Interview by
Danny Calvi
Photography by
Ratko Radojcic
Mixtape by
Harry & JPEG

Harry & JPEG

Last January, Chicago deejay duo Harry & JPEG nailed down what you might call 'the sleazy sound' at that slightly music-snobbish of Brooklyn clubs Output. This Easter, BUTT is thrilled to be bringing them back to New York for an extended, five hour set. For the occasion, they've made the next in a series of BUTT Mixtapes. A tribute to that all-too-brief and intensely horny state under the influence of video head cleaner, the mix begins with a nostalgic nod to truck stop disco, but doesn't take long before it lunges into full-on ravey gayhem. When they're not killin' it at other people's parties, Harry & JPEG play as residents at their own night, Men's Room, which puts Shytown cruise bar heritage and house music front and center.

Harry made the move to Chicago from Arkansas, and Jacob from South Illinois, and they’d be the first to tell you: they’re country boys at heart. They sometimes moonlight as bathhouse deejays at the local Steamworks. Naturally, this is a phenomenon which fascinates BUTT. I caught up with them to chat about slappy bass and sloppy seconds.

Danny: I noticed you guys were going to be missing the D.I.L.F. after party at Steamworks this Saturday. Do your bathhouse sets go on for like hours and hours?
Harry: It’s a six hour set. It starts at ten and goes til four.
Jacob: I’m kinda like the call-in guy. I usually deejay when Harry’s out-of-town.
Danny: I guess deejaying for six hours at a bathhouse has a different set of demands versus the dance floor.
Harry: Actually, I treat it kind of like a dance floor. I spend about three hours really hitting it hard and the other three playing tracks I wouldn’t play on a dance floor.
Jacob: Harry always comes to the table with a lot of good material he’s tried out at the bathhouse.
Danny: Do you get a lot of requests there?
Harry: I’ve gotten a few, yeah. It’s very rare that I have what they ask for.
Jacob: You’re kind of in this glass booth, across from the locker room, so you see people changing and you see people walk by. You’ll get a lot of thumbs up, or you’ll get people who will try to talk to you through the glass.
Harry: They want to know where their room is, or where their locker is. They think I’m just there to help them.
Danny: That you’re like a towel boy or something… Do you ever like, put on a long record, slip into a towel and take a little BJ break?
Harry: Yes. I have some key tracks, like ten minute tracks I’ll play when I take a smoke break or get baked or something. Lately, I’ve been playing Traumer, his last album. He mixed all the tracks into forty-eight minute mix, and I’ll throw that on when I need a little bit more time.
Danny: How long have you been doing Men’s Room at the Bijou?
Jacob: Like a little over a year. The party’s kind of a roving party, so it’s not always at the Bijou.
Danny: Is there a dance floor in the cinema?
Jacob: It’s basically like an 1880s brownstone walkup. There’s a porn theater and a sex club upstairs. The dance floor is called the Mineshaft Room. There’s a little stage with like a St Andrew’s Cross up against one of the walls, and two really big slings. It’s kind of like a sex dungeon. We come in and hoist the slings up, and make it our makeshift dance floor.
Danny: I thought $25 for entry and all-you-can-drink beer and water sounded like a bargain.
Jacob: Totally!
Harry: The party goes from like midnight to six, and we haven’t bought beer for the last two parties — not a lot of people are drinking the beer.
Jacob: We have a water crowd.
Danny: What’s the difference between the water crowd and the beer crowd?
Harry: The water crowd will stay til the end. The beer and alcohol crowd tend to leave a little earlier.
Danny: Is that because the water crowd is strung out?
Jacob: Yeah, they’re turning up.
Harry: But they’re keeping it cute. Some of them are thinking they actually need to get hard, so they’re not turning it up too much.
Danny: I noticed another Chicago cruise bar Manhole had closed. Are they coming back?
Jacob: It is reopening. We’ve deejayed there. Harry was doing a Thursday night there. There was a lot of sex in these like really big bathrooms. I was blown away that it was kind of going off, right there in the middle of Boystown.

Don’t miss Harry & JPEG when they play with Bottoms at CLUB BUTT this Saturday night, 4 April 2015 from 10 P.M. til 4 A.M. at Secret Project Robot, 389 Melrose Street in Brooklyn, New York 11237. If you find yourself in Chicago, check the Men’s Room page for updates.

Published on 01 April 2015