Juan Maclean has become synonymous with DFA Records and along the way, has amassed a solid fan base for his solo work and releases as The Juan Maclean, an ongoing collaboration with LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang. On the heels of recent releases like “What Do You Feel Free About?” and “Can You Ever Really Know Somebody,” Juan plays in the newly renovated Elsewhere Loft every Thursday in January. He’ll play host to an eclectic night of Disco, House, and Techno featuring Juan all night long and each thereafter with a guest including Justin Cudmore, Barbie Bertisch, and Baltra. Listen back to his kick off the night with a long-form set recorded as the next Elsewhere mix in our series.
You’ve had a string of releases over the last couple of years, how are things in the studio? anything on the horizon production wise?
I think last year was actually my biggest year to date in terms of releases! This year I already have so much scheduled for 2019 I’m having to start looking at 2020 for some stuff. For the last year or so, though, I’ve had a massive realignment in the studio in general. I took a trip to Peru, dropped off the grid for a couple of weeks, and it seriously reset everything in me creatively. I came back and stuff seemed to just pour out of me in the studio.
For this year, 2019, this is what I have on the books so far: a split release with Zombies In Miami on Cin Cin; my next DFA release, an original paired with a remix from Massimiliano Pagliara, who is one of my favorite DJ’s and producers; an EP on Life & Death that’ll be me and Man Power’s new project together; an EP on Man Power’s MeMeMe label; a compilation LP that DFA is releasing of all my 12”’s since 2012, including an unreleased one; an EP on Lovedancing. That’s off the top of my head!
Also, I am starting my own white label 12″ imprint to release these grittier, long-form heavy tracks that I made specifically for my own DJ sets.
Oh, and finishing up my next The Juan MacLean LP with Nancy Whang. That has been a few years in the making, slated for a 2020 release.
You will be playing in the Elsewhere Loft every Thursday this month. How did the first night go down?
The first night far exceeded my expectations! I didn’t know what to expect, as January tends to be a bit slow, but I started at 8 pm and by 9 pm there was a decent crowd of people dancing. By 11 pm it was a proper party, everyone dancing, it was super fun. Not sure I remember much after that, as I was in full-on party mode, but I know I stopped at 2 am!
How did you choose the guests for each subsequent night?
It was really a quick who comes first to mind re: ‘who’s here (in NYC) that I love as a DJ AND as a person, in general, to hang out with all night.’ I think it’s something that’s great about NYC, we are all DJ’s who would typically be playing bigger rooms, but these people are down to play in a small room because it’s simply fun. I always think the small room is a big test of someone’s merits as a DJ. You have to be prepared for just about anything, including keeping a room full of people dancing who are packed right in there with you. There’s nowhere to hide, I love it!
What is your process for finding music to play out?
It’s a lot of work and time. I, of course, am always combing the regular online digital outlets, like Juno, going down rabbit holes of labels and artists past releases. But I also hit up the record stores, both used and new, pretty regularly. And then there’s the disheartening task of plowing through endless promos, which I try to keep up on. I’m not any sort of ‘digger’ or anything like that, I just use whatever I like and think will work. That sounds like a really basic principle, but it feels like a lot of people are looking around at what other DJ’s are playing to guide what they will play. I definitely go out, when I’m not on the road, to see DJ’s I like, to keep on top of the vibe on the other side of a DJ booth, but I try to just do my thing when it’s me up there.
How do you divide your time in long-form sets and what tracks were highlights to play in this one?
For long nights like this, like with my first one that was 6 hrs, I would really prefer to organize the night around playing vinyl. I am not some sort of vinyl snob by any means, when I’m on the road I usually don’t bring records. But when I’m playing for 4 hours and longer, playing vinyl is just a lot more fun, and it keeps me in the middle of things in a way that doesn’t happen so much playing digitally. With vinyl, you pretty much have to be constantly involved.
So basically, before my first night at The Loft, I just took a few hours going through my entire record collection and pulling stuff. Old, new, not so new, anything that strikes my fancy at the time.
That said, on this first night, my favorite moments were when I busted out some not yet released tracks that I’m working on! They are in there somewhere…