Hercules And Love Affair - Love Is In The Affair
When Blind was released in January, it was clear 2008 was going to be a massive year for New York’s new disco kings (and queen) Hercules And Love Affair. In Sydney for Nevereverland, 3D’s Carlisle Rogers spoke with main producer Andrew Butler.
Blend disco and house with classical mythology and you have 2008’s unlikeliest breakout act in Hercules and Love Affair.
Hercules’ brainchild Andrew Butler has conjured the kind of epic, eccentric and magical dance music that might have rocked Paradise Garage but with a modern irony, aesthetic and sheen. In fact, the DJ has no recollection of the disco days, let alone the advent of house, so he’s not simply tapping into nostalgia.
“I was born in 1978, and that’s the year disco music officially broke into the mainstream, and then I was 10-years old in 1988 when house music broke into the mainstream,” he says. “I don’t really have much authentic memory of both those sounds. I don’t really know what those experiences were like. I started paying attention probably in ’92 or ’93. At that point, house music was still very much thriving [but not disco]. It’s almost as though I’m processing those sounds through the filter of a more contemporary person.”
Butler is on a mission to “reclaim” disco as a “legitimate” genre. Rockers – and punks – reviled the music and, especially Stateside, the disco backlash of the late ’70s was tainted by homophobia.
Today Butler is impressed with Hercules’ diverse following. Couturier Valentino has declared himself a fan. “That’s news to me,” Andy says delightedly. “It’s quite flattering that a designer like Valentino would be paying attention.”
Butler has reached out to the “old school” DJs Frankie Knuckles and Kevin Saunderson to remix Hercules, in keeping with the group’s “conceptual approach” – and his “playing with history”.
It’s no surprise to discover that Hercules is aligned with the DFA’s stable, Butler put in touch with by DJ pal Daniel Wang. Tim Goldsworthy co-produced their eponymous debut.
While not part of the Modular fold, Hercules is the must-see at this year’s Nevereverland. Butler is touring with an eight-piece “ensemble”. Alas, star vocalist Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, who sings Blind, won’t be accompanying them. (“Antony hasn’t toured with us this year – he’s on tour in Europe.”)
Butler originates from Denver, Colorado, where, as a child with “an active imagination,” he was enchanted by tales from Greek mythology. “We had teachers who were reading us Greek myths instead of fairytales.” Andy moved to New York to study music and (what else-) art history at college, revelling in the city’s club culture.
With Hercules in demand on the international circuit, Butler has actually visited what remains of his beloved ancient world. In Greece he explored the Acropolis, travelled to Delphi, site of the ancient oracles, and clambered over ruins in the islands. “It was really fun. I wanted to do that since I was a little kid. It’s funny that this project has taken me there.”
Butler is now contemplating Hercules’ sophomore – and expects to continue the mythology theme. “In the past couple of months I have felt, ‘Oh gosh, I’m limited to only Greek mythology’, but I like Norse mythology, too,” he confesses. “I like mythology in general. But it would be a little weird for the record if I wrote a song about Thor – I don’t think I can really do that.”
WHO: Hercules and Love Affair
WHAT: Play Nevereverland, Entertainment Quarter / Self-titled LP through DFA / EMI
WHEN: Saturday 13 December / Out now