Hey, DJ: The Local Indie DJs of Hotline

Don't miss this huge night of music, coordinated to keep DNA Lounge in business!

Photo by Twig

This Friday, rekindle your memories of the MySpace era with Hotline, the party celebrating all things indie with 13 local DJs playing a spectrum of retro jams from Brit-pop to electroclash. The event will also feature a DJ set by local band Panic is Perfect!, performances by Per Sia and The No Mirror Movement, and a special room full of old-school telephones and photo booths.

Taking place at the historical labyrinth that is DNA Lounge, Hotline is also raising awareness for support of the local venue that is currently battling an uncertain future.

We got some insight from five of the DJs who will be spinning at Hotline (BlondieK, 2nite, Mario Muse, Candy, and subOctave) about what indie music means to them, how to throw a party of this magnitude, and the importance of party décor.

Hotline happens this Friday, [March 31], at DNA Lounge.

SF Weekly: When and where was the idea of Hotline born?
BlondieK: It’s been something I have been thinking about for a long time. I was always looking for the right time, partners, and place to try to take all of the neighborhood indie dance parties and turn it into a huge club event. What lit a fire under me was the news that DNA Lounge might be closing. I sent out an SOS on Facebook to see who of my DJ friends might want to join forces to make the idea a reality.

2nite: Kristin and Chris from Fringe have been talking about returning to the DNA Lounge for a while, and we at Harder Better Faster Stronger have been chatting with them for months about a collaboration. With Jaime’s blog post regarding the troubles of DNA Lounge, it instigated us to act.

Mario: It came out of a Facebook thread regarding DNA Lounge facing some financial challenges and throwing a one-night only epic party, which was kind of a joke at first but Kris helped bring it to reality.

Candy: The idea of getting like-minded parties together for a bigger event had been swirling for awhile. A few of us had worked together and guested at each other’s parties, but when a blog was posted on the DNA website on Dec. 14, 2016, it was a real call to action. We knew we had to do this and swing for the fences.

SFW: How did the name Hotline come about?
BK: Honestly, it came from my 13-year-old daughter Morgan. I told her we were making a new DJ night and I needed ideas for names. She said, “Give me an idea of how you pick a name.” I said, “Well, it could be after a band or a song you love, something that says to you, ‘I want to go there!’ ” Immediately, “Hotline Bling” by Drake popped in my head because we sing it together in the car a lot. I said, “Like maybe ‘Hotline,’ ” and without hesitation she yelled “That’s it!” So there is a bit of irony that it is named after something very not indie, but once it stuck in my head, I liked the idea of a phone-themed hotline connection connecting all the indie dance parties together.

SFW: Why did you choose to keep the DJs to 13 local DJs, versus booking those outside of the Bay?
BlondieK: I never even considered looking outside the Bay Area. That is the wonderful thing about San Francisco. There are so many talented DJs interested in spinning indie music. To me, it was exciting to think about taking all of our neighborhood parties and seeing if we could bring them all together and create one giant indie scene.

2n: The Bay Area indie DJ scene is a pretty tight-knit community. We got excited about the idea of bringing us all together for one special event.

M: S.F. is known for an amazing nightlife scene. Why expand when we have it all right here in our backyard? Together we bring a certain passion and bond. It really is like a family.

subOctave: There is a life outside of the San Francisco?

C: Because DNA is a local venue that we have all called home, we really wanted this party to be thrown, organized, and supported by locals. Smaller more intimate venues are where we all started, but DNA was the venue that inspired many of us. I’ve personally been dancing and going to live shows since the early 90’s and the venue is near and dear to my heart.

SFW: What interests you personally about the indie genre?
BK: I don’t like it, I LOVE IT. It reminds me a lot of what I love about ‘80s synth and punk music. It is dance music that has a sentimental vibe. It can also not take itself too seriously, and be quirky and fun. I feel like indie music of the 2000’s is the new nostalgic dance music. DFA records said it best: “Too old to be new, too new to be classic.”

2n: It blends a lot of what we love about alternative music — untraditional rock, electronic, punk, new wave etc. — in a modern-day context. It truly is an alternative to the mainstream pop hits of today.

M: In all areas of my life, I have and will always seek more than what is popular and stray away from the Top 40 choices as I want to search for what music I enjoy versus the contrived list just being put in front of me. I truly feel that music really can tell a story of someone’s life, and I feel very lucky that I get to do that not just as a club DJ, but also on the radio as I host a show on Bff.fm.

SO: Certainly on the surface “indie” means independent, but it also has come to stand for music that is not quite in the mainstream. The indie artists we like take more risks than some of the most popular artists, but still create accessible, danceable music.

C: The variety and the just plain ‘ol gooey vibes. No matter what your background, something in the indie world will grab hold of you. Coming from a 70’s disco and 80’s new wave influence, there are tons of bands that carry those roots onward. I also love that there are a lot of women in the indie music world, as both performers and supporters.

SFW: Since there will be different genres in each room, tell us a bit about the ones you will be focusing on.
BK: I will be rotating between the main indie classic room and music video room above DNA. Indie classics are the songs we all love to sing at the top of our lungs from bands like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand. The music video room will feature visually stunning videos from bands like Grimes and CHVRCHES, like we do at our Fringe party.

