The Juan Maclean


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Rob Phillips
21 Monday 21st November 2011

So John, you've been DJing all over the shop recently, and we're glad you dropped by in London. Which are some of your favourite spots to get behind the decks in?

Honestly London is one of my favourite cities to play in. Audiences tend to be both informed and at the same time up for a good time. In addition to the trainspotting, beard-stroking types who are analysing your mixing and making sure you’re playing a fair dose of obscure tracks no one has ever heard, there are loads of people who actually dance and have a good time. Plus I have many good friends in London, so I usually take a few days off to hang out. 

The Juan Maclean - Everybody Get Close by DFA Records

What inspired you to release the Everybody Get Close remixes and B-sides on one record?

My main inspiration was that I am taking too long to make my third album. I should have finished production already, but I'm still in the middle of it, with Nancy Whang. Everyone around Death From Above Records tends to be perfectionists, for better or worse.

What is it about DFA Records that keeps you sticking around? We know you and James have been working together for some time, but what keeps you keen on the label as a whole?

Well James and I have been friends for like twenty years now, which seems like a ridiculous period of time. DFA grew very organically out of a need to release music that a group of friends were making. It's much more than a record label, it's more a like a collective of friends who are very close on a social level and also make music together. DFA is very much an ever-evolving collective.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the sound and inspiration behind your Peach Melba side-project with Amy Douglas?

My DJ sets tend to be very House-y, and I’ve been producing a lot of tracks that are loopy House-oriented things, as opposed to The Juan MacLean stuff, which remains more song-oriented. So I wanted a place where I could release these tracks. I'd like to reserve The Juan MacLean for proper song, album-oriented material.

How did your working relationships with people like Nancy Whang and Nick Millhiser come about?

I met Nancy through James sometime around 2000; she was a friend of James' at the time. When I was making my second 12", 'You Can't Have It Both Ways,' I decided I wanted female vocals, and James suggested we ask Nancy. The fact that she had never sung on anything at the time didn't seem to be a concern for any of us.

I met Nick when his first band Automato was recording with James and Tim Goldsworthy. Automato broke up and Nick was available to fill in for my drummer Jerry Fuchs, who couldn’t make it for a bit of touring at one point. When Jerry joined the tour after a couple of weeks Nick showed up on stage playing percussion and electronic drums instead of going home. He was then a regular member of The Juan MacLean. At some point he and Alex Frankel, who also played with us on occasion, started making music as Holy Ghost!. They blew up quite quickly so they went off an formed their own band, though they still play on many of my recordings.

Do you prefer playing and DJing live or studio time? And why?

I love all of them! It's hard to say what I prefer, though the studio tends to be a painful experience. Playing with the band is immensely gratifying because there is nothing quite like playing with a band who are locked in, especially when they are your best friends. Travelling around the world with your best mates playing music every night is amazing, both musically and in terms of the insane adventures you get yourself into.

Can't Let Go by DFA Records

And finally, what's next in the pipeline for you?

I'm currently working on my third album; it will be released sometime next year. It’ll be even more song-oriented than The Future Will Come, though there will be a proper 12" released beforehand that is more club and dancefloor friendly.


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