This Saturday, we are honored to have Zev Le Wolf taking control of Le Bain. As one half of Wolf + Lamb, Zev has been a key influence in the New York dance music scene for over a decade. Now based between Miami and Brooklyn with fellow duo Soul Clap, Wolf + Lamb keeps on shaping the future of dance music. We met Zev for a Standard Q&A Based on a True Story.
Zev Le Wolf of Wolf + Lamb.
The Standard: In over ten years of Wolf + Lamb adventures as a band, a label and a collective, your biggest achievement is probably to have made the New York dance scene fresh again and created a new wave in American dance music history. Do you agree?
Zev: Of course I don’t agree, that’s too much to take credit for; we’ve done something to be sure but it’s hard to quantify. Our big inspiration all the way at the beginning was that everyone was listening to electro which bored the sh*&t out of us. We just wanted to play the minimal pop we were into from Germany at the time. At first we couldn’t find a party to play at so we made one, then we couldn’t find a venue to put the party into so we made that too.
What were your main inspirations to become so creative when you started in the early 2000’s with your partner Gadi Mizrahi?
I had cancer three times in my 20’s and each time I was inspired to be more creative and spend the rest of my life pursuing my passion. As for Gadi, I’ve got no clue what makes that guy tick.
Ryan of Slow Hands told us that you and Gadi “really brought NYC’s dance community back together” - from the techno to the disco - to create a new sound on the global dance music scene. How would you define that Wolf +Lamb sound?
At the time we were developing our sound, club music had become for the most part, a drugged up monotones loop that played a loud volumes for hours on end. With all due respect to that, I had my fill at Twilo and the Tunnel when I was fifteen chewing my cud on two hits of ecstasy. We wanted to bring back the variety show. We wanted to bring back parts of dance music that had been papered over with boring drum loops. We wanted a house party again, hooks that made people smile and feel emotion. The sound is slower, deeper, sexier and has more variety. The sound is that we have no set sound - just a feeling.
Baby Prince & Lonely C,Your Moms House (Zev’s Remix)
The early years of Wolf+Lamb were centered around the Marcy Hotel in Williamsburg where you built up a community of artists including Nicolas Jaar, No Regular Play, Slow Hands, Soul Clap… It seemed almost too perfect to be true, that ideal image of DJs and musicians playing and working and hanging together. Was there some kind of Warholian Factory-like flow of creativity?
Absolutely, in fact of course at the time it felt like home. It was. Gadi and I lived there when it opened for a few years. It was our living room and we always had artists and friends coming in, getting high and laying down tracks. Then on some weekend we would put the synths away, pack up the studio gear and invite a couple hundred friends and neighbors to come hang out and dance in our space and we would get to try out new grooves and rhythms. It remains to this day our labels’ home in New York, it’s inhabited by label artists and we still work out of there today, though the parties have mostly stopped.
You moved to Miami a few years ago with Soul Clap. Was it a way to keep that magic alive, to re-create in Miami the same sense of community and creativity you had in Brooklyn?
To be clear, we snowbird, as in go to Miami for the winter, and leave as soon as it starts to get warm everywhere else. We got lucky and Gadi found the Electric Pickle, which is a lot like the Marcy in mood, vibe and atmosphere. We have a residency that over the last year has started to feel a lot like the Marcy. It’s our home away from home.
Dance music has become mainstream in the USA in the last few years and found a new name: EDM. Are you a bit cynical about it or still idealistic about the dance music scene?
I’m too optimistic to be cynical about five million kids getting into the commercial end of our genre. I don’t see how that can be a bad thing. Gadi and I are in our thirties, we’ve seen this before as pop music is quite fickle and every couple of years takes up a new flavor before it gets bored and moves on - but before it does, it’ll dump tens of thousands of new listeners into our world, and that’s nothing to complain about.
Zev having a good time in San Francisco.
What makes you confident about the future?
My three-plus year meditation practice.
What was your favorite super-hero as a kid?
I grew up hasidic and was thus denied the joy of superheroes. The closest we got to a superhero was a pleasantly overweight Uncle Moishy & the Mitzvah Men. I would have looked up to him I’m sure but I didn’t believe in god.
Benoit & Sergio said about their creative process “It is not like ‘Let’s sit down and write an electro funk track’ - it’s more: Let’s try to capture energy”, the energy you can feel in a club on a good night”. Do you have that ‘energy approach’ when you produce your own tracks?
Gadi and I move through a track with our eyes closed, feeling our way to the next movement. We work on each element until it feels right and then move on. We’ve given up on trying to aim for a certain energy because we always end up with the opposite.
Wolf+Lamb is a label, a family of artists but also a duo formed by you and Gadi. I read you plan to release your second full-length album this Summer. Is it still in progress?
Yes, early fall will be our new album with a working title of Based on a True Story, this is a real deep home listening album with a live feel to it. It’s nothing like either of us have made before save the two dance tracks on it.
Who are your all-time favorite duos?
Tim & Eric, Soul Clap.
If you have the power of teleporting yourself in one movie and interact in it (and get stuck in it), what would you pick?
The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky. There’s wonderful scenery, plenty of naked women and no point to it all.
If you have the power to travel in time, where would you go as a music lover?
I’d keep it locked right here. We have all music now.