TMC interview: Kim Ann Foxman, house music purist, gay pin-up and internationally-acclaimed DJ
by Petit Fours
Singer for Hercules and Love Affair, creator of one of the New York Times’ best gay nights ever and master DJ of house techno, Kim Ann Foxman flew in from NY to play for Dick & Fanny, at the Star of Bethnal Green. Anna interviewed her, Holly took photos and Kim Ann bit a flower.
Fine-featured and soft-spoken Kim Ann Foxman seems almost too fragile for the floor-shaking music she plays.
But though she glances out deferentially out from behind the curls and the brim of her basketball cap and speaks with a gentle American drawl, it’s clear this woman is very serious about music. Certainly not a diva – though she could be, with her transatlantic DJ status – Kim Ann just loves house music. She sounds semi-religious, almost puritan when she talks about it: shunning superficial pop and sham glam for serious music – music with soul:
“I like music that’s got a soul, that has emotion, not if it’s just for people to dance to and let go. I’m not super into anything that’s silly or a joke. If it doesn’t inspire me or have substance … I’m not into it. Different kinds of music can have their own language but there’s a lot of quite cheap rubbish music that I don’t like, that’s silly not sincere. Music should come from a place that’s real.”
Kim Ann is reverential about the art of DJ-ing, describing what it is like at its best:
“You can capture the crowd and really take them somewhere. When a crowd gets so into what you’re doing, when people are feeling the music like the whole place has one thing going on, that’s DJing at its best – when the music is the biggest thing in the room.
One of her favourite gigs she ever played was in a underground bomb shelter in Slovakia when the crowd got very involved. “People were really into it. It was really alive.”
She is touched with a slight melancholy for the house scene – not that it’s dying – but just that some of the peaks of the scene belonged to particular moments and it’s impossible she thinks, to recreate them. Newbies can always buy records, but some of the seminal moments have gone…
“If you want to get into house, buy some compilations, some Chicago house or a few acid house tracks… early ones of course. For people who really love the scene, the best days were back then. If you weren’t there, it’s hard to understand … it probably had to do with drugs, a culture at that time…”
Though she’d rather people were into her for her music rather than because she’s gay, KA has a knowledge of the world’s gay capitals that’s pretty enviable. After growing up in Hawaii, she moved to San Francisco for college and for the house scene and after 7 years to New York. She knows London well and now splits her time between NY and Barcelona. We asked for a little insight into the different scenes of the cities:
“San Francisco is not very big but it is very very gay. The whole city is so gay. As far as the lesbian scene goes it’s very butch and femme, that’s a huge part of life there.
“New York? New York has a lot more going on in it, it’s a bigger scene and it has more of an indie heart. NY is very mixed – men and women – more like London. There’s not such a butch/femme thing like San Fran, it can be hipster or very non-hipster, but it’s all mixed in together.
“London is a European New York – kinda the same – it’s very mixed, a lot of the same vibe, but just more European. In NY there’s such a broad scene, you can find homophobes dancing next to gays in Latin events.
“As for Barcelona, there’s a lot of gay men there and less of a lesbian scene. I don’t really go out there, it’s more for relaxation…”
Tight for time before the set began, Kim Ann Foxman let us take pictures, give her a flower and in possibly a high point of my career – take her behind the bins. For a photo, of course.
But she really came into her own behind the DJ booth where she unleashed a cascade of beats with quiet focus… unusual sounds for the packed wooden pub that hosts Dick & Fanny and Unskinny Bop, but to a thrilled and dancing crowd.
Let’s hope she comes back to London soon.
Kim Ann Foxman: myspace
Dick and Fanny is at the Star of Bethnal Green, their next night, in the same exuberant queer spirit as the first one, is the 30th Jan ’10 and their facebook page is here
Photographs by Holly Falconer