A half a dozen emails and a bunch of texts were a waste as tech problems plagued what was otherwise a stupendous party last night at Yotel. There were three DJs. I needed CDs, Roxy Cottontail, turntables, and Guy Furrow just needed a Serato hook up. I was stunned by minutes that seemed like centuries as techies fumbled with wires. My mood reflected in my set; I have to learn not to let the tech problems, the bad song requesters, and other distractions affect me. I am, after all, a professional disc jockey. Lady Starlight was scheduled as well, but a last minute bit of confusion sent her elsewhere. I caught her as she was leaving and I was arriving. She was fabulous head-to-toe and with a brilliant smile. I’m trying to reschedule to spin with her and interview her as well. Patrick Duffy put together last night’s shindig and he is just undeniable. The crowd was beautiful, fun, and dressed up.
Tonight, I will be DJing at the ever fabulous Yotel for the ever fabulous Mr. Patrick Duffy and his crew. That crew includes Darian Darling, Roxy Cottontail, Mint and Serf, and Henry De La Paz. Patrick always gathers wonderful crews. I will be joined in the booth by DJ Lady Starlight and am honored to be spinning with her. They are even promising a contortionist. The party is called Kung Fu Disco, as everyone is popping on the Chinese New Year. My set, which covers 55 years of rock and roll, leans heavily on the punk era. Handsome Dick Manitoba is punk rock royality. His bands, The Dictators and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, rocked my world for decades. Still, though he is a rock star, he is also a saloon keeper, a husband to the insanely beautiful and smart Zoe Hanson, and a father. His bar Manitoba’s is mentioned in way too many of my friends’ sloppy conversations. Tomorrow night, he is offering up his new band Manitoba and I asked him all about it.
I had a lot to write about today. People have holiday events they want to tell people about and I have a zillion e-mails to sift through. The news of the shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut has put most of this on the back burner. I spent the summers of my youth in Sandy Hook. When school started the Lewis clan would return to the city and we’d only go up on weekends. Eventually the winter snows and extreme cold had us close the house up until the thaw. On warm summer days my younger brother and I would hike the 2 miles to town without fear, without much thought except for the grass and wind and trees and birds. There were farms back then, and deep woods.
Some days were spent doing archeological digs in ancient stone foundations. We’d find pottery shards and rusted tools and such and these treasures mixed with the natural treasures all around made for an idyllic childhood. We’d steal some corn, we’d harass a bull, pet cows, identify the names of the birds and trees. We’d get in trouble with bees. We’d get lost and somehow always find our way home. Our cat often came with us on our ventures. Sometimes we’d swing on vines into the great Lake Zoar.
The town itself was a couple hundred feet long. There was a small stable back then and a hardware store and places to buy household things. Not much else. A small fast stream with a little bridge over it split the burg. We’d sit on rocks in the middle and try to catch fish with aquarium nets. We never did. Once a copperhead came up next to me and my cousin Ron chased it away.
Sandy Hook is a little town next to Newtown another mile or so up the road. In Newtown the main drag is lined with beautiful ancient home s and centuries-old trees. The police station, the mayor, and all the municipality offices are in a big building called Town Hall. They still show movies there. In my youth it was a quarter or 35 cents and offered up family fare. One kid might pay the ticket price and open up a side door to let the gang in. The whole town would show up on a Saturday night for a picture of note and there would be shorts and previews and lots of small and big talk before and after.
Sandy Hook/Newtown is a place that can’t make the news. It’s designed not to. I go back every year to have a look. I’ll stop by the old house and smell the forest and have a pizza at Lorenzo’s, where buckets still collect the drips from a leaky roof . It’s right by the big lake and smells of rotting leaves and the creatures that live in them. The food isn’t too great and the service a little slow but it’s just perfect. We’d hike down there most evenings to get a Slim Jim or Sugar Daddy. Bad things, bad people never reached our neck of the woods. But here we are with lots of dead people and the tranquility gone forever. Anyway, just rambling on as I try to wrap myself around this. My thoughts and prayers to those in harm’s way.
