Boo: Ok, Let me set the stage by saying that this interview title, which box started as “Is this thing on?”, I changed to “Is this thing (s)on(g)?”, and they finished with “Is this th(o/i)ng (s)on(g)?”, is a good gauge of how this night is gonna go down. 😂
In our group chat about setting the vibe box said “if mordor was in 90s miami” so let’s jump off here.
Boo x box
Boo: box and I got to know each other online during Covid when I was running / DJ-ing Hot Mass & Public Records’ streams. Even though we live far apart I’ve really appreciated how we find ways to bring each other into our “real worlds” and support each other. The irony (good and bad) in music scenes is that you can feel alone and in community at the same time.
Can you share a bit about how living in Durham and finding irl/url community has come about for you?
box: I moved to Durham for work, and hadn’t really found social footing prior to lockdown. Meeting folks in party spaces for the first time can be super awkward for me, especially in a smaller clique/crew-filled scene or a constant churn of new faces (college town energy)–it’s not the best place to get deeply weird together, at least conversationally. With quarantine, we were suddenly coaxed together to share space online, I found the most joy in spaces centered around streaming music. As someone who is looking for friendship, platonic love, and extended family, these virtual ‘club’ spaces were not typical anti-conversational, booze-forward meat markets, but a space for authentic ‘ravers’ to share tunes and laughs. I also appreciate the de-cliqued and permeable social membrane of an online chat. Quite a strange trade-off for the collective trauma and uncertainty we all faced, but I formed deep friendships & a community that has extended IRL since. Boo, you’re a particularly strong example of this as we family-bonded over our coconut-brains and music hounding, all while facing pretty dramatic life fluxes across the board.
Boo: Aw, the feeling is mutual. 🧡 Pls tell us how you became a walking encyclopedia of track IDs, and how you pull from all the sounds I imagine stacked like an infinite library in your mind?
box: Wouldn’t it be great if I had a backstory where I was raised by a Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia baron? In reality my IDing skill is just because my brain is sogged by years of obsessive music consumption, plus I have a Platinum VIP account at Shazam where I actually get the real IDs not the erroneous EDM/techbro-house ones you all get. When it comes to applying this to DJing I just have so much music hoarded that I usually start with an abstract “energy” or flow of “energies” and then pseudo-randomly peruse my hard drives to fulfill that mission. It’s probably way more subtle, complicated, and context dependent, but that’s the core. It helps that when I’m accumulating music I’m thinking broadly about how I want to use the sounds (just listening, a particular mix, a tool layer, to fill a gap in my collection, etc.), and everything has to tickle my ear in some way so that when I encounter it later I trust that there was something special there waiting for me to play with.
box: As someone who is esteemed in world-building / curating music & art, did you notice any shifts in your thinking post-pandemic? I know you’ve had a lot of upheavals and changes e.g., couple of moves, starting your masters degree, still working / DJing all the time. Have your goals changed?
Boo: Yeah… COVID rlly did fuck up my life, but I’m trying to stay on my path. Moving to NYC was ultimately the best thing I could have done for myself — even if there are Ls I had to take in the process. Mentoring at New Inc., my residency at PR & The Lot Radio, are big anchors for me so thank you all. Being on the board of RA also means a lot, because I get to work at a macro level with people I really respect to find ways to support music scenes around the world. I tend to focus on folks who are not from major cities. (I’m really just a small town mouse wit big dreams lol). How cities are created by and for sound culture is where my grad work comes in. I agree it’s important to be kind and share space knowing we were/are all traumatized in different ways, and what that care looks like in (even small) tangible acts. I like the art of DJing because we can struggle to address serious issues and translate that into an exuberant experience. On the flip, the most stupid and funny music can send me into a cerebral place. Maybe that’s why it made so much sense that the three of us play together because you both give that lightbulb moment to me with feeling. You also come from outlier cities where you made your own worlds, and pull from a wide range of music that doesn’t reference a single scene or locus of thought. I get bored easily so I wanna be surprised. There’s some reptilian brain — a line that runs through — where it all connects. Do you ever feel like you know someone just by how they play? I love observing DJs when they are in the zone, wondering what’s going on in their minds.
box: That serious/goof dichotomy is Real life nrg. The upside to the neurotech future is you could actually peer inside the dj brain as they’re working.
Boo: No! I love a little mystery 😉
box: I love sneaking a listen to the cue channel when i’m b2b-ing, i feel like that’s as close as you can get in real-time and everyone’s organizing chaos is so unique and insightful.
