Veteran DJ Michael Fierman will play the closing set at this week’s Saint-At-Large Black Party. Today, Michael answers a few questions for JMG.
JMG: Tell me about playing at the original Saint. How did you get the gig?
Michael Fierman: Playing records at the Saint was the equivalent of a Carnegie Hall performance for piano recitalists; the ultimate achievement. The prestige conferred on one by giving a successful performance there could launch a career overnight. Naturally, a disastrous first outing there would have an equally chilling effect on a young disc jockey’s hopes. In the spring of 1982, the Saint wanted to add a young talent to their staff of veterans much as the Yankees might do today. They launched a series of seven Tuesdays featuring some of New York City’s rising prospects with the intention of hiring only one of them as one of their “starters” for the following season. I was fortunate to be the one they chose.
JMG: How many times have you played the Black Party? Is there something different about a Black Party gig?
MF: This will be my 13th appearance as DJ. There are so many differences between the approach to playing the Black Party, and the outlook one might have on other events. Beyond the artistic challenges and opportunities, there was also the issue of orchestrating a cohesive structure for an 18 hour event. In the heyday of the party, and the circuit in general, these musical prerogatives were handed to one DJ, who was entrusted to imbue his or her persona and vision to a musical event. Remember “the trip”? In these days of ADD, where the lowest common denominator is king, these concepts have fallen by the wayside.
JMG: You’re known as a “Morning Music” DJ. How would you define morning music?In an event such as the Black Party, after one has reached the initial “peak”, any music that follows could be called morning music. That period of time, what I used to call the “rarefied atmosphere”, is where you can be the most creative, delving into all sorts of unusual and eclectic byways, as well as building up to a series of peaks. Each set of music after the traditional 6 am encore would have a different feel and flavor. I always viewed them as movements of a symphony, each one being a viable stand alone piece that relate to and build upon the other. Leonard bernstein’s book, The Joy Of Music, was a great inspiration to me as a young DJ, as well as my mentor, Robbie Leslie, and my idol, the great Jim Burgess, whom I still consider to be the greatest artist our profession has ever produced.
JMG:What are some of your favorite classic tracks? Is there anything recent that you feel is a great example of morning music?
MF: Oh dear. The old favorite song question. What can i say? Being pressed for time and space, let’s just say one name. Boris Midney. As far as new records, for morning play I’ll mention Again by John Legend, Until The End Of Time, by the Sunburst Band, and Karawane by Escort.
JMG: What do you have planned for your Black Party set?
MF: I’m planning an interesting eclectic set. Mostly new, but with a few old friends that we know and love featured.
JMG: What’s in your future?
MF: As Albert Einstein said, I never think about the future, it comes soon enough.JMG: Thank, Michael! Break a leg!