We speak exclusively to Heidi, manager to DJ Harvey, mother, booker, DJ, A&R, photographer, the list goes on!
Chatting about living in California with her son Harley, tales of Ministry, Harvey in Japan, Nuphonic & Blue Note memories, the state of the NBA and a sneak into plans for 2012..
Huge thanks to Heidi for taking time out to chat.
- Hello Heidi! From one side of the atlantic to the other, describe where your at? Both physically and mentally?
Physically the same as ever, wishing I did more than just ride my bike for exercise and mentally I’m pretty darn good, it’s November and the sun is shining here in Venice beach, I’m writing this from my deck in the sun so if I complained I’d sound like a right old brat, if I look one way I see snow capped mountains, and the other I see the twinkly ocean it’s close to 70 degrees and paradise.
- So where did it all begin for you in the music business, Harvey told me you started life as a hair dresser before entering the music business is that correct?
Ha giving away all my secrets… Music as a job came somewhere in my mid teens, I’m from the north of England and my only goal growing up was to make it to London, I’d read magazines like ID, The Face etc, and it seemed like everything went on in London (it did) I modelled for Vidal Sassoon and everytime I went with them to hair show’s or just into the salon everyone seemed so interesting and cultured, I applied for a job when I was 15, had my interview and said please can you send me to London if I get the job, they did and I moved before summer was over: I was at my induction day at college when my Mom told me I had the job. I moved that weekend.
I lived in Knightsbridge and worked on Sloane Street, it was heaven, I went out to parties and clubs every weekend, Raw, Delirium, The Wag etc. I worked with some great people at Sasoons who have all gone onto do great things in other fields, it’s a hardcore regime training with them. I finished my apprenticeship and went to work for Paul Smith, another huge influence on me. I did the door of and organized clubs at the weekend, life just got better and better, and officially I wasn’t even old enough to be in them, soon the club running and working for labels took over the day job in fashion so I left to do it full time.
- Tell us about the early days at Ministry, did you work on the label with Jim Masters?
I did indeed, I Worked with Jim and Caroline (Prothero) very closely, as they were the only two people on the creative side in there with any balls, I loved Justin, and even James, but Justin left, and James was in charge of the business side. Caroline, Jim and I programmed Friday’s and Saturdays, I came up with the name Rulin’ that I just heard still survives which makes me happy.
Jim was great, he took charge of Friday’s he was so forward thinking in terms of musical direction, he signed Throw by Paperclip People, I remember writing the DJ and press release by hand and photocopying it, (we didn’t even have computers in the office yet) we desperately wanted to sign Bug In A Bass Bin too, but Ministry saw more value in other types of music (that we also loved however don’t get me wrong) It was a bit of a clash of ego’s in there, but Jim and Caroline were great to work alongside, I have the upmost respect for them.
I left MOS to work with Marts Andrups who managed, Trevor Jackson, Masters At Work, Roger Sanchez, etc, we had a label too, Marts had a band The Brotherhood he managed signed to Virgin, we had a Virgin checkbook We had a great team, good press people etc. What a great teacher he was, I couldn’t have learned anymore in any school than working with him, anytime I have something great to deal with or something trying my patience, some Marts-ism will come into my head.
- How did you first meet Harvey was that before Ministry?
I did indeed I met him at his friends house that he was living with at the time. I had tickets for some fashion week party and everyone insisted we wait for him to come with us, He’d just gotten off a plane from somewhere I believe. I was working in a totally different music scene from his, he came to some of the clubs I was involved in and so I thought I should go hear him play in return, I went to a warehouse party in Brixton he played at and my mind was blown with how he DJ’d and let’s face it, he is pretty darn charming. I managed other DJ’s for a while and he’d always ask why don’t you do that for me, I figured he was right but I wasn’t comfortable being Yoko… So I’d always keep more in the background where he was concerned.
- What track sums up this time for you?
Well a track I’d never heard anyone play, that I did the first time I ever heard Harvey play was Chas Jankel ’3,000,000 synths’ he played it, I’m not sure it’s of the time, or that anyone else was playing it, but it stood out for me. He worked that record and worked the system like he does, and I think I pestered him for a week trying to find out what it was, for any of you that know that track, try singing it
- I’ve always liked the spin you guys put on the names for your club nights ‘a beautiful blend’, ‘new hard left’ etc whom is the scrabble champion?