I promised a few mentions. Tomrrow brunch at Yotel (570 10th Avenue) which is celebrating Hollardazed with music by AndrewAndrew, performances by The Glamazons with hosts Epiphany and Chris Torres. The shindig is brought to you by the dapper Errickson Wilcox and the seductive Roxy Cottontail. There’s going to be balloon art and a blind contour artist. Tonight Frankie Sharp that man about town is bringing back for one night only Everything at Bedlam (40 Avenue C). There will be live shows by the House of Ladosha. The soiree is hosted by Patricia Fields and Jordan Fox. I highly recommend checking out Murray Hill’s A MURRAY LITTLE CHRISTMAS tomorrow night December 15th at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street). Murray is the real deal and this is a can’t-miss event.
I must note that tomorrow marks the birthday of my dearly departed friend Arthur Weinstein. Arthur was a club owner, a lighting designer, a photographer, an artist, a father, a husband, and a friend. He was a rogue warrior of a glorious downtown era. He taught me everything I know but not everything he knew. He was a mentor and a mensch. I miss him every day.
Marshall Weinstein, known to club-goers and music aficionados as DJ Martial, is having trouble getting used to the deep freeze New York currently finds itself mired in. When I reach him by phone at his Brooklyn apartment, he’s just returned from a work trip to the Caribbean, a difference of 1,650 miles and five layers of clothing. "I was DJing in St. Maarten in 85 degree weather and here it’s 10 degrees outside," he says with a laugh. "The airplane wouldn’t even go to the gate because it was frozen, they had to bus us in. It was crazy." He won’t be frozen for long, as he’ll soon be on his way to balmy New Orleans for a handful of gigs centered around the upcoming Super Bowl. We caught up with him during his brief layover to find out how he got started, his favorite clubs to perform in, and his secret for de-stressing fast.
Where are you from, and what kind of stuff were you into as a kid that led you to being a DJ?
I went to elementary, middle, and high school outside of Boston. I started DJing in 1993 when my older brother introduced me to underground electronic rave music. I was 13 at the time. When I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. My mom is originally from Long Island and my dad is originally from Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my whole family lived in the New York area, so it was a no-brainer. I went to Hofstra and DJ’d my way through college. I’ve been actively in the New York music scene since 1998 when I came to the city.
So, Yankees or Red Sox?
I’m definitely an all-Boston sports fan. It’s a little upsetting with the Patriots losing recently, however now that I’ve got some gigs at the Super Bowl I can focus on work and not sports.
How did you start DJing in the city?
When I got to New York, I realized that I had access to the best city in the world that had the best music. At Hofstra I was on the radio, and I majored in television video production communications, so music was always a part of my life. Whether it was in the studio working with audio tracks or video, or at the radio station on the air, all I did was music music music. When I got out of college, I was still DJing nights and weekends. With my full-time job – I worked at MTV and in the industry – eventually it steamrolled. I was picking up more and more gigs to the point where I was burning the candle at both ends. I couldn’t be in a television studio at six o’clock in the morning when I got out of a club at four.
So you decided to make a change?
In 2006 I realized that I’ve been DJing for 13 years, but I had a career in television. I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time DJ. I had an opportunity to work overseas for three months as a DJ, so I sat down with my boss at the time and explained it to him. He said, you’ve got a lot of passion for this, so go for it. I put in my two weeks, it was December 2006, and since then I’ve been a full-time DJ. I also do a lot of private events, not just in New York but around the nation and internationally, and I book DJs at clubs and events through my company, SET Artist Management.
Is that when the momentum started to build?
Once you do one event it leads to another. Being humble and staying true and smiling and constantly following up with everybody, it leads to an escalation. Since then I’ve never looked back or second-guessed myself on leaving a career that I went to college for.
What kind of clubs were you playing at the time?
When I went overseas I was working in Israel, in various places in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Clubs like Shalvata, Lima Lima, City Hall, Layla Bar. Then I came back to New York and gigs started to add up, residencies here and there. I’ve worked at clubs like Beauty & Essex, WiP, Double Seven, Top of the Standard, Yotel, Stash, STK Midtown, Gansevoort Park, Bounce Sporting Club on 21st, Haven Rooftop.
How would you describe your musical style, and how do you adjust that for the crowd and event?
