Honey Soundsystem is the San Francisco based, queer DJ and production collective, made up of Jason Kendig, Jacob Sperber aka Jackie House, Josh Cheon (check his recent Diggers Directory mix and interview), and Robot Yang aka Beziér. Inspired by the underground gay party scene that put San Francisco on the map, their legendary parties, known for their avant-garde installations, hosted everyone from DJ Sprinkles, Honey Dijon, Mr Ties and Kim Ann Foxman, flying the flag for queer players in the dance music world. The guys now bring their party heat to dance floors all around the world, as well as head up the three labels Honey Soundsystem Records, Disciare, and Dark Entires. They’ve even put out a project, which reissued the lost gay porn soundtracks of San Francisco’s Hi-NRG producer Patrick Cowley. In short these guys are multitalented party gods.
Catch Honey Soundsystem playing at Corsica Studios on March 31st.
Check out the map above and interview below for Honey Soundsytem’s favourite spots, while you listen to a 100% San Francisco mix.
Favourite place to buy records?
RS94109 is a shop in the Tenderloin specialising in house and techno records and recently acquired a large jazz and vintage r&b collection. The store is owned and operated by two brothers Sohrab and Skander and their friend Josh Woods. We’ve seen the shop evolve from their humble beginnings in 2013 to the newest incarnation today – a very sleek and efficient looking record shop with a highly curated, yet succinct selection of music. In addition, the store has a coffee bar component that their friend Chris, who opened Stanza Coffee in the Mission, runs at the front of the shop. In addition, on certain nights, RS host shows until midnight and they have built out a schedule for events including a regular black metal night the boys will soon present. Definitely make the effort to visit, especially when a show is happening.
Best soundsystem / favourite club?
Unfortunately that space doesn’t exist anymore…But hey, we’ve been around as Honey for a decade, even longer as residents of San Francisco for each member of the crew. We’ve seen venues come and go and gotten mileage out of quite a few places. What we always find is that sometimes you have to settle on a spot, roll up your sleeves and polish the space to get the right vibe out of it.
Before closing, Mighty was for a while the main home for Honey Soundsystem events after we ended our Sunday weekly at Holy Cow. We worked with their sound person Craig to tune the system and for more major events brought in Bradley Steven Katz who now runs a specialty audio service group Waveworks to optimise the sound. He was also responsible for correcting the system at Holy Cow, working with the owner and getting him to purchase limiters because there was always the occasional blacked out queen who loves to drive the meters into the red. Good sound and a canvas for transforming space are key factors as to why we adore certain places such as the ones mentioned. Also, recently we’ve been finding ourselves having a lot of fun DJing one offs at SF Eagle since the space changed ownership.
Best party in the city?
High Fantasy at Aunt Charlie’s never seems to fail with a fresh faced, mixed, queer audience every time. Proprietor, host, MC and DJ Myles Cooper holds it down every Tuesday pumping out hot club traxxx through that tiny soundsystem and inviting local drag queens to shake that rock out of their heel. Be sure you show up with enough dollar bills for tipping – these queens are on the clock, working hard for their art.
Best place to see another medium of art other than music?
Twice a week Oddball Films, a film archive in the Mission hosts curated screenings around rotating themes like queer underground films that features selections Pink Triangles, Scorpio Rising and Jean Genet’s Un Chant D’Amour- or vintage drug scare films (ala ‘PCP: You Never Know’) – to a spotlight on surreal animation. Always a riot in that screening room (it’s BYOB) and popcorn is provided.
What’s your favourite restaurant in town, and what would you normally order?
Yamo’s – the Burmese food kitchen run by two cranky moms is a simple dine in & out situation in a very discreet (vs. discrete for the grammar nerds of Grindr), hole in the wall next to a smoke shop on 18th and Mission street. We recommend getting the tea leaf salad, along with the curry chicken noodle dish. And for vegetarians the tofu / mushroom rice plate with black bean sauce will set you right. It gets a bit cramped due to shortage of seats but well worth the wait for something cheap and satisfying with an occasional side eye from the kitchen.
Favourite street food spot?
It seems like there an epidemic of overly baked ideas for “street food” concepts aka “food trucks” in San Francisco. So we’re going to go back to basics and would advise on finding a taco joint around the Mission, especially up and down 24th street. Or if you want decent street tacos experience Taqueria Vallarta on 24th and Treat or El Metate for some bomb fish tacos.
