Mister Saturday Night is a party and record label based in Brooklyn, their New York loft parties and outdoor day-time parties are an integral part of the New York party scene. Night of the Jaguar have invited Justin Carter from the label to The Art School on Wednesday. Ahead of the night, they asked Justin a few questions about how Mister Saturday Night deliver their vision, how their synonymous record label is run, what it is like living and throwing parties in New York and what he thinks of Glasgow.
How did you start out?
I grew up in a house of music. My dad is a guitar player and songwriter and I grew up playing the guitar and writing songs and singing. We grew up listening to a tonne of music. We lived in south-western Virginia on the North Carolina Border and my Dad, who is also a teacher would always have a job that was 30 minutes away. Everything was like 30 minutes away. So we were constantly sitting in the car together, just the two of us, listening to music. There was always a different kind of music that was playing in the car and in many ways we related to each other through this music.. So a lot of how I relate to people is by playing music for them and because I was exposed to a lot of different kinds of music as a kid, I felt like it was a pretty natural thing for me to become a person who goes and finds music and then plays it to people in by way of relating to them.
Do you think that your approach to listening to music has changed since you’ve begun to play music to a lot of people on a regular basis?
It’s always changing. Just like any craft or art, however you want to define DJing. Playing outside, in the venue where we’ve been doing Mister Sunday this summer, has lent itself very much to playing ebullient, warm and festive music. As it has gotten darker outside and the sun is going down earlier, I’ve found that Eamon and I have been able to get into harder and headier spaces, this past week in particular. So things like that can really affect the way that you are thinking about music at any given moment. I’m sure that when we come on tour at clubs at night time in Europe, that it is going to lend itself to playing in a different kind of way and I’m sure I’ll start to think about things in a different way. That’s always the way it happens, which is one of the really nice things about going on tour: it changes your frame of reference. If you’re like Eamon and I and you’re playing in the same place every week, it gives you a chance to step out of that and to look at things from a different perspective and to engage with people in a different way.
Was that vision that you were talking about (the vision behind the Mister Saturday Night & Mister Sunday parties) something that came together pretty quickly and naturally or did you and Eamon sit down and figure it out before you started Mister Saturday Night?
The vision is cemented in some ways but it is also totally evolving. When we started the parties, we started in a club. We had ideas about what it was that we liked and wanted a night to be. But it was only through doing the party that we realised that “alright, ok, if we want it to be this, then this doesn’t really work”. We knew we always wanted it to be a warm inviting place. That was the point of the name in the beginning. But we realised through doing the party at this club in the city that there were all these things that went along with traditional clubs that didn’t really work for us and so we ended up in the lofts, which gave us more control and we started to see certain things happening. We started to see people reacting in a certain way, which made us do that more. Its’ like DJing and it’s the same thing with trying new things at the party, you try things out and see how people react. Sometimes you change things and they don’t work and you just switch things back to the way they were before. But sometimes you set things up in a certain way and its like “Oh wow, that really did it!” and it makes the party better and it becomes part of your identity as a party, you know.
You guys take a lot of care to outline what exactly a Mister Saturday Night or a Mister Sunday Party is, for example on your website you have set out some “rules” for the party and in interviews you make it quite clear. Do you think that because people know where they are with you that they keep coming back?
The rule thing is a good example of this. We toyed with the idea of rules for a while. I think before we posted them on our site and made them a thing, we might have posted some sort of sign at the door when people walked in. And by doing that, I think we realised “ok wait, people weren’t really reading them. We can’t really expect that they’ve seen them.” If they get there and there’s no line outside then why are they going to stop and read a sign? If they’re in a line with their friends, why are they going to stop talking to their friends? So then we decided to put them up on the website and we were really thoughtful about how we did that. But then we got all these responses when we actually posted them and made it a very public thing and because of that, it’s really defined who we are. So this is another good example of trying things out and seeing how they work and I predict that that will continue to happen with the parties. One of the things that we’ve started to experiment with here now is to create a membership system because the party has gotten really popular. The party right now is quite big on Sundays but when we move inside, the places that we can hold parties in are much smaller and so we need to figure out a way where we can make sure that the people that have been with us for a long time, the people that are our regulars, the people that we see on the dance floor every single week; How can we make sure that if we post tickets or if we post a party up, that they actually have access to those tickets before it sells out? So we’ve started to experiment with the membership thing, we haven’t really even defined what it is to be a member yet but we’ve started to do this thing so we’re moving into the next phase of defining what we are as a party.
In the RA, New york real scenes video, the rest of the people in the interview make it look like New York is a very difficult places to exist in as an artist or a Dj or a musician. Why do you think it is that you guys have managed to craft that has now become integral to the New York and global clubbing and party scene.
Well, what I would say is that a lot of what was being said in that real scenes video is true. A lot of it comes down to the fact that New York is a very very expensive place to live. Now what I will say is that Eamon and I are also both very optimistic about the world and about New York. Sometimes that optimism is definitely challenged but you know, we just choose to focus on the things that are good and look around and try to figure out solutions to the problems that we have. We’re always trying to be a step or two ahead of whatever is coming. While we’ve got a space that we are using, we are always looking for other spaces that we can be using next. It’s probably the most difficult and therefore most important part of making sure that we can throw our party successfully. We’ve never said “oh we wish it was like this back then” we’ve just looked at the situation and said “this is where it is, this how it is, this is where we are in this context, what are we going to do to make sure that we’re prepared for, what is almost a certainty: us losing a venue?” I think that that’s just a good way to look at life. Just be prepared for whatever is coming next ad don’t get bogged down with stuff that you really can’t change.
What do you think of Glasgow as a place?
I absolutely love it. One of the reasons why I’m coming up to play for you guys is that I want to spend time in Glasgow. I make great friends there, I like the town itself. Playing a party in Glasgow is fantastic. Just, the level of knowledge from what seems to just be the average person at a party is pretty astounding. You’ll play a song that you think is not a song that many people would know and people kind of cheer for it like “YES! I’m so glad they played this!” It’s pretty cool and the energy in general is amazing. Even when people don’t know songs, there’s just an openness to music and an excitement about music and being social and going out and hanging out with each other is pretty unmatched. I mean I love New York city and I think there are things about New York that are also unmatched but Glasgow is a very special place that offers things that New York doesn’t offer and so I’m Always, Always happy to go and play there.
The thing about Glasgow that I just love is how excited everybody is. People are PSYCHED! And it’s funny, I don’t find that anywhere. They’re not excited in a way where it’s just like overwhelming and strange. It’s a total genuine passion. You live in a good place man.
Is it just you and Eamon that run the Mister Saturday Night Label?
There is TJ who is in the office with us. He acts as the label manager. He manages production and he also acts as a sounding board for everything else that goes on and at this point he’s one of the people that we trust most with the parties. The parties and the label go together in many ways and so the responsibilities lie on both sides. But as far as who gets signed and all that, that’s Eamon and I. we are the ones who listen and make the decisions on what we’re putting out.
And are you constantly searching for new material to release or do you find that the music seems to come to you? How do you define what is going to be a Mister Saturday Night Record?
We both just have to like it. That is the only definition. But it varies how we find music. Sometimes it has been somebody at the party who has just given us music and sometimes it’s just a demo that has come in straight through the email. That’s how the more recent releases have been going. I think Keita Sano and Melja were both just people that emailed us and then we had dialogue with over a long period of time and then we released their records. But then, for example, Gunnar Haslam has been coming to our parties since the very beginning and he’s a friend that lives in the neighbourhood with Eamon and me. So we’ve been talking to him about putting stuff out for a very long time. There’s no one set way.