Since high school, Push the Feeling residents and founders Kevin Meenan (epicsauce DJs) and Drew Marcogliese (YR SKULL) have been trying to one up each other in musical discoveries. "Through the years we bonded over who found what band first, who was the first to see them live, and who could hate the most on what the other was claiming to be into at the time," says Marcogliese. Going their separate ways in college but finding themselves back in S.F. a few years later, the two decided to start Push the Feeling, a monthly party uniting their two tastes in music. The first party took place in January 2012, and since then has featured acts like Blackbird Blackbird, Loose Shus, and DJ sets from YACHT and Toro Y Moi. We recently spoke with Kevin and Drew about their DJ careers, favorite local acts, and the upcoming record label. Push the Feeling takes place the first Saturday of every month at Underground SF. This Saturday features Exray's and Yalls with residents YR SKULL and Epicsauce DJs.
How did each of you get into DJing?
Kevin Meenan (KM): I initially began DJing really almost out of utility -- I had started putting on shows in S.F. under the Epicsauce banner and basically just wanted to make sure the music before and after bands fit each show's vibe. I was also regularly putting 4-5 bands on a $5 bill, so just really did not have the budget to add a DJ on top ... just made sense for me to give it a try, and quickly found it was something I loved. I had already started to gravitate towards electronic music by that point, and as I began to seek out more dancefloor-worthy tracks just kind of got lost in the world of house and disco.
Drew Marcogliese (DM): I got into DJing while I was in school in Los Angeles. I was playing the drums in a lot of local indie, punk, and emo bands, but in my free time I started to get really, really into electronic music and tried my hand at DJing every chance I got. When I later started playing drums for an electronic band (Afghan Raiders), I got the opportunity to do DJ sets on a much more regular basis at some really great shows and bigger parties, which really kind of forced the learning process more. After that DJing and producing electronic music started to became a priority, and I got so much deeper into all types of electronic music.
What started the idea of Push the Feeling?
DM: Kevin and I had been talking about starting a night for a long time now, so when I moved to San Francisco a couple years back it was kind of an inevitable. DJing had been a side thing for both of us for a bit, and we wanted create a night where it was more at the forefront -- basically a chance to both play out regularly as the resident DJs and book like-minded electronic acts that we were excited about. We also both live in Lower Haight and thought something like our party could be a cool addition to the neighborhood ... something dance-friendly and with a live element, but also the type of party you could just pop into for a few drinks.
Why did/do you choose to throw the party at Underground SF?
KM: Like Drew mentioned, we both live in Lower Haight and really wanted to do something in the neighborhood. We also were really set on finding a place that -- for lack of a better term -- was not super-clubby. A lot of nights we would see [that] DJs we loved were coming through S.F. but playing at a spot that we just didn't necessarily look forward to hanging out at all night and could rarely rally our more indie-inclined friends to. On the flip side, I had experimented with bringing DJs and dance acts to more traditional rock clubs, and it just never quite translated as well as hoped. Underground SF really felt like the best of all worlds -- it had the sound system and a layout to support dance music, but a point of entry that felt more like going to Molotov's than to a full-blown nightclub.The owner (Steve Johnson) has really transformed it into a new go-to for SF house music fans since he took over, tapping into the venue's historical roots as The Top.
Why and when did you decide to start the record label aspect?
DM: Kevin and I had talked about putting out records for way longer than we talked about putting on a party -- it is an idea that goes back to high school. And when we first started talking about doing Push the Feeling, the plan was always to eventually launch a label wing as well as some sort of online presence. We definitely drew a lot of early inspiration from Optimo, Bicep, Beat Electric, Honey Soundsystem, and even the early days of DFA -- just these entities that to varying degrees blur the line between label/party/DJ crew/blog/production team, etc. The label is really just more us getting back on track with the initial concept and goals than it is a full-on evolution of Push the Feeling.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting the label?
KM: I think the big initial challenge was just honing in on a first release that really represented the party. When Drew first sent me Silver Hands demos it seemed like a great fit, and when I saw the reaction the crowd had to their first string of live shows it was a total no-brainer. Just really an act that represents everything we are trying to do with the night. Once we made the decision on the first release, everything else kind of came together naturally. The stars aligned and we were able to get some of our favorite acts like Woolfy, Mike Simonetti, and Chautauqua on board for remixes, and have just gotten tons of invaluable help from our friends who have experience putting out vinyl.
Describe the typical vibes at a Push the Feeling party.
DM: I like to think that the overall vibe feels a bit more like a house party than it does a traditional show. The schedule is always a bit loose: there is no real barrier between the live act and the crowd, and there is admittedly usually a bit of a mess of drum machines, synths, cables, monitors, and amps pouring into the dance floor. Beyond that, we really just strive to keep the shows as affordable and neighborhood-friendly as possible, and always kind of ask ourselves -- is this a party we would want to be at?
KM: Musically we both try to tailor our DJ sets to match what the headliners and other acts will be doing, but regardless usually spend the first couple hours of the night playing tracks that can keep a dancefloor without alienating those still hovering [at] the bar -- think lots of Paradise Garage staples, disco edits, classic soulful house tunes, random boogie, '80s funk and the occasional dance-y post-punk jam along with a sprinkling of the chiller end of our current electronic music obsessions -- before getting into less vocal-driven and higher BPM territory. And just to kind of echo Drew, there is a mutual obsession with questioning whether or not we are creating an experience we would enjoy in a vacuum. It goes without saying, but we really only book acts we would personally want to pay to see perform and play out tracks we would be stoked to hear or otherwise be sharing with friends.
Who is someone you hope to book at Push the Feeling and haven't yet?
KM: When we first launched the party, Brooklyn-based house experimentalist Octo Octa was on the initial wish-list we made of acts and I am thrilled to have him coming in for a set in October with S.F.'s own Matrixxman. Beyond that, just so many acts that would be amazing ... have from day one hoped to get Secret Circuit up for a set, along with Pharaohs, Beautiful Swimmers, Jacques Renault, Tim Sweeney, Miracles Club, Suzanne Kraft. Reaching here, but some ultimate fantasy acts Drew and I have either discussed -- Todd Terje, Factory Floor, Motor City Drum Ensemble, James Murphy, and Moodyman ... any of y'all want to come play?
DM: We have also had a lot of success with bands coming in to DJ, so in that respect would love to get people like Tycho, !!!, Poolside, Juan Maclean, Hot Chip's Joe Goddard or Twin Shadow in for DJ sets, along with some bigger reaches like DJ Koze, Simian, and those Kevin beat me to listing first. Beyond that, would be amazing to get some of these classic dudes with tracks we tend to overplay at our parties in for a set -- someone like Egyptian Lover would be a total dream.