear, some exhilaration, and when it’s over you end up basically where you started, spent a little time, had some fun. Many creatures of the night are putting themselves through school or are actors or artists or dancers. They are pursuing dreams in a place built on them. They often service stars, people who were just like them a decade ago. Failure and shattered hopes often are a heavy burden as time goes on. Breaking out is hard to do. The odds are stacked against them. Emily Lazar left NY behind to chase her dreams on the left coast. She used to work with me. She’s a rock star trying to let the world realize that.

Most nightlife workers are doing this on their way to that… Tell me about the jobs you took in nightlife so you could perfect your art. Tell me about your club life and how it helped you chase your dream.
I think i’ve done pretty much every job there is in nightlife… promoter, bottle service, assistant to the manager… it was a way to keep me going as I developed my craft. Working in that industry taught me how to develop relationships with people on so many different levels. I was lucky to have you watching out for me and helping me on my way to where I am.  
 
Tell me about the band.
September Mourning is the creation of a universe. It is not a band, it is a story… a fantasy storyline with a musical element intertwined within its world. I created it with Marc Silvestri/ Top Cow Comics. The hard rock musical element of it was previewed on stages with the legendary Marilyn Manson, only months after its inception a few years ago…. Performances with The Birthday Massacre, I Am Ghost, Hanzel Und Gretyl, and Dommin followed, as well as radio play across the country. This past year at Comic Con in San Diego, SM announced a partnership with MTV Geek that will further the development of the character and the world in which she dwells through webisode programs and online comics. Top Cow also announced the unveiling of the graphic novel of the same name in 2012. In the overpopulated music scene of today, I’d like to think that September Mourning stands alone in its originality. We have been recording new material with a slightly different musical direction this year (much more of a hard rock/ alternative feel) for release in the states, but we decided to put together an album of songs that we toured on in the beginning of the project and release it before we release the new direction and sound here. Our album, "Melancholia," drops on May 18th on Repo Records in Germany and Russia, but can be preordered now online at www.poponaut.de.
 
You are in LA, and yesterday a very savvy guy told me that it is much better than ever and in many ways – low rents, jobs, an easier place to pursue a career and have fun at night. What have you found?
The music scene here is thriving. Rents are lower, but you have to have a car, and with the gas prices as they are, well… I think it evens out, haha. But for musicians, there are definitely more opportunities to develop as an artist here. Even the art scene in general seems to just be more inspiring… but I’m a New Yorker at heart. There’s an energy in Manhattan that you won’t find anywhere else on the entire planet. It’s electric almost… and being there, it pulses through your veins and drives you. I kept that with me when I moved, that energy. I also miss the people of NYC that I hold so close to my heart. If I could transplant all the people in NYC to here, this town would be almost perfect.
 
More importantly, do you miss me?
Every hour, every minute, every second of every day… hehe  😉
 
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Hungry Marching Band
 
David Rogers-Berry is a friend and BINGO buddy. He was raised in rural South Carolina and has that southern hospitality-way about him. He is the drummer in the touring band O’Death and has 500 concerts in the US of A and Europe and has three studio albums to brag about. He is also a cancer survivor. The other night at BINGO he told me about his part in Brooklyn’s inimitable  Hungry March Band." There are apparently 18 people in this act and they have a following in Bogotá, Columbia. I can’t make this stuff up!. It is logistically impossible and very expensive to get 18 people and equipment to Columbia, so they’re doing an event in New York.
 
I know you as the drummer of O’Death and as a friend. Now, I hear you are involved with an 18-piece marching band. Tell me about this project.
Hungry March Band (HMB) was established in 1997 for the sake of marching in Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade. Since then, the band has become the cornerstone of what you might call an anarchist marching band movement. Nowadays, you will find bands like this in most major cities around this country and abroad. HMB has made three or four studio albums and toured Europe and America. As you can imagine, traveling with this many people can be a logistical nightmare – hell, just working in a creative context at home can be enough to drive a person insane – and it has! Right now, there is an influx of new blood injecting this Brooklyn institution with fresh vitality. The band remains an NYC fixture that can always be seen in Greenwich Village’s Halloween Parade and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade, but we also play clubs, private events, art happenings, late-night speakeasies, and the occasional protest. The band maintains no political affiliations, but  there is anarchy at the heart of what we do, so we find ourselves aligned with Socio-political institutions from time to time.
 
