Larry Tee On His Favorite Project Yet: New Single ‘Charlie’

You can’t talk about the "good ol’ days" of nightlife without homage to Larry Tee. However, Larry, like myself, likes to be remembered for what he has done and acknowledged for what he is doing in the "now.” Larry and I have worked together many times. Sometimes the relationship has been testy, but it is always respectful. He has constantly redefined nightlife and our culture. I was around when he coined the term “Electroclash” for a genre of music that few knew about then. He helped push artists like RuPaul, Peaches, Fischerspooner, and Scissor Sisters into our vocabulary. He talked about Williamsburg while we were still paying Manhattan rents and listening to boring disc jockeys.

His Love Machine party with his Atlanta clan RuPaul, Lahomma Van Zandt, and Lady Bunny was the precursor to so much of our fabulously forward nightlife. He was pushing Amanda Lepore when she was still sporting a push-up bra. I remember hearing him talk about Princess Superstar when she was Princess "I wanna be a” Star. Larry has always been in front of the action. He has always gone where no man has gone before. So when he says that something’s going to be the next thing… we better listen. He and I were partners in crime at Le Palace de Beaute with Michael Alig before the famous crime(s). He has made a rock star out of Perez Hilton and created W.I.T. This can go on and on but as I said up top, Larry is still making it happen in a huge way and we chatted with him about it.

We met many years ago and worked together often. I have always looked at you as an innovator. Electronic music, RuPaul… talk to me about the things and people you helped push into the public view.
I have always been lucky to befriend people who have big talents, from my friends in Georgia like Michael Stipe and RuPaul, to the Scissor Sisters and Afrojack more recently. I have always loved other peoples’ big ideas and have tried to push them into the spotlight too since it’s exciting to watch. My whole Electroclash period of festivals and touring groups like Peaches, Chicks on Speed, Fischerpooner, etc., was all based around my love of outrageous and often political shows. And lately my work has been hi-jacked by more mainstream stars like Santigold, Shontelle, Steve Aoki, and Princess Superstar with my song "Licky" and Afrojack, MDPC and Roxy Cottontail with my "Let’s Make Nasty" track. As ‘crazy’ gets more mainstream with Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga, my brand has been dragged into the mainstream too, thankfully.

Your single comes out today! Tell me about it and how it started.
The song is called “Charlie” and features 15 dogs in wigs dressed as contemporary artists like Chihuahua Del Rey and Stinky Minaj, designed by Lady Gaga’s hair couture genius, Charlie Le Mindu.

How do you get 100 million views on YouTube? That was the question when I decided to make a video with Charlie Le Mindu. Google-image him for sure. After some research, we realized that if you didn’t have Justin Bieber, Rihanna, or Eminem in your video, you better have children or animals. The song “Charlie” is a collage of sound effects, mad pianos, electro-synth riffs, a 60-year-old subway singer, and hyper-percussion bongo breaks, and so we needed something equally madcap to make the video pop.

So we got Charlie to make wigs for 15 dogs. When we were finished shooting, people kept saying that this dog looked like Lana Del Rey or this one looked like Amy Winehouse so we took the idea further and gave the dogs fake celebrity names like “Chihuahua Del Rey” and “Madogga.” It was one of the most satisfying projects in my life, I tell you.

Do you still DJ? What else do you do with your time now spent in London? Why did you abandon us?
Since I have had so many breakouts on the dance floor and in movies these last couple years, it’s led to a DJ residency at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas which is amazing. I was arm wrestling with Pete Wendt from Fall Out Boy at the pool party I did there last week. In London, Super Techno Party Machine at East Bloc is my residency every Friday/ I have guests like Rolf from the 2 Bears, Severino from Horse Meat Disco, Rueben Wu from Ladytron, Chicks on Speed, supermodel Luke Worrall, Richard Mortimer from Ponystep Magzine, and Carmen Xtravaganza from the house of Xtravagnza. What do these guys have in common? Nothing except if I wanted to put on an amazing party, I would want to have lots of diverse guests and sounds! And some fabulousness! And I still consider New York to be my spiritual home, but it was becoming like Groundhog Day where every day seemed like the one before…London has inspired me to make new things and experiment with new sounds, so I’m super happy.

