Words by:
Photography: Louis Kerckhof

This feature is part of The Click series, taken from Issue 131. A podcast version of this feature is available exclusively to Supporters.

At around 15, I’d go to underage club events that played what we would have called, at the time, ‘industrial dance music’, as well as new forms of techno and house. You’d hear things like Front 242’s Headhunter, then they’d play LFO, Mark Bell – proper bleep techno from Warp Records. I was a gothy, industrial kid getting a taste of this new sound that was coming. 

I ended up in warehouses, hearing more of the authentic, roots-oriented music of the mid-90s by the handful of British DJs who had come over to America. The impact of DJ Harvey was directly experienced by me as a 15-year-old. These are people who already had a real understanding and deep appreciation for disco, Paradise Garage, Ron Hardy and Frankie [Knuckles]. It was a queer community. Not exclusively queer, but in that wonderful way in the early days of dance music. It was all about creating this utopian, level playing field: we’re all here, we’re all the same, let’s work this way. Naive and beautiful as it is.

This prompted me to explore music and take influence from these artists, and create new music which spoke to what they had done. The first song I wrote for my first album features a riff from a Frankie Knuckles song that he and Jamie Principle produced – Your Love. I started to make that record [Blind] in the early 2000s and was very much immersed in disco and house music. At the time, [house] didn’t feel treated with much reverence or legitimacy in popular culture. So Anohni and I made Blind to push it into that realm, where it’s like, “Let’s celebrate Patrick Cowley and Sylvester and these people who have not been championed enough.” 

For me, artistically, there was just something about wanting to put forward some love for these artists who shaped me creatively, but also just gave a lot of meaning to my life and put me somewhere safe. For the comfort I felt in hearing Your Love for the first time and understanding that there’s a place for me – for us – to go and celebrate our culture and differences and experience something. And, in some ways, I think with every Hercules record there’s been that spark: real, honest nods of appreciation to those that came before.

In Amber is out on 17 June via BMG
Listen to an an audio version of this story on crackmagazine.digital.