This Sunday August 12 at Le Bain, Été d’Amour welcomes Justin & Justin, the New York party duo formed by Justin Strauss and Justin Miller. While Mr. Strauss has been a nightclubbing figure since the late 70s, Mr. Miller is part of the DFA history and runs his own Have A Killer Time. From the wild subterranean nights at subMercer to the top floor of The Standard, Highline, enjoy Justin and Justin’s chitchat.
Justin Miller at Le Bain (Photo: Callie Barlow)
The Standard: How do the Justins balance each other out?
Justin Strauss: I would say that although we have broad, similar tastes in music, we each bring a different perspective to the mix. We always like surprising each with some old and new tunes. I just think we compliment each other really well.
Justin Miller: I always tend to pitch Strauss as the man who has seen it all. Justin has been DJing since the late 70s and before that he was the frontman for the power pop band Milk’n’Cookies. Justin has such a rich New York history and over time has managed to maintain the delicate balance of knowing and understanding what was cool then and what is truly cool now. We consistently push each other creatively and technically behind the decks. Playing with Justin the past two years has made me a stronger DJ.
How did the party Justin/Justin start?
Strauss: I met Justin Miller after Whatever/Whatever (Bryan Mette and myself) did a remix for Woolfy that came out through DFA Records where Justin was working at the time. We just got to talking about all kinds of things and found we had a lot of common interests musically and otherwise. After getting to know him a bit I suggested we do a Justin/Justin party. Good name, right? The first one was so much fun we just kept it going. I remember Justin playing a lot of records I didn’t know and loved, so I knew this was going to be good. Having DJ’d for a long time, playing with Justin gave me a totally fresh outlook.
Justin Strauss playing at the Keith Haring’s exhibition closing party (Brooklyn Museum).
Any little memories from that first night that stick with you?
Miller: The detail that really sticks with me about our first Justin/Justin party is the flyer. I was always fascinated by Justin’s photos on Facebook. He has everything from classic polaroids of him taken by Andy Warhol, a small intimate gathering with David Johansen of the New York Dolls in attendance, to 7 years of photo membership cards to the Paradise Garage. When I saw the Keith Haring drawing, I thought this is it. This is what our flyer will be. In true form, Justin thoughtfully reached out to the Keith Haring Foundation to make sure the image was okay to use for our flyer. In a time where most people appropriate images for their own use, it was cool to see his level of respect for the art and the man behind it.
What would be the short and perfect Justin/Justin playlist?
Strauss: Hmmm, we always strive to change it up and keep the tunes fresh (new and old), but two from my list you’re likely to hear are Walter Neff by Matias Aguayo and Omar S.’s Wayne County Hill Cops Part 2.
Miller: I agree with Justin. Since it’s been a monthly affair we always tend to keep things new and exciting. Some tracks that became regulars would include Abe Duque - What Happened, Levon Vincent - Love Technique, and Yotam Avni - Jay Dilla’s Dream. Can’t give too much away. I remember Justin ending a few of the parties with The Rolling Stone’s Heaven. That was dreamy.
Justin/Justin party invites for the subMercer. Keith Haring drew the image (a “portrait”) for Justin Strauss in 1984.
You might have one of the best club visual ever to illustrate your night: an original drawing by Keith Haring. Justin, what is the story behind that drawing?
Strauss: Well I was lucky enough to be friends with Keith Haring. One day I was hanging out at his studio on lower Broadway. He had just gotten back from Italy from a show he had there and they did this really oversized limited edition book for the show. Keith was super generous and knew I’d love one so he gave me a copy of this big book and drew this ‘portrait’ of me on the first page. He’d had given me drawings and things before, but this one was so special. When it came time to find the perfect ‘Justin’ image for our party we knew we really couldn’t do any better. People seem to really love it and now identify it with our party and that makes me happy. I think Keith would have loved it and I know he’d be there dancing with us.
Mr. Strauss, what secret question would you ask to Mr. Miller?
Strauss: How do you keep you hair looking so great?
Miller: Kiehl’s! (Laughs)
And Mr. Miller what is your question to Mr Strauss?
Miller: Justin, you have two incredible daughters. And in a few years time, I’m sure I’ll be asking what is the secret to raising amazing kids in Manhattan of all places?
Strauss: The secret is really no secret. There are two things: time and love. And what better place to do that but in Manhattan. I wouldn’t think of raising them anywhere else. It’s got everything and more and if you need to get away, nothing is too far. I think my daughters would agree.
One of Justin/Justin’s classic: Jay Dilla’s Dream by Yotam Avni