San Francisco-based DR. SLEEP has been DJing and making music since 2003. She started her career spinning new wave and synth pop and returned to her roots in house and techno in 2009. She has held residencies at Public Works, 222 Hyde, Underground SF and the Deco Lounge and has guested at many of the current underground San Francisco party institutions, such as Honey Soundsystem, As You Like It, Go Bang!, Haceteria, Booty Call, Viennetta Discotheque, Odyssey, Hot Pants, Comfort and Joy, and Bearracuda, to name a few. Dr Sleep has also DJed across the US and abroad, in such places as NYC, LA, Seattle and Shanghai.
It’s summer, the sun’s out and Dick and Fanny is back for our July outing at Dance Tunnel on Saturday 12 July. This time round we welcome a double header of guests from the USA. THE CARRY NATION (NYC) and DR. SLEEP (SF) have been on our wishlist for a while and we’re excited to finally have them play at Dick and Fanny. Support comes from MICHELLE MANETTI who has graced our decks on several previous occasions.
Check out Dr. Sleep’s exclusive Dick And Fanny mix and our interview below.
Hi Dr. Sleep,
We are so happy to have you here this summer for an exclusive UK gig. It’s taken way too long to get you out here!
So first, and also because I’m super jetlagged and so tired as I’m writing this, why Dr. Sleep? Can you tell us the story behind this?
Sorry to hear you’re jetlagged and tired, but, also, I suppose it is apropos of your first question! I wish the story of my DJ name had more twists, but, it comes from a book I was enjoying back in the day, Doctor Sleep by Madison Smartt Bell. It’s the story of a hypnotherapist who develops insomnia and gets wrapped up in all sorts of terrible business, but, on a deeper level, it explores consciousness and surreal dream/wake states, so, maybe we can apply some retroactive meaning to that and how I was subconsciously searching to find the role of the DJ in nightlife. At the time, however, it just seemed more interesting than DJ Meli$$a.
How long have you been living in San Francisco? Is that where you started DJing?
I moved to San Francisco from Minneapolis in 2001, and, yes, that’s where I started DJing. When I first moved, I would go out dancing to house music, looking for community, and, never actually found it at that time (this story gets more uplifting). I eventually met a great collaborator in my friend, Campbell, and I remember the first time she brought me to her studio, my mouth fell open because she had 10,000 records spilling from her shelves, and a wall of vintage synths. I knew I had found my person and actually couldn’t believe there was another queer who was as obsessed with records and music as I was. I had already been hoarding music, playing instruments, and writing about music for magazines, but, after meeting her, she pushed me to DJ and we started making ambient music and soundtracks under the name Paperboats, using field recordings, processed guitars and her amazing synth collection.
You are doing lots of stuff with the Honey Soundsystem boys, how did that come about?
I think the first actual contact occurred when I was set up with Honey co-founder, P-Play/Jackie House, for a gig at a DIY space in SF called The Big Gay Warehouse in 2010. I had just moved back to SF from Minneapolis, but, in my two years away I went through a total music reset and re-educated myself on all the music I used to listen to in the 90s and early 2000’s, as I knew I wanted to focus on house and techno. I was in school in Minneapolis at the time, so in lieu of doing my work, I would spend 8 hours a day listening to music and also learning to properly mix records in the privacy of my own apartment (thank me later). In this music research, I started looking at what was happening back in SF, and it was then I discovered Honey Soundsystem. I knew immediately I had to be a part of what they were doing when I moved back, so, when the opportunity presented itself to do the gig with P-Play, I said yes right away. The funny thing about that gig was, of course, I had practiced all of those hours learning to mix on records and this gig ended up being on Pioneer CDJ 200’s. There is probably a lesson in there somewhere, the least of which was P-Play’s advice to me after we played: “Fake it ’til you make it, girllllll.” After that, I started going to the Honey parties regularly, and, eventually met all the residents and they started to book me for events and guest spots. I consider them all dear friends at this point and I think I share the general sentiment of San Francisco and the greater music and queer scenes, we are lucky to have them and to be able to experience all they bring to the table.
