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Two DJ’s, two fathers, two guys living out their dream in New York City — Sean Cormac & Chili Davis. Along with third partner in crime Alan Morehouse, Sean & Chili run their own chunk of the NYC nightlife, a party called Forward Disco. What started out in the back of a hair salon when it closed up shop, Forward Disco is now holding down a residency at one of New York City’s most reputable nightclubs — Cielo. That shit doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of perseverance and love for your craft — two noteworthy qualities we admire.
Maintaining a healthy family life while continually chasing your dreams is no walk in the park, so Sean & Chili seem like a natural fit for our Hometown Heroes series. We doubled up this week with not one but two new mixes from Sean Cormac & Chili Davis; giving us a taste of what Forward Disco is all about. Both mixes are dope!
Be sure to check out the interview below to learn more about Forward Disco, Sean Cormac, & Chili Davis.
* CLICK HERE if you do not see the SoundCloud player for Sean Cormac’s mix.
Interview with Sean Cormac & Chili Davis:
Sean & Chili – How’d that happen?
CD: I had actually known who Sean was from his Stimulus Response parties, and I always admired him as a DJ. We were put on the same bill for an event in NYC sometime in 2008 or so…. After that we remained in contact bouncing off ideas. It was really apparent early on that he was as professional as I pretended to be, and we just started working together pretty organically.
SC: I had just finished up doing Stimulus Response for a few, great years and re:fugue which was another long-running party previous to that and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to sign on for another party. Doing a proper night tends to be a lot more work then people think. You can’t have a successful night by just showing up. But, like Chili said – it just kind of came together organically.
You guys produce Forward Disco, a monthly dance party at Cielo in NYC – Tell us more about the party.
CD: Forward Disco started not too long after our party billed together. Our first proper home was at, what was then Stay in the basement of a lounge in the lower east side. It was a really cool venue for us; small, dark, sweaty basement, and we had some great nights there. We did our first party at Cielo in 2011, and it was a huge hit. Every party has been special, but some highlights have been Danny Krivit dropping two 90’s sets for us, Franck Roger schooling us just a couple of months ago, any one of Hector Romero’s three sets for us (he is our personal guest for our birthdays) and tagging with Mr V to close one night was really cool. Outside of Cielo, a big highlight was when we played for the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival at the Panther Room in November, which was dope… but probably the biggest highlight is just the relationships that we have made with our guests, artists that I have looked up to such as Hector Romero, Hex Hector, Jason Ojeda, Mr V are all guys that I would consider friends now. The whole thing has been a highlight!
SC: Well.. that’s not completely true. Little known, fun fact for the day: Forward Disco’s roots (pun intended) started in a hair salon. It was a hair salon by day and transformed into a club/lounge at night. We threw a couple of really good parties in the space. Truth is, I really… REALLY hated lugging equipment and breaking down at the end of the night and made it clear to everyone (we had a third partner at inception, Alan Morehouse, who this party doesn’t ever happen without him) that I felt like we had something good to build on, we just needed to find a proper home. Granted, the sound was great, we had a proper setup but it was way too much work for me. After playing clubs for so many years, you just want to show up to a gig with records/cds/usbs or whatever.
I agree that there are too many highlight to choose just one. Every night seems to bring it’s own multitude of highlights. It’s a treat to watch every artist we have booked and worked with over the past few years and watch their work flow. I thoroughly enjoy the constant process of learning and I love seeing how people who’s work I admire, work.
CD: Echoing Sean’s words, Alan and I have been involved in music together for 10+ years. It was something that I always knew that I wanted to do, but without the nudge from Alan and his help, I don’t think that it ever happens. He continues to be someone that seek advice from and bounce ideas with.
Are there plans for Forward Disco to expand outside of NY? Do you have any thoughts on building the brand into a label?
SC: We have discussed taking the FD show on the road… I think our focus right now is to continue to build our night at home and our brand. I think we are at a great point right now and continuing to put in hard work may pay end up paying dividends elsewhere but our focus is on making each night successful and fun.
Starting a label is also something we have discussed but there is a TON of work to do it properly. We have friends that run some successful labels and there is no shortage of hurdles. That being said, it is something we would like to do when the stars align.
CD: As Sean said, the focus is NYC right now, but taking it on the road is something that we both are interested in – a couple of summers back, I played at La Santanera in Playa del Carmen and I remain in contact with the great team out there, I haven’t seen the new space, but knowing the crew out there, that’s the type of venue that would be a great fit. But back to NY there are so many great artists here, and despite how things change, and people harp on the good old days, this is still a great city with so many opportunities. As far as a label, it does feel like the next natural progression, but the timing has to be right. There are so many labels out there, you really need to find something to distinguish yourself. The one thing that I know that we got going for us is the art work. Sean is usually pretty humble (before his first 4-5 drinks) so I will hype him up here – he does all of our graphic design, and he is the best in the business and works for a ton of top labels, being a visual person myself, I view art as such an important part of a label, so if and when we go that route, I know that we start off with being able to check a key item off of the to do list.
Name a couple core values you hold as a DJ?
