Photo by David Bohl
Between dinner and party time, I sat down with buzz-worthy EDM producer/DJ Allies For Everyone, aka Brian Suarez, over a memorable cup of tea. We managed to connect the dots between Erasure, hygiene rituals, and the Mayan Apocalypse. See for yourself.
Synth pop and new wave was the first music I listened to that was not acoustic or rock, so I suppose I won’t shake those influences.
Where are you from, and how did you get started making Electronic Dance Music?
I was born in Brooklyn and raised an hour north of the city. I think the first electronic music I made was when I was about 14, on my parent’s PC. There was a basic music-making program that I made ambient tracks with using my baby brother’s vocals (laughs).
So that was the beginning of it all for you?
No. Years later I had a friend over, and we used this little Casio keyboard to make a song for the answering machine. It ended up being really good, so I decided then that I was going to make music from then on. Aside from playing piano when I was a kid, I don’t really have any formal training.
Where did the name “Allies For Everyone” come from?
It’s really just a fancy way of saying friends. When I started writing the music, it was a bit introspective and reflected on what was going on in my life.
Can you give us an idea of your process when making a track? Is it always the same?
If inspiration strikes, or if I feel that need to create, I go for it. Sometimes I can work for days and my head can’t get into it, but when I am feeling it, I usually wind up writing the music and lyrics at the same time.
And when people ask you what kind of music you make, what do you tell them?
I dodge the question, or I turn to whomever I’m with and let them answer. (Laughs) Synth pop and new wave was the first music I listened to that was not acoustic or rock, so I suppose I won’t shake those influences.
Before I go out at night, I take a bath and I blast Crass to relax and wake up at the same time…I also take a shot of chlorophyll before every show to wake up, because caffeine just makes you jittery.
Speaking of. What influences you now?
I think am influenced by everything I hear. The mainstays for me are Depeche Mode, New Order, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys and newer-ish stuff like Royksopp and Air that are heavier on the melodies. At night when I go out I try and create a bridge between that kind of sound and the deep house in my DJ sets.
You regularly perform live. Can you give us an idea of what equipment you are using and how much of your sound is on the fly?
I only have two hands, so I don’t rebuild things from scratch for the live show. But enough of it is live that there are opportunities to change things up or make mistakes. I run everything through Ableton, perform live vocals, the sampling is live and at least one synth part per track is as well. I am using a Novation Neo sound card, a Launchpad for triggering drums and sample, and a Nocturne for adjusting parameters.
In your video for the track “Scavenger,” you cover your face with glitter and set up your whole rig and perform the track. It is hard to believe that such polished music comes out of this one-man band approach.
Except for the stuff on my face, that video is exactly what I do to set up for a show. Messes of wires surround me and I just go for it.
Do you have plans to go on tour?
Yes. I haven’t played live outside of the US in 5 or 6 years, but I am building an arsenal of stuff that I will use when I do that. More and more I want the music that I am producing to be stuff that I can DJ as well since I am doing that a lot now.
What has been your favorite show so far?
This past Saturday in the basement of Tammany Hall I DJd. It was so fun. Machinedrum played after me, the place was packed and I ended up playing a lot of my own stuff. My most interesting live show was about two years ago where I played my friends party that we didn’t really promote. I ended up performing on a bar stool with two of my friends, and we pretended it was a circular folk sing-a-long.
Recently a scary number of people were misreading the Mayan calendar thinking it was about to be the end of the world. If you knew tomorrow the world was going to end, how would you spend your last day on earth?
On the day of the “Mayan Apocalypse” I spent that evening DJing a party with friends. If it had been the end I would have been fine with that. If I knew the world was actually going to end, I would have dinner with my family first then go out and DJ.
What do you think about the state of New York nightlife right now?
I am into it. There is a lot more live aspects to nightlife lately. There are DJ sets, but there is often a live component. It seems to be working.
Where are you going out these days?
I go where the DJs I like go. There isn’t necessarily a venue or club that is a sure thing. I think it depends on whose party you go to. Right now I enjoy the Verboten parties, the basement at Le Baron on the weeknights...I hate most places, it’s all about good events.
Do you have any big vices or guilty pleasures you want to reveal?
I take Crass baths. Before I go out at night, I take a bath and I blast Crass to relax and wake up at the same time. (Crass were an English punk rock band that was formed in 1977, which promoted anarchism as a political ideology, way of living, and as a resistance movement.) Outside of CultureFix in the LES, this homeless guy I ran into on the street was wearing a Crass T-Shirt. He was the only one who I have told, and he seemed to appreciate it because he likes to take baths too. (Laughs) I also take a shot of chlorophyll before every show to wake up, because caffeine just makes you jittery. [Funny, I take Crass showers. Nothing like getting all clean while listening to “Nagasaki Nightmare.” Seriously tho, Crass is dope—watch There Is No Authority But Yourself, if you haven't seen it. -ED]
Care to add to our radar?
“The Scavenger” remix EP of Scavenger on KID Recordings is out now; I just finished a remix for Blue Foundation’s track “Describe,” off of Dead People’s Choice LLC. It’s good...no, it’s really good.