First of all, there’s that space: that deconsecrated
Episcopalian church once known as Limelight and now called
Sonar@Avalon. Scenes of debauchery and mayhem commingle in the
imagination: a place where party monsters played out Halloween’s
bacchanalian rituals—and not only on October 31st.
And then there’s Junior—as in Vasquez: one of the
city’s—nay, world’s—most revered and dramatic deejays. A man known
for reveling his audiences with the myriad musical personae in his
arsenal. The man with the bag of tricks. Mix Junior with
Limelight/Avalon/Sonar for one night—and you’ve got the makings of a
And so when we got word about Junior’s Halloween Masquerade
@ Sonar@Avalon on Sunday, the 28th of October, from
4 pm – 4 am, we knew we
had to have a little sit-down with the Great Pumpkin Himself and
find out more about Junior-ween.
of all, Junior, congratulations on your latest monthly
residency—this time at Cielo, which would appear to be a match made
in heaven given the club’s sublime acoustics and its sanctified
status as a club for those who worship music. What a perfect pulpit
JUNIOR: Cielo is a true temple of sound.
The design is spot-on for what I need to perform well, and it might
be the best-operated club I’ve ever been affiliated with in NY.
Which is saying something, given your numerous residencies all over
I’ve tested the waters with one-off events [at Cielo] for about two
years, and every single party has the chemistry that I haven’t felt
since I held court at Twilo, Arena and Sound Factory. In fact, with
the New York
club scene having gotten watered down by so many indistinguishable,
overbearing big room parties without the sanctity and unique vibe
that we once were able to create in a big room, Cielo is
refreshing. The booth is pristine, and I know that the booth and
the system are only handled by my peers like Francois K and Louie
Vega. I tend to play less restrictively [there] than I do in a big
room, and I’m connected with the dance floor the whole night. I have
great respect for Nicolas Matar, the owner of Cielo, and he deserves
every award and accolade for best club in the world that he wins
year after year.
to that. And speaking of your many residencies all over the island
of Manhattan, from Bassline to Sound Factory and Tunnel, to Arena at
Palladium, as well as Exit, Twilo, Spirit and Discotheque—how is it
you managed to avoid a residency at Limelight—which we now,
apparently, should call Sonar@Avalon? Was there something about a
deconsecrated church that gave you the creeps? Or were you just
waiting for the perfect holiday to haunt its premises?
JUNIOR: I’ve played there a few times, and those parties were fun.
Jerome and I were quite close to signing on twice for me to helm the
Saturday night party [at Limelight], but 2001 was the sad end of the
Gatien family’s operation of the club, so I backed out that time,
and one other time, we nearly did a weekly event called Klear there
(it was Avalon at the time, if I recall), but the stars weren’t
aligned, and I’m no longer anxious to jump into long-term
commitments unless I can make it my home. In retrospect, if the
community board had been more permissive, it would have been a great
transplant for the Arena party at Palladium, but then there would
have been no Twilo.
EDGE: Wow, you’re so right—from Arena@Palladium to Limelight:
what a perfect party segue that would’ve been! Well, it’s never too
late. You must be aware of the anticipation of your fans for your
upcoming Junior Masquerade party to be held at Sonar@Avalon on
Sunday the 28th of October, from 4 pm to 4 am.
And now that you’re finally playing again at that rather notorious
church, is there some aspect of that fabled club that you’re looking
forward to experiencing from the booth?
JUNIOR: I’ve felt
[that energy] before, so it’s no big surprise. I’ve been promised an
outrageous installation by my good friend designer Cesar Galindo to
transform the room, and naturally we’re being a thorn in the side of
the club to get their sound and lights in top shape for me. I fear
that the Saturday night party will blow the speakers and tear the
room to shreds, but my boys will be there bright and early to raise
hell if everything’s not just right. The managers intimated to
Jerome that there would be two deejay booths, so this alleviated my
concern because I can take all my effects and toys into the real
booth on Saturday and get it all set up for a marathon set.
Refrigerator, wigs, modified turntables, my new Pioneer DVJ
players, new gear I’m testing, and all the new music I’ve been
saving to unleash on the dance floor like I don’t get to do
often anymore in long sets.
[As for the club’s name], I’m confused about Limelight,
Avalon, Sonar. Who knows what it’s called? I want to cleanse the
spirit of the room and just treat it like [it’s] MY room for
EDGE: Of course, we could associate the name sonar with
bats, and bats with Halloween. Give the church’s tower, maybe Cesar
Galindo will create a sort of “bats in the belfry” set. Or maybe
people will be using echolocation to connect?
Like I said, Sonar is...I dunno what. It’s my party: Junior-ween.
Sonar is a nice name, but I don’t want to get lumped with the
Euro-hetero parties that I’ve heard are also called Sonar every
Saturday night. Thankfully, Area Event has promised to bring in a
straight and clubby crowd of its own, and John DiMatteo seems to
have his finger on the pulse of that scene. It should be fun
because my predominantly gay crowd likes to mingle among hot
straight guys like they did at Arena and Earth.
