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DJ Phoenix and Lumpen "The Laptop Hero"

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

DJ Phoenix and Lumpen "The Laptop Hero" have quickly been climbing up the San Francisco nightlife ladder with their inventive party Wave Not Wave. Originally DJing together in New York, Paris, and now San Francisco, this worldly duo is bringing back the best of underground music from 1975 to 1985. Check out their party featuring hip-hop, funk, synth, electro, and more every Tuesday at Beauty Bar.

SF Station (SFS): Where did your original names come from?

Lumpen(L): Ok, this is a long story. Lumpen comes from "lumpenproletariat" which is a term first used by Karl Marx to describe the lowest members of society — gangsters, hookers, criminals, etc. Marx considered this under class to be reactionary and self-interested and therefore counter-revolutionary. Frantz Fanon, and later, Huey P. Newton, however, considered the lumpenproletariat essential to the revolution and believed that the education of the poor and unemployable should be central to revolutionary strategy.

Also, Lumpen was the first name I used as a computer hacker when I was a teenager. When I started DJing, I decided to keep it. "The Laptop Hero" was added a few years later when I started using a laptop to DJ and is taken from Foreigner’s song, "Jukebox Hero".

Phoenix (P): My name comes from a character in Brian De Palma's totally awesome rock opera movie, Phantom of the Paradise, which is sort of like the Phantom of the Opera meets Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have seen it literally dozens of times and love it more each time.

SFS: Did you always DJ together?

P: As of three years ago, we almost always DJ together. We're two great tastes that taste great together!

SFS: Phoenix, I see you're from NY, and Lumpen, you're from Detroit? What brings you two to the West Coast?

P: I came here for school.

L: I followed Phoenix all the way from NYC. Considering she spent a year with me in Paris, I couldn't refuse.

SFS: How do you two have such extensive knowledge of "wave" music? Where did this interest and your collection stem from?

P: I grew up in New York City, and spent most of my formative years hanging out with punk rockers in the East Village/Lower East Side. New wave was a natural extension of punk, and New York played a very big part in a lot of the wave movements, so I just sort of naturally became interested in it.

L: Childhood, mainly. My older cousin was very into punk and new wave while my older brother was very much into rock and hip hop. Between the two of them, and from Detroit radio stations, I had a very well-rounded early 80's influence.

SFS: What inspired you to start the Wave Not Wave parties?

P+L: Complete boredom. While many of the parties in NYC and in Paris are all about this kind of music, there seemed to be few in San Francisco that happened on a regular basis. We very much wanted a weekly party that played the music we ourselves wanted to dance to so we started our own. Having already DJ'd a number of parties at Beauty Bar NYC, we decided to start it here at Beauty Bar SF.

SFS: What's the importance in remembering late 70s early 80s jams?

P+L: It's important in the sense of knowing your musical roots. All present day music is rooted in it and to know it gives one a better understanding of what we hear today. We also often find that the original is better than the copy. That said, even punk has its roots in early rock ’n’ roll. For us, new wave, no wave, punk, etc., are all rock ’n’ roll. And rock ’n’ roll is exactly what we and our party are all about.

SFS: If there were one song stuck on repeat 30 times, what would your personal preference be? As in, what's one song you'll never get tired of?

P: "Wheel Me Out" by Was (Not Was).

L: "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell.

SFS: If you could channel yourself to be one person reflected in your musical playlist, who would that be?

P: Grace Jones

L: Klaus Nomi

SFS: Lastly, where did you get the name "Wave Not Wave" for your party?

P+L: We got the name Wave Not Wave from a number of different places. First of all, we wanted to do a late 70s/early 80s themed party but we didn't want it to be all new wave. Also, there's a party in Paris called Pop Not Pop which comes from a scene in the movie Last Tango In Paris where two of the characters discuss what is and what isn't pop. Another thing is that one of our favorite No Wave bands is Was (Not Was) from Detroit. So, all of those factors came together to give us the name Wave Not Wave.