Connie Ha Talks with Justin Strauss: Legendary NYC DJ and Music Producer

If you want the story on New York’s music and nightlife scene, you got to talk to the people making it, like legendary DJ and producer Justin Strauss.

Justin Strauss is one of those rare New York artists who has stayed relevant throughout decades of history. With decades of New York experience, Justin Strauss’s musical opinion and life perspective are invaluable. Having known him for several years, I can say he is one of the few artists that braves this realm with impeccable style and grace.

 

 

Can you introduce yourself please?

Hi, I’m Justin Strauss from New York and I’m a DJ and music producer.

How did you end up making music your career?

When I was very young I saw the Beatles on TV and I fell in love. I knew that music would be my life from that moment on. I was in band called Milk ‘N’ Cookies when I was 17 years old and we were signed to Island Records in the UK and I have been professionally involved with music ever since.

Any regrets?

Absolutely none.

Do you like how things have evolved within your time in the realm of music, on a personal level? Are there things that you would change or bring back?

Things are always changing and evolving. One thing I miss is a club where the DJ plays the whole night from the first song to the last and not just for a short set of 1 to 2 hours with many DJs playing on one night. I recently did it at the Le Bain, which does parties like that sometimes and it’s fantastic.

Justin Strauss by Connie Ha

© Connie Ha/HEREYOUARE

What are your thoughts on the globalization of music and party culture? Are there still notable differences between NYC, L.A., Berlin, London and Paris?

As things get bigger, more popular and homogenized, more underground and interesting parties will rise. In the mainstream, the differences are probably less but each of those cities has strong underground scenes that are unique.

What makes the New York party culture unique from the other major cities? How does it stand apart?

The thing about New York club culture is that just when you think it’s over and everything’s been done, something comes along and reignites the scene. Right now I think it’s the best it’s been in many years. Great clubs like Good Room, House of Yes, Black Flamingo, Bossa Nova, Output and others are doing great things. All of those are in Brooklyn. Sadly at the moment there are no great club venues in Manhattan. But that can all change too.

Do you find that mainstream vs. underground variances is becoming more and more obsolete? If so, how?

I think the mainstream will always try to incorporate underground influences to make their parties seem cooler but that means the underground scene will have to keep pushing things harder.

Do you think this a good thing?

At the end of the day anything that inspires people to do more interesting things is a good thing. I just recently went to an exhibit at the MoMA in New York which was dedicated to Club 57, which was a club/performance space on St. Marks Place in the East Village in the 80s.

 

 

It was where Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Klaus Nomi and many others did a lot of their early work. It is a pretty incredible documentation of a very inspiring and creative time. Recommend viewing for sure. Anything that pushes the creative forces in the scene is good thing.

You mention many of the greats from this exhibit, who are notable or comparable forces/ artists in this current age, in your opinion?

It’s such a very different world we live in now then it was back then, and that period that I mentioned above in New York was just a perfect storm of all those people being in the same place at the same time and made something happen out of nothing. In more recent times parties like The Bunker, Ladyfag’s events, Tiki Disco, Discwoman, Synthicide, and Mr. Saturday Night are all doing interesting things. The Mr. Saturday Night crew have just opened a new indoor space in addition to their outdoor summer space so that is sure to be great.

Has New York lost its edge or do you feel that it’s thriving? Why do you think that is ?

As I said, New York City, meaning Manhattan, has become too expensive and sanitized so as far as club culture goes there is none. It’s all happening in Brooklyn. And it’s definitely thriving, because I think New York will always be that place where it can happen.

Which places do the most interesting and creative people gather to party in NYC?

Right now one of the best things going on in New York is The Lot Radio. That is really a case of someone, Francois Vaxelaire, who saw a vacant lot in the heart of Williamsburg and had an idea to put an internet radio station on it. He wanted to fund it by selling coffee, wine and beer and it had turned into a great success with every major DJ from all over the world playing on it as well as the New York residents and locals.

 

Justin Strauss in the studio until 4 | thelotradio.com

Une publication partagée par The Lot Radio (@thelotradio) le

 

It really is very special and has a sense of community that I haven’t seen in a long while. In addition to the radio they partner with the church across the street to have concerts and other events. It is what makes New York special and proof that great things are still possible here.

Find below on the map the places listed in this article.

Good Room

98 Meserole Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

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The Lot Radio

17 Nassau Ave, Brooklyn, New York, État de New York 11222, États-Unis

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House of Yes

2 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

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Bossa Nova Civic Club

1271 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221

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Black Flamingo

Black Flamingo, Brooklyn, État de New York, États-Unis

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Output

Output, Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, État de New York, États-Unis

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Connie Ha is an LA born visual/musical creative with NYC roots. You’ll usually find her getting silly in a new city making new friends and chasing dogs.
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