I’m a 100% open format DJ. I love all types of music and I’m not afraid to drop anything. It’s not about what you play, it’s about what you follow up with. You can drop a song from the ’70s and people start to get into it. For the next song, whether it’s a huge club banger or a perfect smooth transition, it can make the song before it that much better. My outgoing personality shines through my beats, like a sixth sense. I bleed hip-hop, ’80s, rock, house, and still stay true to the music and dance floor because I keep those classics in the mix. And I have no problem playing the most current, hottest tracks, to do whatever I can to keep the dance floor packed till dawn.
So you believe that the context is important, it’s not about any one individual song, it’s about the whole set and the vibe you’re putting out there?
Yes. It’s not like I’ll play one ’80s song, one ’70s song, one rock song, one hip-hop song. Then it can be a bit ADD. It’s more about the way you blend different genres of music together throughout the night to build that crescendo. You finish the night and people look at their watches and they can’t believe it’s four in morning and the club’s still packed.
What do you have going on with the Super Bowl?
I’m down in New Orleans Thursday through Monday. I’m working at the NFL House, doing parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and I’m doing a number of parties for CBS, including pre-game and post-game on Sunday. The two CBS parties I’m involved in, there’s one Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Saturday I’m doing the party at Generations Hall with a live performance from Trombone Shorty, who is a really talented local guy who does huge live performances with a big band feel.
What else do you have coming up?
I’ll be DJing in the number one college town, Morgantown, West Virginia, at a place called Rock Top. I’ll be in Boston. I do a lot of private events for BlackBerry, since I’m the official Latin American BlackBerry DJ. In the summer I’ll probably have a lot of Hamptons gigs.
What clubs do you like to play in?
I like being close to the crowd. Mid-sized clubs work really well. I love working at Stash on 14th Street. Beauty and Essex is a great place to feel the energy and the vibe, and Double Seven is another spot where you’re right in the mix.
What’s on your iPod?
I have a series of playlists for all the new stuff I need to hear. There’s never enough time in the day to hear all the new songs. But when I’m relaxing, I love old school music. Old classic rock, ’70s, ’80s, things like that.
What do you do to relax and de-stress?
I love going to the Russian and Turkish Baths. Sometimes I just need a good shvitz. And I’m not afraid of the cold pool either.
What advice do you have for aspiring DJs?
Be as musically knowledgeable as possible. Everybody knows that electronic music is huge right now, techno, house, dubstep, but the more versatile you are, the more gigs you can play. If you want to specifically become an electronic music DJ, and that’s your passion, go for it, but if you’re trying to get noticed and get gigs and get experienced, the more versatile you are, the more avenues you have. Stay humble and keep in mind there’s a big line between work and play. Keep a clear mind.
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Why ever leave your hotel when so many accommodations now offer a wonderful spread for their guests, like the freshly renovated Auden Bistro and Bar at the Ritz Carlton? Where once the bar and dining room of this classic hotel exuded old, musty money, the newly revamped space brings a clubhouse vibe and chef Mark Arnao’s modern-meets-traditional bistro cuisine. Hotel guests and diners can choose whether to look at the view over Sixth Avenue or at their plates of regionally sourced nibbles. Over at the bar, the team has carried over the regional bent and offers many local spirits and beers, all poured by bartender Norman Bukofzer.
Of course, Auden Bistro and Bar stepping up their game comes long after the boom of laidback, yet fine dining. Not too long ago, Reynards made waves by opening up in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Yotel also entered the game with their fun FOUR at Yotel and Dohyo, which looks like it should be in a hip-hop video, which is just might. Oh, and Ace Hotel has the joy of hosting April Bloomfield’s babies, The Breslin and John Dory Oyster Bar.
Todd English spread his, ahem, seed to the Plaza Hotel a couple years ago with the Plaza Food Hall, which is more like a fancy food court that hosts guests as well as permanent residents like Tommy Hilfiger and family. Yes, I am told he is a regular.
Lest us not forget the institutions that have made hotel dining a fine and glorious thing, such as Alain Ducasse’s Adour in the St. Regis, or the famous King Cole Bar next to it. The Trump Hotel also features a world-renowned chef’s self-titled eatery, Jean Georges. In fact, New York’s shift out French food and the start of fine dining featuring American cuisine began in The Four Seasons.