Haha, well the names always came about because it was a term of phrase we’d be using, Harvey and I are kind of ridiculous in the names we give things and people, Harley has taken on the habit and surpasses us by miles, plays online scrabble with his friends daily. Moist came about because a bunch of girlfriends and I when we were having a great time in a club, we’d say Ooo are you getting Moist yet, it was actually myself and Gaynor that would say it all the time.
New Hard Left came at a time when we were politically dissatisfied and we thought it was a fun play on the situation at the time, we are a bit left leaning and so thought we’d go all the way with the club. Beautiful Bend is named after a record and was something Harvey came up with for the gay party with Donald Urqhart and Sheila Tequila. Harvey would make a good copy writer actually…
- You both have a history for traveling, staying for prolonged spells in Ibiza, Portugal and now USA, Hawaii etc what gave you the bug for moving about?
I have always had wanderlust, even as a child I would stay in anyone’s house but my own, I have travelled the world extensively, often with friends and just Harley. I always wanted to see other ways of life, and new things, Harvey prefers to sit in one place unless he is DJing, thankfully L.A and California is a pretty great place to stay put in. We both shared a California dream brought about by our impressions of 60s/70s California, it’s something we always discussed doing, I’m so happy we made the move, I miss the UK though, and I can’t wait to come visit.
- Its been a big couple of years of Harvey being able to come back to Europe, what has that been like for you? Any suprises from the way he has been received?
It’s been hectic and busy for me, I keep some strange work hours but to be honest it’s so exciting. There is a lot of work behind Harvey’s laissez faire attitude But seriously, Harvey gets very, very nervous anywhere and everywhere he plays, beforehand you can barely talk to him, he goes into some kind of high anxiety zone, it’s aways been like that. Some of that gets passed on to me a bit and I get nervous for him, he cares so much about everyone having a good time, and doing a good job, he notices the teeniest details about everything.
He lives and breathes music, this is not a part time thing for him, I know he is wildly talented and I know that he is pretty much going to tear every party up, but he was away for so long we were obviously nervous as to how he’d be received, but the reports were good.
He just played in SF and the review in the SF weekly afterwards was great, I see that and it makes it all worthwhile, he is the only one responsible for how good he is on the night and there is a lot of expectation on him, we can make sure everything is made nice for him, nice flights, hotel, he has a good tech rider etc, but then it’s all on him on the night. He rarely disappoints.
- What was his feedback to you on the recent European tours?
The feedback was great, you can’t keep everyone happy all the time but he seemed to be well received everywhere he went, and he was really happy. He got to play at some clubs and parties we’d been hearing about for the past 10 years. I’ll be honest and tell you some people were not sure sure if he still had it, some clubs took a lot of negotiation to have it be how we wanted, but he lived up to and beyond their expectations.
I have some friends that saw him play at Giles Peterson’s Worldwide festival and they said we had forgotten what a great party DJ he is, I think people think he’s going to disappear up his own arse or something, but he just wants to be a part of having a great time, provide a soundtrack to a night out and beyond, and perhaps turn people onto something new whenever he can in the process. He played for Mans of Rollerboys and he said something great along the lines of it was a typical Harvey performance, he over delivered, I thought that was a great compliment, I must remember to tell him that actually.
- How does he fit in so many dates in Japan? Something in the sushi?
He would go bankrupt for his love of sushi as well as right now rare obscure disco from around the world, he would kill me if I told you his latest fountain of inspiration but expect to hear it in his sets from here on out, packages are arriving daily from the most far flung places, he is an obsessive for sure.
Back to Japan, it’s is a great place for him to play, he went there right after the Tsunami even though most people were canceling, he got pretty sick actually, he went to Sendai and he said the reception he got made it worthwhile. I think that he has a good time anywhere, Japan just has a really good attention to detail, sound is always good, flyer design is always good, he’s been going there a long time, he has family in Japan his brother lives there, and he is an uncle. In Japan they give it their all and he appreciates that, anywhere that anyone gives it their all he appreciates.
- Was he really doing a Pete Townsend in Australia?
