Clark Price is one third of the Honcho crew, along with Aaron Clark and d’Ahdemar, who operate parties from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Starting up in 2012 as a monthly night at Hot Mass, a club downstairs in a local gay bathhouse, the party has grown to become one of the most well-known and highly-regarded events within queer clubbing circles. Credited in helping to galvanise a genuine party scene within the small, post-industrial city of Pittsburgh, Honcho and Hot Mass have become synonymous with interesting, varied dance music in an environment packed with energy.
Price’s sets are a reflection of the breadth of the booking policy at Hot Mass, who not only host both emerging and established Midwest talent, but also frequently bring in DJs from the UK and beyond. Bass, breaks, electro and techno are the mainstays of what Price plays and we can only imagine the energy in which he delivers the music is a reflection of the dancefloors he is accustomed to playing to. Amongst those who have been lucky enough to witness Clark play at Honcho, Hot Mass or elsewhere, there is a unanimity regarding his quality. With the fifth edition of Honcho’s Summer Campout returning to the beautiful Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in August with a lineup of completely new talent, we are super hyped to have Price on board to provide our 241st Truancy Volume. He also answered a few questions for us about Honcho, Pittsburgh and the mix.
Hey Clark! What have you been up to recently? “Right now, we’re deep into planning for our next campout and that’s taking up a lot of my time. Things are going really, really well with that so far. We found a good system of setting milestones and getting things done so it’s been a lot smoother. I’ve also gotten to play a lot of really fun gigs in the last couple months as well. Recently, I played this dope party called Sublimate in NYC, George and I played together in Atlanta for Vicki Powell’s party Deep South, and all the three of us were recently in Bogota to play at Video Club.”
For those who might not be familiar with Hot Mass and/or Honcho, can you give us a bit of background about how it all started up? “So Honcho started in 2012 as a pride party. Mike Servito and Ben Manzone from Brooklyn were the headliners. We had rented this huge space downtown, everything was just about to start and the cops came and shut it down. Luckily, we had reserved the after-hours space that was apart of the city bath house(which eventually became Hot Mass) just in case. We did what we had to do and hustled everything over to the other space. As awful as we felt at the time, it was really something to see everyone pitching in to make it work. Friends helping to move sound, drag queens scraping together bar. It was a wild effort and it turned into an amazing night.
That was in June of that year, but Honcho didn’t become a monthly until the following February. Everything sort of slowly grew from there. This was right when Gays Hate Techno popped up on Facebook and we started meeting all these like-minded people around the world. It was through that, that Aaron got booked to play Honey Soundsystem. We went on that trip together and got back home with our heads spinning. Why couldn’t we do what they were doing in San Francisco here in Pittsburgh? What we wanted did not exist in Pittsburgh at the time; we had to create it ourselves. It took time to get regulars, it took time for people to get used to going out at midnight and leaving at 7am. It took time to build to where we are now and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do. It was something I never really expected, its been a life-changing endeavor for sure.
The current crew is me, Aaron Clark, and George D’Adhemar. George’s partner Michael Moraine helps us with creative direction and decor.”
As well as being profiled on RA recently. The Honcho Campout recently dropped the first wave of its lineup which is 100% artists who’ve never played before. Was there any reason behind this approach? “The last few years, the formula has always been a mix of new artists and people who have played before. People come from all over the world to the campout and we think it’s really important that the people who play reflect that. The artists we pick are those who are doing special things in their own cities, building up their scenes and helping to connect the dots.”
I was really impressed with the range of music and how well everyone played last year. Musically, I think that we cast an even wider net this time around. A lot of the music we select falls under the purview of house and techno, but we’re trying to make sure different cultures are represented in the music. Djs Pareja from Buenos Aires, Andrea Paz from Chile, Ouissam from Vietnam are some of the international artists we have. I think its important to also showcase what’s happening outside of the United States too. Another part of it is fostering newer DJs who are super talented and deserve a spot in front of their peers. Not everyone has a crew or party they get to play regularly, but that doesn’t make those people any less talented or driven. We’ve met all of these crazy talented people and made all of these new connections, we felt like this was a good time to pull all of these people into the family at once. To do that, we had to make this decision.
