"Hunee is a good eater," begins Berlin-based DJ Hunee's official biography. "Good" here surely means voracious -- Hunee may be well-known for his deep disco sets (sometimes running to seven hours in length, especially at his great Hunchin All Night parties) and deep-grooved house productions, but his omnivorous ear takes in everyone from Eric Dolphy and Sergiu Celibidache to N.W.A and Madlib. He creates lovely worlds from these disparate interests, and his generous, off-handedly ironic manner spreads a layer of laidback jazzy soul over the sonic smorgasbord.
On Sun/30, Honey Soundsystem celebrates six years of putting on one of the best weekly parties in San Francisco (it's honeycomb hexagonal!), Honey Sundays (9pm, $5. Holy Cow, 1535 Folsom, SF.) And to celebrate, the boys flew in this beloved underground soul traveller for an exclusive three-hour set. I caught him over email for a few questions.
SFBG Hey Hunee! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. You have said that you came from a rap background, but your love of the dance floor soon brought you to disco, and from there into classic house. Can you tell me a few of the records that changed your life and drew you into disco and house?
Hunee Hi! Yea, for sure. The transition def. happened through tunes that were accessible from different sides of the dancefloor. Things that fall into my mind are Colors' "Am I Gonna Be The One," Convertion's "Let's Do It" (Leroy Burgess production), John Rocca's "Move," Chemise's "She Can't Love You," and Definition Of A Track by Backroom Productions. These are not the deepest or most obscure records, but they helped me dance another dance. And shit, I still love playin' the classics.
SFBG Have you been to San Francisco before? Are there any musicmakers from California who have shaped your aesthetic?
Hunee Never been to the West Coast. When I think of music and California, i connect to N.W.A., 2Pac, Snoop, Madlib, Stones Throw, and of course Dam-Funk. I am not familiar too much with the current dance music from California, but I am hungry to learn about it.
SFBG You're well-known for playing epic, hours-long sets, especially at your Hunchin' parties. Is there any pressure when you have to play shorter sets? How does your sound change, do you think?
Hunee If I play a very long set, I bring even more different type of things, but it doesn't matter if long or short -- I always try to create a dynamic journey. If there is a real memory created for me and the dancers, that's when I am happy. I love this moment when the vibe changes: the crowd and myself have been through a bit together, and everyone gets loose, and joyful and everything becomes one. That state if more difficult to achieve in short sets, but I also like the challenge of maximum impact in short times.
SFBG You just took a month off from DJing which you characterized as "long" -- can you tell us why you took the break? Beyond that you seem to be insanely busy. What are some of the more memorable parties you've played recently?
Hunee Ha ha, yes, after four weeks I was like "Damn, can I even still pull it off? It's been so long..." Working full-time during the week and playing on the weekends is only fun for some time, and then you're just tired. There was a need to align different needs and responsibilities. Big nights for me lately were definitely Watergate and Panorama-Bar, Terrassen in Stockholm, and Butter Side Up in Leeds - big up!
SFBG You've lived in Berlin for a long time -- what are some of the changes you've witnessed lately? Is it still easy for a DJ or music maker with no money and big dreams to move there and survive? You also have strong ties to Amsterdam, especially through the Rush Hour label. Would you ever consider moving there?
Hunee I guess nothing is easy if done right, but everything is possible. Berlin is still very accessible and forgiving and theres are so many opportunities for music minded people. Changes, well, commercialization of the neighbourhoods sucks, upgoing rents, more hostels, more hype, more bikes, more babies - good things, bad things. I love Amsterdam, they built an incredible musical legacy and community, but I am like a bird -- I follow the sun. California here I come!
SFBG This year's "Tide" had a lovely, twisty-acid '90s feel -- it put me in mind of DJ Kim Ann Foxman, who played an amazing set here last weekend. Do you know her? Are you listening to anyone in particular at the moment?
Hunee I don't know her personally, but heard great things about her DJing and hope to hear her soon. I mostly listen to Eric Dolphy, Sergiu Celibidache, and Jussi Bjoerling at home, Dance Music wise I dig Daphni, Robert Hood, Roy Davis Jr., Theo and the likes, DJs like Sadar Bahar and Mark Seven make me feel like my only task on earth is to dance.
SFBG Since you're playing the Honey Soundsystem party, I have to ask: when did you start going by Hunee -- is it a childhood nickname, or ...?
Hunee Correctly it's pronounced Who-Knee (and it took me years until I got the honey misunderstanding in english-speaking countries). My mom called me this way since I was able to understand I was an individual person, with an unique name, Hunee.