Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Senator Soul
As far as the Friday DJ Q&A series goes, we are on a soul roll. Last week we interviewed Special Lord B. from Saturday Night Soul Party, and this week we have Senator Soul, who officiates at the Monday night club Black Gold, and is also involved in 45 Club and Congress. He's also the moderator of the sfsoulscene blog, so dude knows a thing or two about the genre and its impact on the city. (p.s. You can read Clubs Editor John Graham's writeup of Black Gold here.)
Name: Jonathan Hirsch (Senator Soul)
Club night: Black Gold at Koko Cocktails
Style of music you spin: 60's, soul, & RnB
Who are the soul legends, dead or alive, you'd most like to meet? I've been fascinated for some time with the lives of a number of soul musicians, many of whom died rather inauspiciously. I'd say of all the soul greats, I would have liked to meet Sam Cooke. I would like to know about his process, why he chose such sparing arrangements for the majority of his work, and what the hell happened that night he was murdered in a hotel room in Los Angeles. It would have been cool to have Lee Dorsey replace my radiator, and to stay up all night with Irma Thomas listening to slow jams.
How and when did you first start DJing soul music? I would go out dancing with my friend Alison to all the soul nights in the city. We were raging pretty hard those days, we never missed a night. I work at a library, and one day a patron donated a bunch of soul and oldies 45's, most of which were top 40 or unplayable, that my work couldn't use. But I started to get the idea that it might be fun to pick up all the records I did like, and dance to them on the other side of the booth. So a friend introduced me to Dx at the Knockout and the rest is history. DJ Lucky (of Soul Party and Nightbeat) gave me a crash course in using turntables an hour before my first guest spot, and I've been going strong ever since.
How do the different San Francisco soul nights stay distinct? I have a lot to say about this. I think every regular night in the soul circuit is distinct. Given that there is a very limited window of time in which this music was created, there is bound to be crossover, but each of the nights in the city has a very different feel. There are nights that are trying to incorporate entertainment, there are nights that play specific sub genres of soul and RnB, and of course each of the nights is defined by the tastes and personality of the selectors, not to mention the location and atmosphere of the club, and in our case over at Black Gold, the tastes and personality of the bartender (Chardmo). It's a confluence of factors really, and I think the fact that we have cross promoted, and because of the Soul Scene Blog, there's been considerable talk about whether or not the soul scene is saturated. While it is true that nights like ours were few and far between just a couple of years ago, that to me is more a testament to people's interest in a timeless music.
What sort of dapper attire should one don for a soul night soiree? That's all up to you! We won't turn you away if you dress casually.. our nights appeal to a broad spectrum of people. But be prepared for skinny ties, wing tips, and big hair! Because some of the soulies really get into it.
Dream DJ partner: Sasquatch. Possibly Captain Cosmic Mcsnuggles. And in reality... Dirty Dishes, Paul Paul, Dx, Lucky, Sergio, Cat Fancy, Primo, Dr. Scott, Matt B, Lil Ryan & Anna, Melissa, Alison, and many more. Most of whom I've had the fortune of playing records with before.
Favorite DJ experience: Pounding the floor last Monday to "Gimme Little Sign" and running out from behind the booth to get in the crowd for the last song.
Worst request: I would have to say it's a toss up between U2 (yup) and "Like A Virgin".
Most treasured vinyl score: "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" Johnnie Taylor.
Musical mantra: "My love is so sound it'll take a hundred lifetimes to live it down!"
Other projects you're currently working on: My band (Captain Snark) will be playing some shows in November and December, I'm writing a novel, and I have a book of poems that should be out next year. I'm still involved with the parties 45 Club and Congress, and we should be starting a radio show sometime soon here as well. I also moderate the sfsoulscene blog.
Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: It would have to be: "How did Black Gold get to be so much fun?" I've been asking myself that alot lately. Originally DJ Cat Fancy and I had thought it'd be a good idea to do a night on Mondays, when (as far as our interests were concerned) not much was going on in the city.
Both of my best friends, bandmates, DJ partners, and other assorted lovely cats n kitties hang out and work at the Cafe Adante just a couple of blocks from Koko. Black Gold has quickly become our gathering place on Monday nights after the cafe closes, so the night in many ways belongs to all of us. Most everyone has contributed in promoting, decorating, and participating in it every week. I've thrown parties that were packed to gills with people I've never seen before spilling out onto the street and spilling drinks onto my lap. But with Black Gold, we have a successful party of my friends and their friends. I couldn't ask for more, except maybe a copy Edward Hamilton's "Baby Don't You Weep". But that's my rent money.
Next time we can see you spin: This Monday! Black Gold at Koko Cocktails. There will be free Rollos, a midnight dance-off with master judge John Wise, and possibly a Yetti.