MORGAN GEIST with JEREMY GLENN, MARTIN FAZEKAS and NEBULA as part of Breakandenter's Fifth Anniversary at the Polish Combatants Hall (206 Beverley), Saturday (December 8), 10 pm. $20. residentadvisor.net. See listing.
One of the first things out of New York City DJ/producer Morgan Geist's mouth after he answers the phone has nothing to do with dance music. "Congratulations on Rob Ford," Geist says with a gleeful chuckle. "I was thrilled to read about that. He seems more like the kind of guy we'd have to deal with down here in the U.S."
As a bicycle commuter, Geist is a bit more clued in about Mayor Ford's antics than the average New Yorker. He has another bond with Ontario because of his collaborations with Junior Boys vocalist Jeremy Greenspan.
It was through his friendship with Greenspan that he discovered busker Damon C. Scott, whose world-weary, soulful vocals are all over the underground dance-floor anthems Geist has been releasing as Storm Queen. However, Scott is most famous for the viral video of him covering Adele's Someone Like You while competing for the attention of distracted New York subway commuters.
"It was Jeremy's cousin Dave who actually heard Damon singing in the subway. Dave does jazz-based stuff, and they recorded a demo together. Then Jeremy heard it and told me I should check him out.
"It's strange that I hadn't heard [Scott] myself, because he's always at 86th Street and I go by there often. I'm actually hoping to work with a new female vocalist soon who also sings in the subway."
There've been three Storm Queen singles to date, and Geist is at work on a full-length. The singles have been blowing minds both in the Pitchfork world and the DJ scene. In fact, the haunting, melancholy vocal house hits are on the verge of overshadowing the considerable reputation Geist has already built as half of Metro Area and a solo artist since the 90s. Not bad for a project he started as a way to relax and take things less seriously.
"Originally, all I wanted to do was make some really quick, dirty house music. Work quickly, not over-edit things and not go crazy with detail. Just some really raw stuff. Of course that backfired. I'm back to taking a year on each record, trying to perfect it."
And if you think the name Storm Queen is a reference to the pulpy 1978 sci-fi novel, you might be disappointed to learn that its origins are a little more cultured.
"It's a reference to Storm King, a mountain and sculpture park in New York that I used to visit a lot."