Rashaad Glasgow's been turning heads with his explosive, pop-savvy club tracks. Riri Hylton catches up with him in Berlin.
He was in touch, this time with an address and doorbell name. When I arrived at his friend's ground floor apartment in Friedrichshain he was at the CDJs, quietly racing through tracks for an upcoming set. He offered me a place at the sofa and pumped out gabber, Baltimore and booty house, never allowing a track to linger too long. It was a forceful, funk-infused soundscape. As he played, he seemed to have reverted back to a more sober, unassuming self.
Glasgow is the DJ, promoter and producer behind Body Mods, one of last year's best club records. By reclaiming queer space on the dance floor, authoring unique club sounds and curating parties beyond his hometown of New York, Glasgow has made himself an act in high demand. After just two parties at Bushwick's Bossa Nova Civic Club, he launched the first European edition of Floorgasm at this year's CTM Festival. The party made RA's Five Key Performances and gave Glasgow a chance to showcase his eclectic tastes. Floorgasm has since appeared in the UK and the US, with a few more in the pipeline.
"I'm pretty much booked up until September now, which never happened for me," Glasgow said. "My agent sent me an email saying, 'If you need a break just let me know', and I'm like, 'No, you just keep it coming!'" Close proximity to clubs across Europe, as well as his own hybrid musical tastes, have made Berlin the ideal home. In New York he would have to play at least five or six shows a month to make his rent. "I was used to being broke all the time, so it's nice to be secure for a minute. I don't know how long it will last but it's nice."
Glasgow's career began in his bedroom at the age of 14. Drawing inspiration from his childhood hometown of Philadelphia, he began marrying tracks by artists like Missy Elliott, Madonna and DMX with the sounds of the dance floor. "A lot of Philly and Baltimore club draws inspiration from mashing up different styles of music, so you would hear the SpongeBob theme song or the Power Rangers or the Cha Cha Slide on a Baltimore club track," he explained. These homemade cuts slowly made their way to the high school playground. Peer feedback was encouraging.
From recess through to college and into the workforce, Glasgow continued making tracks, but it would remain a hobby for some time. The mixtape series Spit Or Swallow, which featured catchy titles such as "Acid Trip," "That Chick's Pap Smear" and "Hunting For Bitches," showcased his mashup savvy and raunchy sense of humour, eventually earning him an online following. His ambient and mid-tempo tracks merged La Roux with Ratatat, Rihanna with Crystal Castles, and Bloc Party with Local Natives, with the odd breakbeat, mambo and/or merengue element thrown into the mix. Glasgow describes the production as "really crunchy and really bad," but their hazy, hallucinogenic atmosphere still make them worth the listen.
"This was the idea, that it would sound like an acid trip," he said. "I'm not trying to glamorise drugs or psychedelics, but the sensation that they give, I feel like my music can put you in that state."
The dreamy offerings of Spit Or Swallow, with their melodic bass and full wash of sound, have since made way for sparser compositions with frenetic, almost feverish beats, like the ones on last year's Body Mods. The self-released album, which sold for $2 on Bandcamp, lit up dance floors the world over and made it on to a number of top 2018 lists.
"I made Body Mods in a week and a half," Glasgow explained. "It was supposed to be a 20-minute mix on SoundCloud, but then I decided to flesh them out. The title came about because it was like a body modification of a bunch of different looks spliced together."