DJ Harvey on How to Throw an Underground Party, Sarcastic Disco, and Not Having a Body Clock
It might seem like an artist whose fan base spans three continents -- and who remains a prominent and defining figure in the underground electronic music scene -- would not be excusing himself on a Sunday afternoon to go shopping with his wife. But with that, England's DJ Harvey demonstrated how a humble and carefree attitude has taken him on a musical journey from the '70s until now, picking up pieces of disco, deep house, and just about whatever catches his ear along the way. A prime influence in the arrival of the UK garage sound on Western shores, Harvey's roots include growing up during the height of the disco era and playing drums in a punk band. Now based in L.A. and Hawaii, his quarterly Sarcastic Disco parties run for 9 hours, with him often spinning the entire time. DJ Harvey recently chatted with us on the secrets on staying relevant, why it's best to keep the neighbors happy, and how to eliminate your body clock. Test your stamina as he plays a 4-hour set Saturday at Public Works.
Since you're quite the traveler, where has this year taken you so far?
My last trip abroad was to Australia over Christmas and New Years, and I've been back in the mainland ever since, with some good gigs in New York, and the Ultra Music Festival. I just got back from Chicago, and a Sarcastic Disco coming up.
The famous Sarcastic Disco! We hear it's after Coachella. Either people will be in zombie party mode or partied out.
My crew is never partied out. It's a filter to keep the lightweights away! Sarcastic Disco has a pretty hardcore following, so I don't really worry about Coachella people. I'm not really one for festivals and such. I'll probably have a nice weekend off in Los Angeles.
Last year, there was a crackdown of underground parties here in San Francisco. Since you are a seasoned veteran of the underground party-throwing scene, what's one gem of wisdom you can offer?
Basically [to] not upset anyone at all. The way to do it is, if you don't piss anyone off, you can do exactly what you want to do. If the neighbors have no reason to complain, you can carry on [with] what you want to do. That was definitely an issue in London in '90s, where people wanted to party at other people's expense. They wanted to go 'bang bang' and make a mess, and actually be quite anti-social. That brought about the Criminal Justice Act that would shut down gatherings of people. They would shut down groups of seven or more or something like that. I think if you choose carefully you can do an all-night underground party with no worries. And that's how Sarcastic has been for the past ten years.
How is that you have DJ'd nine hour sets then flown off into another country the morning of?
I don't have a body clock anymore. I could sleep for two days straight and wake up in Australia the next morning. I can turn myself on and off if necessary.