[As for] the
music, [it] will be NEW.
I’m so sick of classics. I’ve been in the studio literally every day
lately, and I have hours of never-heard musical creations. I’m sure
I’ll reach for a few Halloween-themed songs, but last year a friend
showed me a Halloween-themed top ten by some New York deejay who
basically stole my Halloween repertoire. Ya know, “Nightmare,”
“Don’t Look Behind You,” anything with the word “darkness.” Blah
blah... Been there done that. We’re going more in the ornate
masquerade direction instead [of] being on a tweaky fright train for
twelve hours. My new music is sexy, not ugly marching songs.
Some vocals and some just plain instrumentals that are so good they
don’t need tacky sound effects on them.
EDGE: Having just heard you at Parking in Montreal for
Black and Blue, you’ll get no argument from this quarter. Your
music that night was total full-throttle all-night sex orgy. You’re
clearly on a roll.
I’ve said it before, but now more than ever, I’m noticing that the
tracks I like are more Sound Factory (27th Street, of course...):
real chunky, well-engineered sound blasters, and the music is
more solid than ever.
You have a reputation for making holidays your own—such as your
Pride celebrations and your birthday celebrations and your New
Year’s parties—and turning them into personal celebrations for you
and your fans. What is it about Halloween that turns you on?
I haven’t done Halloween really well in a few years. Last year was
incredibly produced, but the venue was a nightmare to deal with. I
give a lot of props to Ric Sena for making his Halloween parties
bigger than life. I don’t know the man at all, to tell you the
truth, and regardless of the rumors that he can’t stand me or
whatever the peanut gallery says, [Sena] creates an experience with
amazing detail and plot. I respect that a lot.
Since Richard Grant and Phil Smith haven’t had their clubs,
no one [other than Sena] puts so much attention into their events to
make each one special—except for me—but I suppose I have it easier,
because I don’t need so many bells and whistles. I can do it with
the music, and especially with my new arsenal of records. My
Halloween party opens on Sunday afternoon at four pm, so hopefully Ric Sena doesn’t feel like anyone is
stepping on his toes. [Alegria]’s done [and] then we open.
EDGE: Recently, you’ve been remixing Britney Spears’ “Gimme
More” and you’ve been rumored to be mixing tracks for her upcoming
album. Historically, you’ve had a penchant for showcasing
distinctive female voices on your dance floors—such as Billie Ray
Martin and Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper, as well Kristine W. and
Vernessa Mitchell and Whitney and Deborah Cox. Can you comment on
what aspect of those voices works its magic on your soul?
JUNIOR: I loved working with Britney. She’s gonna be okay. I’m really
proud of my mix. I’ve remixed just about everyone under the sun, and
some of the same songs three or four times over the years. But
you’re right, that there are certain voices that just grab me:
Vernessa Mitchell and Jason Walker are supreme. Billie Ray Martin
and Kristine W. paved the way for dance music in the 90s. And of
course Deborah [Cox] played a huge part. Right now, I’m into Amy
Winehouse, Angelique Kidjo and even some Justin Timberlake stuff for
But what’s really got me going are these new upstart
producers like EVERYONE on the Stereo Records from Spain’s roster:
Jesse Garcia (he can do no wrong right now), Ralph Falcon (his new
track is the deepest, nastiest track since way back when Oscar G did
“Tilt” and Ralph did “Every Now and Then,” Stonebridge is turning me
out with a bunch of new stuff after being off the radar; and then
there are kids like Billy Steele (JVM’s newest powerhouse
deejay/producer), Demarko, TRL, Midnight Society, Andrew Mendez, Lorant, Michael Hades, Alejandro Rado, Sheldon
Romero. These guys hand deliver me hot tracks that rock the club.
EDGE: And why not, right? You’re obviously the man to come to
with new music. Hey, and what’s up with the new members-only website
which launches on 11/15 (complete with membership info on 10/22)?
Is the website a new way for your fans, friends and family to stay
connected when not on the dance floors?
It’s going to be different. We had an incredible amount of traffic.
Mostly blurkers: people who spend lots of time—at work
probably—refreshing the JVM site all day long. We have more
fan(atics) than any other deejay, I bet, and version 2.0 of the site
was modeled around text content and message forums for people to
meet, play, fight and show their musical prowess.
The new site’s architecture is built around music and
video content, some of which is provided by the site, but which
encourages members to contribute to the content. For instance, I’ve
produced so many songs, remixes, edits, mash-ups, unfinished songs,
song ideas recorded live from the booth but never butchered in a
studio. It’s too much of a mess, especially with ten rounds of
recalls from a good A&R person like Hosh Gureli.
My fans have tracked all this, sometimes obsessively, and
the discography feature allows members to contribute song files,
notes on the source of the recording, a mini-forum to bicker over
what a particular mix was called, lots of things to pick apart
and keep people busy, both for young fans and the veterans who
hopefully will contribute too.
