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Arts and Entertainment

Horse Meat Disco: From London With Love

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No Panic At The Horse Meat Disco | James Hillard, Jim Stanton, Severino and Luke Howard (Photo by Alexis Maryon / used with permission)
There's a non-ironic celebration of disco that's taking place in nightclubs around the world. Yes disco, yes 2010 -- and you'll find London-based DJ foursome Horse Meat Disco leading the nocturnal gallop.

With lauded club residencies in London, Lisbon, and Berlin, Horse Meat Disco express a love for more than thirty years of music (beyond the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.) They explore certain resonating sounds and feelings of the disco era, a welcomed mix of the fresh and nostalgic, that do an excellent job at moving dancefloors.

If this sounds good to you, so will their newest DJ mix compilation, Horse Meat Disco II, out now on Strut Records. It's a wonderful hour of music that ranges from soaring anthems to instrumental party grooves. The group's James Hillard and Jim Stanton will be DJing tonight at Silver Lake’s Eagle LA. [Flyer] (Forget about those itchy afro wigs, thrift shop bell-bottoms, and sequins by the hundreds. Save that for when you’re force-fed “YMCA” at your hilarious co-worker's disco-themed birthday party.)

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[Update: Horse Meat Disco are DJing tonight and not Saturday.]

LAist had a chance to email with HMD's James Hillard to take the pulse of disco.

LAist: Describe the Horse Meat Disco sound.

James Hillard: It’s a party sound that isn't afraid to throw in the odd hit whilst digging for more obscure records whilst not pigeon-holing itself in any one genre. Our sound appreciates the heritage of dance music through its origins in disco music -- anything from early R&B from the likes of PIR, Westbound and Motown through to the Eurodisco delights of people like Giorgio Moroder and on to proto-house and beyond. As disco was in its hey-day, it’s about a kind of gay communion, a celebration that’s reflected in the music we play.

Why the name “Horse Meat Disco?”

The name came from cleaning my flat one day and chucking out some newspapers. On closer inspection one of the headlines which was partially obscured by another paper read: “Horse Meat Discovered in Salami.” It was a gift of a name which meant nothing but had many connotations and thus a great name for a party.

Why do you feel the demand grew for the release of a second Horse Meat Disco compilation?

The first compilation did really well and was really well received, so both the label and us felt another outing was merited. The fact that this one has done even better than the last one, goes to show that the appetite for our selections are still very much alive -- as to why that is, I don't know.

The club [in London] has become globally recognized as a great party where the DJs have a good knowledge of disco music, coupled with a greater interest in the heritage of dance music. I think that’s perhaps made us an authority on -- what had been for a long time -- a much maligned music genre.

What's the new compilation like?

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It builds on the first one and aims to be representative of our sound whilst digging the depths of our crates to find tracks that may not have had an outing at the club yet but are very close to our hearts.

Top 5 classics of the moment?

Donna Summer “Sunset People”
Busta Jones “(Everybody's) Dancing All Over The World”
Hot Chocolate “Every 1’s A Winner”
Avenue B Boogie Band “Bumper To Bumper”
Jean Carne “Was That All It Was” (Never out of the box)

How do you rank LA’s importance in disco history?

Whilst LA probably isn't as associated with disco as much perhaps New York or San Francisco, the fact that a large proportion of the record industry in the ‘70s was based in LA makes it undeniably important.

The sophisticated releases by LA label Solar (Carrie Lucas, Lakeside, Dynasty and Shalamar) have a place in the disco world that ranks at least as high as [East Coast labels] West End or Salsoul. I think for me the most important exponents of disco from LA were Rinder and Lewis whose “El Coco” features on our second compilation. (Although I have read that they weren't exactly fans of discos they certainly produced some spectacular music -- whether as El Coco, Tuxedo Junction or under their own names.) The fact that they came out of LA's rich rock heritage (for which the city is ultimately renowned for) is interesting in itself and brought a different edge to the genre.

However saying all of this I can't think of any clubs in LA that can be ranked alongside New York clubs such as The Paradise Garage, Studio 45, The Loft, The Gallery and San Francisco's Trocadero Transfer. I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

Where in the US have you enjoyed playing?

We've played at Shits and Giggles in LA a couple of times. Both times have been great and is one of the many reasons that I have grown to love LA. This will be the third time we will have played in LA. We’ve done numerous parties in New York, San Francisco, and one amazing party in Portland. There is definitely an appreciation for disco and the response in all those cities has been heartwarming to say the least.

What was the greatest year for disco?

I don't have a particular year in mind as I find the period between around 1976-1983 to be golden and a minefield of amazing music. But for me, at the moment I'm really digging for records before the disco’s explosion in 1979, so I'm really getting off on a lot of releases from about 1976-78.

Did disco ever die?

The fact that we are doing what we are doing is an emphatic no!

Follow Caleb Bacon on Twitter @thecalebbacon.

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