2n: We will be playing both the main indie classics room and the music video room. Our party, Harder Better Faster Stronger, focuses on indie, electro, and electronic music videos, so playing the music video room was a natural fit.

M: The Queen is Dead is my event that we will be hosting in the lounge with our friends Last Nite. It’s going to be a Brit-pop versus indie-rock dancefloor battle! Expect to hear the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Interpol, Suede, The Cure, The White Stripes, Bloc Party, Stone Roses, The Rapture, David Bowie, Franz Ferdinand, ESG, The Strokes, Blur, New Order, Oasis, James, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ladytron, and extra helpings of The Smiths and Morrissey all night long.

SFW: For those of us that don’t know, what’s happening with DNA Lounge and their battle to stay open?
BK: DNA Lounge has always been committed to community building, artistic events, and performances by underground artists and DJs. It is a nightclub for the rest of us who don’t fit in the traditional night club scene. There is always risk involved in remaining on the edges of the mainstream, and right now, they are not making enough money to cover the expenses of keeping the club open.

2n: One of San Francisco’s most iconic music venues is in trouble. We wanted to do our part to help create a turn around for the venue. Hopefully Hotline can be the beginning of something special.

SO: You may have heard that DNA has been having some difficulties as of late, but you know that is exactly the kind of thing that spurs new nights and new scenes. People take chances when there is danger. Our night is born from that and I think you will be seeing a lot of other interesting nights as the venue tries to redefine itself.

SFW: What can the nightlife community and patrons do to help out?
BK: The obvious answer is to attend DNA events and share their events with friends. DNA set up this website for fanatical DNA fans who want to make monthly contributions to keep the lights on.

2n: Come to our event, of course, but all DNA events in general. They can enjoy a fun night out, get some drinks, some pizza, and support the hard working people who help keep San Francisco’s counterculture community alive. There is also a donate link on the DNA’s website that they can use to support the venue.

M: Spread the word, invite your friends to the event, like our page on Facebook, buy a ticket!

C: Just get out and support your favorite nightlife parties and live shows. Don’t just stick to what you know, try something new. So many of us are nostalgic for the S.F. club scene that was so diverse and so prolific. Venues and parties rely on you to come out and support. DNA offers such a variety of entertainment, there’s something for everyone.

SFW: What are some challenges to throwing a party of this magnitude?
BK: Many of our individual parties are neighborhood-based in the Haight, Mission, Castro, and the Divisadero Corridor. People often come up to us and say, “I live a couple of blocks from here!” The challenge is to get people out of their comfort zone and coming out to see us at a destination venue where they can’t easily stumble back home at the end of the night.

2n: It’s brand new. It’s alien. Getting the word out about something new can be somewhat tricky. While no one has heard of Hotline, hopefully they will know our four sub-parties and be curious to see what happens. Something like this has never been done before, so we are extremely excited to see what happens.

M: DNA is a huge space, but we are all pros at this, so let’s hope the night is a huge success. And who knows? Maybe there could be another one in the future?

SO: Trying to figure out which DJs play in which rooms at what times is kinda like making a seating chart at a wedding reception. Complicated!

SFW: What’s your favorite indie song of all time?
BK: That’s an impossible question to answer, but I can tell you one of my favorite songs to spin. The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” is so anthemic, so much fun to watch the crowd react and sing along to. It’s such a good song, I usually have no idea how to follow it up.

2n: LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” It took minimal techno, rock, and spoken word and proved that once again, music can be an art form.

Mario: Is this a trick question? There are so many that I could end up writing a book, but I am going to have to go with my ultimate love by choosing The Smiths’ “What Difference Does It Make.” I have the chorus tattooed on my arm!

SO: “Shooting Stars” by Bag Raiders because that song is a constant build that is so uplifting. It always makes people so happy when they hear that song. 

C: Too hard to choose, but anything from the Presets, Grimes, and Justice really get me going.

SFW: What will the night look like? We heard there’s going to be some kickass decor.
BK: In a word: phones! Jumbo phones, retro phones, hamburger phones, laser phones. It has been so much fun finding decor for this party. We will have an entire photo booth room set up for getting your picture taken all night.

M: Well, I do not want to give the milk away for free but here are three words: lasers, glitter, and phones!

SO: The night is going to feature not just great decor, but decor that is specifically made to be interacted with. We want to provide everyone with props to take pictures with and share with their friends. The night is about our guests and we want them to not just have a blast but to come away with some fantastic pictures to share with their friends.

SFW: Lastly, what are you looking forward to the most for Hotline?
BK: The best part of this event has been collaborating with so many great people, including a kickass Hotline Street Team. After months of planning, I’m looking forward to enjoying it in the moment with everyone.

2n: Having four parties and over 13 local DJs come together for one night is something truly historic. A local convention of indie DJs of sorts. We hope to keep the bond strong between the DJs, dance patrons, and the S.F. community at large.

SO: It is about music and community, bringing together fans who love indie music in one big place for a memorable night. You know, standard San Francisco greatness.

M: I’m most looking forward to DJing a party with everyone I love playing with and joining the indie dance community together.

C: Seeing people forget the outside world for just one night and bringing unadulterated dance floor love.

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