If techno and disco ever banged their kid would be Lee Foss – brainchild of the Hot Creations imprint (RA’s top 20 label of the year) and one-half of the Hot Natured duo (Rebels star Jamie Jones is the ying to his yang). Ever since the two joined forces roughly two years ago Foss and Jones have quickly garnered international applaud for their distinctive productions and signature disco sound. And when we say, “disco,” we’re not talking about the happy-go-lucky Saturday Night Fever kind of beats. We’re talking about badass disco – dark disco with a bold and edgy twist (scroll down to check out some tunes and his latest podcast).
At the turn of the new year Foss has an avalanche of solo productions on his own label lined up along with a handful of remixes and edits on leading labels such as Culprit, No. 19 and Back Yard Records. Good news abounds for this hotly tipped talent (no pun intended…).
Needless to say we’re happy we got a chance to interview Foss before he gets too much of a big shot for his own ego. Just hours before his gig in Bogoto, Columbia earlier this month (he was there and we were sadly bundled up in our Brooklyn headquarters) we caught up with Foss and chatted about disco (go figure), his early days gigging as a hip hop DJ and why his creations are so hot.
Bianca Von Baum: You know we’ve actually met before at a Wolf + Lamb party at the Marcy Hotel a while ago.
Lee Foss: Oh cool. Was I doing anything embarrassing?
BVB: No. I just complimented you on your dope sunglasses. You seemed to be enjoying yourself.
LF: I miss [the Marcy]. It was a time and a place. It was really exciting for everybody.
BVB: Do you have any highlights from those times at the Marcy?
LF: There were a lot. For me, it’s the only place I’ve ever been where everyone there trusts the DJs. That’s something you dream about but you definitely don’t see in America very often. [The Marcy] is such a small space too so you can talk to anyone. It’s like a family.
BVB: I know what you mean. Good times indeed. Speaking of good times, word is that things are going quite well for you these days. Do tell. What’s new in the world of Lee Foss?
LF: I’ve had a really good week. I had a lot of good news. I have a lot of projects about to come out and I found out that DJ Mag had me in their top singles of 2010. Lots of great opportunities right now too.
BVB: Congratulations. So tell me, what makes your creations hot?
LF: Well not everything that I make is a Hot Creations production but what makes my creations hot in general is that I’m always making sure I put out the best thing possible and if its not good enough, then its not ready.
BVB: I read somewhere that you used to be a hip hop DJ in Chicago before all the Hotness started. Am I just making that up?
LF: No. I’ve always been into 90s hip hop. You’re always going to love music when you came of age. So back in 2004, 2005, 2006, when I lived in Chicago I was getting gigs and opening for big artists at big clubs. But I also started to get work at local clubs. I was more across the board for those spots – but I was doing a lot of 90s R&B and hip hop nights.
BVB: Hip hop and disco are such timeless musical genres.
LF: Totally. Obviously the hip hop now isn’t. The disco people are playing now is really more along the lines of the ‘80s funky disco style. If you think about what music people really love universally, it pretty much went back to ’84 and ’85. I could go on and on about this because I think I know the reasons. It’s all about a time and a place and its related to what technologies were available, who’s doing the work. Specifically with the 80s funk and disco, you had this excess technology for people – especially black guys who had been in bands – who had access to home recordings and could afford the technology. At the time these companies making the technology were making the best possible product. From there they developed more but used cheaper parts, adding more memory and features that might have been interesting but I don’t think people realize the loss in the quality of sound. If you listen to music from the later 80s, the music just sounds cheaper.
BVB: Agreed. I wanted to ask you – it sounds like you are living the life these days, gigging all over, topping charts, etc. Do you have time to be as creative as you would like to be?
LF: No, I don’t have time, to be honest. I feel like Jamie [Jones] and I are selling ourselves short doing as much as we do. I travel a lot and it’s draining. I mean, I can’t complain – I love this life. I just think people under-estimate the exhaustion of that kind of travel and the expectations. I mean I love being a “professional socializer” but you always want to make sure you’re leaving a good impression.
BVB: So tell me, out of all the good news and accomplishments you’ve made over the past year, what are you proudest about?
LF: I’m very proud of the Hot Natured releases and my solo releases that have already come out of Hot Creations. A lot of people don’t understand that I’m proud to put my music out on new labels that involve my friends and I. Don’t’ get me wrong – maybe bigger labels would have gotten me further faster but I’m proud to put music out on my label. I mean, if you are doing something special yourself you feel more in control. At least I do. I love that.
BVB: I have one more question. I noticed you’ve been interviewed quite a bit. Are there any questions you wished people asked you but never did?
LF: (laughs) How do I stay so humble?
Hot Natured Podcast 01 - Mixed by Lee Foss: