Q&A with The Juan MacLean
It's been a while since The Juan MacLean has had a stop in Miami, and while he won't exactly be playing live, we are still excited to hear him spin. Since his last release, 2005's Less Than Human, we've only had a handful of tracks and remixes to hold us over, so we are hoping he spins some of his new tracks during his set, Wednesday, at The Vagabond as part of the Scion House Party series, along with Still Going and local DJs Induce and Jessica Who?
We had a chance to speak with MacLean and asked him what could we expect on the new album, why has it taken so long for a follow up, and what are his Winter Music Conference plans.
New Times: How did you get involved with Scion's House Party series?
Juan MacLean: Scion contacted my label, DFA, and asked if it would be interested in curating these shows. DFA brought it up to me and others on the label, and it was actually really appealing to us. It's nice to to play a bunch of shows with just DFA folks and some local people.
NT: Your Find A Way EP aside, it's been a long time since you've come out with a full album. Your last album was 2005's Less Than Human. What's taken so long?
JM: Yea [ laughs]. I think it's a combination of a couple of things. One thing is that after Less Than Human came out I toured a lot with my band, for at least a year, year and a half. After that, I started DJing quite a bit. I found myself DJing endlessly, never coming home, and woke up one day and realized a few years had gone by and I should work on putting out a new album.
And also, everyone at DFA -- at least me and James Murphy -- take a long time making albums as well.
Roy Davis Jr. "I Have A Vision (The Juan MacLean Remix)"
Scion A/V Remix: Roy Davis Jr.
NT: Is it because of the way you work. Are you constantly changing direction?
JM: No, I think it's just because we are both longtime [sound] engineers, and we have pretty nice studios at our disposal endlessly. We tend to spend a lot of time in the studio getting things right. We are sort of perfectionists, I guess.
NT: You perform live and DJ and there are obvious differences between the two. Do you get a different kind of satisfaction from each?
JM: I do, but there is a lot of crossover both in DJing and playing live. I think people are surprised that you can get sort of get the same gratification. There at least should be a lot of audience interaction; you should be aware of the effect you are having on the dancefloor the same way you would when you are playing live to an audience.
But there is obvious things: Playing in band I immensely enjoy playing with other people and being able to play off them and performing as a group -- DJing can get a little bit lonely. But at the same time, one of the things I love about DJing is that I'm the only one there, sort of on the line. If things go badly it's my problem, but if things go well I can take the credit for it.
NT: What are some of the records you are currently spinning that you cannot do a set without playing?
JM: I tend to play a lot of old things. But in terms of new records, which is probably where you are going with this, there is this guy, Liv [Spencer] of Still Going, who has this project called House of House and the name of track is "The Rough Half." It's not out yet, it will be coming out soon, and I think it's going to be my favorite record of the year.
NT: Speaking of house, with "Happy House" it seemed like you reverted to very traditional '90s house with a sort of touch of this new wave of disco rivival that seems to be spearheaded by your labelmates Hercules & Love Affair. Is this an indicator of things to come?
JM: There is nothing else that overly house-y on my new album, but I'd say the new album is more so a cross of electro-pop, like the Human League meets disco.
NT: Yea, your Find A Way EP, which came out in October, was definitely a stark contrast to "Happy House," which preceeded it. It was more similar to Less Than Human, but of course advancing on what you had done before. Is that sort of the direction of the new album?
JM: Sort of, maybe in the case of the song "Find A Way," but the other things I felt were a pretty big detours from the other things. A lot of the album is four minute, pop format, verse-chorus-verse-chorus, with a lot of duets between Nancy [Whang] and I. Every song is vocal oriented. Nancy had sung on a few tracks on Less Than Human, but on this album we sing on nearly every track.
NT: When should we expect the new album?
JM: There is a release date. March 31.
NT: Will you be back in town during Winter Music Conference to promote the album?
JM: I think so. I'm not sure. Nobody seems to know yet. The band will start going back on tour around that time and I'm not sure yet if we are going to make it there.