Interview by
Danny Calvi
Photography by
Robert Guzman
Mixtape by
Jeffrey Sfire

Detroit Citay

I have done a pretty good job of keeping the female vocals at bay when it comes to BUTT mixtapes, but I happily let my guard — and hair — down for this final installment from deejay and producer Jeffrey Sfire in Detroit. His most recent Sfire release, Sfire 6/7 (this time without silent partner Samuel Long, who was recently unmasked as Sophie, by the way) came out on Ultramajic last October. His BUTT mixtape is a turned-up mix of sassy party jams and New York freestyle from the techno capital of the world. Divas to the dancefloor, puh-lease!

Back in 2013, Jeffrey moved from Berlin to Detroit (where it’s currently an unseasonably warm sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit) to work for the family business and start a new life in his hometown. Before we had our Skype date, I was trying to recall when he’d played his first BUTT party. Turns out, we both suffer from a bout of short-term memory loss.

Danny: Hi Jeffrey, how’s it going?
Jeffrey: Pretty good. My roommate just moved out, so my house is in shambles. She had maybe eighty to ninety percent of the furniture in here, so now I have to replace everything.
You’re sitting in an empty house?
Well, that means you can redecorate.
It does. But I’m like pretty bad at that.
You’re not a good homemaker?
No, not at all. I’m very handy, but I can’t decorate to save my life. Or like arrange flowers…
I guess the cost of living is very low in Detroit. Is that why you moved back? Don’t you miss Berlin?
Um, people are moving here for various reasons. I don’t think anything will ever be Berlin because Berlin had a gay mayor — nothing in the mid-west is ever gonna be like that. You don’t move here if you want to be a party animal. A lot of people that are moving here are older and want to buy a house. Some are successful artists or have jobs over the internet, and they want to live somewhere cheap. Or they’re coming here to open a business. If you have a little bit of taste, you can be super successful in this town because there’s still nothing.
Would you say the city government of Detroit is supportive in terms of nightlife?
No. The city government is just like overworked.
What’s the gay scene like there?
It’s growing.
Where’s your favorite place to go for a drink?
There’s a gay strip club called the Gold Coast, and I take everyone there because it’s an anomaly. So many of the really good gay bars have closed in Detroit. The Eagle closed years ago, and then the R&R, which was our seedy leather bar. That’s where Macho City used to be, and that place was open since the seventies.
You mentioned that you’re setting up a home studio. How’s that going?
I’m setting up all the gear I brought back from Berlin, and I’ve been working with this guy Ian Clark. Do you know of him?
No, who is he?
Do you remember that band Le Car?
It rings a bell.
Yeah, they’re really badass. It was him and the guy from Adult. Ian’s new project is called Perspects. He and I have been working on music since I moved. He’s a drummer by trade, and a programming genius.
What’s your current obsession in terms of gear?
The Ensoniq SQ-80, a late ‘80s synth with lots of weird filters, and a very like dystopian, late eighties sound. It’s what all the John Carpenter soundtracks were made with.
I recently watched They Live. Have you ever seen it?
It’s like the masculine equivalent of Showgirls or something. It’s very camp, but also feels perfectly current when you think of the growing tent cities for the homeless in L.A. and the shrinking middle-class in the U.S. I was trying to remember at which BUTT party you had played, and I saw it was one of the beer busts at Bistrotheque in London. Do you remember that one?
In London? I don’t think I played that.
You don’t? Your name is on the flier.
It is? I remember the boat party in London, but I didn’t deejay.
Horse Meat Disco was playing that one.
Yeah. I also played that Jeremy Scott-hosted BUTT party in L.A., which was like a fairly early one, right?
That’s probably before my time.
You were there. It was at Akbar.
Well, I think you also played that one at Bistrotheque. I remember that party because I was fooling around with someone in the janitor’s closet, and this woman walked in on us.
Oh my god.
It was kind of a crazy party. Maybe that’s why you don’t remember.
Beer busts… Man, I always get so fucked up in London.
Do you have a medical marijuana card in Michigan?
I do.
What were your symptoms?
I actually have a really fucked-up back.
Oh really?
Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s from carrying record bags or something. I just eat edibles now.
Is there a dispensary nearby?
There’s like twenty. It’s still in that stage of being legal but unregulated, and there are dispensaries opening on every corner. I don’t understand how all of these places are staying open. I mean, there are like four in a two-block radius.
Like Starbucks.
I guess everyone has the one they go to. Weed’s so cheap here and there’s always a sale going on — you can get really good pot for like thirty-five bucks an eighth.
You were also growing your own at one point, no?
I grew one plant once, but it turned out really amazing.

Check out Jeffrey’s latest as Sfire over at Ultramajic. The day after Christmas, 26 December 2015, Jeffrey plays Macho City at Rivets on 7525 Fenkell Avenue in Detroit.

Published on 18 December 2015