He really did, when the phone call came from Oz the next day, that was a crazy day I can tell you, there were a number of reasons behind it, feeling like he wanted to put on a performance rather than just standing behind a small rig on a big stage with not a lot of production, realizing he’s been recorded when his contract strictly forbids it cause he’s been bootlegged so much, you know he’s a passionate guy, he felt like he had more to give I guess hahaha. He forfeited his fee and more to repair and replace everything though.
- Whom first came across Mark in Uruguay?
Mark approached me for Harvey to do a remix for Rocha, and I loved the way he cared about the details, we did most things via email and then one day I said give me a call, he did and the two of us spoke for over an hour, we are both pushy northerners We spoke about music, our inspirations, how we thought labels should be run etc. I was with my right hand girl Jessica and I put the phone down and said I think I’ve found a label for Harvey, that was before we’d even discussed Harvey releasing anything of his own.
- Is there any more Locussolus material in the can?
Harvey is really inspired, like everything, he gets nervous about how things will be received so he just goes into the studio with the M.O of let’s have fun, and see what happens. They seems to have a lot of fun in there. He will be in the studio in early 2012, I can’t wait, he’s on a great tip again lately, nothing is in the can, but it’s most certainly in the marinading stages shall we say. He wants to play live, he has some great ideas about how that would go down, that will be a fun headache for me for sure.
- Are we right that you are singing on some of the LP? is there any further ambitions for you to play live with Harvey one day?
None whatsoever hahaha. He had made the track ‘Next To You, he was a day away from delivery and he had written these fun vocals, he had the idea in his head he wanted sung by a female vocalist. He tried a couple of girls and wasn’t getting what he wanted, he called me about 11 in the morning from the studio panicking, (it was 11am I knew it must be urgent) I said sing them yourself, you have a great voice, people will like it, but he was having none of it, I was getting ready to go record my radio show at 1 and he said Heidi I just need someone that sounds a bit like Andrea True, I need to know if my idea of a female vocal is really what it needs.
I said ‘look Harvey I have 30 mins spare before my show, I’ll pop over and give it a go’. I went in, got mic’d up, he sang the words to me and I wrote them down, they played the track over and over and off I went, it literally took 20 mins.
Harv had a big smile on his face and said that’s exactly what I wanted. They recorded me singing the whole song but decided to make it a call and response thing, which worked really well. Then I had to come up with a name for the label credits, Sam Fox is the other vocalist on there so I thought it would be fun to play on the old Fox and Lusardi page three stunner thing so nobody knew it was me, word got out so now I just own up to it. The funny thing is other people have asked me to sing on tracks for them and I just laugh, lord knows how many perfecters and sparkle buttons they had to press to make my voice sound ok.
- Tell us a little about your Plastic Ono band?
Haha, yeah well some friends and I have a for fun punk rock band called Yoko actually, I named it because sometimes I have felt a little Yoko-esque, we do a version of Oh Yoko by John Lennon it’s very lo fi, shall we say. I sing and play drums.
- Your a big Lakers fan, how are things looking this season?
Huge Lakers fan, as is my son, it’s a sad state of affairs this year, the NBA is in Lockout cos the players and team owners couldn’t reach a deal agreement on their profit share, the owners wanted the players to take a chunk of a cut, I stand with the players. I think you should always pay your talent. Team owners typically have many other business interests, owning a team is sometimes a vanity project, whereas the players who are often from humble beginnings play their hearts out, ruin their bodies to win titles, with a career with a limited lifespan. The superstars get paid well from endorsements etc but for every superstar there are a bunch of other players that might rarely make it off the bench, it’s their one chance to get paid and it might last 10 years at best.
Like I said, I believe in pay your talent, there is no season right now without them. I like sports because it’s not open to debate and deliberation, I mean it is but in the end there is a winner and a loser, in my work life there is so much debate, deliberation, and back and forth banter. You go see a game of basketball you root for your team, cheer like mad they play good or bad, and so win or loose, I like that as an end to my day.
- Is the NBA as money driven as The Premier League? I imagine sports in US to be massive business. Ever thought of a swap in career? What makes the Lakers stand out about the rest?
