Related Articles: Music, All

Squeak E. Clean of N.A.S.A.

Out of this World

With the 40th anniversary of the moon landing just weeks behind us, San Francisco gets a landing of its own when production duo N.A.S.A. touches down with its Intergalactic Circus tour on August 15th at The Independent. The groupís debut LP The Spirit of Apollo was released earlier this year with a star-filled list of guest appearances, including David Byrne, Karen O, the late Olí Dirty Bastard, Santigold and several others. SF Station caught up with Squeak E. Clean, who forms N.A.S.A. with DJ Zegon, during a phone interview before a recent show in Berlin.

SF Station (SFS): Are you bringing the alien go-go dancers when you come back to San Francisco?

Squeak E. Clean (SEC): I believe we will have some alien go-go dancers and some other special guests. There are going to be some good surprises. Itís going to be another crazy intergalactic circus. We switch it up and every show is a little different.

SFS: Is it hard to find aliens or do you just post an ad on Craigslist?

SEC: We throw an ad on intergalactic Craigslist, and a lot of communication is telepathic through the alien-dancer network.

SFS: What piqued your interested in the space program?

SEC: Iíve always been kind of a space nerd. Thereís so much unknown out there, and the grand scale of it makes me think about how minuscule and insignificant we are in the scope of the whole universe.

SFS: Did you want to be an astronaut when you were a kid?

SEC: I sure did. I wanted to go to space camp and be an astronaut, and maybe I still can be one someday. There is no doubt in my mind that I will go to the moon before I die.

SFS: What was a bigger influence, Aldrin and Armstrongís moonwalk or Michael Jacksonís?

SEC: Thatís a tough question! I would have to say as a kid, it was Michael Jackson, but as I got older I got more into the space program and Neil Armstrong. I gotta say itís 50-50.

SFS: How did you figure out what guests would be on The Spirit of Apollo?

SEC: Itís a complicated system we devised that involved a random selection of different artists, blindfolds and darts.

Iím kidding! We picked our favorite people who inspire us -- music icons and people we are friends with who are making great stuff now. We tried to be open-minded and eclectic, which is in line with our tastes.

SFS: What was the biggest challenge?

SEC: The biggest challenge was coordinating everyone and their schedules. It was hard to get them in the studio together. We tried to get the different artists on the song together at the same time.

SFS: Why did you take that route instead of e-mailing the tracks back and forth like so many other artists?

SEC: We really wanted to make sure the record had cohesion to it and didnít feel like a random collection of songs. We wanted to have common threads and a concept that was conveyed through all the songs. We knew that if we were around when it was recorded and always pushing on the concepts and themes it would have that cohesion.

SFS: How do you approach your live set?

SEC: We change it up, but itís always our remixes and we edit video to everything we play and control the video and the audio with the turntables. It varies, depending on where we are, how we feel and the guest artists that are with us.

SFS: As a DJ, do you feel like you have to constantly evolve with new technology?

SEC: I think you have to, because there are so many DJs now, you have to make a show out of it. We want to do something special and unique because there are so many people using Serato and playing all of the same songs. Thatís why we always play our original tracks, remixes and mashups, along with the video and aliens. We always try to take it to the next level.

SFS: You canít beat aliens grinding on each other.

SEC: No, you really canít. Thatís true.

N.A.S.A performs at The Independent on August 15th. Tickets are $18. Doors open at 8:30pm and the show starts at 9pm.