All of this sure beats the continental breakfast low budget travelers (like most of my friends and I) are faced with. True, nothing beats a good cup of cold orange juice from a machine or gooey, prepackaged cinnamon roll, but sometimes, it’s nice to have a little bit of bubbles added to it.
Richard Sandoval is on the move. He has restaurants across the country and around the world, including Zengo, La Biblioteca, and Four at Yotel in New York. Now, the Mexican restaurateur is trying his hand at Peruvian cuisine with the opening of Raymi in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. This comes hot on the heels of his launch of the 10-year-old Pampano’s cocktail lounge, the Botaneria, and the addition of Tequileria Maya in Midtown, an expansion of his newly-renovated Maya restaurant, which he opened 15 years ago. We caught up Sandoval to get the scoop on the renovation, the new addition, and more.
So many things to do, so little time. Work is killing me. Everybody seems to want to open the same day, and I haven’t been able to clone myself since I lived in Chelsea. I’m finishing that Stay space (which will have another name), the very secretive space for Matthew Isaacs (which has a name that I can’t reveal), and that hush-hush, I-can’t-utter-a-word-about-the-name Noel Ashman joint. What’s so important about keeping the names secret? Shouldn’t places about to open be screaming them from mountaintops? That’s the way I rolled, but hey, I’m not complaining. Real men don’t complain; they suck it up and finish right. That sounded dirty.
Tonight, I’m heading to The Darby mostly to say happy birthday to my dear older friend Jenny Oz Leroy. Look her up. She’s the stuff that dreams are made of. The Oz is not a reference to that TV show, but the Wizard of, Dorothy, and her little dog, too. Her granddad produced the movie. Her dad created and operated things like Maxwell’s Plum and then Tavern on the Green and The Russian Tea Room, until he passed and she took over as a wee lass. Then I’m off to subMercer to join Richard, Gabby, Moses and the gang for The Underground Series Record Release Party. This is a celebration for the debut album of the new subMercer music label. DJs Lloydski, Eli Escobar, and Marcos Cabral will be on hand. Everyone is told to wear red because Belvedere Red is supporting. I don’t costume party, so the red of my eyeballs will have to do. I must congratulate Gabby as she has worked hard to pull this thing together. The idea of a hotel having its own label based around the serious music played in its little basement boite is fabulous.
Friday, I will attend the Stuart Black Hanky Panky party, which despite all efforts to establish an identity unto itself, is in Webster Hall‘s upstairs and far-to-the-left Balcony Lounge. I mean, how are you supposed to find it otherwise? The affair that brings me back is the birthday bash of Jordan Lines Middendorf. She is celebrating her quarter-life crisis. I have shoes older than her, but then again, real men don’t worry about age. I will be there, and look forward to hearing DJ Louie XIV, who I didn’t enjoy the first time I heard him. Boy, was I wrong. (Real men also own up to their mistakes.) I have since found him to be a wonderfully creative, unpredictable talent. Unpredictable is a very good thing in a DJ world where every one of those suckers has 37,000 tracks on a laptop that mixes and mashes and organizes. I like the chaos and unpredictability of the “record” era.
Saturday, I will brunching at Lavo. I have always adhered to the “Real men don’t brunch” theory, but I have been cajoled, pigeonholed, and told to be there, so I will be. Rocco and I exchanged pleasantries and reminisced. When I mentioned a Blackbook plug, our conversation hit the gutter as we remembered the little black books of our distant youth. I am invited to another brunch this Sunday, but unfortunately, will be traveling to some beach house out on the North Shore of Long Island. I never do that sort of thing, either. Real men don’t go to beach houses on the North Shore. The Sunday soiree is at Yotel, and is hosted by my pal Patrick McMullan. It’s a madcap affair, with DJ Sammy Jo, who is so often tapped these days as the DJ for this sort of thing. Patrick Duffy is the man behind these men. He’s been busy gathering Darian Darling, Jordan Fox, Michael Warner, Erickson Wilcox, and Roxy Cottontail, to lend their good names and talents. I think I spelled Erickson correctly. For some reason, I used to always put an extra X on it. Well, not so much anymore. This weekly affair is wonderful, and I unfortunately will be sipping wine and eating Concord grapes at a very Laura Ashley-Long Island affair. Real men shouldn’t be subjected to Laura Ashley. If you find yourself looking for a real man, a whole bunch of them will surely show at The Hustla Ball Sunday night. It seems to be at the old Rebel space. DJ Nita invited me, and Sammy Jo will be there as well, and tons of other Djs and very special hosts. If you don’t know what this is about, I strongly advise you get with it.
