Mister Saturday Night Interview: We value community

read our interview with the selectors behind iconic NYC clubnight Mister Saturday Night, who grace Manchester's Soup Kitchen on Friday 22nd November.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 20th Nov 2013.
Originally published: 12th Nov 2013

New York has a rich history of legendary clubs from the anything goes attitude of Paradise Garage to the celebrity glitz of Studio 54 and the Brooklyn soundsystems best associated with early funk, electro and hip hop. New York nightlife is still recovering from the archaic rules enforced in the 90s by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, which went as far as to prevent people from even dancing in bars in many cases.

Completely independent and dedicated to a classic style of musical unity whilst always looking forward, Mister Saturday Night restores much of the city’s dancefloor glories on it’s own terms. Whilst thousands descend on their parties throughout the year, Mister Saturday Night keeps firm focus on it's residents, two of the best DJs on the East Coast - Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin. These two like-minded selectors who take care of literally everything; from the music, the setup, the decor and even choosing the bar staff.

Not that the occasional guests have been too bad themselves... Four Tet, Greg Wilson, Maurice Fulton, Joy Orbison, Optimo and more have all taken control at Mister Saturday and Mister Sunday, doing and playing whatever they feel to a dedicate crowd. They've got a hugely revered label of the same name (listen to Anthony Naples rolling raw house track 'Naples' for a snapshot of the sound above), but ultimately Mister Saturday Night do one thing brilliantly - put on a proper party. And it’s not a party they bring just anywhere, which is why it's a privilege to see them for a much awaited Manchester date.

On Friday 22nd November, Mister visit Manchester's Soup Kitchen for a very special Work Them party, playing an extended set. They'll be joining the likes of Auntie Flo and Fort Romeau as the concluding guests of Work Them in 2013, along with regular John Loveless. John caught up with Eamon Harkin of Mister Saturday Night for a quick primer on all things MSN.

The most successful thing about the partnership with you and Justin seems to be the shared vision you have for Mister Saturday Night? How and when did you meet, and when did the plans come together for what has now become Mister Saturday Night?

Justin and I were both throwing parties and DJing in New York within different scenes for years and so it was inevitable that we would meet at some point. Very quickly a friendship was formed centered on similar tastes in music and a shared ambition to do something different going forward.

MSN seems to be set against what has become of modern clubbing, and promotes an atmosphere of inclusiveness. People seem to really go with this, even down to following a set of rules proposed by the night, all designed to contribute to a better party? What were your personal inspirations for this attitude and approach?

I think first and foremost our approach comes from the kind of people we are and the values we have. We value community, connecting socially, diversity, respect, integrity, art & culture primarily in the form of music. We passionately believe in the ability of dance music to create a set of circumstances for people to connect that doesn't otherwise exist. And our experience of similar parties which achieved these ideals like Optimo and Body & Soul are probably the most obvious sources of inspiration.

Your venue for the Sunday parties has now been demolished at pretty much the peak of it's popularity. Are the Sunday parties something you hope to carry on with?

Absolutely. Real estate is the single biggest challenge Justin and I have in achieving our goals in NY and to that end it is always our top priority. We're always seeking the right spaces to continue doing what we do and we're actively looking for a new home for Mister Sunday next year.

There seems to be a really nice little scene in New York and Brooklyn at the moment. As a resident of ten years, how's it looking to you?

I think the size of the audience for dance music in NY has definitely grown in the last couple of years in line with the popular tastes of the rest of the country. The trickle down effect has meant the more underground element of the spectrum has definitely benefited as well which I generally think is positive. My general concern is around the co-existence of the new clubs with the communities within which they operate. If we don't strive for harmony then we could see another Giuliani like backlash.

What were your initial clubbing experiences in the UK, and how did you end up in New York? You've played as MSN a few times in the UK thus far (but never in Manchester!), and how's it gone? 

I went to University in London and so I used to go to Fabric quite a lot and was a regular at Erol Alkan's Trash on a Monday night. I would occasionally go to Glasgow to see Optimo as well as my sister lived there. I moved to NY when I had an opportunity for a visa with a job and I thought I'd give the city a go. Ten years later I'm still here.

You've discussed that MSN residency in the UK is something you're interested in doing in the future?

Absolutely. I love coming back to the UK. I have a lot of friends and family in London so I would like to  be travelling over as much as possible. We also have a decent sized audience here, particularly in London, so we want to grow that if we can with the right partnerships with local promoters. 

If you had to summarise the ingredients you're trying to produce to create that perfect MSN party, what would they be? What really thrills you to see as a DJ?

A good open minded, friendly and diverse crowd is a must and a narrative from the promoters which supports that. Friendly, welcoming staff interacting with your crowd is also really key. And then a nice comfortable space/club with a good soundsystem and a DJ who has the ability to connect with the crowd and create a unifying experience that brings it all together.

The perfect moment for me comes when you know all of these elements are in place and you see a crowd lock together and take the energy of any given space to the next level.

What record has taken you completely by surprise lately?

The recent Special Request record and the not so recent Floorplan record.

You've hosted a wide range of guests at Mister Saturday Night from Greg Wilson to Joy Orbison. What, if anything, do you think your guests have in common artistically in order to play at the Grove or the club?

I think the common element is simply that Justin and I are fans of their work. Otherwise the guests have been very diverse musically and there's no real common thread. So the guest bookings are just another reflection of our musical tastes. With that said we rarely host guests these days as we want to continue to solidify the energy of the party around ourselves.

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