Photo by Jan-Tosh Gerling.
Aaron Clark is the co-founder of the Honcho and Humanaut crews, plus the ‘Hot Mass’ after-hours club in Pittsburgh. You can also find him in Detroit during Movement Festival weekend as part of the team behind the Club Toilet and Lot Mass parties.
This weekend, we’re excited to add Aaron into the mix of our Halloween celebrations kicking off on Friday and featuring talent from Tin Man (Live), UVB, Doc Sleep, and more. Listen below and grab tickets!
You’ve had a busy year, traveling to familiar places like Denver and SF, but also Berlin, Paris and Taipei. Were there any highlights?
Honestly, they’ve all been amazing. Taipei was really special to me though, being my first time in Asia. The Korner club in Taipei had such an incredible vibe to it, but sadly the owners changed music formats and it’s no longer doing the Smoke Machine style music bookings. I feel really lucky to have squeaked in there to see it before the shift. With that said, Smoke Machine and their Organik Festival are still going strong regardless of Korner’s switch. That festival is one of the most special things I’ve experienced – between the location in that beach cove, plus the level of detail they put into the lighting and sound systems. It feels like you’re at the end of the world there. I can’t speak highly enough of it – definitely a new annual tradition.
You recently joined forces with SF’s Honey Soundsystem for a 6 hour / 6 person Pool Party DJ set at the Sustain-Release: Year Five. How did it all go down? Do the Honcho residents get to play with HSS often?
It went great! I did the b2b tag with Jason Kendig, as we’ve played together a good bit the last few years. We did two pretty cool gigs together over the summer in Europe as well as at Campout. Clark pairing with Jackie House and George pairing up with Robert Yang (Bézier) were both new for them, but really complimentary. Was cool to see the full range we were capable of. The Honey guys have been huge inspirations for us over the years, so it felt great to mesh like that at such a carefully programmed festival.
What’s new with the programming and space at Hot Mass? Any recent nights that were your favorite? How was the Honchothon?
Hot Mass is still chugging along nicely. The structure of the nights hasn’t really changed too much. girlFx is doing a great job on 5th Saturdays and has really pushed the needle in Pittsburgh with their mission of getting more women and non-binary identifying people involved in dance music. It’s been great to see the educational component come to life with their monthly Monday DJ and production workshops, then also see the product of that spill into their club nights.
Favorites lately? Oliver Hafenbauer played an incredible set. He’s the brains behind the Live at Robert Johnson label, as well as the bookings at the club. And such a nice guy to hang out with. Also have to give a shout out to NYC’s Salem Hilal for wrecking shop two weekends ago. It was a perfect opening set before Akua went on (who also killed it.) And while I wasn’t there for it, I heard Debonair played a hell of a set for girlFx’s September party.
As far as the actual club space there have only been some minor changes, but we have quite a big surprise coming in the next month or two. That’s all I’ll say until the deed is done.
It was the fourth edition of the Honcho Summer Campout in August. How did the festival first come about, what led to the new location and were you satisfied with this year’s event?
This year’s Campout was the first time it felt like we were able to present the full vision of what is possible in the space. We’re all incredibly satisfied. We had the right attendance there to fill the music areas correctly. It felt evolved and sustainable. When we started the thing, we didn’t really grasp how far Campout could be taken – it was just supposed to be a silly weekend at a tacky gay resort. We’d always hoped we could get the first venue to change their male only policy after earning trust with them, but they ended up not budging. It had to move so that we could open it up the way we wanted, and it was scary to leave something as comfortable as Roseland behind. They had so much infrastructure already in place. Four Quarters Farm had none of that. While terrifying, the new venue handed us a blank canvas to work with and opened up the creative possibilities. That’s something I don’t think we expected. It’s such a beautiful and raw natural environment, so we feel an obligation to do the space justice. It has been a steep learning curve, but in the end it has pushed the festival to a much higher level.
What else have you been up to?
I’m plugging along at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, working on events programming there. I celebrated post-Campout and summer party madness by getting a new PC gaming dork machine. Catching up on years of missed builder games like Cities Skylines and Planet Coaster. Still traveling a little bit, but I’m in full fall hermit mode right now and it feels really good.
Tell us a little about the mix you’ve done for us. Where was it made, and are there any stand out tracks for you?
I made this mix in Atlanta. I’ve been down here this past weekend seeing a guy I really like, laying low, eating a lot of garbage food together. It’s a collection of some of my favorites from summer and some of my favorite fall grabs. Not necessarily peak hour club moments.
Highlights: Dauwd’s “Dolly Silverlake” (bassline!!), the Polyfan Polyphenix “Polytics” track (make sure you check out the whole record), and the Mad Rey track, “Volonteé Breaker.” I think the top honor though goes to Barker’s Filter Bubbles at the close. That whole release on Ostgut Ton was done without any kick drums and the result is fucking beautiful. Pure emotion.