While we are on the subject…what’s great in London club-wise, for people with…er… different perspectives?
London always has new hot spots popping up that are worth a try. Destroy Cluture raves are amazing featuring the Boy London DJ Team, Alis Pelleschi, the post-rave fashion goddess, and Sean Bass, the graphics genius behind the DISNEY bastardizations. Hot Boy Dancing Spot is just what you would expect: BUTT magazine come to life.

 

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Azealia Banks Brings Her Mermaid Ball to Bowery Ballroom

Azealia Banks finally came home. Less than nine months after unleashing the adrenalized clip for her breakout single “212,” the Harlemite descended on her native digs for her first post-hype solo gig at Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom, the second show of the day following a parking lot performance at Hot 97’s Summer Jam festival that afternoon.

Expectations ran high. The freshly legal rapstress has ridden the fame rocket to heights normally unimaginable by new emcees, let alone female ones. She’s dazzled cool-for-school crowds in Paris at Karl Lagerfeld’s home; signed a hands-off record deal with Interscope/Polydor to release her debut album Broke with Expensive Taste in the fall and, last week, her debut EP 1991; and managed to chump old guard rap fixtures like T.I. and Lil’ Kim simply by throwing out a few one-two-punch tweets.

In a relatively brief amount of time, the self-stamped Yung Rapunxel earned the right to let eccentricities fly at her first NYC show, themed as a “Mermaid Ball.” Fans were encouraged to don their best aquatic attire in hopes of landing a $1,000 prize, given to the best merman or mermaid in attendance. Looming tufts of aqua hair and seaweed-inspired DIY fashion dotted the sold-out crowd, where seapunk attire abounded and heels were unisex. Opening sets from Maluca, Roxy Cottontail, WcKids, Tigga Calore and House of Ladosha greased patrons, who nibbled gratis cones of blue cotton candy and wielded balloons before the mistress of ceremonies emerged at one AM.

Descending the stairs to a tinkering instrumental, Banks warmly greeted her adoring fans with few words. “Yo, this is my first official New York show,” she said. “Shout out to everybody who came out.” She was dressed for the occasion, rocking a see-through body suit divided between red and blue hues, exposing breasts adorned with heart-shaped pasties over her nipples. Banter was minimal throughout: she prefaced most songs with a hometown shout-out and thanked her openers. Otherwise, it was a full-on rap attack.

Or, at least a moderately valiant attempt. For a penwoman who folds over words with lyrical ease, Banks hasn’t entirely hit her stride. Fans in the front row pumped fists to “Grand Scam (Lyrical Exercise)” and “Barbie Shit,” but enthusiasm trickled to the back. A pair of dancers kept the spectacle alive on stage, but Banks merely thrusted her hips and swished her feet-long hair, her energy seemingly set to medium. Songs like “Bambi” rang a few bells, but most seemed unschooled on her pre-“212” material.

That disconnect boiled down the set to the 1991 EP, which was performed in full at the end of the show. It made the personality seem bigger than the music, a cocky one at that. She strutted across the stage like she owned the place—it was her ball, after all—but her satisfactory live chops underlined how far she’s yet to go, and perhaps how short she’s come.

But judging by the clamorous response to the CeCe Peniston-inspired cuts from 1991, she’s on the right track. Launching into the EP’s title anthem, Banks Franglished her way through the lounge-ready anthem, cranking the heat to full blast with the bloopy “Van Vogue.” It was when she launched into “Liquorice” that the venue broached full throttle. The audience shouted back her lyrics, filling in the gaps when she paused mid-rap to let the instrumental take hold. It’s a synth-zapped ode that deads any doubt of her being a one-hit wonder, a vestige of versatility she’s continued to prove.

At that, Banks wrapped the 30-minute set with the jam that dropped her into plain sight. As the Lazy Jay instrumental revved up, the venue was filled with unison chants to “212”: “I guess that cunt gettin’ eaten,” “I’mma ruin you cunt.” She didn’t sing the bridge—in fact, most singing was relinquished to the backing track—but the effect was still strong. Concertgoers vigorously danced as lyrics tumbled from the sound system. Balloons showered from the ceiling and confetti burst through the air. At the show’s end, Banks bid her seafolk adieu, retreating from the stage with a wide grin. She was confident in her performance. The crowd was on her side, and she knew why. 

Photo by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez