A varied listener of dance music for over two decades, Jason Kendig (soundcloud) grew up in Detroit, engrossed in the music being played on the radio in the 90s. Later, he quickly climbed ranks as a DJ there holding residencies at clubs like Motor before moving to San Francisco. After many years soaking up the west coast’s vibes a recent transition back to the midwest has found him in Chicago where he was invited to become a resident of the esteemed Smart Bar. While racking up airline miles playing around the world at festivals and intimate club nights alike, Jason is still a key member of the San Francisco collective known as Honey Soundsystem. Including members Jacob Sperber aka Jackie House, Josh Cheon and Robert Yang aka Bezier, the crew has been bringing creativity to SF’s gay underground house and techno community for the past ten years by not only curating their own club nights but publishing music with their label HNYTRX. This month Bolting Bits invites Mr. Kendig to the decks for the continuation of our MIXED BY series.
Hi Jason, Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the mixed by series. You started 2017 jetting around Europe playing gigs in Lyon, Paris and London, how was your reception there? Do you find you construct your sets any differently for foreign crowds than you would when you’re back home?
It was a wild way to do New Years but each gig was unique as we were playing such different time slots. In Lyon we played just after midnight on NYE and everyone was in a festive mood and dressed up and ready to party. By the time we reached Paris we were playing at the tail end of a twelve hour party. The sun was already coming up and the music was at a much more intense level of energy. We were in charge of landing the the ship so to speak and bringing everyone down for a smooth landing. Then we had time to grab a croissant and catch the train to London. By evening we were starting all over again and building the night up again from scratch for all the revelers that wanted one more New Years dance which was extra fun as we were playing B2B with Fort Romeau. As far as curating sets, I always try and be prepared for the night to go in any unexpected direction since you never know just what the crowd will be up for on any given night.
Honey Soundsystem has a busy summer coming up between playing places like Norway, Bilbao, Croatia and more. Is it a blessing when the whole HSS crew gets to all play together? Is it difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules? Who do you find yourself playing with the most from the group?
It’s a rare treat that all four of us are able to travel to a destination together and it’s a lot of fun for us when it can happen. If we are playing as Honey Soundsystem it will always be at least two or three of us. Coordinating the schedules can be tricky but we keep a mutual calendar to help plot out where we’re going to be as each of us has been traveling a lot more to play solo gigs. Purely circumstantial, but Jackie and I do end up on the road together pretty frequently though we all have a fun dynamic regardless of which of us is paired up.
Last month, HSS held a curated party at San Francisco’s Audio nightclub with Intergalactic Gary and Octo Octa. How did it all go down? Is it a special occasion when the crew can put together a hometown gig these days? What sorts of preparations/rituals take place before the event happens?
Intergalactic Gary had been on our wish list for many years so we were all thrilled to finally make it happen! And Octo Octa is such a fantastic dj! The energy in the room was electric and Audio has one of the best sounding rooms in the city. We’ve scaled back the frequency of our parties in San Francisco to coincide with holiday weekends and we will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary as a crew later this year. Nothing compares to the hometown love though! I’m not sure if it counts as a ritual but there is usually plenty of incense lit prior to the beginning of a night. Helps set the mood along with the lighting and decor.
HNYTRX released its 14th record this month, Octo Octa’s fantastic ‘Where Are We Going?’ EP. How long had the label been working on this project with Maya and what was the process behind choosing which tracks made the cut?
I think each of in the crew had been collecting her music for some time and then Josh and Robert were playing a gig with her in Europe last year and became even more infatuated after witnessing one of her hybrid live/ dj sets. She had been sending some demos and then presented the collection of tracks. This is the first time that we’ve been able to showcase a full album of new material by an artist on the label so that has been a pretty exciting experience watching it take off.
What can we expect from HNYTRX in the future?
I think the idea will continue to be supporting friends and undiscovered or under represented talent with a queer focus.
You made the move to Chicago in late 2015, was it an easy adjustment? Where do you find yourself out at night on any given weekend there?
Being welcomed so warmly by friends in Chicago has made the adjustment fairly easy. Though I certainly didn’t miss living in a winter climate again. It’s been an exciting point in my career where I have this opportunity to travel to share music beyond the city I live in. But that also means that I’m not home a lot. Even when I’m not playing at Smart Bar it is definitely my most frequent hangout on the rare weekends I have at home. But when I can I also like checking out the Clark Street Jams night where the staff who work at Gramaphone Records do their thing. Or if Harry Cross is doing one of his events in the city. (Men’s Room, Femme’s Room, PALA)
For a more low key night out, grabbing a drink at the Green Mill is a nice option. They have great jazz bands playing there.
What sorts of sounds and productions have inspired your sets in the new year?
I may not be playing them out but I’ve been listening to a lot of the old Basic Channel, Maurizio, Main Street, Rhythm & Sound records at home. They were incredibly influential to me when I was younger and still sound fresh and weird. And Josh Cheon keeps turning me on to new obscurities with his Dark Entries label.
Tell us a little about the mix you’ve sent. Any specific tracks in here that mean the most to you lately?
You previously mentioned preparation or rituals, coincidentally “Preparation Rituals” from the new Octo Octa album is featured in the mix. And the closing track is by Maizena who are affiliated with the Danish Regelbau collective. I’ve been collecting as many of their records as I can. (Help Recordings, No Hands, Regelbau)
When selecting tracks for a mix I try and be thoughtful of the environment they are most likely to be listened in. They often tend to be a little more laid back then what I would be playing at the peak hour of the night. This one might be more of a sunrise set.
Interview by Evan