Native New Yorker: Amy Douglas

Are you a Native New Yorker?

I am! Like the Odyssey song itself. I was born in Queens, raised on Eastern Long Island, from there I lived in Manhattan and (then a detour to Boston) and now I’m back home in Brooklyn! Native and PROUD! These days I almost find my NY heritage has obtained a near dangerous jingoistic state!

Tell us how Let’s Go Dancing came about.

I had done a release with Juan MacLean under our Peach Melba moniker and it was released on Classic Music Company. Through that effort, my songwriting and voice reached the ears of the truly awesome creative engine of the Defected Records universe, the one and only Luke Solomon, and he enlisted me for work on his really cool Powerdance collective project, and a working musical relationship sort of instantly formed - it was very quick!

I am incredibly grateful for this. I can’t say hard and loud enough that Luke Solomon really is such an incredible crucial and potent voice of dance music in the UK, and he’s been connected to things that influenced me all the way across the pond. I’m not even CLOSE to be the house or disco or UK garage expert that he is - I’m a rock/jazz/soul/funk nerd - but genre aside I’m a fanatic for tight and lovingly crafted songs which we have in common. It was like finding an oasis in the desert when I started to work with him and man he’s put me to work! Our writing sessions at my studio in Brooklyn have been highlights and I always look forward to them.

One day he wrote to me, “Amy, I am working on Horse Meat Disco’s debut album, are you familiar with them? (Er, was I?!?) We need your disco magic and we need ANTHEMS, especially this one with a working title called “Let’s Go Dancing.” Many times when I’m working off tracks producers send me, there is a working title for the track and I have the discretion to change that depending on whatever lyrical content I attach to my melodic ideas. In THIS case? “Let’s Go Dancing” seemed PERFECT. He sent me the track for what became Let’s Go Dancing and what is to be the second single of (gasp) FOUR so far, called “Spacebound.” I grabbed my headphones, dl’d the tracks into my phone and started going for a long walk around Brooklyn, walked from my house in East Williamsburg to Bed Stuy and back listening to “Let’s Go Dancing” on a loop and by the time I got back home, I had what I knew might be “the hook” really instantaneously but I ran downstairs, jumped on my piano, and started to play along with the track and I knew I had what I hope they needed. Sometimes, there is a moment wherein I hear what I call “the instant click” inside of my brain. As someone who is more accustomed to creating songs from the ground up, sitting at a piano like Carole King or a traditionalist singer/songwriter, that click for me always happens when the music enters my fingers: I sit down, play along and then start to compose as I always would on the piano. Once I had that hook, I wrote the bridge and thought…”this song, doesn’t need MORE than this.

Admittedly, as I knew this was for HORSE MEAT DISCO, I also knew “girl….this has to be the most epic!"

For us Londoners who haven’t been describe HMD’s New York party. The great thing about bringing HMD and its intense throbbing sweatfest to NYC is that NYC NEEDED this. All of us who live in major cities of the world right now, we’re all kind of feeling the ennui and the buh a bit, as we watch our cultural epicenters challenged by the internet and also gentrification. Gentrification has really divided nightlife culture and the internet has made people verrrrrrrry lazy for all the information it gives. Having come up through NYC’s various music scenes throughout my upbringing, I’ve seen the pall, the blanket of apathy. When HMD roll through? The apathy disappears if only for their time here.

Having just rocked out with them at NYC Pride at Knockdown Center, I can tell you hand on heart, this punk rock snarling cynic saw for the first time in roughly forever-ville the very value systems we wanted to deploy always as bringers of liberation. There is also a lot of “talk” from people who want to make change and then sit on their hands waiting to be directed like they need a traffic cop, or Mommy’s hand to hold. HMD put their fucking money where their god damed mouths are. They’ve become one of the most crucial and hardcore attended nights in NYC because all who enter, be it rock and roll savage wild animals like myself, banjees, B boys, you see ALL TYPES at one of their nights as they ebb and flow for the marathons that they are. You see all COLORS and SHADES at a HMD party. You see, admittedly many more beautiful boys (giggles) at that and from all over the world, but you also see women who come to really DANCE, because once the sea of flesh begins to COOK? That is when the real #heads come to the party and they ain’t there to tap a toe and look cool with an overpriced cocktail in hand they came to FUCKING DANCE INTO DUST.

An HMD party is NOT solely and shallowly (and obnoxiously) a room filled with gorgeous shirtless men. Squint and take your apathy goggles off? You’ll see The Loft and all the heritage, the lineage. HMD in NYC, is NECESSARY MEDICINE in HORRIBLE TIMES.

We hear you’re a bit of a rock chick. Which British musicians have been the biggest influence on you?

Hahahah! A BIT? Noooooo I am FULL BORE. This is my very DNA, my ID. I am a rock chick who just happens to sing on dance records and puts the very same passion into that effort that I would to rocking a full band onstage which is what I’m accustomed to.