I’m up early almost every day to write this column. It’s up and at ’em around 7am, usually, although sometimes I cheat until 8am. I think this must baffle the folks who see me out and about at chic spots until late. I haven’t had a good night’s rest since 1987. I figure I’ll get all the sleep I need in about 20 or 30 years, although I’m already too old to remember why I’m still going all out about going out.
The mornings are always pleasant; I walk the dog, maybe pick up a bagel and a very large coffee. I feed pigeons and say hello to my neighbors rushing to their worlds. Every so often, I spot a “walk of shame”—you know, that girl or guy that woke up in another’s bed and for whatever reason had to leave in the cruel light of day wearing garments only for night. Many walk-of-shamers forgot how they got there and possibly the name of the person who got to know them in a special way. It’s a don’t ask, don’t tell and whatever you do, don’t yell kind of world. Some look over at the person who seemed perfect just a few hours before and have serious regrets. I’ve learned over the years that perfect at 4am is often a different kind of perfect at 10 am. As for myself, in thirty years of nightlife I never, ever went to bed with an undesirable woman…I did, however, wake up with a few.
For some reason, the walk of shame still provides some vicarious thrill. It’s Friday morning and she walks by in her black a-line dress and pumps, with a cigarette dangling from her lips. Somehow, it’s always much more humorous if a heel is broken. Lipstick and mascara don’t hold up well in the light of day. The dark sunglasses hide that run-off a bit; they hide the eyes from the sun and contact with other humans, and of course they hide the large dent in the soul. The walk of shame is always almost as humorous and envious to casual observers as it is embarrassing to the participant. Most of us have been there. I have had too many breakfasts at greasy spoons, amongst the awakening hoi polloi , while wearing a Tuxedo with yellow or brown stains on it, cursed or blessed with an “inability” to go to sleep. The years taught me to carry certain things in my wallet and my inside pockets, just in case. A folded hundred, some mints, a listing of all the NYC Metro Area Starbucks locations. I learned to walk the walk with my head up in the air despite how hurt and heavy it seemed. Svedka Vodka, or some genius doing their marketing, is formalizing the whole walk of shame affair. They are declaring next Wednesday July 27, “National Walk of Shame Day.” I would think you would need Obama or Congress involved but I hear those peeps are real busy right now, so Svedka stepped up. They even produced a “Walk of Shame Kit” which you can buy at Ricky’s. It contains:
“Beauty essentials needed for anyone who, after a night of drinking responsibly, finds themselves needing to freshen-up the next morning for their trip home or to the office. Contents of the kit includes Svedka Clementine-flavored lip balm, sunglasses touted as “re-entry shades”, dry shampoo, deodorant, hairbrush, breath mints, hair elastics, sweetspot cleansing wipes, a reusable tote for your high heels, plus “Rate my Date” cards and a “leave behind” fake diamond earring that gives you an excuse to call your date without parting with your favorite earring, among other items. ”
Those earrings and other bits to be left behind are called forget-me-not mementos. The Svedka people even have this great tag line “Svedka Vodka is tasking consumers to forget the blame, embrace your game and celebrate the walk of shame.”
There will be an event to focus the night crawler community in this campaign. It will be on the 4th floor of Yotel, on Wednesday the 27.
Activities are as follows: 10pm -11:30 Pre Game Cocktails 11:30-2am Get Your Game On 2 am: Walk of Shame Home
This seems to be a private affair as most pre-Walk of Shame affairs are. I will attend and might need a date. If you want to be that lucky gal I assure you I am not the kiss and tell type and I will call you a cab, if not ever again. If you’re interested, let me know, but I’m afraid you might find yourself very ashamed the next day.