My events will be back-tracked to my earliest gigs, also
with members providing flyer scans, memories, play lists, and we’ll
be uploading sets over time from all the DATs, reel-to-reels, CDs
and hard drives to start building, collectively with my fans, an
arsenal of my work.
Of course, there will be a calendar, [as well as] featured
artists with content. [For example], the debut of Jason Walker’s
incredible first video “I Can’t Get You Off My Mind,” [as well as]
lots of free music for members (the pay-per-song system is
broken anyway), and a forum for incessant bitching and moaning.
And finally, we’ll be broadcasting certain sets live for
members on the site from special events in New York and when we’re
away too (with video occasionally). New York
needs a glimpse into other awesome venues like Ageha in Tokyo and
Pacha in Barcelona.
Apart from your semi-regular residency at Parking in Montreal,
you seem to be performing somewhat regularly in Miami/South Beach,
with upcoming gigs on Friday the 26th of October at Score on Lincoln Road,
and then, another gig at Click on Washington Avenue
in South Beach during White Party Week on the 26th of November. Can
we assume that you consider South Beach to be the sixth borough of
your New York life?
JUNIOR: I guess. I’m all over the place down there. Coliseum
Lauderdale is great. The energy and boys at Score blow me away.
And now I’m doing Omar Gonzalez’s Click Party on White Party Sunday.
I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time—he’s got his finger on
the pulse of what makes a great party.
I just wish I could settle at one venue in that market. [B]ecause
I have a crazy schedule with my JUNIOR XXV worldwide tour in late
winter and spring 2008, I want to plant my feet at one venue in Miami. If
none of those three step up to the plate and show some faith in me,
I’m going to fight hard to get into Space. That is a tight
club, and I really want to play for a mainstream/mixed gay
in-the-morning-hours event at Space. I’m itching to do not [only]
the gay parties, but do my Twilo-style full-throttle sets a few
times a year at big venues with major sound. There’s no better venue
in the US right now to do that than Space.
Pacha New York
won’t love me for saying this, but I’m also not featuring being
an afterthought to book on weird holidays when the
deejay-flavors-of-the-moment aren’t so fab. I can spin any of them
right back to Brooklyn or Belgium or wherever. That’s the mood I’m
in lately—not cocky, [but] just not buying into the idea that any
kid with a computer can be a superstar deejay overnight. They all
sound alike to me, but it’s no wonder because Beatport only has so
many tech-house and progressive filler tracks a week.
[Anyway], I can’t forget to mention how incredible Parking
Montreal is. It feels like home, too. The manager Pascal Lefebvre is
on point: untouchable. [Musically], he put Stereo out of business,
as I see it.
And I can’t wait for Ed Bailey to get his new club in D.C.
open again. He too is [an]other guy who really believes in what
he’s doing [and] knows the music inside out and runs a club
impeccably. If New York
had Pascal or Ed running a club, the glory days would return.
send out the word. And speaking of the glory days, you’ve haunted a
lot of clubs throughout your career. Is there any one building you
feel that best retains the spirit of Junior Vasquez—or is the club
which is most Junior the club where you’re currently playing?
JUNIOR: 530 West 27th Street is mine.
Bring in Frankie Knuckles, whom I respect infinitely and look up to
for his dedication and pioneering spirit, or even Danny Tenaglia
when it was Twilo, [and yet] nine months later, “I’m baaaaack!”...with
a vengeance. Spirit was a disgrace, but looking back, that’s where I
made my mark, and [where] I later reinvented myself. There was
magic in that room that I’ve never experienced elsewhere.
Fortunately, so many of us were there to share that magic with you.
Is there any particular venue in Manhattan that is sort of like your
fantasy club, a place where you’d love to play for a crowd of
friends and family?
JUNIOR: Sol is cool, and Cielo is home, but I have my eye on
two new venues in Manhattan, with a
monster sound system ready to install. It ain’t over yet. I
may be 58, but I’m healthy, hungry for music, in love with a
wonderful and beautiful guy, have my company running like the
powerhouse Jerome and I have fought long and hard to create, and
the best chapter in my career has yet to be written.
I’ve watched so many deejays try to be me, more because
they worship the celebrity more than [they] know how to make and
play music. Looking back, as much as I adored Larry Levan, I did it
my own way. I put those Garage records away and made my own sound,
built my own club, made the sound better, and invented the remix as
we know it today. Until someone turns me out like that, I gotta keep
doing my thing. And I’m happy to say it brings me more happiness
now than any time in my career.
EDGE: That has to be the best feeling—and it shows in your
I hope to see everybody on Sunday afternoon, October 27th at
Limelight...Avalon...Sonar...eh, too confusing…. Let’s just call it
the House of God.
Or maybe Junior’s House for the Night? Thanks for taking the time,
Junior. See you on the dance floor.
And after an interview as
provocative and soul-searching as that one, who wouldn’t want to be
there to check out all the treats and tricks Junior has waiting for