Boo: Yeah Doctor Jeep saw my naming conventions and I felt immediately embarrassed and like I had some special secret at the same time. But no, it’s just my weird brain. It’s just for me.
box: Nick Boyd told me about this. I think it’s genius tbh (no spoilers). What kind of DJ is Boo Lean?
Boo: I’m just a sad horny clown.
box: Like clown shoes, but for your butt
Boo: Maybe. Lol. Or Dall-E created by your ass movements on the floor. I’m actually at my happiest when I DJ and feel 💯 true to myself so idk what I’m saying. 😂
box: I’m a fan if that goes for anything.
box x NSA
box: My esteem for this human was quite immediate. My first encounter was during a SAUNA webcast very early in the pandemic. He was spinning 33s on 45 like nbd, meanwhile the chat hollering from me and Boo is crystalized in my memory. When we met at Honcho Campout, what a treat. Cameron beams with presence, kindness, and joy, and I’m so glad he is bringing his talent to bear in Atlanta. I lived there from 2010-17, but was very much a head-down academic —- sadly we never crossed paths. It seems like ATL has a new energy since I left. I’m seeing folks who were in-city names now touted broadly e.g., Ash Lauryn @ pano, Leonce’s post-night slugs onslaught + Club Morph, Vicki Powell bringing her joy seemingly everywhere, Nikki Nair’s whirlwind, you and Juicy nyc-debut at trans pecos this year.
box: What’s your read on the current vector of ATL dance music?
NSA: Yeah there’s so much happening in Atlanta. A whole new energy is right…There’s been a great influx of people and interest recently. Accessibility is greater than ever and you can learn to beatmatch by hitting the sync button. I really worry that through accessibility we skip lessons and knowledge that the people before us worked much harder for. We should all seek out those relationships. We haven’t reinvented the wheel, and what we’re doing isn’t as radical as it’s made out to be sometimes. It’s essential to stay humble and pay attention to those that laid the groundwork. Of course we should strive to make change and create a better future but just consider the fact that we have great resources at hand and foundations beneath us already. Some of those anchors for me have been Vicki Powell, Ron Pullman, and Kai Alce. I’m so thankful for them.
box: I’ve been amazed by your artistic eye too. When you decide what art to bring into your loft space are you making conscious decisions because it’s also a social space or is it more personal?
NSA: I’d say mostly instinctual. It’s all either things I’ve made myself or collected pieces from friends. Much of the artwork I have is a pretty clear indication of where my head has been and that happens to work hand in hand with what I do now. When I was more focused on visual work I was pretty consumed with this idea of missing out on the “party”… that mental state and how that compares to actually being there, and how our devices affect these worlds. So yeah definitely relates. The “EVERYTHING MUST GO” silk piece is definitely the most striking image you’ll find in my home/party (made by my friend Carbon Anderson). TBH I’m still trying to figure out what it means and I find new things to take away from it all the time… but it really touches people who visit, and I believe there’s some type of inner purge that happens with late night partying. There’s a release and people let walls down they normally wouldn’t at my parties.
box: Do you have anything you are itching to play in the PR Sound Room?
NSA: Hard to say what route I’ll go at this point. The biggest influence to that is the PR sound system for sure. I’d like to see how far I can stretch that.
NSA: Ok so box and I first met at Honcho campout behind stage while DJ Voices was spinning and we were just wigging out, sitting in awe together (Boo included). Right away I clocked his encyclopedia mind… but what’s even more apparent is that he’s one of the most humble, sweet, gentle people I know. He’s a very underrated dj and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Having box in the Southeast with me is really grounding, knowing there’s other people here pushing for what we do.
NSA: Is there anything that’s caught you by surprise living in the Southeast?
box: There are so many trees! Not traveling further East of Nebraska until I was in my 20s, I assumed it was fields and pig farms (in my defense, Georgia is known for the 5 P’s, peaches, pine, pecans, pigs, and poultry). Atlanta is a forest, and I now have seasonal allergies, lol. Also that “South” is actually a super broad set of subcultures, and it’s a shame how ignorant I was before I came here. The people are vibrant, super friendly, and proud of what they bring to the world. Honestly I’ve had a blast exploring and meeting folks in the region. It also seems like Atlanta and the area of NC I’m in are really attractive for new transplants, a lot of new faces. I hope they have a similar epiphany in the culture side of things, find a way to respect what they’ve found, and figure out how to help keep it alive.