The world is money driven, when you see the stuff thats really going on in the world with corporate greed, it makes you appreciate how relatively small time all this is. Everything is a business in the U.S. sports included, they are a spectacle and pretty much designed for TV but I’d like to believe the games themselves are pure, the athletes are driven to win the game first and foremost.
Movie stars are paid fortunes and the returns on movies justify the salaries, DJ’s are packing clubs for club owners every weekend, but some DJ wages are a joke, players in whatever sport or role should always be paid well. If I’d lived and grown up in L.A who knows I might be a really annoying CAA agent. The Lakers are just our local team, Harley was a fan before we moved here, we are on the season ticket wait list. I went to Miami for the music conference and flew out a day early so I could see Lakers play the Heat, I knew the Heat would go all the way to the playoff’s after seeing them that night, and that The Lakers weren’t up to par, but you take the rough with the smooth.
- Is Harley a basketball fan?
Huge sports fan! He is 6, 2 1/2 and plays everyday. He rides his bike down the beach path to the Venice Basketball courts. He comes home with some cracking injuries, currently a black, swollen eye, this is another reason I see sports from another perspective. A school friend of his who comes from the most humble of beginnings is doing really well in college football right now, he will most likely make it to the NFL and support his entire family if he does so.
I saw a documentary recently called ‘free throw’ about high school kids getting help with college tuition if they made the most 3 points in a basketball free-throw competition, the high school is in Compton, I went to a screening at the school, it’s a very warm and lovely place Compton as well as all the other stuff it’s known for. Harley has played ball with some of these kids, some of their stories are humbling to say the least, Freethrow a heart warming documentary that all NBA team owners should watch!
- The Pool staff are big dog lovers or at least 2 of them are. Tell us about your four legged friend?
I have 2 of them, one we got for Harley when we’d recently moved here and he didn’t have many friends yet, she is a small chihuahua very hotheaded, the other one I found on the street, abandoned, we tried to find a home for him for a couple weeks then realized he was such a sweetheart, Harley had always wanted a bigger dog so inspired by him I decided to keep him.
- What do you think of The Pool’s roster, what drew you to working with us?
You came highly recommended from my other favorite DJ/maker of music, Eric Duncan.
- What do you remember of the Nuphonic days? How important / influential do you feel it was in illuminating some of the music that is popular in the clubs today?
I think there have been so many important phases and labels in the UK, Nuphonic and what Sav did at Blue Note was most definitely one of them. I remember everything, my mind is an archive of fun nights and records, I was probably one of the few largely sober people throughout that time so I have a rolodex brain, Harvey often calls me at odd times of the night to sing me something so I can tell him what it is, or ask what was the name of so and so that did such and such, or that clubnight we went to way back when, it’s like pavlovs dog, if it gets mentioned I can generally come up with an answer within 5/10 mins.
The UK is wildly influential in music, always has been, always will be.
- Harvey’s mix of Fuzz Against Junk has just appeared on the new Horse Meat Disco compilation, is there a Vauxhall, Sunday night equivalent in LA?
That was nice to see, they optioned a Locussolus track too, but it didn’t make it onto the mix in the end. There are some great gay nights in L.A, Bears In Space is one of them, we have a DJ here called Victor Rodriguez, the gay scenes favorite DJ, he’s so good, I am playing at this new club on Sunday ‘Backdoor Disco’, it’s a gay straight affair with the most incredible drag queen performances and one very special lady named Nana Ghana who lip-syncs to Grace Jones and it just as fierce, I can’t wait.
- Describe your crowd at Sarcastic Disco, the photo’s always make it look out of this world!
Sarcastic has gone from strength the strength, the crowd is a fabulous mix of homies, fashionistas, gay, straight, old and young, it really is something special. It’s Harvey and Paul’s undertaking. I just schedule the date, make sure he doesn’t do anything else in L.A remotely close to it, so it’s exclusive and invite people along and go and have a good time.
Harvey has a great crowd now in L.A and indeed America, he literally had to start again when he moved here, it’s made him a really strong DJ as a result with a great ability to go in and read a room, Sarcastic seems to be a good sounding board for him, he’ll try out mixes, he always uses a reel and always pushes that dancefloor and the people on it to their limits.
