Not Your Parent’s Disco: The DJ Set as Opera.
It is one of the great cliches of DJing that the best of the best “take you on a journey”, and “tell you a story”, and so on. It is much less common for either of those to actually happen. It is still less common for a DJ to tell you a story featuring recurring, developing characters, inclusive of how they met, what they did together, and how they parted.
Kenzie Clarke‘s NYPD mix (made to promote the clubnight of the same name) is one of those mixes. It’s actually a tragic opera, in three acts, complete with a Greek chorus, a villain, a hero, and a heroine. And it’s a hell of a mix as well.
This post will talk about the characters, how they’re represented in each track in the mix, and what happens to them. Don’t worry, it’s not that tragic: like all good nightclub dramas, there’s potential for glorious redemption the next night….
The two main characters are:
- The GIRL. Our heroine. She’s forthright, impulsive, and the driving force behind the plot. Think of her as a cross between Maureen and Mimi from Rent.
- The BOY. Our hero. He’s a bit of a wet blanket, to be honest. Think of him as Mark from Rent crossed with Brad from Rocky Horror.
The minor characters are:
- FRIEND ONE: Who gives the BOY advice about the GIRL.
- FRIEND TWO: Who gives the GIRL advice about the BOY.
- The VILLAIN: Who seduces / is seduced by the GIRL.
- The CHORUS. Of clubbers, obviously. The Chorus is the source of the two FRIENDS, and the VILLAIN.
NYPD opens in a small town in France.
- The first act is in said small town, and on a train to Paris.
- The second act is in a Paris nightclub.
- The third is on the streets of Paris just after the club closes.
Most important of all – here’s what happens, and how it happens, lyrically and emotionally.
Act One: Before the club
1: Little Boots – New In Town [Golden Filter Remix]
As sung by the GIRL to the new BOY. “I wanna take you out tonight, I wanna make you feel alright” – and does she ever.
2: Glass Candy – Beatific
As sung by the GIRL, again, while on the train to Paris with BOY. “City light to country side, this trainride guarentees”. As of now, they’re just friends, as will be made clear in the third song.
3: Friendly Fires & Au Revoir Simone – Paris [Aeroplane Remix]
Our GIRL again, singing about the life she’ll have in Paris with BOY. “One day, we’re gonna live in Paris. I promise. I’m on it”. The genderswap on this song makes the lyrics complex; regardless, they imply that our pair are not yet head-over-heels, or even admitting their attraction to one another yet.
4: Lovelock – Maybe Tonight
BOY gets a word in, about how, maybe, the two of them might be in love / lust. “Maybe tonight, we’ll be alone at last”. GIRL sings the chorus. They’re just about to arrive at the club…
Act Two: At the club
5: Panthers – Goblin City [Holy Ghost! Remix]
The arrival / nightclub montage scene. The chorus / hook “and on and on and on and on” is sung by the CHORUS.
6: Circlesquare – Dancers [Russ Chimes & Anoraak Remix]
An ode to dancing, sung by the entire cast, with the CHORUS led by the VILLAIN. “Now everyone starts to dance and now we’re all dancers”.
7: Metronomy – Heartbreaker [Discodeine Remix]
FRIEND ONE sings this to BOY, advising him to stay away from GIRL. “That girl’s a heartbreaker”. As usual, the chorus is always right…
8: Sam Sparro – Hot Mess
FRIEND TWO sings this to the GIRL, telling her off. “I know you fancy yourself as a sexy bitch”. What would we do without choruses?
9: Calvin Harris – The Girls
Gasp! The VILLAIN sings this as he seduces / is seduced by the GIRL. “I get all the girls, I get all the girls”.
Act Three: After the club
10: Anoraak – Nightdrive With You [Grum’s New Wave Edit]
Our BOY is finally willing to admit that he’s madly in love with GIRL, and makes starry-eyed plans to get home with her: “You beat my heart, You know my eyes, I guess it’s love, I guess it’s love”.
11: Cut Copy – Far Away [Damn Arms Remix]
But! She’s left with the VILLAIN! The wench! The scoundrel! Our BOY makes a show of rejecting her: “And you could be a love to me, but you were far away”.
12: Bag Raiders – Shooting Star
Of course, on the inside, he yearns for his lost love. “I’m in love with a shooting star, and she move so fast that I can’t keep up”. He also has an intuition that she’s not gone forever.
13: Lifelike – Sunset
GIRL, as the curtain comes down, thinks about BOY: she’ll find him, and all their early promise will be realized: “I can feel it when the sun goes down, I can see the sky so blue when I’m with you”.
At the end of the day, the girl hasn’t quite got the right boy, but (probably) will the next time out. Both characters have grown, as much as is possible in a one-CD DJ set (or even in an opera, for that matter) – from halting attraction to dancefloor lust to (hopefully) romantic love. And all this from thirteen tracks in a row.