How do you feel about the current state of queer parties in the US generally at the moment? Is there anything that you think needs to change? “I think that queer party scene in the US is really good right now. There are a lot of people doing the damn thing in every corner of the states. Theres a lot of collaboration happening right now too which is cool.
Things are good in a lot of ways, but there’s a ton of work to be done too. Representation of women and POC, as well as, a lack of accountability is still a big issue in the dance community in general. Booking lineups that reflect everyone and creating a place where people feel comfortable has been a large focus for us. We also a started donation-based program called the Queer Fam Fund specifically for the campout. It was built to help make things less homogenous and to share the weekend with those who may not have the means to attend without assistance. The fund is open for everyone to apply, but we strongly encourage POC, trans, female, and non-binary people to apply. It’s not a perfect solution, but we’ve got to get off our asses and do something, you know? Things aren’t going to magically align and get better, we have to put in the work.”
Are there any DJs you’ve seen recently, local or otherwise, who’ve totally blown you away? “I recently saw my friend May playing an opening set at Hot Mass and she definitely blew me away. She DJs under the name Tabahseer, check her out. She just started Doing and she went from 0 to 100; it’s wild how good she got so quickly. We also had Josey Rebelle play our MAL party back in January, she is really on a completely different level then the rest of us. Her set at Sustain Release last year was SO next level. It was just jam, after jam, after jam, non-stop. She played until like noon the next day, she wore me the fuck out.”
Who would you say are your biggest DJ inspirations? “Mike Servito for sure. The Bunker Podcast # 70 turned me inside out. That mix made me want to learn how to DJ. From start to finish, the programming in that mix is perfect. There’s a part near the beginning where he mixes ’Shake Your Body’ by Jeannette Thomas into ‘I’m Strong’ by Robert Owens and I just remember being like ‘What the hell am I listening to right now?’ and I listened to that mix like a million times. There was an interview he did for De School a year or two ago where he said, ‘I’m not one to follow rules that don’t exist.’ and I think about that A LOT. It always helps pull me back down to Earth when I get too in my own head about things. When I started, I wanted to sound like him and play what he played. Musically, he gave me a jumping off point and I was able to do my own thing and get to where I am now.
One of my other favourite DJs right now is Peach. She’s so good, her music is inspiring. Her Melbourne Deepcast is the best mix I’ve heard this year and it actually sort of inspired this mix. It has this airy, dreamy feel to it, but it had an edge to it too. Also, my friends all really inspire me. Aaron and George (who are in Honcho with me), Brian, Shane, Miah, and Aerin (In Training), all of the Hot Mass residents, etc. Surround yourself with people who are better than you honestly.”
How did you go about putting together what you’ve included in the mix? And how does what we can hear compare to what you would play at Honcho, for example? “This mix has actually been a favourite of mine for a long time so I spent a lot of time picking music and revising. I think this mix is pretty indicative to how I play, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I love a lot of heavy percussion and weird, freaky vibes. We play a lot of late night and after-hours set so I think thats where a lot of my sounds has come from.”
What are your plans for the summer (and beyond)? “We have a lot of stuff going on this summer. We have our own pride in June and we also do a pride party in Denver. Harry Cross is doing a really fun event at The Dunes Resort in Michigan called Loose Ends that we’re also playing. We’ll be in Europe most of July, but can’t give details on all of that just yet. This will be the fifth year for the Honcho Campout, its a queer music festival in the woods essentially. It’s the third week of August and has truly been some of the best weekends of my life. If camping and raving in the woods to the best music with a bunch of weirdos check it out: www.honchocampout.com”
Cooly G – What Airtime
DJ Minx – A Walk In the Park
PTMC – Officewerks
Wata Igarashi – Mood of the Machine Part 1
M5 – Astral Ancestor
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Dolphinicity
0h85 x C. Scott – Come On
Pacific Coliseum – Ocean City (D.Tiffany Seashell Mix)
Goldspot Production – Boozey
A Guy Called Gerald – Automanikk
Liquid Earth – Bladerunner
Vulva – Tense Planet
Ambien Baby – Sacrifico
Pangaea – Inna Daze
DBX – Electric Shock
Ultratubes – Random Fast (Ultratubes Remix)
Simulant – Wav. Form
Madam E – Land of Plenty
Air Liquide – Stoboplastics
Gene on Earth – Forza