Which British Musicians have been the biggest influence on me? Oh god, I think the question is which HAVEN’T??? (really deep breath) Beatles, Stones, Zep, Bowie, Elton, Faces, T Rex, Sweet, Eno, Roxy Music, Kinks, The Who, Queen, Bauhaus/Love and Rockets/Tones on Tail, Floyd, Cream, Free, Hollies, Ten Years After, Joe Cocker, Black Sabbath, Elvis Costello, Thin Lizzy, Pogues, Depeche Mode, Jesus and Mary Chain, Sex Pistols, Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, The Jam and Style Council, Yardbirds, Joe Jackson, The Cure, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Eurythmics, Everything But The Girl, anything Nellee Hooper EVER did, Pulp, Tears For Fears, this list is going to wrap around the world twice over and come back again.

I’d argue that save for the indigenous purist music of my nation, my entire raison d’être is British Music WHOLLY. I could keep going. This is ALL by the way yes, just as influential as each other, I can’t be me, couldn’t have this life without all of it, and honestly this is a paltry small sample size of the wholeness of my devotion and religious love. It's a gushy, gooey love for Brits, likely borderline embarrassing. I’ll do my best not to get too mushy.

Kiss, marry, avoid: Sylvester, Nico, Madonna.

Ooooooooooooooh. Marry? Sylvester no question. (Good answer.) I want that energy around me every fucking day of my life to remind myself of how far I have to go, but that the journey is the thing and he puts me as close to any concept of “God” as you can go. Kiss? Madonna. Although while I’d full on have a fully blown sapphic night of monkey passion with the first album Madonna, the love affair and attraction has worn off over the years as she’s chosen to chase her vanity and not her artistic vision, and if I kiss her these days? That’s gonna be like a peck! Avoid? Nico. I love the Velvets and Nico, that album is fantastic, but honestly? Taking nothing away from what she brings as an artist for the very short time she did and the very overhyped nature of what she’s brought forth en totem, I can love that from a distance like a painting on a wall. I don’t need to take it home and fuck it.

Amy’s five desert island disco records.

Stomp - The Brothers Johnson. This is my favorite Disco song of all time to the point where sometimes I’ve cried listening to it, and I’ve been dancing and found tears rolling down my face at the same time. Q. Do I need to say more? Oh right. Louis and George Johnson. Just even thinking of the bassline of that song my eyes are filling with tears.

The entire MacArthur Park Suite (which includes Heaven Knows) - Donna Summer. This for me is the crowning achievement of high art disco. The string arrangements alone make me want to weep and her vocal performance is EPIC!

Just A Touch Of Love- Slave- Put that on, and what troubles do you really have in life? Troubles? HA!!!

Every single thing Chic has ever done, the end. Yes, that is cheating. There is no way to pick one Chic song, and as I see Chic as a high art dance band, I have to listen to the albums, the same way I’d listen to Abbey Road. Chic are also such a fundamental part of New York City Music.

The Love Unlimited Theme- Barry White. Notice a theme here? I’m ALL ABOUT BIG ARRANGEMENTS! Strings! Woodwinds! Full on symphonic goodness. (Shit, I only get five - I was just getting started!)

What’s been your most memorable gig and why?

Well, two vie for the number one position. My old rock band AETHOS opening up for the 420 Funk Mob in Ithaca, New York. The 420 Funk Mob are members of PFUNK who come together to perform ONLY Funkadelic material, all the guitar driven material. They got George Clinton to come up with them that night. My band opened and then they called me onto the tour bus wherein my connection to PFUNK Mr. Clip Payne introduced me to the man himself. I was supposed to perform Red Hot Mama and be off after we all did it together but George was ummmm... “evolved” that evening and he went completely left. Fortunately I know almost every single backup part on every single Funkadelic record, so I just looked at the other singers who looked at me like “can you hang? He’s going off plan here?” and I gave 'em that look like “don’t worry.”

The other was when I used to play keyboards and perform in the Squeezebox Band at Don Hills and the former Mistress of Ceremonies the ferocious and enduring Mistress Formika had a bday party, and let’s just say it ended with a birthday cake fight onstage, fake blood enemas, taking pics of Rudy Giuliani putting 'em in a garbage can onstage, lighting it all up, and putting out the blaze by whipping it out and pissing all over them, and then going into the White Zombie version of “I’m Your Boogie Man.”

What’s the most ridiculous situation you found yourself in?

Same night! The night became a sort of onstage melee, and it ended with Mistress demanding Led Zeppelin looking at me and saying “BITCH, I demand ZEPPELIN.” I look at the band and call Whole Lotta Love and as I sing, by like….Verse 2, two of Mistress Formika’s “disciples” two little baby Dommes who used to work at this place La Nouvelle Justine got onstage and literally TACKLED ME to the ground, one got in front of me, one got in back and next thing I knew I was topless and making out with two girls onstage and I got wrapped up in the mic cord, and it SLICED across my back and I had a burn mark there for a while. That’s one of the most ridiculous anyway.

Which five celebrities dead or alive would make your perfect dinner party?

Sigh, one of em I am so sorry to put in the dead camp, but Anthony Bourdain, Nina Hagen,

Chuck D, Tom Waits and Gene Kelly

Amy Douglas performs at Horse Meat Disco, The Eagle, Sunday 14th July.

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