Tonight, you are trying to raise money to get this crowd to Bogotá, Columbia where you have a large following. Tell me about whats going on to raise funds.
Tonight’s event promises to be spectacular, with live performances from the band and other musicians, aerial acrobatics, some burlesque, drink specials, a cocktail hour, and an extensive silent auction. We’ll be at Galapagos Art Space at 16 Main street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. This is a beautiful and unusual space, for anyone who hasn’t witnessed it before. We’re getting started early – doors are at 6pm, and the festivities kick off around 7, the auction closes at 10pm, and the winners will be announced around 10:30 – then, there is only drinking and socializing left to do!
 
How does one get a large following in Bogotá?
We’ll be working on that with this trip, which is the band’s first to South America.  We’re going to Bogotá for the massive Ibero-American Theater Festival. Some of the festival organizers saw the band in Europe a couple years back and invited us to be a part of this event that lasts for two weeks and includes many outdoor street theatre presentations, in addition to more conventional productions in venues throughout Bogotá.
 
What’s up with O’Death?
O’Death is preparing to tour in early summer and we’re becoming more and more comfortable with our status as a genuine cult band. I’m hoping the band can start recording our next record in the fall, but in the meantime we have a lot of other eggs to hatch.

Stars’ Torquil Campbell on Touring, Loving and Hating New York, and the Cult of Larry David

“Ask away,” says Torquil Campbell casually to me on Monday after our long distance call is connected. Ultimately, the lead singer of Canadian indie pop band Stars proves disarmingly entertaining. Between his tweets and his demeanor during interviews (at least ours), there’s no lack of laughs. A few questions in, the line cuts out. Upon being reconnected, he teases, “I just gave, like, a ten-minute answer and, at the end of it, there was nobody there. You missed some amazing shit, man. Never to be repeated. That’s too bad. That’s it.” I like this guy. (And, for the record, I got some other “amazing shit,” so not to worry.)

The forty-year-old singer-songwriter and actor, perhaps best known for his membership in Stars, but also other notable ensembles such as Broken Social Scene, is gearing up to tour pretty consistently through most of next month. He and his fellow bandmates—comprising Chris Seligman, Evan Cranley, Amy Millan, and Pat McGee—who released their seventh album in September, kicked things off on Wednesday and make their way to New York City today. Catch them in Brooklyn, to be exact, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, where tonight and tomorrow they’ll split the bill with L.A.-based band Milo Greene.

In the half-hour allotted to talk, Campbell didn’t hold back, opening up about making music, growing up, picking battles and taking revenge. From his distaste for touring to his stance on fame, his love of Larry David to his dream of limo driving, this Vancouver-based artist bears all, including the fact that this path is not technically what he wanted.

Did you approach The North differently than past albums, or is it sort of a consistent process?
It’s both. After 13 years and so many records, we definitely have a method and a system that works. It changes a little bit every time, but now I think we’re pretty set on the way we do it together. In terms of the methodology, it wasn’t that different. But every time you make a record, you choose different gears, different places to record, and different things are happening to you in your life. You’re a different person. So, those three things always inform the same methodology and that’s what changes: the filters through which the work passes. Sometimes they bear a striking resemblance to the last time, but, this time, I knew it was 180 degrees [different]. This was definitely the most fun, least painful project ever.

The most fun and least painful?
After 35, or after you have kids, it’s like, “Well, who really gives a shit, ultimately?” Am I really going to go to war with this person I love and lose sleep and have fucking anxiety attacks just because we can’t figure out what bassline works? As a young band, it’s the only thing that matters to you. Then, time passes, and so many other things mean so much more. It’s not that the work isn’t important; it’s just that it’s in the context of the rest of your life. You learn how to calm down and get on with it. So much of life is learning that you lose about seventy percent of the battles you choose to fight. That’s the average. There’s no point getting upset about it.

Going back to your time together, what’s that kind of longevity like? And what do you foresee for the future?
It’s amazing. I think it’s something we’re all very proud of. We’re proud of the music, but I think we’re prouder, in a way, of this co-existence we’ve built together. All the things we’ve been through together. [Laughs] It’s an endless parade of bad decisions and big mistakes, and yet nobody pulled the plug. Nobody ever did that. At one point or another, every single member of the band has had a right to do that or been the cause of someone else having a right to do that. And yet we haven’t. In that respect, it’s a lot like marriage. It’s hoping for the best. [This is the point at which we were disconnected.] As for the future, we’re going to keep going and probably play fewer shows.

