May 2005
By Steven M. Housman

Around The World In Five Days
Circuit Asia Dances In April 28-May 2

The Circuit Parties have been around for 16 years, and considering that the events have become so triumphant, the parties are now branching out to all the corners of the globe! This is the first ever Circuit Party to hit the Philippines. So keeping with the anticipation of what might be, I had the opportunity to ask two of the leading DJ’s in the business, Brett Henrichsen and Kimberly S, their thoughts about bringing this party to the faraway land of Manila, and what they expected. Interestingly enough, as seasoned as these two legends are, they still had some nervous energy about conquering a new land, and for good reason. Here’s their take on transporting the success of the West and taking it Far East to a whole new audience.

Brett Henrichsen

Okay, is it exciting, nerve racking, or both, to be kicking off a brand new Circuit destination?

It’s both exciting and nerve racking. Sometimes the parties are a huge success and they’re the first of many - and sometimes not so much - like Prague earlier in the year (Laughing).

What happened there?

That was their first one in Prague and it was the ultimate Circuit disaster of all time. Besides me, they had Tracy Young, Abel, Circuit Mom, Hex Hector. They had the entire makings of an incredible party, and the night of the first event, everything was canceled. The promoter got thrown in jail. It was the ultimate nightmare!

Will the music differ from a typical American event?

One of the things that really helps me internationally is that I don’t really change my style that much because – A) Not being a native of where I’m going, I’m not really in tune with what their style is, and –B) I think what they really like about bringing somebody in from the US is that they’re getting to hear something new - so I pretty much play very similar to what I would play here in the States.

Do you expect a lot of Americans to participate?

I honestly don’t know what to expect. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get American boys to go to the parties that are held in their own backyards these days. It’s doubtful they’ll have hundreds of people flying in from the States. I’m hoping they’ve got a lot of people attending from Manila, as well as a lot from Asia. I’m sure there are a lot of gay people there.

There’s such a diversity of age – Is it difficult to please all of the people all of the time?

That’s an interesting question because it’s something I never used to notice so much, but recently all of us [the Circuit DJ’s] have been discussing it. We just started to notice that it is getting harder to please the gamut of the younger to the older crowd. The older crowd still prefers the vocals and the happy and fun music that came out over ten years ago. Then there’s the middle crowd that’s more accustomed to the Tribal and the Drum driven music with less vocal, and then there’s this whole new third generation that we’re just starting to see that isn’t used to Circuit Parties, but they’re starting to come a little bit, and they’re much more the Hip-Hop crowd, and that’s hardly played at all. Manny [Lehman] and I and most of the DJ’s don’t really consider that music and it’s not part of our repertoire, and it’s also harder to mix. The very young crowd is much harder to please.

Have you heard any new artists lately that excite you and that you would like to work with?

There’s a brand new artist named Melissa G who’s here in LA. Her new song “Naked Fame” is on our White Party Next Generation CD. She’s young and talented and has a great voice and a lot of energy, and she performed at The White Party in Palm Springs at the Tea Dance. She reminds me of Erin Hamilton when I was producing her years ago.

I spoke with Erin for an Advocate story and she credits you for really being a positive force in her career. What is she up to these days?

She just came by my office yesterday and picked up some copies of her album and she was telling me that she’s interested in performing again. I’ve got it in the back of my mind to do some new modern remixes of a couple of her hits. Maybe do a 2005 remix of “The Flame.”

What’s your take on the diva anthems?

That’s definitely still my favorite. That’s what I “came out” to and that’s what I consider music. That’s what I always lean to when I’m playing and when I’m putting a compilation together. I definitely love the vocal anthems. I like words.

Do you see any DJ’s that you’re impressed with?

There’s a friend of mine who I really admire who’s really made a name for himself in the last two years, and that’s Tony Moran. He’s like the ultimate music machine!

What music do you play for your personal listening pleasure?

I pretty much always listen to dance music.

Do you have any projects you’d like to tell me about?

We’re busy working on a new summer album that will be out in June for Gay Days, and we just finished working on “The White Party Generation” CD that’s getting rave reviews and selling like crazy!

Where do you feel music tastes are heading these days?

