A Song A Day. Part 10: Hercules & Love Affair
Welcome to part ten of my handy cut out and paste guide to the entire history of queer popular music. Today's lesson - Hercules & Love Affair.
Their single, Blind, is finally out, and it's a-hurtling up the charts as I type.
This collaboration between Andrew Butler and Antony (of The Johnsons) - the two tallest gay men in New York - is a big ole gay Disco record, and it's the Dance track of the year thus far.
Apart from maybe Hungry 4 Love by Curses.
Oh, and Andrew is over here at the moment, he's DJ-ing at Audio in Brighton on Saturday, and at Horse Meat Disco on Sunday.
And on Monday, their glorious eponymous debut album is - as they say - "in the shops".
It's like an entire history of queer popular dance music.
But without the crap bits, like Big Fun and Funky House.
I know! Let's celebrate by watching Blind's pervy video.
If you want to know more about H&LA here are some more gripping chunks from my interview with Andrew that appears in this month's GT...
Why the name Hercules? Are you a big Steve Reeves fan?
“Of course. He was a pretty handsome fellow. As a child I was super super interested in Greek myths. To the point where I would sit and read encyclopedias, that kind of obsession - and having birthday parties where I invited all the kids to come in togas…”
Is this when you first realised you were gay?
“Totally! I was like seven. They all had to come as a Greek god in togas. The name Hercules And Love Affair pertains to one story about Hercules and a male lover of his that he lost on an expedition, it’s just this image of the strongest man in the world being at his most vulnerable, and professing his love for other men. I really like this idea of being extremely vulnerable and emotionally prescient but also extremely vulnerable.”
That sounds like a good description of your music. Are you surprised how Blind has taken off in the UK?
“Yeah. I’ve heard people are getting really excited. It doesn’t have the same presence here in New York, so I’m hearing things but I’m very detached from it all. It’s really exciting.”
Why do you think it’s bigger over here?
“You’re more open to Dance music and nightlife in the UK, it’s more integrated into the mainstream culture.”
Moby said recently that most people in the US just think Dance music is “fag music”.
“Totally. Hip Hop’s the dominant club culture here. You guys are open to more… colourful presentation and sexual orientation, like Scissor Sisters and Antony were really embraced in the UK.”
How did you met Antony?
“We first met seven years ago through friends in the East Village. His first album had just come out. I was like; ‘Oh my god! I love your record, it sounds like the Cocteau Twins. it’s so beautiful.’ Cocteau Twins meant so much to me as a gay teenager.’ He was like; ‘Oh, I love her so much’ and we bonded over that and became friends. Maybe a year later he wanted to sing on some electronic textures that I had created.”
And that became Blind. What took you so long?
“It took four years to see the light of day, neither of us were totally settled with the sound of it. Originally it sounded more like a Yazoo track. I was remixing it like every week, and working as a waiter, saving up the money to produce a record. It drove me crazy the amount of time that it took.”
I heard you first started DJ-ing in Colorado when you were 15. You must have been very tall.
“I was very tall. I fell in with an older group of DJs and gay guys, they had recently moved from San Francisco. I met members of the Tonka Sound System, who’d moved from England. They put me on the decks. This was 1993. House was breaking later over here. I had a really wild teenage experience, at this time I’m more into being at home with my boyfriend and stuff.”
And you were more recently inspired by Horse Meat Disco.
“I first went there five years ago. I was in London and met James and Jim through a friend. I was so inspired by this party where all these gay men were coming together and throwing away all the rules about what your body shape is supposed to be and how you’re supposed to behave out the window and just dancing their hearts out to Disco music. I thought it was the coolest thing.”