But you love shows.
Oh yeah. I love playing shows. If everyone could just come here, to Vancouver, I would play, easily, 300 shows a year. No problem at all. But, I think being on the bus and being away from my family and that aspect of it, it’s fun for, I don’t know, let’s say ten years. And then, after that, it’s like, “Okay. This is a fuckin’ ridiculous way to live my life. I’m spending an hour-and-a-half looking for my sock. Where am I going anyway? Why do I need socks? It’s not as if anybody knows whether I’m alive or dead, until 9 PM tonight. So, why don’t I just not wear socks?” It’s just a pointless way to exist. And then you play a show and you’re like, “Oh, life means something and, god, I love my job and it’s so great and aren’t we lucky to have people cheering for us?”But, then you wake up the next day and you’re in the middle of nowhere without your family. So, that aspect of it is getting old, for sure.

I hear that. Makes sense. So, how do you feel about fame?
Ever since I was a kid, people have been telling me I’m going to be famous, all my life, and I never have been. I’m not famous at all. Nobody knows who the fuck I am. I’m nobody. First of all, obviously—it goes without saying—I’m in a tiny indie band [that] nobody gives a shit about. But, even people who give a shit about us, I’m just some forty-year-old guy. The only time I’m famous is when I’m singing those songs. Other than that, I give myself a solid 4.7 out of 10 on the human impact scale.

If you say so! How do you like returning to New York?
Well, I lived in New York for ten years and the band started in New York. I like coming to New York like a New Yorker likes to come to New York. There’s a part of me that loves that place and it’s very deep inside me. To this day, my wife still says that, even though I was born in England and I grew up in Canada, I act like a New Yorker. That was where my personality came into full fruition, where I found 11 million assholes just like me. [Laughs] I feel very at home there. On the other hand, I hate New York. Like everybody does. New York is a reflection of you. It’s whatever you imagine yourself to be. On a bad day, New York is a bitch. And, on a good day, New York is an angel, I think. I like coming to New York and having something to do. I like the fact that I come to New York and play shows and people come to the shows. There’s an element of revenge I enjoy. I think a lot of people end up living in New York to try to get revenge on New York for all that New York has done to them over the years. People are motivated by revenge. I feel that. It’s satisfying to come and get a little revenge on New York every once in a while.

Revenge, huh?
It’s about my personal relationship with New York. The experience of ten years trying to make it work there. Sometimes it did work, but a lot of the time it doesn’t work. New York is so tiny and there’s so many people doing amazing things; if shit isn’t going your way, it’s very palpable, and you feel very much left out of the shit that is going right. It can be a cruel place. I love it.

Ditto. What do you get into when you’re here?
Well, we work most of the time. I’m a person who just goes to the same place, no matter where I am in the world. In New York, I still go to the bars I went to in 1996. I have no idea what’s happening in New York. I just go to New York and I recreate 1996.

In another interview, Amy Millan claims Stars is like Seinfeld. She says, “If you really looked into the deep psyche of Stars, it’s like Seinfeld, but Larry David is actually in Seinfeld instead of behind the scenes writing it. That’s my life. I swear to God we are a Seinfeld episode in normal life, like there’s the glamorous aspect of getting up on stage and writing amazing music, but then there’s the daytime stuff that’s pure Seinfeld.” Can you speak to this?
[Laughs] All I can say is, I think Larry David is a big person in all our lives. I have a t-shirt with his face on it. That’s how much I love Larry David. I suffer from anxiety. When I’m in the throws of anxiety attacks, I don’t have a prescription for Xanax—I just watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Or sometimes I just listen to it on my headphones. I’m obsessed with Larry David and the work of Larry David and I think everyone else in the band is pretty obsessed with Larry David. The thing about Larry David is, he’s a dark motherfucker. Like, he doesn’t care how dark it gets, as long as it’s funny. I think, in Stars, that’s the kind of people we are. We really don’t care. There are things we would never say in public, obviously, but there are jokes made in our band that are truly morally reprehensible. But, if they’re funny, everybody has a good laugh. At least half the reason we’re in the band is just for jokes, just to hang out and wait for punch lines. The one thing we all have in common is, we share a fucked up sense of humor. And our cult leader is Larry David. We would follow him anywhere. We’d do anything for him. We worship him. We think he’s fucking genius.

Same.
Oh, we’re not alone. We’re among the legion.

