If you’re reading this, chances are Honey Dijon has been into dance music since before you were born. Hailing from Chicago, the birthplace of house music, the DJ and producer started collecting records and going out to clubs as a teenager. Encountering legends like Derrick Carter who would later become her mentor, she soon began to try her hand at DJing.
A few years later she relocated to New York City, which had a great impact on the artist - exposing her to new sounds, underground venues, and the world of fashion. Now splitting her time between New York and Berlin, it’s clear in Honey Dijon’s DJ sets and productions that all three cities have impressed their unique approaches to dance music upon the eclectic selector.
We caught up with the jet-setting DJ ahead of her appearance at Desperados SkyFest, taking place in Barcelona this Saturday, September 16, where she’s set to play a set from a hot air balloon. Anticipating her sky-high performance, we asked Honey Dijon about the craziest places she’s DJ’d, her favorite new music, the first records she bought, and what it was like to create the soundtrack for the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaborative collection.
You’re set to DJ in a hot air balloon at SkyFest; will that be the craziest place you've DJ'd so far?
I don't consider many things too crazy when it comes to clubbing, however that was pretty mad, but this huge fetish party I played at in Toronto was probably the craziest place. China was also pretty crazy. I went on after this DJ playing progressive trance at 140 bpm. I was like what the hell do I do after that? I’m a house DJ lol! I went on and they went for it but it was pretty wild to experience that.
What was the first record you ever bought?
Bostitch by Yello. I will never forget it because I had to take the bus to the mall which was an hour away to get to a record store called JR's Music. I had saved for months to buy it because I was kid with no job and I had to use the allowance my parents gave me. That tune was a huge Chicago house track and club anthem and I had to have it. The second record I ever bought with my own money was Mesopotamia by The B-52's. I still have both.
What made you want to try your hand at DJing?
My career was borne out of necessity. I have always bought records that I heard at the club because I wanted to listen to them at home. I was and still am obsessed by club music and culture. When I relocated to New York from Chicago I wasn't hearing music presented in the same way as I had experienced when I was growing up. We didn't have so much segregation in terms of genres in Chicago. We played an acid track next to a soulful house tune next to industrial music. The genre didn’t matter as long as it rocked the party. In New York it was a different story. You went to this club for that sound or that club for that experience. I didn't like that it was so segregated musically so I started playing music the way I had heard it in Chicago. When you don't find what you are looking for, create it yourself. That’s what I did.
Since you split your time between New York and Berlin, what are your favorite aspects of the two cities and how do they differ in terms of their respective dance music scenes?
Berlin is the last free place on earth for clubbing. It's still raw, decadent, sexy, rough and fun. I love Berlin because gentrification and consumerism are frowned upon. It’s still cheap enough for young people to live and create there and sex is everywhere and that trickles down to club culture. I absolutely love Berlin. New York, although it's still a great city, is not the place it once was because the finance and tech industries have changed the landscape of the city. Money rules everything in New York. It's become the Dubai of North America. There are still some great parties like 718 Sessions with Danny Krivit and Battle Hymn, a party that I do with Ladyfag that continues the proper New York club experience. Output does a good job bringing in international talent. However, with all the security you have to go through, noise restrictions because of real estate, and the economy of the city, night life has become a middle and upper class form of entertainment. People take instead of contributing and these are no longer safe spaces for marginalized people, but yet another swipe to the right or left for those that afford to live in New York.
Do you think much about what you wear when performing?
Yes of course. I've always been inspired by artists that have combined music with fashion and art - from Grace Jones to Prince to David Bowie. I've always loved clothing as a creative expression and in today's world of Instagram and video streaming, what you wear can have a bigger impact on how you want the world to perceive you. The trick is finding things that are comfortable and stylish at the same time cause you are typically standing in one spot for hours. That's why I love bodysuits. Easy to pack, you can dress them up or down, and you look pulled together and chic. It's my go to piece of clothing consistently.
How does preparing for a festival set differ from a club set (if at all)?
For festivals you usually have a shorter set time and they typically tend to be outdoors. You are playing amongst different artists who have different musical expressions so you have to make a big impact quickly. In clubs you have more of an opportunity to take your time, create a vibe and build from there. Although festivals can be fun, I am much more partial to an intimate club setting. You can take people on a journey, or at least that’s what I like to do.
What’s a track that can turn any party around?
“You Can't Hide From Yourself” by Teddy Pendergrass. That track has so much raw power, sex, and emotion that it has stood the test of time and you can play it for any crowd in any part of the world and it knocks people out! Also “The Conversation” by Lil Louis. I play both in every set.
What up-and-coming DJs or producers are you excited about?
I love Rimbaudian. I love his work. It’s deep, rhythmic, sexy, subtle but powerful. I also love Galcher Lustwerk. His music is hypnotic and he has amazing vocal delivery. Cakes Da Killa is also bomb and I made a track with him called “Catch The Beat” that's out now on Classic Music Company. He's an amazing queer rapper and I was inspired to make a hip house record and after I sent him the track he just nailed it! What a talent. Seven Davis Jr is another artist I fuck with hardcore. He is dance music's Prince Rogers Nelson.
How did you first meet Kim Jones?
I first became aware of Kim Jones many moons ago when I was in London to play a gig at The End club with Derrick Carter for a Classic party. We were wandering around Soho and decided to stop in a shop called The Pineal Eye. Nicola Formichetti - who is now the Creative Director at Diesel - was the manager at the time. There was huge art installation of early Chicago house fliers and rare disco and early house classics. We were both gobsmacked because these were things that you really had to be from Chicago to know about. It was curated by Kim Jones. I said to myself one day I am going to meet this person because it hit so close to home and I felt a spiritual connection. Fast forward a few years later, a mutual friend of ours named Andre Walker, a very talented artist and designer, invited me to a party in New York and said you have to meet my friend Kim Jones who was visiting from London. I was like, ‘Kim Jones the designer?’ He said, ‘Yeah!’ I was beside myself with excitement and told him about the installation I had seen at The Pineal Eye. Andre introduced us and we got on like a house on fire right away. We talked for hours about Paris Is Burning and Leigh Bowery. Kim is an avid collector of culture and we share a lot of the same interests and thus a deep friendship was born. Who could have predicted he would become one of the most influential designers in the world? Well, it's no surprise because he is deeply passionate and one of the most generous and talented people that I know.
How did you approach creating the soundtrack for the Supreme x Louis Vuitton FW 2017 Men’s runway show?
Kim was inspired by New York and we went through a few different musical choices regarding the soundtrack. Originally, we were going to use Blondie and Grandmaster Flash, amazing, iconic music, but it just didn't feel right. I had already done the mix but at the last moment Kim was like, “No, let's use tracks that were played at the Sound Factory.” The Sound Factory was a major New York club in the late '80s and early '90s that influenced clubbing all around the world and was the inspiration for clubs like Ministry of Sound in London and Space in Ibiza. Its resident DJ Junior Vasquez, who is an icon for me, introduced a whole new sound from bitch tracks to vogueing anthems and the wild pitch sound of DJ Pierre. At the last minute, literally the day before, I did the mix and it just felt perfect. The rest is herstory! For more of our interviews, read why New York rapper Junglepussy is still 'Pregnant With Success' in our exclusive editorial right here.