This Friday, FACE returns with house music aficionado and expert Prince Language. Currently working on his much-anticipated album coming out later this year, his past releases have included popular remixes for artists like Sons & Daughters and LCD Soundsystem.
He is also the mastermind behind The No Comprendo mixes, a fun series of mixes that feature an eclectic selection of tracks from rock to disco that he’s been putting out since 2006. Hear what he’s all about this Friday at SOM.
Do people ever ask about the addition of “Prince” to your DJ name?
Yes, and I have no answer for them. I have no idea as to how it happened. It has no relation to the little guy in purple; although I discovered after the fact that googling the phrase “prince language” reveals further evidence of his genius. He created a language consisting of numbers and single letters standing in place of whole words that predicted the marvelous “text messaging” of today. So he’s clearly a prophet. Baptize me in the waters of Lake Minnetonka!
You’re originally from the “house music capital” of Chicago. What cemented the move to New York?
I knew that I eventually had to move to New York City after reading Luc Sante’s Low Life in my early teens. What cemented that decision was a Village Voice article that came out sometime thereafter that delineated and detailed the revelation that the heroin sold in Alphabet City was for sale in different brands, noted by a stamp on the glassine envelope. I knew that anyplace with such an absurd and baroque economy must be a doing something right – doing it, and doing it well. Hip-hop sweetened the deal, and the final nail in the coffin was my acceptance to the finest graduate program for conceptual art that the City Universities Of New York offered.
How much did the house music scene surround you as you were growing up?
You might say that house and disco (classics, we called them, or also just house music) are in the water in Chicago, and we have really good tasting tap water. You can easily take that for granted, as I often did. Maybe I should’ve taken better notes, but all those early Drag City 7″s were also competing for my nubile attentions. I do remember listening to the Hot-Mix 5 on WBMX as a kid, and was lucky to be blessed with tapes of Ron Hardy playing at the Music Box from some very generous party people who came to some of my earliest DJ gigs. The most important legacy that the house scene left was the reverence that people in Chicago held for the art and skill of DJing. People expected so much from DJs – mixing skill, crazy rare, unfamiliar records, knowledge of classics, and a certain undefinable jacking vibe that you only hear in Chicago.
What’s your take on why house and disco go so well together?
Disco and house go well together because they are basically the same thing, and both spring from the same impulses and desires. You’ve got to go disco. Stay up late. Jack your body. When the disco records dried up, Chicagoans made their own tracks with drum machines and synthesizers and mixed them with Italo, New Wave, Industrial and whatever else had that four-on-the-floor beat. That was our version of the break-beat. You could hear house music in so many either kinds of music because of that beat, and that hedonistic vibe. Before there was “house music” there was that feeling – Ron Hardy playing “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” at the beginning of every night. So yeah, separating the two, aside from certain formal distinctions, is kind of silly.
What has been most significant for you in the evolution of house music through the years?
Probably the non-evolution of it – the minimalism at its core. The awesome paradox is that the simple, restrictive beat allows for all kinds of variations and evolutions, but none of them count as house music without that beat. Repetition and difference are inextricably linked together in house, just like way language works.
You are also known for being one of the founders of Stoned Soul. Can you share with us one of the best memories you had from it?
Crazy Legs from the Rock Steady Crew DJing with us while Jose “Ease” Parla, literally straight off of a plane from Tokyo, breakdanced on the cement floor of Fun, the club under the Manhattan Bridge where we did the party.
What’s the theme behind “The No Comprendo” releases?
No overall theme, but the name kind of gives you a clue of what I’m up to. Ideally, a bit of benevolent confusion stirred up by music I like and want to share.
When you mix them, where do you imagine it playing?
Not in a club, usually. Every mix I make is obviously informed by the club, but what I do when I play there is totally specific and incidental to the unique context that every night offers. That context doesn’t exist on a mix – I have to create it. A good mix comes from a point of view that the DJ has and communicates to the listener. I want to people to listen the way I do, to hear what I hear in the most literal sense. I tend to just start out with simple idea of a sound or feeling I’d like to convey and see where it takes me through my record collection.
Lastly, people have been bugging you about your album this year. Is it happening?
Yes, and yes. It will be a very happening album.