Favourite bar to meet friends after work?
The biker bar, Hole in The Wall, is the de facto meeting spot for a lot of our friends. It is central in SOMA and easy to get to for everyone coming from different parts of the city. The musical playlist programmed every night is pretty beyond the usual dive bar / touchscreen jukebox selections and the decor is either a hypochondriac’s nightmare or an Absurdist’s fantasy (do note however, you will not find a speck of dust on any of the fixtures). Bonus: drinks are fairly cheap and there’s a plush 3 foot cock perfectly positioned for that outrageous selfie moment.
Favourite park you head when the sun’s out?
Dolores Park is an obvious choice especially if the weather is nice- but it’s overrun by basics. Since sun can be fleeting in San Francisco and Vitamin D is a hot commodity here you’d want to hoard as many rays as you can. May we recommend nude sunbathing at Marshall Beach *emoji aubergine*?
Further afield, is there somewhere you like going to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take some time away for yourself?
If you can find yourself and friend a car you can drive up to the peak of Mt, Tamalpais for some of the best views of the Bay. There is a varying range of hikes around the peak for different skill levels. Once you feel like that trail has worked your last nerve enjoy a drink, bratwurst and pretzels at the Nature Friends Tourist Club. Mt Tam is definitely a hit when we take our friends to experience nature when they visit and makes us feel very rugged and butch. And of course, if you’re feeling more adventurous-spontaneous schedule a nice road trip down to Big Sur or perhaps a relaxing hot springs moment at Esalen.
Best place to experience something unique to San Francisco?
The Tenderloin neighbourhood, while rough around the edges, is the last frontier of SF where you can still experience a bit of the classic SF charm without all that hippy dippy B.S. 1/2 of Honey Soundsystem calls the TL home and definitely is the most approximate feeling of living in a real city here. You’ll find: local flavour (we use that term quite loosely), gay run and operated The Magazine which stocks vintage magazines of various genres (including classic gay porn mags), and one of the oldest gay bars The Gangway which we frequent when we need to blow off some steam. For now the TL’s seedy reputation in San Francisco acts as a repellant for perhaps the more easily offended, PG to PG-13 rated elements of San Francisco. But at this state of our housing crisis…that will soon change.
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us? What was the idea behind it and are there any standout tracks you’d like to shout out?
The mix we recorded represents a time capsule of our experience living in San Francisco together at the same time. We’ve included tracks we found when we acquired the Megatone archives from John Hedges. There is music produced from friends we’ve made over the years. Also we provided songs from our favorite bands we’ve seen performed live.
Additionally, this mix is also quite personal as a lot of the artists on the mix are heavily connected to people who lost their lives at Ghost Ship. A lot of people in that accident have touched every single member of Honey. For the mix we wanted to introduce artists critical to the development of the music scene in the Bay. Also, we included artists on this mix who were taken from us from the fire last December. We want to respect their contributions and legacy that informs the future of Bay Area music. May their souls rest in peace.
And finally, what’s on the horizon for you in terms of live dates or releases we should look out for?
This year we’re actually celebrating our 10th year together, likely in October. Octa Octa’s new LP comes out on our record label this month. As far as gigs, we’ll have a play at Love International in Croatia, our annual Sunday Pride party in San Francisco, and a slew of gigs in Miami, Bogota, and other major cities in Europe as well as Asia.
Laser – Laser (1981)
Danny and the Serious Party Gods – Castro Boy (1983)
Timmy Spence – Brand New Dance feat. The Sluts (1981)
Brotman & Short – White Gloves (2012)
Joey Casio – Debtor’s Prism (2009)
Seacrypt – Hide and Seek (2014)
Obsidian Blade – Paradan Genes (2014)
Identity Thief – Green River (2016)
Group Rhoda – Coral Castle (2013)
Bronze – Showing Them (2011)
Brotman & Short – Distance Unknown (2012)
Loren Steele – Swimma (Roche Remix) (2017)
Zru Vogue – Nakaweda Dream (1982)
The Space Lady – I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (1994)
Dreamlogicc – Hypno Blender (2017)
Cube – Safe Word (2016)
Them Are Us Too – False Moon (2015)