Josh Houtkin „I go pretty deep in memories with DFA and James Murphy”
Josh Houtkin is together with his partner Dave Pianka one of the most driving forces behind the nightlife of New York City. Since the early 2000s the duo run their now legendary Fixed series; from The xx to Simian Mobile Disco, you name them, they played for Fixed. And of course also pretty much every DFA act showed party face there, including several LCD Soundsystem appearances. Besides that Josh is also the main man behind Good Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, one of the finest clubs in the world.
Josh Houtkin was so kind to recently take again some time for kaput (after a long chat in 2018) to talk DFA with Thomas Venker down at the river between Williamsburg and Manhattan a few days ahead of the big 20 anniversary party of DFA.
Josh, what is your first memory connected with DFA Records?
Josh Houtkin: I go pretty deep in memories with DFA and James Murphy. From the early DFA days in the very beginning, I was helping James with parties around New York, even before LCD were playing live. We did for example a party at this venue Warsaw that The Rapture played and I think also Trevor Jackson with Playgroup.
As fas as big memories, we did one of the first Fixed parties with LCD Soundsystem live at Tribeca Grand in the basement, which was pretty crazy. It was at Halloween and they did a Misfits cover. Me and James worked on a few parties together over the years. An early party in Miami with literally every DFA artist at the time; I wanna say some time around 2003, 2004 maybe – it was two days, including one of the first Juan MacLean live shows, LCD played, and we brought over Optimo and David and Stephen from Soulwax. We did early DFA ragers with Tommy Saleh at Tribeca Grand.
It is funny, we just reopened Good Room and James Murphy did a benefit for the club. We talked about all the history we have – we haven´t thought about this for a long time. I mean, 20 years of history.
It does not feel so long, but then, when you think about it, it kinda does.
I just saw the old hardcore band Verbal Assault on their reunion tour. The next day I ran by accident at Washington Square Park into the guitarist of the band and we started chatting and found out that I last saw them play in my hometown of Stuttgart the very night the wall come down! That was 32 years ago!
When you start something, you do not think this will go on forever.
But this your life, these are our lives. I tell this people all the time: This is what I do. It is not like being in college and going to clubs to meet women or something, no I am going cause of music. This is my life, we do this forever. We do this for the music. Well, there is a social aspect, but not for that reason.
I am co-curating the Monheim Triennale and one of the artists I closely work with is Phillip Sollmann. He recently presented his Modular Organ System together with his partner Konrad Sprenger in Berlin as part of CTM Festival. One of the nights Stephen O´Malley and Kali Maline performed with them. This was one of my first concerts since the pandemic started and it felt so so good to feel the music in public with other people around me. I stayed for over four hours in the room.
You miss it. After two years of covid, being at home isolated, you think of what you are really missing, what is of importance for you. I miss it a lot. I don´t know what else to do.
Do you know where you met James Murphy in the first place?
I was helping Vice a little bit in the early Williamsburg days. I am pretty sure I met James through Suroosh Alvi, one of the Vice founders. They were doing a party with DFA – and DFA had just got going with Black Dice and I feel I must have met James around that time, 2001, 2002.
As you mention Williamsburg. I was walking around here yesterday and today, it is unbelievable how much the area changed since back then. For me Williamsburg is very much connected with DFA, Vice and you guys, but now it looks like a different city. How does it feel for you?
Oh yes, it changed. DFA definitely not only stuck with what they do, they also seem to be reinventing themselves pretty well. Talking to James now it seems he is reinfigurated by playing music, not just LCD also through djing again. He wants to get out there again; he played Good Room with Pat Mahoney for six hours from opening till closing. And he said, „I wanna do this again – away from big festivals and all the pressure.“ It seems he is able to reinfigurate himself after all that time, it´s hard to do that.
Do you feel like that the DFA community is still around?
Yeah, a lot of the OG DFA people are still around. Me and Juan MacLean are closer than we have ever been. Tim Sweeney is very present, Nancy Whang still plays. Most DFA people are still involved in music, they still do Museum of Love, LCD still play live…
And audience wise?
You know, that´s hard to say. I don´t totally know. I have tons of friends that come to the 20 anniversary party that not have gone out in like 2,3 years.
I think DFA has the advantage cause of LCD that they still get the younger crowds – younger meaning mid 20s / early 30s crowd. These people did not necessary go to the parties we did go, but they are having heir own idea of DFA and LCD. If you go to a DFA party now, it is not the same people but the same energy.
Living in New York it is hard to say, cause those still living in the city are also still going out, wheather you have family and kids or not. I have plenty of friends with kids that I still see a lot. It is not like somewhere else, where you stop going out once you have family.
What is your favorite DFA record
That is a really hard one. I still bring them out for djing all the time. I play the Still Going tracks all the time. I still love Jacques and Marcos „Brooklyn Club Jam“ – i actually just played it recently and it still sounds so good. „Blind“ by Hercules & Love Affair is another fucking amazing track. Those are my tops tracks. And the early LCD tracks, and obviously „House of jealous lovers“ by The Rapture is pretty iconic.