NSA: Yeah it’s really refreshing to hear that. It definitely is still the South but there’s some real magic here. Alive or dead, what’s your dream 3 person line up for the night?
box: I mean, our trio is pretty damn close to ideal for me, but if I had to actually pick something novel: Autechre abstract zone for a bit into their 1991 era zone to get us all riled, then into a more bombastic hip-hop infused mode → Notorious B.I.G. live set (I wouldn’t shrug off a Diddy or Kim cameo here if we could afford it) → Sophie hybrid set → Autechre b3b Sophie DJ closer. Hey, PR can I get a $5M budget and a time machine?
NSA: I played a Backstreet Boys edit on vinyl that actually slaps the other weekend for Atlanta Pride… Do you have any tacky 2000s edits you wanna put us onto? Lol
box: DANGEROUS QUESTION. Can I just share a 40 GB dropbox folder to answer this? Also, can we bring back maxi CD single remix culture? I want at least 8 official versions of every hot track. Joking aside, I don’t really play out or even collect a ton of pop edits, mostly b/c I usually love to play the original tracks of the stuff I’m really nostalgic for. Blargh, okay lemme look for something #tackyCore… I closed my set last year at Kremwerk with this one – some may consider this one tacky given the recent surge in y2k clichés, but it’s actually very hot. Maybe this one is tacky? I’m a card carrying member of the Lambily so I can’t be objective here.
NSA: Ok have to credit miss SPRKLBB herself for this one. Hopefully she doesn’t mind… This track is a carry Robyn – Show Me Love (Andy & The Lamboy Revelation Club Mix
NSA x Boo
NSA: I first saw Boo at Hot Mass and they just stuck out to me…somehow just from seeing her I knew we’d get along. After a few convos I realized we both loved a lot of the same sectors within dance music that I used to have trouble finding with others. They’ve always been a person I look towards to relate to sonically within the scene. Every cool label, artist, or whatever I find somehow she already knows and I hate/love her for it!
NSA: So tell me about something that really has your attention right now…
Boo: I feel like these guys will stick around my rekordbox for a while.
- Felix Hall and everything that comes out on Chrome. I can play it all at so many different speeds
- Bless Nyege Nyege and everything they put out too. CVE goes hard in the car .. anywhere really.
- Amor Saytr x Siu Mata *chefs kiss* 🔥
NSA: Amor Saytr has been killllling it… When we first met we talked a lot about footwork. As much as I felt it was the future then it seems popular culture has just touched it and started moving elsewhere. Is there a sound you see being adopted more now and into the future?
Boo: Halftime, dub, and the drippy 90-100 bpm movement has been underway for a minute – I hear it out in the clubs a lot more and that makes me feel good bc I love that shit and would feel out of place a few years ago when I played this way. Maybe it’s also just living in NYC where you can get almost any sound anytime you want 🤷🏻♀️
NSA: Yeah I definitely hear dub influences in atlanta recently. Very slowed down sexy dark moods.
Can you give me a Dall-e of the sexy swamp rave we both dream and hope of?
Boo: I’ve still never been to / played in ATL which seems like a crime at this point 😭 Can you show me what the ultimate ATL weekend (with your afters) is like?
NSA: ATLANTA IS CALLING BOO. It’ll happen I promise. You’re going to see a couple sunrises and there will be some crying lol (the good kind). We’ll grab a southern breakfast down the street and then just keep going to the next party after a little rest. I always hear from visitors “wow Atlanta goes hard, I had no idea”. I guess we continue to surprise people. Probably because we’re a bit off the radar but yeah it’s true
The vibe is intimate and sexy. Definitely take off Monday… maybe Tuesday?
Boo: One of the last times we hung out we talked about Bass Rallies and modding cars (also d*ck but I digress 😂)… the cars got me so excited because it’s something I don’t normally talk about with music people. I think we signed Nikki Nair up for this idea without him knowing so hi NIKKI! Lol. Anyway, we belong in the mud.
NSA: We did sign up Nikki and I’m sure he’s still down whenever he’s not traveling the globe lol.
I think it’s inevitable we talk about “swamp” now. Our current fixation and bond. I was showing my friend Tom Slazinski tracks of mine, and we had just visited my hometown Savannah… It wasn’t until he mentioned it that i realized my sound is a total swamp…sex swamp. I have been making/playing tracks that reminisce where I’m from all along. I really started to lean into that this year and it continues to be a place I draw inspiration from. Nature in general is a new concept for me.
Boo: .. and with that, Full Swamp reactivated Nov 11.