What would you be doing if not this?
The only job I can think of that I would actually be able to do would be driving a cab or, like, driving people to the airport in a limo. I could do that. And I would like to do that. I really would. People think I’m joking and I’m not joking. I think it would be awesome. You just put on the soft rock station. You have water bottles—my car would be fucking awesome. Like, I’d have Evian bottles in the back, maybe a couple of newspapers to read. If you want to talk we can talk. If not, I’ll leave you alone. It’s fine. We don’t have to talk. And I would drive very smoothly. If you’re in a rush, I’ll drive fast, but I’m not going to go crazy. I’d be really good at that. Wouldn’t that be a great job?

[Laughs] Can you please make a music video where you’re the limo driver and the rest of the band’s in the back?
That’s a great idea! Actually, that’s a very good idea. Yes, we can. I’m going to do that for you. I’ll get right on that. I’m going to steal that from you.

Yesss. [Laughs] Lastly, have you always wanted to make music and act?
No. I’ve never wanted to. I’ve never wanted to act and I’ve never wanted to make music. I just had to. I couldn’t do anything else. I didn’t want to do anything else. So, by elimination, that’s what happened. That’s what I am. It’s what everybody in my family is. It’s what my father was, what my mother is, my brothers, my sisters, my wife, my child. Everybody in my life is obsessed with art and is a performer of one kind or another. There’s not a single person I love who isn’t in that field or doesn’t have that within them. Even the people I’m close to in my family who are not performers, that’s our religion. We’re fundamentalists. I was raised in a house where groceries were bought [with] money made from art. Art was the Bible and art was the devil and art was everything in between. I was told art could change people’s lives and you could change the world and you could start revolutions with it. That’s my fate. I have never wanted to. It’s what I am. 

Photo by Kevin Barnett

Robert DeLong is an EDM Artist on the Rise

Seattle-born, L.A.-based singer-songwriter Robert DeLong has a flare for the alternative. In a good way. The 26 (soon to be 27)-year-old EDM mastermind, dubbed a Young Artist to Watch by MTV, has the music scene in his hands—quite literally. Indeed, among the myriad instruments he manages to maneuver during performances are Wiimotes and Joysticks, rigged like MIDIs and adding edge to his already memorable brand of booty movin’ tunes.

Seriously, though, this whiz kid’s got the chops and multitasks better than the best of us—in front of an audience, no less. He’s a one-man-band who sings, drums, and fiddles with game controllers and keyboards, sometimes going so far as to incorporate guitar, too. His live set is something to behold, a sweaty mid-twenties talent, hair slicked down in an exaggerated comb-over, putting every effort into churning out original numbers while keeping the beat.

“I’m always writing songs,” says DeLong, whose debut album, Just Movement, drops today. Makes sense, since he constantly rocked out in bands back in high school. Now he’s signed to Glassnote, label to the likes of Phoenix and Mumford & Sons.

Recently, DeLong released a video to accompany his catchy track “Global Concepts.” The visual rendition of this f-bomb laden rhythmic ditty features a foggy interior, warehouse-like, smoke somewhat obscuring the agile dancers in the background. Tube lights suspended from above flicker and flash whilst DeLong engages in various aspects of performing, most notably wandering around and gesticulating with Wiimote or drumsticks in hand, or hitting his steel drum to excellent tribal effect as he marches subtly in place. Towards the end, the space is overrun with revelers, morphing into an all-out party you wish you’d been invited to. (The platinum blonde mop you may glimpse amid the shadows belongs to talented dancer James Koroni, the individual responsible for my introduction to and fast fandom of DeLong.)

Another nuance unique to DeLong is his affinity for orange, which he wears with pride in the shape of an “x,” big and bold on a classic black tee, as well as painted with precision on his cheekbone in the shape of a lightening bolt. More on this defining aesthetic to follow.

New Yorkers can catch DeLong in action on February 15 when, as part of a greater tour, he plays The Studio at Webster Hall. Festivalgoers will have several opportunities to indulge as well, from SXSW to Coachella, Ultra to Governors Ball.

Not long ago I sat down with the confident up-and-comer at The Commons Chelsea, one of my favorite neighborhood haunts, where over iced tea we discussed the multi-instrumentalist’s inspiration, interest in hacking HIDs, and what it all means.

What’s it like being dubbed a Young Artist to Watch?
It’s great. I grew up watching MTV, so it’s cool. Wild ride. Exciting. Surreal.

How have people reacted? Any super fans?
Nothing too weird so far. But, it’s definitely getting weirder. After the video came out, all of a sudden friends from high school started reaching out, sending messages. It’s fun to hear from people I haven’t heard from in years. But, it’s just funny.

