On the podcast this week: DFA disco kid Juan Maclean.
Ever wonder where the DFA got its name? Originally it was the nickname for James Murphy’s PA setup when he served as the sound engineer for Providence, Rhode Island post-punk group Six Finger Satellite. John Maclean played guitar for that same band and the duo became fast friends, bonding over their love of techno – a rare thing in the indie rock circles that Six Finger ran in during the ‘90s.
Maclean left the band in the late ‘90s and effectively retired from the music business, maintaining a friendship with Murphy while studying for a degree and then teaching English in New Hampshire. But when DFA finally got started as a record label, the pull of Murphy was too much: in 2002, Maclean released 'By the Time I Get to Venus' and 'You Can’t Have It Both Ways,' two electro classics that helped mark the label as one of the United States’ most exciting imprints.
It’s been nearly three years, however, since we’ve heard new material from Maclean & co. That all should change in 2008, though, with the release of the The Future Will Come full-length and the irrepressible 'Happy House' as a single. After that? It’s back to the live grind. Maclean spent much of the three years since Less Than Human honing his live group – and their show contains all of the punk energy that you’d expect from a former guitarist in an indie band. Don’t worry, though, we imagine there’ll be plenty of chance to see Juan DJ at the afterparties, as well.
For a sneak peek, take a listen to Maclean’s podcast: it was done live in a café near his home in New Hampshire and guides listeners from pop beginnings through to techno all the way to Kate Bush.
Well, Juan...what do you have to say for yourself?
What have you been working on recently?
I have been finishing my next album The Future Will Come. Me and James Murphy are just putting the final touches on it now. I am very excited about it, it is an entirely vocal oriented album. Sort of a disco inflected Human League sounding record featuring many duets between me and Nancy Whang, who has sung on Juan MacLean stuff here and there in the past, but is now featured full-on throughout this entire album.
Where was the mix recorded?
At first I was going to do it at home in New Hampshire, but what usually happens when I do mixes at home is that a 1.5 hr mix takes all day to make because I keep starting and stopping, doing it over. I refuse to edit mixes, fix them on the computer or whatever, or edit them after. So instead I went to a café/bar type place down the street from where I live, they have a DJ setup there and at night there is typically someone playing lounge type stuff, hanging out music. They let me play that night, so I just went and belted it out. Just two 1200s, I brought my small Urei mixer. No monitor, just a minimal p.a. I figured the sacrifice in doing a perfect mix in a technical sense was worth it, to actually play to people who are dancing. I’m really tired of laptop mixes. They bore me to tears.
What are you up to next?
In 2008 I start the live band back up in order to tour on this next album. So 2008 is the year of The Future Will Come for me. We will tour the world as a live band, DJing at after parties after the shows. Releasing an album pretty much takes over your entire life for a year or so, much to the chagrin of your wife, girlfriend, kids, whatever, but it is worth it. Marriages end in divorce, kids grow up to resent you, and girlfriends are in love with some nice guy at the office, but music will never let you down. It is my god.