Nearly thirty years after radio DJ Steve Dahl and his infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park heralded the demise of the disco era, a new virulent strain of the disco bug seems to be popping up around town.
“I do have this fantasy where I ask Steve to host a giant outdoor party called ‘Disco Resurrection’ where he will publicly apologize and admit that he is actually a huge disco fan,” says Samantha Roberts, better known in DJ circles as SR-71. Alongside partner-in-crime Scott Brandon, the duo has been spotted around town throwing parties for discerning dance-floor denizens looking for bouncy retro-futuristic workups of cosmic nu-disco and left-field house. Their latest endeavor, Back & Forth, features the Chicago DJ debut of New York’s Nick Chacona, whose body of work travels through deep house grooves, techno-leaning flourishes of melody and at times, a controlled-yet-confident disco gait.
“I definitely see progressions [in my music]…some of the things I’m working on right now are going more towards that kind of percussive, spacey-yet-driving percussive direction, but it’s a bit more refined,” Chacona explains from his Brooklyn home.
Progressions have always been a part of Chacona’s musical life. A 7-year-old Nick learned guitar and played in bands all the way through college. But it was a high-school reggae infatuation that turned Chacona to vinyl, as his quest for dub-influenced music resulted in drives into the city from upstate Ithaca. Also an avid snowboarder, Chacona taught Cornell University general-education courses on the slopes where a chance encounter with a househead needing turntable lessons activated his latent house genes. A brief jaunt to San Francisco would follow, with frequent record-shop stops and the influence of the seminal Wicked DJ crew. Fast-forwarding to the present, Chacona’s productions have found a home on esteemed imprints like Buzzin’ Fly and 2020 Vision, as well as his co-headed Hector Works label (with long-time skate buddy and production partner Anthony Mansfield) and the debut release from Norwegian disco don Prins Thomas’ new label, “Eagle City” on Internasjonal.
But for all this talk of disco, many of Chacona’s productions seem to originate from a place closer to house.
“I’m glad you say that, cuz I feel like that, too!” laughs Chacona.
So is there any resentment towards being lumped into the nu-disco category? “I don’t feel any sort of resentment—people can say whatever they want…but as far as my DJing and my production goes, I feel like I do come from this left-field house kind of background—deeper left-field house. And when people think of me as a DJ they might tend to think that I’m gong to play much slower and spacier than I do…I play a lot of house, and I play some techno, and I play some nu-disco and italo…I guess you could say that I focus just on house, and kind of go from here and there.” (Duke Shin)
Nick Chacona headlines Back & Forth, with residents SR-71 & Scott Brandon at Lava, 1270 North Milwaukee, (773)342-5282 on February 29, 9pm-2am. $5.