Few artists inspire a devotion bordering on the religious. But the gospel according to Wolf + Lamb has already spread far and wide, their near mythical Brooklyn parties at "six star hotel" The Marcy attracting an international cast of like-minded friends, adopted family and disciples, while their series of podcasts and three labels - Wolf + Lamb digital, Wolf + Lamb Black, their re-edit series, and Wolf + Lamb Music - have preached an alternative sound to the plodding tribal drums of tech-house.
So the arrival of their debut album, 'Love Someone', out 14th June on Wolf + Lamb, and its preceding Wolf + Lamb Experience party in London, a showcase of the labels' unique musical talents and organisation, not only sticks the pin firmly back in New York as an innovative centre of nightlife, following years of redundancy during Giuliani's reign. It also offers an alternative paradigm to Berlin's stranglehold on the UK's clubbing imagination.
As with every great spiritual adventure, however, their journey starts with a trip into the desert.
"We went to Burning Man in 2003," says Zev Eisenberg, the 'Wolf' of Wolf + Lamb next to Gadi Mizrahi's 'Lamb', the literal translations of their Hebrew names. Two New York-born Jews, the pair met in 2001 having both made a name as DJs at small-scale parties, Zev spinning deep house and trance, Gadi playing hip-hop. But it was the advent of minimal techno, the first sound that they both bonded over (and immortalised in their 'Since when do Jews make techno?' stickers), and their experiences at Burning Man which began the process of gestation that gave birth to their current incarnation as purveyors of deep, lush house and disco.
"The first two years you just kind of watch and figure out where you fit in," Gadi explains about the festival that appears for a week in the middle of the Nevada desert as we have lunch following a first look at the venue for their party. "There's nothing like it in the world. It's literally like being on Mars, you just don't know what to do or how to express yourself."
In 2005, while wandering through the Mad Max landscape, Gadi found an artist who'd created a 40 foot version of Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain', essentially a giant toilet - the following year, they played their first gig there in it.
"It's like a urinal lying on its back and then there's a drain pipe, which is where you walk in," explains Zev excitedly. "It was so amazing watching people crawl in and being part of their bizarre Burning Man experience. The music was also something people hadn't heard before because out there it's really heavy, West coast, cheesy-ish kind of breaks. We were playing minimal."
"It was kind of like Kompakt," interjects Gadi. "More emotional, minimal trance."
Having performed again every year since, including as part of an inflatable art and sound installation in 2007, they now have residencies at numerous soundsystems. But it was Burning Man's blend of vast, unbridled natural beauty, unfettered creativity and extreme hedonism that seems the beginning of Wolf + Lamb becoming something bigger than just a label or a pair of DJs.
"We started to really like the morning shift when everyone's feeling really great from the whole night and the minimal sound just didn't fit right so then we started wanting to get more warm," says Gadi.
"You ended up playing pop music," Zev recalls of 2008's crystallising moment. "That was the one thing that did make sense there, Sade, and that was all we played the whole time. Then when we came back, we went to a friend's cabin to work for a few weeks with a clean slate. We knew we had to make music to work over there because that's the mood we've always been comfortable with. That's when we put out the 'Bear Valley EP'."
Parallel to this musical rebirth was the founding of The Marcy in 2005, their studio cum home where they also throw parties, in indie-rock's heartland, Williamsburg. Tired of trying to put on parties in New York's bars and clubs, which would want to close at 4am just as the drugs were kicking in but the queue at the bar was dwindling, they had originally hired an old machine shop with the intention of opening it as a venue, moving in simply to help do it up.
"Then halfway through, we threw one crazy balls-to-the-wall party, and we realised we weren't going to open a bar," says Zev with a glint.
Instead, they embraced Burning Man's idea of user-generated content (a familiar concept to Zev who also works as a web designer), growing it into something that's part Andy Warhol's Factory - filled with friends who are also musicians, many of whom the pair nurtured through their first releases for the label - and part David Mancuso's Loft, the best house party in the world that runs from 11pm till 1pm the next afternoon, and boasts top quality sound.
Despite a website depicting The Marcy as an opulent, gaudy hotel, a whimsical idea parodying Zev's work for Trump Towers, the parties are ostensibly put on by friends for friends, label artists such as No Regular Play, Nico AKA Nicolas Jaar, Soul Clap, or Deniz Kurtel - Gadi's girlfriend who is also currently working on a Crosstown Rebels album - playing most parties, often alongside Wolf + Lamb Detroit counterparts such as Seth Troxler and Lee Curtiss.
