hugo ball

When you ask Justin Long a question, listen up: you get an answer (rare enough in music writing), and you’re not likely to have a guy hand it to you with such blunt honesty again.

This Saturday, September 15 2012, Justin, Nathan Drew Larsen, Samone Roberts, and special guests Kyle Hall and Jay Daniels are crashing the party with HUGO BALL, a new monthly residency at SmartBar (3730 N. Clark Street, Chicago.

There is a vast air of disappointment and distrust hovering around the scene. We disapprove of charlatan promoters that do not treat the local music selectors with respect. It is tragically comical to watch these large budget festival line ups that are absent of Chicago talent. These promoters are not interested in building and creating a scene here in Chicago. Their only interest is in lining their pockets with titanic amounts of capital.

A month ago, Dotbleep was lain to rest, cremated or interred, and many of us who saw the news wondered what was going on. Now you have Hugo Ball. Who was Hugo Ball?

Hugo Ball was a German writer and poet who was a founding member of the Dada movement and the Cabaret Voltaire in the early 20th century. The Dadaists rejected reason and logic while placing value on irrationality, nonsense and psychic automatism. They raised questions against a society that was disillusioned and who foolishly romanticized that the First World War was going to be the bringer of rationality and optimism. They felt if the world viewed industrialized and trench warfare as a reasonable means for repair to the world then they would have to combat these notions with irrational actions and cunning pranks.

The Futurist Russolo and his machines have often been mentioned as a precursor to electronic music, and sometimes Antheil and Satie but rarely Tristan Tzara and Dada. What’s the connection?

For us Tzara is a symbol of anarchic creative freedom and the values of Dadaism is something that we all identify with. There is a vast air of disappointment and distrust hovering around the scene. We disapprove of charlatan promoters that do not treat the local music selectors with respect. It is tragically comical to watch these large budget festival line ups that are absent of Chicago talent. These promoters are not interested in building and creating a scene here in Chicago. Their only interest is in lining their pockets with titanic amounts of capital. And this all becomes completely absurd when we look around and see there is a wealth of local talent consistently creating and exploring new avenues of self expression. This is not to say that we shouldn’t invite out of town artists to join alongside us in a unified production of dance music anarchy. But it should be selective, while honoring those in our own backyard.

Is this taking the place of the monthly residency slot at SmartBar (is it a special event? a one-off? something regular)?

Yes, Hugo Ball is a spin off of my 13 year residency at SmartBar and will be taking place on every 3rd Saturday, unless specified.

If I could say so, event concepts in our neck of the woods have been about “DJs and Drinks” for a long time – the point of a party, it seems, is revealed by whatever name is in the biggest font size on a flyer. Do you feel that’s true as a statement and are you working against it?

Looking at large fonts on a flyer has the same effect as being yelled at. This concept really is not interesting to us. The point of the party is to have a cerebral and physical experience. When I started to go to parties it was a form of escapism. The music was that powerful and there was no feeling that compared to being carried away by uncanny sounds that ruptured out of the sound system. That is a commonality with all of us signed on the Hugo Ball manifesto. It is the uncontaminated experience from the music and not this polluted idea of commercialization and cheapening of dance music culture that makes the party. This hoax is what we are working against!

Dotbleep had the appearance of being “Justin & friends”. Are some of those friends still involved in the new project? (Basically, this is the dummy question when I try to elicit more details about it not already covered.)

The members signed onto the Hugo Ball manifesto as we speak are: Nathan Drew Larsen, Samone Roberts, Sevron and myself. But the infinite revolving door will welcome in many of our comrades to pilot the booth along with us.