Unfortunately, I think it’s headed toward the younger generation and Hip-Hop, but at least it’s vocal, and I do see music headed back towards the vocals. I think there’s a trend back to happier vocal uplifting music.

Kimberly S

This being the first event in Asia – How are you feeling heading into uncharted territory?

I’m nervous, and at the same time, it’s totally exciting. I’ve been wanting to break into the Eastern market as far as my career goes. I’m really stoked! Did I say that? I’m not from California, am I? (Laughing) Seriously though, it’s a great opportunity and I’m always a little bit nervous anyway before an event, especially going to another country. I’m also excited that they asked me to do this over a year ago.

Will you play differently than you do in the States?

No. I’m going to play the same way I would play a regular prime time event. There are a lot of guys that I’ve met here that are from the Philippines and from various parts of Southeast Asia, and I always get a really great response from them. There will be some Americans going over there, too, so it’s going to be pretty standard. Of course, I’m going to play my ass off like I played The White Party this year!

Give me a brief review on The White Party.

It was awesome. Manny [Lehman] and I had a great time. We split the night and I just felt like it was in-the-pocket for me as far as the way I wanted to play. I was so pleased with the response.

So, you’re just going to carry on this positive energy to Asia?

Yeah! I try to do that with every event -- from small clubs to big clubs. Circuit Asia is a big event and the promoters have put a ton of time and energy into promoting it, and it’s for a good cause. It’s a great thing.

Do you expect a lot of Americans to participate?

To be honest, I don’t know how the ticket sales are going. This is just my guess – it will probably be more Singapore, Philippines, the general area out there. Not everybody has the luxury to travel. I heard a lot of guys from Singapore are coming because apparently they’re trying to ban Circuit Parties over there. I know the government would like to ban these types of events.

Do you think it’s because of the possible drug use?

I don’t know. I just know that I’ve read about it, but it was vague. I’ve heard about it. Who knows how much of it is true.

The guys feel very protective about their divas. How about you? Are you a fan of the divas?

I have to say that I am a self-professed diva-lover. I LOVE the divas. As a matter of fact, yesterday I had a Whitney Houston song stuck in my head of a remix and I was telling my girlfriend, “I can’t get this out of my head!” It’s crazy. But Whitney does that to you. She just has that kind of voice. I think the divas are great and I think they’re important. It’s time to get some words back in the music. I’ve been playing for many years, and many different styles of House music come my way, but there have always been those vocals, whether it was Deep House vocals to the gay Circuit diva anthems. I have to tell you – it is the gay audience that embraces those anthems.

Many DJ’s have CD’s they like to promote. Is there a reason why you don’t release your compilations?

I have a CD that came out ages ago, in 2001, and right now there’s a real shortage of labels, and the label I released on went under. I like to make my CD’s and I give them out, I don’t sell them. I give them as gifts. I have the opportunity to do remix projects but honestly I’m just not that interested in doing it. Actually, I feel really good that I’ve been able to get to the level I have without having to add remixer or producer to my name. I think I’d rather learn how to play the drums or play the piano than remix. The truth is, I love playing for the crowd, I love playing live, I love putting those two songs together and I love the response I get. That is what I love about being a DJ.

Do you have favorite cities to play?

Yes, I love San Francisco! SF has a lot of love and it’s just a big city for me. I also love Atlanta. Right now there’s not much of nightlife there, but hopefully they’ll be able to get everything back in place. Of course, I love playing in my hometown of LA. Everywhere I play, and I’m not bullshitting you, I really enjoy myself.

Where do you feel music tastes are heading these days?

The tastes are always evolving. As far as trends now, as far as gay music is concerned, I hope it goes back to a happier sound. I’m not talking about fluff. I’m talking a trend away from dark. You know the music with the real scary voice in it. Ugh! I can’t stand it! I mean the divas are great, even when they’re melancholy and super dramatic, and you see those mouths moving out on the dancefloor, and they’re just working it out with the drama, and it’s great. There are House songs that are so awesome and can still have a positive element. It’s just energy, bam, bam, bam! It’s still a positive energy, and to me that’s better than hearing the stuff that makes you feel there’s a demon under your bed! (Laughing) I think you and I have the same taste. We want it all to be positive!

© 2005 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.