- Tell us about some of your favourite parties in the US at present?
I can find the good in pretty much everything, if I’m with a bunch of friends we’ll always have a good time, I like to follow certain DJ’s, I will always get out of bed for Eric Duncan, he is so good, I play myself in San Francisco and sometimes in the desert for the Om crew, they throw great private parties in loft spaces. Sarcastic Disco is a sure thing, Electric Pickle in Miami has the greatest line ups, Thomas bought his own space there so he could do what he wanted thankfully Harvey is included in that. Harvey and Jason Spun are throwing great parties in NY that just go off, proving you can’t keep a good city down.
I want to go to Detroit for the festival next year, I am going to see Moodyman in a week or so, I will go and hear Dennis Kane anytime I’m in NY too.
- We hear a lot of the dance music scene growing out there, how do you see it evolving?
When we first moved here it was like committing commercial suicide, there was barely a crowd outside of NY for what Harvey and others like him were doing, L.A has become a kind of clubbing center, you can get anything you want here, there is a lot of crappy top 40 clubs that reign supreme but if you go digging a littler deeper you can find the best of everything, I mean Stonesthrow Records is based in L.A they are an amazing scene. Diplo and the Mad Decent Guys are here too. You can go out pretty much every night and find something good.
L.A has some great DJ’s I’d love to propel out to the rest of the world, Paul T is an incredible DJ, he has that shy streak so doesn’t play out often but when he does he kills it, Osamu a dear friend whom if he lived anywhere else would be working all the time. The lovely lady Angel is holding her own with the boys, radio wise we have Mr Matthui French and Liza Richardson on KCRW. Mr French should be playing with the likes of Giles Peterson, he has impeccable taste in music.
We have Marques Wyatt who has had a long running club in L.A ‘Deep’ Harvey used to come and play for him before we moved here. There is a great Eastside scene with the Rhonda guys, who Eric and Justin V and Harvey have all played for. Every main town has an outpost for good music, it’s fairly thriving.
- How is the Festival scene out there? Did you used to work for Coachella when you first moved out?
Coachella was mind blowing the first couple of times I went, imagine a festival where it’s definitely going to be sunny, really well organized with really great line-ups. Palm Springs turns into party paradise for the week that it’s on, everyone rents houses, throws parties, you can party hop and never set foot inside the festival. This year they have the same line up repeated over 2 weeks, it’s become a tad more commercial with each year in it’s choice of headliners, but it’s still one of the best times to be had. I worked in event world, we threw some of the parties outside of Coachella for brands like Jaguar, Converse etc, and arranged the VIP area within it.
- Is a Festival in Hawaii ever on the cards?
We talked about it, I even had some meetings with sponsors that were into it, but Harvey and I have pulled our efforts out of Hawaii for a little while. I read a great article about Tom Petty’s festival/series of gigs in NY, I think I’d like to get Harvey to do something like that at some point, he/we could curate one hell of a line up.
- Can you surf?
No, I have too much of a fear of being out in the middle of the ocean, but I take great pics of the boys doing their thing out there. I’d rather pack a nice lunch and take blankets and towels and send emails from the beach with friends while we cheer on the surfers and look at their cute arses. The beach parties we do are my ideal, I get to sip coquillas in the Alchemy Vanlines motorhome, listen to great music while I watch and photograph the action on the beach.
- You recent drove right across America, which is a big dream of mine. How was the trip? Did you find it life changing? Must beat the M4?
I drove across America and back with Jess, we went via the north on the way there taking in Las Vegas, Chicago, Omaha, dodged twisters and drove into a tropical storm on the east coast. We got to NY late one night and met Dennis Kane at 2am for food before continuing on to Rhode Island where I was DJing a wedding.
We drove back to NY and stayed with Caroline (who I mentioned earlier from MOS days, we’re still the best of friends) then through the South on the way back, Nashville, Memphis, Santa Fe, Grand Canyon, saw Gracelands and a dozen bands in Nashville, it was truly amazing and a lot easier than you are ever lead to believe. I had the time of my life and am planning to drive with Harley and his buddies down to the deep south in the spring.