Despite having a capacity of just 200, with only around 50 able to fit into the main room, the pair found a creative way to fit up to 500 people in by hijacking an adjoining lot.
"Nobody says anything, it doesn't belong to us!" laughs Zev at this brazenness. "Our friends helped us build steps to access the yard through a window. It's really funny, girls are always slipping in their high heels. It just adds to the whole obvious DIY feel of the place, like you're in our home. At the same time, the sound is pristine. We're really serious about that. The whole thing is really well put together, everything is pro."
When the success of the party began attracting unwanted hipsters interested in drinking beer but not dancing, the pair simply introduced an extortionate door charge with friends getting a Marcy hotel room key - made at the same time as their fake website - for cheap entry.
"It has this idea that the party supports the building," says Gadi. "So the people who live upstairs do the door. No Regular Play live on the third floor, so they play every party and run the bar. Most of the money goes back into the building to pay rent, which is a really organic way of doing it."
"It's the same as this weekend, bring in whoever is around," he says of the approaching London label debut, having just asked Deniz and Zev, neither of whom were originally on the line-up, to stay and play.
"Wolf + Lamb is me and Zev, but it's also a family. There's a lot more attention to a community based thing than a label where the people have good ears and they're picking people from all over the world. That's one thing, but this is like an in-house. No Regular Play were brought up from nothing, they had no releases, Nico was brought up from not having any releases, Deniz and Smirk as well. They were all brought up. Other labels pick artists saying, 'this guy is going to be good'. This is like artists who haven't had anything out."
"Including us. We didn't have any releases," adds Zev.
It was as The Marcy was being built that Zev first found out he had cancer, something he is currently recovering from with 'an alternative therapy regime' that includes sauerkraut juice for breakfast. Having recently been in India, and stopped touring due to the excessive amount of equipment needed for his current diet, his illness adds an extra poignancy to both Wolf + Lamb's communal, life-affirming spirit of art and adventure, and the atmospheric content of 'Love Someone', their first joint release since last year's 'Brooklynn EP'.
With 'love' a recurring theme at their parties, the album's title track is the most potentially commercial, a glorious slice of looped, filtered disco. But elsewhere Wolf + Lamb pursue their own unique vision of mood and depth that's come to characterise their parties, where the tempo rarely ventures above 120bpm, and they encourage guests to bring their weirdest, favourite records.
Opener 'Just For Now' emerges from a primordial soup of reverb and organ, via a burst of what sounds like a show tune, morphing into a brooding, gangster shuffle as a voice contemplates life after committing the irreversible act of murder, "all you can do is continue living life". Yet it's immediately soothed by the slow, bubbling electro bass and 808 handclaps of 'Shoeshine Boogie', a remix of Mock & Toof.
'Want Your Money' appears in two versions, Wolf + Lamb's off-kilter original and a straighter house remix from Dyed Soundorom, while 'Monster Love', a collaboration with Smirk, hints at broken relationships in its jazzy ambience and whispered voices, dissolving and reforming around a wandering double bass. Finally, 'I Know You're Leaving' rides along on a Rhodes until it's flooded by the warming light of a gospel choir declaring, "someday we'll all be free."
"Wolf + Lamb is so multi-faceted, we work on everything together, so when it came down to making music over the last few years we've done it separately," admits Gadi of the pair's limited releases together. "We've done everything together over the past five or six years and this is one of the areas where we have our separate time. But it happened that we did make these tracks and we both really liked them. They're all very different so I felt that was good."
"It's more of an EP than an album," agrees Zev. "Gadi and I, even though we work really well together putting on the party, sitting in the studio, for some reason, we don't actually do that much of together."
Instead, Zev used his convalescence to begin work on a solo album, with a further Wolf + Lamb EP in the pipe-line, and Gadi, as well as DJing and recording solo and with label artists Soul Clap, started his own vinyl-only label, Double Exposure.
"If Wolf + Lamb is a religion, Double Exposure is a cult," he announces, and it's a plausible assertion - Gadi, Charlie from Soul Clap and Greg from No Regular Play got Double Exposure tattoos to accompany the Wolf + Lamb cross tattoos both he and Zev have.
While success has had its advantages, and given them the ability to pull in a crowd of 500 people at 24 hours notice, like the time Gadi and Deniz persuaded Zev to make an impromptu trip back from India over SKYPE, part of the Wolf + Lamb experience lies in the conditions they've created for themselves at The Marcy.
"One of the problems is that there's a Wolf + Lamb monster now of hype so promoters just want to book us. Then we go in and they've clearly never heard what we play and they don't have the crowd for it," Gadi says of his frustration at some recent gigs. "They're always telling us to play harder anywhere outside of London. It's fucking heart-breaking to be in that situation."
