Uplifting house from New York's thriving queer scene.
Nita Aviance and Will Automagic are everywhere in New York, if you look in the right places. In addition to their monthly residency at Good Room in Brooklyn—which brings some of the biggest, sweatiest crowds that venue has ever seen—you can find both of them playing at all sorts of bars across Manhattan and Brooklyn during the week. And if they aren't playing, you'll probably see them cutting it up on the dance floor somewhere. The duo embody the spirit of the '90s New York dance music halcyon days, but they're helping lead the charge into the '20s.
It's easy to love The Carry Nation. They play funky, opulent, catchy, vocal-heavy house music with one foot in the old days and one foot in the sleek, technoid future. Their mixes, like this two-hour closing set from a Good Room party last August, sound classic, but a lot of the tunes are new (including their own productions). They aren't afraid to play tracks that have a sense of humour, and they'll dig back into the archives of house greats like Todd Terry or throw in a Whitney Houston acapella, as you'll hear in this set.
Theirs is a universal style that's earned them fans around the world, and while they remain New York stalwarts, they're increasingly global festival stars, too. They mix with flair and skill, but there's also something unflashy about what they do. It's a pure love of house music that goes back decades. When you listen to this mix, you could imagine yourself at the Roxy in the early '90s, or at one of the duo's slamming parties at Good Room. Either way, it's uplifting, celebratory, timeless and life-affirming.
What have you been up to recently?
It's been a wild year and closing Panorama Bar this October marked the end of a long stretch of travel for us that began at Club Toilet in May. Since then we've been hunkered down back in New York working on new music projects and taking care of the kids.
How and where was the mix recorded?
We recorded the mix in the final hours of our monthly party at Good Room on four Pioneer CDJs and the DJM-900 mixer.
Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind the mix?
We wanted to present a window into the last throes of a night with The Carry Nation—those moments where the dancers fully stretch out and we ride the emotional waves into the morning light. This approach to the art form is truly reliant on the dancer. Without them one is only an organizer of sounds, which is something very different.
To truly capture the essence of The Carry Nation it must be live. Minimal planning goes into our sets other than the opening and closing tracks and the journey we wish to explore. In the midst of that, the path presents itself as the night rolls on. On this night in particular we hosted four guest DJs, incredible talents and very special friends, as we gathered together in NYC before traveling to our yearly communal in the woods. The energy was electric, high summer in all its glory.
You two have been at this for a while. How has the queer dance music scene changed, in your eyes, over the last few years?
The last few years have shown a marked increase in visibility, that's for sure, and as well it should. The world would do well with more queer voices, especially in our industry, playing our music. There have been incredible strides though, and that comes from a strong sense of community. We've all been working hard in our smaller scenes since the gaze drifted away from the queer dance floors in the US because we have always and will always need spaces for our people to congregate, celebrate, and be free to fully express themselves. And now that we're entrenched in the digital age it is so much easier for us to connect with other queer scenes around the globe, joining forces to share all the brilliance coming out of our world.
What makes a Carry Nation party different than other parties in New York? What do you guys bring to it?
We strive to create lineups and a dance floor that truly reflect the community that we are a part of as well as the community that raised us. We look to club eras such as The Loft, the Paradise Garage, The Sound Factory and Body & Soul as a way to learn and become inspired by the examples of perseverance and progress during those periods. Bringing a sense of history to the party is not forlorn nostalgia, though, but rather a deep respect. We're not mourning the old days, we're creating new days.
What are you up to next?
Coming up in January we'll be joining with our good friends Honcho at U Street Music Hall in Washington DC. February sees us in back in Europe for a few dates before heading to Mexico for the inaugural BackdoorXL queer music festival. We'll be back in NYC afterwards to put the finishing touches on some new music before the spring and summer touring season begins.