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Friday, July 17, 2009

Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Nathan Rapport

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 7:22 AM


DJ and promoter Nathan Rapport's ears have been spoiled. He lived in Detroit long enough to enjoy the riches of techno's epicenter, and now when he hits a gay club, the dude does not want to hear ten million variations on the Kylie remix. Back in the Motor City he threw queer parties called SASS with the head of Ghostly, and he still needs a hearty dose of Detroit grit when he's on the dancefloor. 

Now Rapport lives in San Francisco and is looking to turn out a night of "super dirty, nasty, dark and 'smacky' house and techno" called SMACK with help from Detroiters, locals (co-promoter Juanita MORE!), and Detroiters-turned locals Honey Soundsystem's Jason Kendig).

SMACK goes down tonight (Friday, July 17) at Underground SF starting at 10 p.m. Before you hand over those five bones to get in, do a little nightlife research on our man Nathan below.

Name: Nathan Rapport

Club night(s): SMACK! An evening of dirty dancing, Detroit style.

Style(s) of music you spin: Rock, new wave, dance jams,  punk, house, techno.

So what's your story, in 100 words or less? Well, I'm simply a huge music nerd.  I threw and was a resident DJ for SASS back in Detroit with my musical partner in crime, Mike Servito (Ghostly). We started this night together as a response to the total lack of alternative queer nightlife options in the city, and we were blessed with years of amazing support and enthusiasm from our crowds.  Since ending SASS (as a monthly), I have relocated to San Francisco and have been focusing on other creative endeavors and re-gaining my focus on painting.

Since you used to throw parties in Detroit before coming to SF, what's the biggest difference between these two cities, from a promoter/DJ perspective?  Well, I think the problem with Detroit was that there were simply not enough options. Here in San Francisco, we have lots of options, but a lot of it really feels watered down to me. So, the two cities offer very different challenges to a promoter. The thing that I always love so much about Detroit is the energy and passion for  the music. The electronic scene there is very tight and there is a musical knowledge and legitimacy to Detroit DJs  that is totally unparalleled. I can truly say that there is no party like a Detroit party. So, SMACK was my opportunity to get back into party promotion (at least on the production / curation  side) in a small way, and bring a little bit of Detroit to my new home.

What was the idea behind SASS? I met Mike Servito and our bond over music was immediate and very intense. We came from very different musical backgrounds, Mike having already established himself as a veteran house/techno DJ, and myself working in the Detroit rock and indie scene as a promoter/manager. We shared very similar frustrations as gay music heads...we had no desire to go hang out in the standard gay bars where all we ever hear are Britney and Cher remixes and trance anthems; there simply were no other queer options.  So, this shared desire to create something new and  interesting and exciting and queer, coupled with our unbelievable musical compatibility, led to SASS. We threw our first party and received a mind blowing showing of support, and the rest is history.  SASS is a project that I am so proud and feel so blessed to have been behind, it was a very fun moment in Detroit.

What's the concept for Smack!, and will it be a regular club night? I recently went home for the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, and being around all my old people and hearing music that kept me dancing for hours and hours and hours was really amazing.  I have not attempted to do anything nightlife related so far in SF. Frankly, I have really enjoyed being a spectator for a while. SASS, for as amazing as it was, became a lot of pressure, and when I came here it felt right to take a break from working as a promoter or DJ. However, this trip home served as a creative shot in the arm and inspired me to come back to San Francisco and put something together.  So, with the help of Juanita MORE, I put together an evening of great Detroit talent...and it all happens to fall on my birthday. With the exception of Juanita, everyone involved is Detroit based...myself, Jason Kendig, Chuck Hampton, Allison Tinsley (my old SASS flyer designer)...even our door guy DJ Chicken is an ex Detroiter.  SMACK! promises to be a night of super dirty, nasty, dark and "smacky" house and techno, and I am looking forward to dancing my ass off in front of a speaker all night. For now, this is just a one off event. I will be a very special evening, and who knows, may lead to something a bit more regular.

Name of a track you can't get out of your head: Paul Simon - "Graceland"

Name of an artist you're currently championing in your DJ sets: Early Depeche Mode and the Cure usually work their way into most of my sets.

Musical mantra: Bring the heat and never give them a pee break.

Favorite DJ experience: The first SASS, or opening up for Andy Rourke of the Smiths.

Worst request: I'm not a big fan of requests, unless it's a wedding.

Worst club faux pas you've committed: I suppose when a balloon bouquet drifted into the DJ booth and the ribbons dragged the needle across a B-52s record.  Pretty painful.

Most treasured vinyl score: Too many to list, but recently I scored a This Mortal Coil ten inch that made me smile.

What's something happening in the DJ scene that should be getting more attention? I think that what the Honey Soundsystem guys are doing is pretty great, musically.  I feel like Stanley, who throws Chilidog, definitely knows what's up when it comes to dance music as well.

What elements would your fantasy club night entail?  A super dark space, great music, no inhibitions, dancing freaks.

Next time we can see you spin: Stay tuned. (SMACK is tonight, Friday,  July 17 at Underground SF, $5)

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Ian S. Port


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