I’m trying to persuade Harvey to do an airstream tour across America, or maybe California to start. DJ gig’s late night and live band jamming by campfire and surfing by day, I’ll keep you posted on that one, I’ve made an approach to some people I’d like involved so we’ll see what pans out.
- Your a lady of many talents… mother, booker, manager, DJ, record label A&R etc, what is next to take on?
I just had some of my photography included in an exhibition actually, that was really nice, I was thrilled to be asked, life is short, why not try anything that takes your fancy, I’m lucky, I have a lot of opportunities, I even wrote a pilot tv show for a friend based around an indie radio station, it’s hilarious, he filmed one episode and his management company loved it so I’ve written more.
- Where do you play out in the US?
It’s difficult for me with taking care of Harvey’s stuff which is more than a full time job, to be able to take enough time to DJ. I keep it local SF, San Diego, Palm Springs. I do it for fun more than anything, it’s a great release for me and I get good reactions so why not, working alongside someone like Harvey would make anyone not want to take to the decks, but I started DJing before I met him, he would joke and say if you’re DJ of the month in ID mag before me I’m giving up!
I decided I would be the one to give up, I had Harley and I love the behind the scenes work, I’m a total geek and I get excited by contract clauses, better/cheaper ways to book flights and new computer programs to make me more organized.
- Vinyl or Digital?
All the above, some things never make it to vinyl, so I use serato and CD’s if needed.
- Wav or 320?
Haha I am a quality snob, but sometimes I get sent things or discover things that I just want people to hear, so I play it. If I use serato I literally use it as my record box then treat it like I’m playing vinyl, I don’t have edit points or any of that, I’m too oldschool.
- How do you feel the music industry is doing at present with the whole digital switch over to life in the viral age?
It’s a mess from it’s old model perspective, I was just at the AMA awards and you get to hang out with the chairman of EMI, Island Def jam etc, they are a bit out of touch. Personally I think it’s a great time to have your own label, it’s so exciting, you don’t need the middle man anymore, and DJ’s are their own best self promoters.
I love music and I love the music industry, I’m perpetually excited by new ways to do things, I wish so much music wasn’t downloaded/downloadable for free, I don’t know anyone that wants to work for free so why should people that make music be expected to, or be berated for charging.
- 3 biggies in your box at present?
I am loving, in no particular oder
An edit I found on soundcloud of Pointer Sisters Going Down by Noodleman (he was very sweet and sent it to me cos I bugged him)
Thats a pretty wide spectrum I want to say on record that the day Eric Duncan releases half the edits you only get to hear when he plays out, especially his Brainstorm one, that will become my favorite.
- What is Harvey up to in the studio at the moment can you tells us?
if I told you I’d have to kill you He has recently completed some cracking remixes, I loved his vocal on the Bjorn Torske mix, he has done a great mix for Canyons which I always play out He will go in and have more Locussolus fun at the beginning of next year, as well as do a music collaboration with a respected artist. Oh allright then… Right now he’s recording a compilation for New Years Eve in Japan which is so wild and out there, I’m loving how it’s sounding, you have to attend the party in Japan to get a copy of it for free.
- Harvey caused a message board ‘stir’ recently with his comments on Beats In Space how do you see his thoughts on London and UK scene?
Haha yes his typing pool as we like to call them, I think the comments were taken, twisted and run with a little, what he mentioned is true, there is nowhere quite like the UK for building you up, then wanting to break you down. He can’t wait to come back to England, both to hang out and to DJ, we almost had something in the bag as you know, but as soon as they realized the potential of the gig they wanted to hike up the door price, take money from a sponsor and put branding everywhere, they weren’t prepared to do the sound adjustments, decor adjustments he wanted etc.
It takes some balls from the clubowner, but the return is good and we thought it would be a night to remember for sure. We literally thought of everything down to what color gels should be in the lights on the stairs. We want the night to be an affordable, fun night out, we’ll think of everything to make it great from our end, all we want is for everyone to come and have a right old time of it, leave your camera’s, cell phones and attitude at home and come and party. He’s been away so long, he just wants everything to be as right and good as it can be and I stand behind that 100%
- The million dollar question, when will you both return to the mothership?
He will come in 2012 for sure, he can’t wait, he’s chomping at the bit….
DJ Harvey open for 2012 bookings now