Justin Carter is a New York-based DJ, part-time scribe, and connoisseur of funky jams. Along with his co-conspirator Eamon Harkin, he produces New Release — a selection of handpicked event recommendations — and throws an eclectic weekly party called Mister Saturday Night. We tracked him down approximately 17 feet away from us in Flavorpill HQ, where Justin has taken up residence as he pulls together a stellar evening at the MoMA on March 4.
Says Justin, “It’s the opening night of the Armory show, which is a huge international art fair. The MoMA is throwing a party after the preview, with cocktails, a DJ set by Justin Miller from DFA, and a live performance by Gang Gang Dance. It’s gonna be nice.”
After the jump, Justin professes his love for New York City, shares his recipe for an epic throwdown, and introduces us to the real (fake) Mister Saturday Night.
Flavorwire: Do you find your musical life intersects frequently with the art world?
Justin Carter: As much as any other world in the culture of New York. While I’m not playing art openings, there are always artists, curators, and people involved in the fashion community who make up part of the crowd at the parties that I DJ. All of these scenes are sort of connected with each other, as are all the individuals who wouldn’t necessarily describe themselves as belonging to a single scene. I think a lot of people have interdisciplinary takes on what it is that they do.
FW: You recently kicked off a weekly party at Santos’ Party House called Mister Saturday Night. How’s the vibe been since you launched?
JC: Well, it stems from a project that I collaborate on with Eamon Harkin called New Release, which is both an events listing and a platform to create events of our own. The idea behind Mister Saturday Night is similar to the spirit of New Release: we don’t want to be tied to any one particular thing, we just want to share the stuff we like. For the party, we’ve got both live bands and DJs, representing a diverse array of genres. We want to respect all the very different people that make New York home.
FW: Do you think that the experience you offer with Mister Saturday Night is unique to New York?
JC: Yes, absolutely. There’s a lot of hating that goes on in New York, and I think the city’s flaws are frequently accentuated. But I feel that there are really, really amazing things that happen in New York, which couldn’t happen anywhere else — no matter how enthusiastic the scene may be for a particular genre. That’s one of the things we try to highlight with Mister Saturday Night: the strength of New York is its diversity, both in terms of identities and tastes. We feel that right now there isn’t another party that represents this strength to the fullest.
For example, Maurice Fulton is coming to play on March 7 — he’s done weird electro stuff, he’s done house stuff, and he’s done more disco and boogie. Then, Chairlift is playing live that same night — they’re a band from Brooklyn with a sort of current take on a Cure-type sound. And finally, downstairs we have Freddie Cruger from Sweden playing alongside DJ Scribe, who was born and raised right here in New York, and they’ll be doing more of a hip-hop thing. So, on a single night you’ve got something happening where pretty much anybody could walk into the venue and be happy with something going down, whether you’re really into the music or just looking to have a good time. We get a mix of people from the outer boroughs, from Jersey; we get a gay crowd; we get a college crowd; we get people who really know about music. When you put all of those people in the room — where no scene is more heavily represented than the others — it creates a really interesting vibe where no one element dominates. That’s something I’ve never really seen happen anywhere else in the world.
FW: Do you think your musical chemistry with Eamon contributes to the atmosphere?
JC: It’s sort of a Venn diagram — there are aspects of what we do that overlap, but there are some significant differences, too. He’s from Ireland, while I’m from the States, and he’s in his 30s while I just turned 28. At the same time, we both end up buying a lot of the same new records. We’re both big fans of Chicago house, but he’s a bigger fan of groups like New Order, while I’m more into some stuff from the ’70s with a lot of slap bass than he is… [laughs] It’s nice because when we play together, we have enough in common that we can lay down a set together, but when we play in separate rooms we can take things in completely different directions.
FW: Any of those new records instantly work themselves into the rotation?
JC: Man, this is always a tough question — you have to worry a bit about being pigeonholed based on a single cut. You know, are a bunch of DJs gonna read this and be like [adopts a snob voice]: “Uh, that record came out last year.” But no, I guess I can pick something good. OK, how about “Rushing to Paradise” by House of House. That one’s epic.
FW: Santos is a labor of love from a few cultural luminaries, including Spencer Sweeney and Andrew W.K. Do any of the owners have a role in Mister Saturday Night?
JC: All the owners play their roles, and we see some more than others. But Andrew was actually there on the very first night. He was MCing a rock show that was happening before Mister Saturday Night started. We were chatting, and the idea came up that Mister Saturday Night isn’t just a party, he’s a real fake being [laughs]. Andrew, Eamon, and I have been collaborating on the Mister Saturday Night character, devising what he sounds like and what he might say. He might make a few appearances over the PA during the evening, and Andrew definitely has something to do with that…