Hercules and Love Affair make no apologies for loving house music.
HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR with JAIME SIN and WILL MUNRO at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Saturday (October 18). $22.50. 416-870-8000.
DFA records' dance-rock revolution has come a long way since the Rapture's House Of Jealous Lovers single made it suddenly fashionable to embrace disco hi-hats and clanging cowbells. Once easily dismissed in rock critic and music nerd circles, dance music has credibility again, perhaps for the first time outside the nightlife underground.
With this year's success of Hercules and Love Affair's self-titled DFA debut, the label has moved beyond Pitchfork-safe post-punk funk references into an unabashed love of club music and underground disco. Sure, the vocal contributions of Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons fame) must have helped open some ears, but once they were opened, many rock snobs were forced to admit that house music is just as valid as indie pop. You could almost hear them rushing to Wikipedia to pick up the right jargon to drop in their glowing reviews.
"It is kind of funny," agrees Andy Butler, the DJ/producer behind the project. "Dance music and electronic music were dirty words for a long time, and it's great that in the last few years a few artists have been bridging that gap between indie rock and dance music in an even greater way than the Rapture did.
"DFA, with the exception of Tim Goldsworthy, approached dance music from the opposite direction than I did. They were doing rock, and learning about this type of rock music that kind of fit into dance music in the early 80s, and started falling in love with it. Through that they fell in love with disco and dance music. I was the opposite - immersed in dance music and then started working my way outwards, toward its borders."
As much as Hercules and Love Affair have opened rock ears to house, they've also been making connections between the originators of dance music and the indie dance world. Blind, the album's widely charted lead single, got love not only within hipster circles, but also in the traditional club scene, partly thanks to the remix contributed by house music godfather Frankie Knuckles.
"My agent kept saying, ‘We should get Frankie to do a mix,' and I'd say, ‘That's a nice idea, but it's kind of a mean joke - stop teasing me.' I realized she was serious," says Butler, "so we sent it over to him and he was able to do it. For a moment it was kind of intense, because he had some health issues, but he was able to push through and get it done. I was really, really honoured and pleased - I loved the remix."
The links between this project and dance music's roots are continuing with the newest single, You Belong. Some may have noticed that the chord pattern is an obvious nod to seminal Detroit techno pop anthem Big Love, by Inner City, so it makes sense that Butler would turn to Kevin Saunderson (the man behind Inner City) to turn in a remix.
"Of course it was an intentional reference. Those chord patterns, those classic techno house synth stabs - it's a sound that used to make me go crazy on the dance floor. I wanted to play with that, and when it came time to release it as a single, it was a no-brainer to ask Kevin Saunderson to do a remix. There was another place on the album where I referenced Your Love, by Frankie Knuckles, and I actually had dinner with Frankie and talked about that. I explained that I was paying homage, like I was doing with Kevin Saunderson."
Andy Butler discusses the live band version of Hercules And Love Affair