Where can we catch you play these days?
I have a weekly mix show on Intergalactic FM‘s Channel 6 every Sunday at 6 pm CET. Given the rich history of IFM and that Hague scene, I feel very lucky to be able to broadcast from there. Aside from that, I am taking a breather from throwing parties and focusing on production, the record label, and traveling to new cities to play and draw inspiration.
You launched a label, Jacktone, how did that come about and what have you released so far on it?
Having a label was a lifelong dream, so, to finally make it happen felt very satisfying for all of us (I started the label with two good friends, Dabecy and Exillon). Thus far, we’ve released a 12″ by Exillon and a 23-track double-cassette compilation. We have our next 3 releases lined up and the first of those is a 12″ by an Oakland producer you’ll be hearing a lot more about this year, Worker/Parasite, with remixes by an amazing techno duo, Funerals, and myself. After that release, we have a vinyl compilation featuring some favorite producers from SF and Pittsburgh, and, finally in the Fall we’ll be launching a 7″ series, which we’re reserving for non-dancefloor releases. There is more exciting stuff, but, I’ll stop there.
You recently released a remix of Stereogamous and Shaun J. Wright’s track Sweat. When did you start producing and what can we expect from you in the near future?
Prior to the Sweat remix, I didn’t have any material released, so, when I was contacted by Paul (of Stereogamous), I was pretty over the moon about it. I’d also just spent a weekend raving in the desert with Jonny (the other half of Stereogamous), so, I was doubly excited to work with them. The deadline forced me to work out any kinks that had prevented me from finishing tracks in the past, and, when it was over, not only did I feel good about the track, but, it felt like a huge weight off my shoulders from a creativity-block perspective.
From that point on, I’ve been spending as time as I can in the studio, working on my own stuff and collaborating. Jackie House/P-Play and I gave away a track using source material from the recent Patrick Cowley School Daze release on Dark Entries/HNYTrax, which you can scoop up on XLR8R. I have a house track on a recent comp by W. Jeremy and Christy Love’s Get Up Recordings, as well as some squelchy analog under the moniker Headgear, which is a collab between Worker/Parasite and I on a great cassette label out of Austin, TX called Obsolete Future. I also contributed a techno track to my label’s recent compilation. Besides the forthcoming remix mentioned above for the Worker/Parasite Jacktone 12″, I have a darkwave track with synth guru, Bezier that will be out on Dark Entries before the end of 2014. I’m working on tracks for another local label I’m really excited about, as well as starting material for a debut EP. Headgear is also working toward a live PA, which is a fun challenge, as I haven’t played out on machines since Paperboats toured in 2006.
What are your influences?
That’s a tough one, of course, but, I think my obsession with IDM and trip hop in those formative years still informs a lot of what I do now, as I’m still drawn to records that are a bit left field, dark and not necessarily straight 4 the floor. To put it succinctly, I think my friend said it best: “sad shit you can dance to.” I also love lush dreamy textures, so I probably have shoegaze to thank for that. As far as segueing to dance music and thinking about the role of a DJ, the early DJ-Kicks series had a great impact on me. The Andrea Parker CD, specifically, I can still remember the moment I first heard her transition from It’s No Good by Depeche Mode to Dr. Octagon’s Earth People. I’d never heard anybody mix genres like that, but, maybe even more importantly she included Gescom, Man Parrish, Gil Scott Heron, Afrika Bambataa, Model 500, Dopplereffekt, Drexciya – everybody! That album opened up a whole new world for me.
What’s next on your agenda?
After I play your party, I head to Berlin for several days to get my Berghain fix, then am flying back through NYC to play Scissor Sundays. After that, it will be back to work mode and getting the 3 Jacktone releases to press and hitting the studio.
Thank you for having me at Dick and Fanny, I can’t wait to play.
Dr. Sleep is playing Dick And Fanny on Saturday 12 July at Dance Tunnel.
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