Interview by: Juliet Shaw
Sleazy by name, sleazy by nature; this week’s guestmix from Sleazy McQueen is a funked-up masterclass in sexy disco. Born and raised in America’s deep south, where disco isn’t exactly the most in-demand genre, McQueen made sure he heard the music he loved by putting on his own nights.
Now resident in Orlando, Florida, Sleazy (real name Laurin) is in demand the world over for his live sets, edits and production skills. His November tour sees him take in Istanbul on the 18 and 19 November, Oslo on 26 November and Stockholm on 25 November, and he has recordings coming out on Deep & Disco, Paper Recordings, Adult Only and Headtunes Recordings, as well as his own Whiskey Disco edits label.
Did being a disco fan in America’s deep south present any problems while growing up?
I was always a bit of an oddball growing up, so, adding that element to the mix had no real effect!
You put on your own parties over there when you were younger, what sort of music were you playing?
For the most part, I played a mix of disco and house. Usually for the dance nights, I would stick to playing house instrumental tracks and layer 80s or disco records over top to add that flare. There were a few places that I could play strictly disco sets, but my tastes hadn’t yet developed to what they are now and those sets mostly consisted of Cerrone and Saturday Night Fever styled disco.
Which DJs did you bring over to play at your nights?
We mostly booked house DJs from Chicago or California, people like Q-Burns, John Howard, Stacy Kidd, Anthony Mansfield among others.
Did you get much of a following or was it a labour of love?
Over the course of our events we amassed a decent sized following, it’s been great since I moved away from there because I can always go back home and have a good event. The best thing I’ve ever been told was from a girl a few years ago who told me we had the only party that people knew they could go to dance.
What prompted you to make the move to New York?
I think everyone on the east coast has that compelling feeling that they should move to NY at some point. I’m glad I did and glad I stayed just less than a year– that was long enough for me.
You’re now based in Orlando, what does it offer a DJ and producer that New York didn’t?
Actually, the scene in NY is different now that it was in 2006, so it now offers the kind of house and disco that I couldn’t readily find the – though I’m sure it was happening. That being said, in Orlando, when I first moved here, there were a number of places to play and events happening. I was playing a lot out of town and in town. As a producer, I’m around a few similarly minded fellows here who have been able to instil in me much higher production values. There’s no price I could put on that. The music I make now sounds exponentially better than it did 5 years ago.
The mix you’ve created for House of Disco is sleazy, sexy, funked-up disco at its best.
Could I expect the same from your live sets?
It is a live set. That’s very likely how a live set could sound. I play a variety of things and throw them together, occasionally in a haphazard manner. Something that people have always told me is that I can put together two songs that no one else would think to mix together and they seem to work. I’m not sure if they were being polite, but I’ve never changed how I select music.
Also, I should note, that, anyone wanting a live re-creation (DJ set) out of me can catch me live in Istanbul, November 18/29 and Oslo November 25, Stockholm November 26. I’m looking for a midweek event after the 26 in the UK or something in Eastern Europe between Nov19 and Nov25.
What makes a good live set for you – what elements need to be in place for you to call it a perfect night?
A perfect night is any night when people enjoy the music (and there are no technical mishaps). I’ve had plenty of fantastic nights. We used to lose money and not even care. My going away party when I moved to New York was on a Tuesday night in a little bar. Q-Burns came to play since I had just signed a single to his label, EIGHT-TRACKS. The place was rammed, people were dancing on the tables, the vibe was tight. I had paid for most of the expenses for the night out of pocket, but we were $20 short of what we needed. The bar had a policy that they wouldn’t pay the DJs (bullshit) and I asked if they would chip in for it since I brought incredible business to them. They held their stance. Despite that, it was still a really great event.
Your label Whiskey Disco has put out some fantastic edits. What’s your criteria for choosing a record to edit?
A lot of disco tries to stick to a pop formula, most of the time, there’s a key change that loses the energy of the initial groove. I usually look for songs that have a really fantastic groove and try to expand on that while removing the cheese. Most dancefloors don’t really want to get educated while trying to have a drunken good time. It’s just easier to find a groove and stick with it for the duration of the song.
You’ve also recorded original tracks under your own name as well as Tres Gueros, 2 Spare Astronauts, and Sleazy McQueen and the Nasty Fruits. Is that an area you want to pursue?
I always balance original material with edits. I have an EP coming up on Paper Recordings due out in November that features three tracks, only one of which has a sample.
You do edits, original recordings and live sets. Which do you prefer? What gives you most pleasure?
I like anything that I can get a response out of. I like editing tracks that don’t usually work on the dance floor and turning them into something that does. I love the pleasure of making something original that has all the sonic elements it should and sounds really pristine as well. I don’t know if I know what gives the most back to me though…. it really depends what mood
What are your plans for the next 12 months, any new recordings to share with us or upcoming tours?
I’m playing in Istanbul, Oslo and Stockholm in November and looking to fill a few days in between. If anyone has suggestions as to which trains to catch from Istanbul to Vienna, Prague and Berlin, I’d love to hear them. Also, if anyone reading this is in those cities, pretty please contact me or my agent, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a mix CD coming out on Headtunes Recordings featuring a number of my own gems mixed in with my selections from their catalog. It’s really a house mix at heart, but with some defined sleazy moments. I’m very proud of that, it’s really one of the best DJ mixes I’ve ever made. The European tour will coincide with the CD release and be named accordingly, “5+1″ since I will be playing 5 gigs in Europe and then go back to play one more in Boston. Headtunes have used Kickstarter to fund the CD and it’s coming along very well. For those interested in helping click here
Additionally, I have originals or remixes forthcoming on: Deep&Disco, Paper Recordings, Adult Only, Headtunes Recordings. Cosmic Boogie and I are working on a few tracks for Whiskey Disco that should be out around the new year as well.
And finally, I have to ask; what’s the story behind the name?
I wish I could add a disclaimer to my name. McQueen is my middle name, I was born with it. The guy I used to promoter with, my best friend, and I were in the kitchen trying to come up with something and he just said it. It’s a tongue in cheek name, it’s a joke. I’m a normal, not creepy, guy. I’m not sleazy by definition. It’s just a name and it happened to stick and resonate.
Thanks for the listen guys and hope you enjoy the mix. if you’re around when I’m playing, feel free to stop by and berate me for wasting your time on this read and mix!