In this respect, The Marcy has become like Panorama Bar, the ultimate pilgrimage for thrill-seeking dance tourists looking for an atmosphere and sense of freedom and adventure that's unrepeatable anywhere else. But for Gadi, this is where the Berlin parallel ends.
"I don't think Berlin is into what we're doing," he says, despite recent gigs there. "I've seen a few friends move there and get into a completely other genre, really hard. They get taken over by Berlin. You're not going to get booked unless you bang it out, they're taking speed so they're into this hard stuff. Our crowd, even Jamie Jones, has gone into disco and house - Berlin had to choose and they went Berghain. Even harder than where we were a few years ago."
Instead, he cites London's Plastic People as the sort of intimate venue suited to the Wolf + Lamb sound.
"I saw Theo Parrish and he was like, holy shit, playing Outkast, he was playing everything and it worked. That's the only club I'd love to play."
Come their own party, held in the basement of an art gallery in East London that's due to be demolished two weeks later, they're playing Outkast too, alongside a ream of deep house and disco gems like Metro Area's sublime 'Let's Get…', umbrellas placed over the decks to stop the sweat that's literally raining from the low ceiling.
With Soul Clap and Wolf + Lamb taking turns behind the decks seemingly as the mood suits them, following No Regular Play's live set, it's the perfect illustration of the instinctive, if it feels good do it, approach that's grown Wolf + Lamb from a pair of techno misfits in the Nevada desert to a coalition of friends carving out new niches in whatever they turn their hands to - something both Gadi and Zev seem genuinely surprised by. At the end of our interview I ask them if there's anything else they want to talk about.
"The only thing we haven't spoken about is our future plans because we don't have any," replies Zev.
"It's true," adds Gadi. "Who knows!"
The only thing you can be sure of is, wherever Wolf + Lamb lead, others are bound to follow.
The Wolf + Lamb Family & Friends
No Regular Play
Zev: "They came to one of our parties. They're straight up hipsters from Minnesota. Greg's into Jazz, he's a trumpet player. They'd never heard anything electronic but they came to one of our big parties when we weren't doing the Marcy and Matthew Dear played. I guess they had an experience and just really connected. They went home, started making this music for a year, got a bunch of tracks and came back to us. They really waited till they had something to show. We picked out a digital EP straight away."
Gadi: "The digital label is great, as you can scope people out. Once they're on the vinyl label it's like, this is family. They have a new EP that's brilliant."
Gadi: "They're so good, so creative. They can take on a new genre and hit it out of the park. I'm seeing them do it with their own production and it blew me away. This new Double Standard EP is us going at electro and old Chicago house, the old 808 sound. We were together in Miami, not for conference, and we just banged out that whole EP. We were going for that electro sound and that Metro Area vibe on 'Romantic Comedy'. I've been sweating Metro Area for the last year and a half. There's three of their tracks that are staple and I pretty much always play at the end of my set to a crazy response, so I feel in love with this sound they have and we tried to do our take on it."
Gadi: "She came to one of the first Marcy parties years back. She's done LED installations for lots of them, one of the pieces is now a permanent installation in the dance room, it's really pretty. I think she's been to almost every single party, she'll fly in and stick around. I was actually thinking she should have been in the background of the pictures today because she's kind of held us together when we had our falling out and stuff. She's been the voice of reason when, doing everything together, I think, 'What the fuck could I do outside of this if it didn't work out for whatever reason?' I've spent my whole adult life on this one project."
Gadi: "He was 17-years-old and sending stuff. It was all very experimental, but there was something about it so we started working with him. He lives in New York, but he was born in Chile. Almost all our artists live in New York, which is another thing about the label. Everyone is pretty much local so the last party was almost all the label artists. I think it's important to have people in the neighbourhood to throw showcase parties. You can also see them and talk about music. Le Loup, who is French, is Nico's friend and he's one of the only artists not living in the States."
Seth Troxler/Shaun Reeves/Lee Curtiss/Ryan Crosson
Gadi: "We threw this bigger party with them and they were also just breaking out. I think Ryan was the only one who had a Minus EP out at the time. We got really close with Lee, then Seth, Ryan and Shaun. It's easy to get close with Shaun because he's just cool. It was one of the best parties we threw. Then we worked on music together. But they're more Wolf + Lamb affiliated. They're like the generation before us and they're doing their own thing, they have their own dreams. They don't send us their demos like No Regular Play or Soul Clap."
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