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Monday, August 12, 2013

Exclusive Q & A: Eight on the Disco Round

I asked each of the the following eight artists, all related in some way to the field of dance music, a similar question about the current disco revival.  Now that Disco is the theme for a series of display windows at Bloomingdale's NYC (, it's officially trendy, hip, chic, and what's happening all over again, in my humble opinion. Here are the replies I generously received. I think you'll find them very interesting.

James Arena, author of the recently published best-seller, The First Ladies of Disco:

Q: Why do you think the time is right for a disco revival?

A: Many of us who enjoyed disco music in our youth have reached an age where we look back on those days with a great deal of affection. Sometimes only with the passage of time can one begin to really appreciate how wonderful the music and vocalists of this great genre and era were. 

We have also entered an age where everyone is star by being on YouTube and entertainers enjoy fame without having paid their dues. I believe all the singers featured in FIRST LADIES OF DISCO were not only pioneers, but true talents who earned the accolades they are receiving. And I believe the music is now being appreciated more for the incredible orchestrations, passionate vocals and incomparable quality that is the essence of so many disco productions.

Lastly, many of these women are still outstanding vocalists who have honed their craft to perfection, are top notch entertainers and survivors. They are proving in disco revival shows they are still in the game and every bit as exciting as their contemporaries. It's only human when we lose a legend like Donna Summer that we are drawn to recall the other great vocalists of this era. I think its much better to tell them how much we love them when they are still providing us with life, energy and inspiration! 

Put all that together and the time absolutely IS right for the disco revival!

Lady Bunny, disco diva, drag legend, Wigstock organizer, journalist and Dj whose new song, Take Me Up High, is currently climbing the Billboard dance chart:

Q: How do you account for disco going mainstream right now, and did you ever foresee this when spinning classic disco was still avant-garde?

A: I was unaware of the current disco revival--is it of mainstream disco? It never went away for me, not only because it was my coming of age in clubs soundtrack. Dance music attracted the best songwriters and producers when it was making $, especially in the 70s but also in the 90s which is the other era I gravitate towards. I remember when minimal 80s sounds came along with their synth stabs and I thought: I was just dancing to an entire symphony--where did this shit come from? 

Dj Jandry, amazing remixer of disco classics and dance-music graphic artist:

Q: Why do you think classic disco music is making a big comeback?

A:  I think Disco is coming back with bands like Daft Punk and with the collaboration with Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rogers playing everywhere; they're gonna rule the Disco world. I've loved disco since I was 12 years old when I discovered Donna on the movie TGIF. I just fell in love with her voice and music and her personality. 

Amber Dirks, dance-music diva extraordinaire (hear her great dance number, You're the One, below):

Q: Why do you think classic disco has become relevant again? And, if you could cover one classic '70s disco song, what would you choose?

A: I believe disco is becoming relevant again because people are missing the real musical element of the genre. All the instrumentation that's required to make the magic happen is a masterpiece within itself. It's quality which provides longevity.

In regards to remakes, anything Donna Summer, just loved her!! 

Dj Rusty Yardum, in NY, dj'ing great dance music from the '70s through the '90s. He recently returned to spinning dance classics for dance floors.

Q: How do you account for the current classic disco revival? When you dj, who are the audiences for this music? And why is it making such a powerful comeback?

A: Disco is making a comeback because the music of today is not the greatest. I spin to an older audience, although young people enjoy this music also. The music of today is DARK and not happy music like Disco was. 

Glenn Rivera, celebrated dj/Vj/remixer:

Q: What do you think has prompted the current revival of, or nostalgia for, classic disco, that is now part of mainstream media?

A: I believe it is the music itself. Songs like "Last Dance", "I Will Survive", 'Y.M.C.A." are the staple to disco music and continue to draw people into the fantasy and nightlife that was a time in our history which was about feeling good. Who doesn't want to feel good? 

That is why the disco feeling will always be around - it is the formula for success. No matter how the music may come and go and influence today's and future artists, the aura and meaning of disco is feeling free and good. That will never go away!  

Martha Wash, dance-music diva, ex-Weather Girl. (Martha's new single, It's My Time, posted below):

Q: Why do you think there's a classic disco revival right now that has gone mainstream?

A: Dj Buddy Beaverhausen, here you go darlin'.

1. You hear classic disco songs in commercials. 2. They are being sampled into new songs 3. People who were younger at that time want to dance and feel that sense of carefree fun, and they can do it with their kids now as well.

Johnny Morgan, author of what I consider my "Disco Bible," DISCO: The Music, The Times, The Era:

Q: It's been a year and a half since we did our Q&A regarding your book, DISCO, and since then, the phenomenon of a new embrace of classic disco music has taken place, working its way into the mainstream (Bloomigdale's trendy windows). You were ahead of this trend. How do you view this new disco nostalgia and what do you think prompted it?

A: What goes around comes around (albeit doing The Hustle this time), everything gets rediscovered after a convenient period of amnesia has passed—you'll doubtless find former macho jocks who wanted to burn disco records reminiscing on blogs about their days as the Tony Manero of Nowheresville in Suburbia when they were growing up. Lady Gaga started it, and the recent publication of Nile Rodgers' autobiography plus Daft Punk's hiring him for their new album has opened a lot of ears to the great work Chic did back in the day. Plus there is a new generation of kids for whom music snobbery of any kind is weird—they just like what they hear and don't care what genre it is, where it comes from or who's playing it as long as their friends dig it too. I think a lot of the new disco lovers believe that it was an 80s thing, too, and the 80s are so now, aren't they? The fashions in Bloomy's windows looks more 80s than 70s to me… 

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen wishes to thank all of the above artists for taking out the time to be part of this survey. It means so much to me to have their input on this topic. I admire them all, and their respective talents, very much. 

Disco lives!


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