Yo! Yotel is the real deal. Known mostly for its robot bellhop, I’m here to tell you that there’s a lot more to the place than what seems to be a Disney-like gimmick. The place is stunning, thanks to designer David Rockwell—the Babe Ruth, the Pele, the Michael Jordan of design—putting his best foot forward. Forward is where it goes. At times it resembles an uber modern airport, or that space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but without the kitsch.
The place is beautiful; they put the fun in functional and the attention to detail is mind boggling. I caught up with one of those details in the form of Tom Middleton. He’s tasked with the sounds you hear as you travel around the massive property. To say that he’s a DJ or music programmer is like calling Bernie Madoff a petty thief. There’s a lot more to it.
Yotel is fun and a bit gimmicky—everyone has heard about the robot that takes your luggage. Where do the gimmicks end and a truly better hospitality situation begin? I wouldn’t consider Yotel to be a gimmick. I think the robot is a useful tool in the context of the hotel experience because it removes the need to employ someone. These things build cars. And storing luggage in a library on the wall is not only visually engaging, it’s also an intriguing solution to luggage storage. It’s a bit more exciting to come into a hotel lobby and have the check-in kiosks like at an airport. It’s definitely the future in a way; what we associate with a normal hotel receptionist/lobby is not what you get at Yotel. It’s much more thoughtful and considered. It’s function, utility, and design. You’re referred to as a sound architect. What does that mean exactly? There’s a role I’ve assumed at this point, twenty years deep into the industry, not only as an artist, DJ, and music producer/performer, but now also as a curator. I’m interested in the evolution of sound and music and right now what excites me is applying sound branding and sound architecture to space. I try to figure out how can we augment the consumer experience and influence behavior and emotional connections with the hospitality experience, by using the medium of sound. Sound and smell are both fundamentally more important than visuals.
The design is extremely “new” and the music is very calming. In contrast with the neon and concrete environment of Times Square, it’s interesting to feel this rush of calm. How do the colors and design tie into the effects of the music? My first role as sound architect is to check the space out. I was here when there was no music or sound, checking out the internal architecture and the structure of the building. I wanted to see the schematics, the layout; it interests me, all this stuff. There is value in immersing myself in the evolution of this hotel, to a point where I can say, alright—I understand the personality of the hotel, the texture, the colors, the tone, the way the light changes through the day. All of these things have an impact on the personality and character of the hotel. So I’m drawing from that and my own experiences of traveling the world, and being privileged to see really amazing hotels. My pitch to Gerard was this:
“If I blindfolded you and dropped you anywhere around the world, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish one boutique hotel from another, because they all sound the same.” They use this middle of the road lounge, which is a go-to solution for what people think is hotel music. But I believe that’s wrong. I believe that right now, sound branding is really important. Distinguish your brand from another by having unusual, unique, memorable music experiences within that space. What areas within the hotel do you program? Are there sound differences in every area, and does the time of day factor in? Let’s imagine that you roll off the plane at 9am, exit the car and there’s music playing on the street. That music will be the soundtrack to the first experience you have after exiting the car. Then there’s a second sound experience in the ground control lobby, using things like the sound a yodel makes. So I sampled that, recorded it, and turned it into a soundtrack augmented for driving theater and put it through the sound system. That way you can actually get that sense of wonder and thrill and excitement, but amped to the level of cinemas and theaters. So, that’s the first thing you get plus a background of serene, calming music as you said. The last thing you want is amped up excitement when you’ve had a really tiring journey—you want to be relaxed, but also left with a sense of intrigue and excitement that’s new. So for me that provided a very interesting, but brief lift experience for about seven seconds. Brief lift as in the elevator? The first elevator ride from ground control, after you’ve checked into the kiosk is about seven seconds long. So I just spent some time hanging out in the lift, understanding how long people spend in there. It’s about 7 to 10 seconds, so we had to figure out what to do with that? I really like those Rain and Scott musical sound experiments from the sixties using synthetic sounds. I use the music for my kids, to chill them out and calm them down. So when it’s implemented it will have descending and ascending arpeggios that are