I bet. Did you always know you were going to go into music?
Near the end of high school I knew I was going to do music. I started out thinking I was going to be in science or something. But, I was better at [music]. I think people knew I was a musician, but I don’t know if people knew I was into electronic music and that I was going to go that route.

What would you be doing if not this?
Since college, all of my jobs have been music related. I taught drum lessons, so that was my thing. If it wasn’t music at all, I guess I’d be going to school.

To become a scientist.
Yeah, I guess. [Laughs]

So, tell me more about this Wiimote rewiring…
You can hack [a] human interface device, anything from Gamepads to Joysticks, and turn it into a MIDI. Basically, the idea is you’re just sending information to a computer and can turn it into whatever you want. It’s the same thing as having a knob, slider, drum pad. It’s all the same if you can hack it and make it work for you. I found out you could do it, it seemed interesting and it’s cheaper than buying a bunch of expensive musical equipment. And it’s fun, people like it.

How many instruments do you have up onstage with you?
Three different electronic things, two computers, game pad, Joystick, Wiimote, six pieces of percussion, drum set, keyboard. Like, 15-20 things. Sometimes I’ll have a guitar. Oh, and two microphones.

Wow. That’s a lot for one guy to keep track of. So, are all your shows like the last time you performed in New York? No pauses between songs, stuff like that?
The show is always continuous and flows together. When I do a longer set, there’s more drumming. I play guitar sometimes, too. It’s high-paced. Jumping around doing a lot of different things.

I’m getting that vibe. You sampled Moby when you last played live in NYC. Have you been a long time fan of his?
When his album Play came out, I was probably, like, 12. That was when I first started experimenting with making electronic music, because it was kind of accessible, mainstream electronic music for the time. It was kind of something I grew up with.

Aww, an audible homage. Thoughts on our fair city?
I love this city, but Manhattan is a little terrifying. And it’s a little colder here. Do prefer the warm. Other than that, it’s beautiful. It’s awesome. Good people.

Who else besides Moby inspired or inspires you?
The songs on the album especially are an amalgamation of a lot of songs over the last four years, so it’s a wide variety of things. I grew up in Seattle, so there’s the whole indie singer-songwriter vibe that I kind of grew up with, like Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, Modest Mouse. I think you can hear that whole Seattle sound in the way I write melodies. As far as things I’m listening to a lot right now, I’m listening to Lucy and Sports. I also grew up listening to a lot of Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Talking Heads. Those are some of my constant jams.

Can you tell me what inspired the lyrics behind “Just Movement”?
“Just Movement,” the first track, is sort of the thesis statement for the album. It was written right after college, a time of mental exploring. Just movement: the idea that, if you take this reductionist perspective, everything we do is just atoms moving around. It’s all meaningless. But, once you break it down, where do you go from there? Just movement, the double entendre. Dancing, philosophy. Take it or leave it.

Have you yourself always been into dancing? I’m thinking, too, of “Global Concepts”…
I go out dancing a lot. Do a lot of jumping around on stage. I think that’s an awesome thing. It’s the oldest response to music that human beings had, so it only makes sense to think about that. For a long time I was in the indie scene and no one dances. Everyone looks at their feet.

[Laughs] Shoegaze. How would you describe the music scene in L.A.?
It’s actually pretty cool. There’s definitely a burgeoning DIY electronic scene in Los Angeles. L.A.’s big. There’s always something happening. You can always see new music. It’s good stuff.

So, how did the face painting start?
The whole thing was a group of me and my friends called the Tribe of Orphans, a bunch of people who hang out and go to dance events and stuff. It kind of just evolved over time. My girlfriend Heidi face paint[s] at shows.

So she’s your professional face painter. Does she paint in real life?
Besides face painting she does studio painting and stuff, so it’s great.

Why orange?
Initially? That’s the color paint that shows up the best under black light. It glows the brightest.

Has anyone ever said something to you about your “x” symbol? How it very much resembles the “x” symbol of The xx?
Yeah, people have said that before.

Does it piss you off?
It does a little bit. It doesn’t really. I didn’t even know about them, that that was their symbol. The “x” just was kind of an organic development. My girlfriend had painted it on my headphones probably three years ago or something, so it was before that first The xx album came out. It was just kind of a simultaneous [thing]. We both did it. And then they became famous first. It’s just an “x.” It is what it is.

Emblem wars aside, what’s the greatest challenge of all this?
I think the greatest challenge is to not get sick all the time from running around. But, I have a lot of energy and this is what I wanted to do, so it’s all working out. So far. I get to do what I love. I love playing shows. That’s what it’s all about.

Photo by Miles Pettengell