Interview: House of House
House of House – aka Liv Spencer of Still Going and Saheer Umar – burst onto the scene with their “Rushing to Paradise” release back in 2009. Remixed by the likes of DJ Harvey, and taking on remix duties themselves for A Mountain of One and Juan Maclean, their track was released in a clubbing climate that was open to deep and epic sounds focused around classic vocals. Juno Plus spoke to Liv about the New York house scene, Robbie Williams and their collaboration with rowdy Italian duo Crookers.
How did you hook up with Saheer and form House of House?
I had seen Saheer out a number of times and was struck by how solid a DJ he was. We shared of lot of common musical interests and decided to see where things would take us in the studio.
Where did the House of House name come from?
It’s a nod to the NYC gay club ball circuit and the 80s buffalo style aesthetic.
Your sound has a truly epic feel to it, the likes of which you don’t hear much these days. Who would you cite as your main musical influences?
Loads… Masters At Work, Kerri Chandler, Blaze, Basic Channel, Wayne Gardiner, Sade, Womack & Womack, Imagination.
How much does the original New York house scene inspire the music you make now?
Clubs like Body & Soul, Sound Factory Bar, definitely made their mark on us. We discovered many of the records we love on those dancefloors. That kind of thing stays with you forever.
How long did “Rushing to Paradise (Walkin’ These Streets)” take to make? How does the production dynamic between you two work?
Probably a week from start to finish. I’d say we did the writing and recording over three days and then another four days on arrangement and mix. We write songs collaboratively and then I record and mix it.
Were you expecting it to be as big as it was?
It’s hard to say. We new we had a solid jam on our hands but then again, we were biased. We try to just make what sounds good to us. If we’d play it, then it’s worth us putting the work in on it.
The DJ Harvey remix has recently dropped – how did that come about – did you approach him?
We’ve known Harvey for some time now. The remix was originally supposed to be part of a Map Of Africa remix package, but only Harvey delivered his mix in the end.
We try to just make what sounds good to us. If we’d play it, then it’s worth us putting the work in on it.
One reviewer wrote “where do they go from here?” in reference to the high standards set with “Rushing to Paradise” – is that something that worries you when making more music?
‘Keep ’em guessing’ we say. We can only promise to hustle hard and keep putting our best foot forward.
You’ve remixes a couple of interesting acts so far, namely A Mountain Of One and Juan Maclean – how did those come about?
The Mountain Of One remix came to us via our shared booking agency – Nutricious. The Juan Mclean mix came to us via DFA Records with whom Liv works as Still Going.
What are you working on now as a duo? Any original productions or remixes?
We’re recording some original material and working on a collaboration with Crookers.
Have you got any plans for live performance or just DJing? Do you ever DJ together?
Of course. We DJ together quite often and our sets usually include a live element. That was the plan from the jump. We plan to build on that in the future as we write more material.
What is the NYC house scene like at the moment? I’ve heard that Todd Terry is DJing again, and there’s lots of talk about the whole Underground Quality crew doing good things… is it feeling vibrant?
Reports of the scene’s demise are greatly exaggerated. The house music scene has been here all along since the late 80s and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We do feel though the scene is going to – in this coming year hopefully – get a new surge of interest and energy from the non-dance community. I think we’ll see more uninitiated kids are opening their ears to newer sounds.
Reports of the scene’s demise are greatly exaggerated. The house music scene has been here all along since the late 80s and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Liv, how did the Still Going Robbie Williams remix come about? It’s fantastic, but a surprising choice nonetheless!
James Pitt was A&R’ing remixes for Robbie’s album and reached out to us for a mix. Trevor Horn’s production resulted in a lot of solid sounds for us to work with.
What does 2010 hold for Still Going?
We’re wrapping production on a couple of new remixes, organising tour dates in Australia, Japan, and Europe, and putting finishing touches on a couple of new singles.
Saheer, what are your solo plans for 2010?
I might let out some solo music projects that I’ve been quietly plugging away at. Probably some collabs as well. Also, I’ll be launching the BLVCK AMERICA collective’s website. BLVCK AMERICA is a group of artists, designers and writers who examine culture at the crossroads of aggressively new ideas in art, fashion, literature and music. We throw parties as well all over (we’re not total squares).
What does 2010 hold for House of House?
Lots of time on the road and long (really long) hours in the studio!
Interview: Aaron Coultate/Flora Wong