Interview and photography by
Danny Calvi
Mixtape by
Carlos Souffront

Dirt Rave Daddy

Last April, Gays Hate Techno founder Matt Fisher and Carlos Souffront realized their vision to bring all the movers and shakers together for an outdoor techno party a couple hours north of San Francisco at the eco-conscious Groundswell Institute. There were almost thirty different sets over the course of that weekend. With camping and bunks limited to just one hundred spots, and almost as many gatecrashers, you had like one deejay for every six gays in attendance — a bonanza for the jockey sluts! Next weekend, the Honcho crew in Pittsburgh are counting on some more outdoor magic, although with fewer dudes behind the decks and more worshipping in front of the speakers. Honcho's Aaron Clark is the first to give credit where credit is due: 'Matt and Carlos set the tone'. Pitch a tent and enjoy the next installment of BUTT's illustrious mixtape series: the 'Carlos Don't Camp Mix' from Carlos Souffront.

We spoke in a taxi on the way to an Amsterdam festival Carlos was playing midway through his mini-Euro tour, which included a dream-come-true spot at Panorama Bar. The first thing you notice about the 38-year-old deejay is his deep voice. He’s originally from Troy, Michigan (although he calls Detroit his ‘psychic home’) and is currently based in San Francisco where he works as a cheesemonger by day. Carlos tells me he has always ‘worked in cheese’.

Danny: Where do you go after Amsterdam?
Carlos: Next I’m off to a gig in Ibiza called The Zoo Project, which is actually in an old zoo on the beach. And I think people dress up like animals. I don’t know if it’s a whole furry thing, but there’s going to be some fur. Have you spent much time there?
A bit. I love how they promote parties in Ibiza. You’ll be on the beach and there will be a procession of people with signs, making a ruckus.
Some friends who are already there sent me a photo of a billboard for the party. It’s surreal to see my name on an Ibiza promo.
There’s a ton of great queer deejays in Amsterdam this weekend, which also happens to be Gay Pride by the way, but unfortunately none of them are on any of the official Pride stages.
Unless you live in Berlin or New York or San Francisco maybe, you can be pretty sure that the music programming at your local Pride festival is going to be underwhelming. It depends on your expectations of course, but for gays with a certain taste in music, you might be disappointed.
So who else is around?
Mr. Ties, Tama Sumo, Prosumer, Steffi and Virginia, Mike Servito, Midland, Spencer Parker
Amazing! Let’s see how many we can rally for the street parties.
Would you say you’re a festival person?
Not really.
Where do you prefer to play?
I like to play my own parties, the Interdimensional Transmissions parties, typically, the ones that are in Detroit. In Oakland, there’s a crew called Katabatik who are doing these post-industrial techno parties, and they’ve got a really devoted goth audience that I don’t see at any other techno party in the Bay Area. I love playing their parties because they actually encourage me to play weirder, which is awesome.
Do you choose records differently for an outdoor party than you would for an indoor party?
Totally. I really want the records to fit the space, so I’m really anal about picking records for a gig. It takes me at least two or three hours per hour of playing to choose the records. Improvisation is also part of it.
How well adapted are you to deejay schedules? I guess you have to take sleep where you can get it.
I’m a sleep princess. I am the worst! I can’t sleep on planes, I can’t sleep when it’s light outside, I can’t take naps… I’ve been sleep-deprived this whole tour. It started with really awful jet lag, and I didn’t feel normal for like three or four days in Berlin. I haven’t slept eight hours since I’ve arrived. It’s been either two or three or twelve, and I haven’t had a twelve hour sleep since the night after Panorama Bar, which was five days ago.
And are you using melatonin or any other sleeping aids to help you get through?
Yeah, but melatonin only works for me for like two days. I try to not take too many drugs for sleeping because they don’t really work on me that well — with the exception of Ambien, but I don’t have a prescription for it anymore. Everything else, when it comes on, you’re supposed to fall asleep right then, but I never do. I just feel drugged — and not in the fun kind of way, just like wonky. So I’m usually a sober sleeper.
Do you have a medicinal marijuana card?
I used to be a chronic weed smoker, like every day, but it stopped being fun for me. At first, I thought I needed to switch from indica to sativa, but you know, all of it started to make me feel really anxious and internal, like I was beating myself up for stupid shit I did years ago.
Are you an outdoorsy type of guy?
Oh no, not at all! It’s like a running joke with the Katabatik guys, who do outdoor parties during solstice. Last year, they set up camp for me, but I didn’t sleep a wink — I can’t sleep on the floor. I do a lot of camping for a non-camper because I play all of the dirt raves. I just got back from Sunset, the ultimate dirt rave.
I thought Burning Man was the ultimate dirt rave.
I guess it is. I’ve never been to Burning Man. Luckily, as an artist at Sunset, I got a hotel room.
You glamped. Is there going to be another Gays Hate Techno Spring Gathering?
Absolutely, absolutely… We’re doing a weekend retreat in October, where we all get in a hot tub and talk about what we’d like to happen next time. It has to grow. It can’t not grow. If we only offer a hundred tickets next time, there are gonna be some pissed-off faggots. I’m looking to take a cue from Honcho, and see how they pull an expanded version together.
With the Honcho Campout, it sounds like more of a glamping situation, where the Spring Gathering was a bit more rustic.
It was rustic.
Like where you guys had a swimming hole, they’ve got a heated pool and two hot tubs. There’s a general store called the Male Pouch where you can buy Speedos and jockstraps.
And poppers probably.
The resort has a steamroom and a gym, masseurs, an observatory… It’s also all-male and clothing-optional. Were guys getting naked at the Spring Gathering?
Yeah they were!

Check out Carlos Souffront at The Honcho Summer Campout which goes off next Friday, 21 August through Sunday, 23 August 2015 at Roseland in West Virginia. You can RSVP on their event page. More dates with Carlos can be found over at Interdimensional Transmissions, and the Gays Hate Techno group is here.

Published on 14 August 2015