Larry Tee: Godfather of Electroclash

Larry Tee: Godfather of Electroclash

by Marcos Colón
04.18.2008

You can tell what kind of night it’s going to be as soon as you step into the club. The distorted electropop bass lines, space-aged Nu-Wave sounds, and quirky disco voice samples all meshed into one track can only mean one thing: electroclash. Bringing out the skinny-jean- and bright-color-wearing hipster kids, the genre packs a punch of raw, sweaty energy. It can all be attributed to Larry Tee, the creator and man who coined the phrase electroclash. Wanting to bring the ‘rock and roll mentality to electronic music,’ he began his musical journey in Atlanta’s rock scene, later leading him to Brooklyn, the place he calls home. Tee can also be blamed for launching the careers of acts like Fischerspooner, Princess Superstar and RuPaul...yes that RuPaul.

Labeled by some as the Nostradamus of cool, Clubplanet had to catch up with the innovator to discuss his past, present and future ventures as well as what he thinks is going to be the next cool wave of trendy fashion and music.

Clubplanet: So what have you been up to?

Larry Tee: Well, I just finished a video that was hijacked by Perez Hilton, which is kind of funny, but good news nonetheless. It’s for Licky featuring Princess Superstar. We shot the video about a week and a half ago, right after Winter Music Conference. When we put it up to show the different parties involved, the rough, we put it up on my YouTube account because it’s an easy way for everyone in London, Chicago and New York to be able to get it quickly. Unfortunately, every time that you put something on there, whoever is on your YouTube video will get a notation saying that there’s a new video up, so Perez thought that it was up for him to put up. So he ran with it before we could even get it approved.

CP: That will probably get a lot of hits since you guys are well known.

Larry Tee: Oh yea. And also there’s already some Latin chubby dude from the middle of nowhere who does this really tacky version of Licky with just him licking a credit card and it’s already gotten 172,000 hits.

CP: So how did Conference treat you while you were down there?

Larry Tee: Great. I go down there really to run into people. To be honest, I don’t really want to throw my own party down there. I got to play two parties down there which was great, and I got to run around and have fun and go to other people's shows, which is really where the fun is for me.

CP: What were some of the notable shows for you?

Larry Tee: I thought that Jesse Rose was fantastic. He’s my favorite. And I really did enjoy the line-up with Erol Alkan, Boys Noize and Simian Mobile Disco. I thought that was great.

CP: How do you feel about the music scene here in Miami?

Larry Tee: Oh, I love Miami. It is one of the bigger cities here in America. There are only so many cities in America where you can really get some good DJ performances. I give much props to Miami for being one of those cities.

CP: Can you talk a little bit about how you got started?

Larry Tee: I started in bands in Atlanta, Georgia; the first one was called The Fans. That’s actually how I met Michael Stipe and all of the Athens guys. The Fans produced the B-52’s first single, Rock Lobster, when they were signed to Warner Brothers. And then I joined them right at the end of their ten-year career, but I wasn’t there when they produced Rock Lobster. But that was my first jump into the music scene, which you can kind of actually get from the music that I make. It’s still kind of ridiculous. I’ve always liked ridiculous. After that I started a band called Now Explosion and we had guest stars like RuPaul and Lady Bunny 'cause we were crazy.

CP: Really? And then?

Larry Tee: So we moved to New York and when I got up here I started doing parties almost immediately. My big party when I first got here was called Love Machine. That’s where we got the idea for the Supermodel song that I wrote for RuPaul. All the supermodels would come in a big lump, Linda, Christy and Naomi, which were the first three that I listed in the song, would all come with a big mob to Love Machine each week. Ru had a deal with Tommy Boy, so I thought, “Man I gotta write something that he can’t resist.”

CP: A lot of people may not know that.

Larry Tee: Some people may not, but that’s ok too. A lot of people don’t know that in the early '90s I used to do the rock scene for two and a half years on Saturday nights at the Roxy, which was the longest run at the Roxy. That was like the biggest club in New York during the time. Also, I named and launched Disco 2000, which was the first techno party in the clubs with Michael Alig.

CP: A lot of people know that you’ve coined the term "electroclash."

Larry Tee: Well they may. That span of people is pretty short. It’s funny, there are so many people now that are really into Licky and they really have no reference to me outside of this track I did with Princess Superstar. Literally, the life span of a clubber is a couple of years, so a lot of the kids that are into the Licky thing or Princess Superstar may not have a clue to what electroclash is.

CP: How would describe electroclash?

Larry Tee: In one quick sentence I would say that it’s when the rock and roll attitude meets electronic music.

CP: What does it mean to you on a personal level?

Larry Tee: It means electronic music with a personality. What had come before, with electronica or trance house or a lot of the other electronic music, it comes generic. Electroclash kind of gave everyone an excuse to put whatever kind of music they want to put out but it can also have a personality with the dance music.

CP: What stage do you think that electroclash is at now? Is it still in its early stages?

Larry Tee: Oh no. As far as I’m concerned, any of these things that come, they are only good for a short period of time and then they are too exposed to us.

CP: So you would say it’s bad to hold on to something like this for too long?

Larry Tee: Well no, it’s not bad if people really like electroclash. If you’re 17 now and you stumble on Miss Kittin or Mount Simms or Ladytron, you might go, “Wow, I love this. This is a lot more fun than Jesse Rose.” If you might have been a goth ten years ago, now you might be into this. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with people liking it, but I would say that it’s past its influence time.

CP: Can you go into the Dance Music Invasion a little bit?

Larry Tee: We did our first one last year. We had everybody from Loco Dice to Little Louie Vega to Princess Superstar and Arthur Baker. We basically had a bunch of different clubs with guys like Kele from Bloc Party and JD from Le Tigre DJing. We had a combination of mainstream dance and underground dance with the idea of doing something each year in New York, like Miami, where everyone wants to come. And you just have a lot of options during that week.

 

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