quite ethereal sounding. It’s retro in that kind of moog, lounge-core vibe, it’s embracing a bit of that sixties ethic, but at the same time it’s got a nod to the synthetic and modern tunes. It gives you that anticipation of ascending somewhere, or descending a bit. Next—you get out of the lift in Zone 4. So where are we sitting right now? We’re in a cabin on level 4 and it’s part of this multipurpose flexible lifestyle space that incorporates both a club and lounge area (that can provide music and dancing at night) and business meetings during the day. It expands out to a terrace and around the corner where there is a Green Lounge, and then extends into the Dohyo restaurant space. Assuming you’ve already checked in, everything has a very specific purpose, including the toilets. Traditionally, with hotel lounges, there’s always a meet and greet and you may be having a business conversation or it’s a social space. More often than not, it’s not really working in the way that I think it should be. For me to focus, I either want no sound or the equivalent of white noise. So I’ve made recordings of outdoor ambiences in particular locations. In the morning I give you the English countryside, with the cuckoos, charming bells, cows, and sheep. So you were that guy with a tape recorder in the middle of the meadow? It’s fun creating this unusual, unique soundtrack for the morning in Yotel that people don’t really notice until they hear a cow and think, “I’m in Manhattan and I’m hearing cows?” There’s a bit of comedy and humor in it, but I think it’s important to keep the experience light, while reinforcing brand identity. In the afternoon, you’ve got Serengeti and wildlife, and Tarzan samples. It’s a bit of fun. Which Tarzan, the original? Yes, with Johnny Weissmullerr, the legend. And as an experiment, every twenty minutes I put in the sound of a can or bottle being opened. It’s a very specific sound, of a cold drink being poured over ice and fizzing and sparkling. Is that to encourage people to drink? Exactly. Is that legal in America? Who knows! But I’m messing around here, having some fun, and at some point down the line we’ll do some analysis and see if it makes people buy more drinks.
So a lot of what you’re doing is subliminal? You’re creating an environment where the guests—mostly out-of-towners—are feeling comfortable about being here? Always be inclusive, always be fun, always be memorable. But also exist on a level where it’s an appropriate volume of music and sound design or sound effects. There’s nothing worse than being in a restaurant and it’s just too loud. It actually impacts the speed at which you’re eating, it could give you indigestion. What happens here at night? There’s a really interesting crescendo of energy in the evening. Obviously post-work people come for drinks, and do that on the terrace in the summertime, which is a lovely evening experience. For the Dohyo, it’s all about the Latin and Asian fusion cuisine, so I’ve created a specific soundtrack that draws on Latin American music, Asian music and fuses it together. If you like the flavor of food, it’s enhanced by the music that’s appropriate to that food. Did you design this sound scape before or after construction? I was brought in probably in the last three months. The hotel was more or less ready to go and I was given the various designs to consider, and figure out what to do with them. Even with the toilets. Rooms are becoming less and less important in hotels these days. True? You’re right and actually I think it’s all about making sure that the room is important. It does what it needs to do. It’s functional. My experiences at some of these places—even at the finest joints— is that the rooms are small and uninteresting. But music has always been important That’s interesting because Gerard Greene, the CEO of Yotels didn’t want music in the rooms. He wanted you to arrive in your room in peace and quiet. It gives you the ability to define the space yourself. It’s got an iPod plug-in port. In my perspective, I think it’s another opportunity to have fun at some point in the future, but right now, in terms of the experiment of how the consumer and the guest feels—give them peace and quiet.Research showed that people were using their personal devices for that kind of thing, so if there was music and movies in the room, it’s not used very often, since the customer will likely use their smart phone or laptop. That was part of the Yotel model for the room. Who is DJing here at night and what kind of image are you trying to present with those DJs? Rather than going down the route that most hotels do of pumping current, banging, club songs—aggressive, electronic music—it’s a lot warmer, and soulful, and spiritual. So suffice to say that Thursday is very much a soul-based soundtrack. (*Steve Lewis Note: I was given a rundown the DJs and was quite impressed but most deals are pending at this time and can’t be talked about)
What about the weekend? Saturday’s were disco nights for me growing up. That’s when I didn’t even know what disco meant, I just thought it was a place where you did discotheque. So my idea for Saturday night is education—the roots and history of disco, plus how it’s evolved into house music, and where it’s heading.