CD: I could name a million. But I will keep it brief, one, and this may sound obvious – don’t be a dick. You are a DJ, have some damn fun. Hector Romero (who has been so influential in what we are building) taught me that through his actions, smile and have a damn good time, and the people will follow. Also, you are not bigger than the party – we take what we do extremely seriously and professionally, but at the end of the day you are trying to make people dance and have fun. There is a time and a place to educate a crowd and there is a time and a place to just make sure that everyone is having a good time, pick your spots, but always stay true to your sound. So much for “keeping it brief”
SC: Couple simple things for me: 1. Understand and respect your time slot. I won’t mention names but, we had a young kid come in and open up (it was requested by a promoter we were working with at the time) and he literally, was playing 132 bpm main floor crap. He finished his “set” ( I believe we cut him off about 25-35 minutes in) and grabbed his mates and walked out like he had just crushed Panorama Bar for 6 hours straight. 2: Understand what your job is in a lot of venues… make people dance, be a part of people’s memories of a great night and enjoy the opportunities you have to do it.
Which way do you lean towards — 115 or 125? What’s one of your favorite jams you’re playing out at the moment?
SC: I don’t know if I necessarily lean more to tempo but to movement. A track can be a lower tempo but have lots of movement or vice versa.
Favorite jams of the moment… hmmm… I have to say there is a lot of great music being produced of late. I love what labels like 124 Recordings / 124 Black, Home Invasion, Beste Modus, Plastik People and such are releasing. There seems to be a steady stream of quality music being released quality labels… in all different genres, styles, etc..
CD: To answer your first question – yes. Sean and I run the gamut for when we play at our events, from opening the night to playing right before the headliner to closing. We play with such a wide variety of artists that limiting ourselves to one tempo would not make for a good experience, plus quite frankly, its boring. I see nothing wrong with dropping some 110 smooth track at the right time to a live crowd, or hell there is some 130 techno that if you are overlooking, you are missing some great music. My mix here starts at the 124-125 rannge and ends in the 113 range. Regarding what I am really digging at the moment – I just dropped Demuja’s “Everytime” on 124 Black at Cielo, and it just sounded phat as hell, David Morales vs Sade “Shelter Me” has gotten a (well deserved) huge reaction and one track that has come back heavy into my rotation is Adesse Versions – Modal. All three of these are on my mix.
What gig do you dream about?
CD: At the risk of sounding extremely cheesy, the gigs that I dream about are the next Forward Disco. I love playing other people’s parties, but there is no better feeling than playing your own, with a lineup that you curated and that has your finger prints all over it. So….maybe because I am getting some cabin fever in snowy NY, the ultimate dream would be an extended outdoor beach party on some remote island, featuring all of the NYC artists that have supported us over the years.
SC: Well, that was cheesy but, we are very fortunate to work with Cielo. Any time you get to play at Panther Room/Output that is really special. And you’d be a fool if you didn’t dream about playing some of the European venues out there. It seems a good deal of the eastern and western European crowds can be a lot more up for it and adventurous.
CD: I said that I was taking a risk, and it was cheesy….
What cool things do you have planned for 2015?
CD: 2015 is super exciting, next up we have a night of club classics at Cielo on March 28, with a special guest that we cannot wait to announce. We are also filling out lineups for Cielo as well as some other venues, unfortunately its nothing that we can disclose just yet. Outside of the gigs, we also run the Forward Disco site, which is not just a place to ogle photos of Sean and I. We are reviewing some great music, interviewing phenomenal artists, featuring great podcasts, and our latest ‘Selective” feature is an opportunity for people involved in our community to reflect on some of their top moments, music, etc in the industry, it’s a really exciting feature where we have some great guests lined up – we extend this beyond the DJs, so you get views from the dancers, promoters, lighting and sound techs, etc.
SC: In addition to the wicked Spring line-up we (*almost) have in place, I have a couple releases being finished (I’m supposed to be tidying some stuff up as we speak) on a couple different labels. I’m happy to be able to explore some different types of sound. I’m also looking forward to some new art projects this year. I’ve had the chance to design a bunch of amazing records over the past few years and this year is shaping up to be even better from an artistic vision stand-point. I did Terrence Parker’s – Life On The Back 9 triple vinyl on Planet E as well as a bunch of other vinyl and digital releases for Planet E. I am currently working on some new vinyl designs for NOSI Music. Gil K of NOSI is one of the hardest working guys I know and is getting ready to put out some GREAT vinyl releases and he has given me complete autonomy with the designs and so far… we are both really happy.
Tell us about your mix…
CD: I am feeling so much different music these days, so my concept here was to go from Manhattan to Brooklyn. I kick things off with our peak vibe at Cielo, then the music shifts to a sound that we would play in Panther Room or a similar venue, and end up at a low key chilled afters. I close the mix with Mark E’s edit of Womack and Womack – Baby I’m Scared, which is really special to me because the original to that is something that was a huge influence on me and was played non stop in my house growing up. In fact, I think that I need to let my mom & dad know that I dropped it here, they will finally listen to one of my mixes!
SC: I’ve had two new human, time-constraints added recently so, I had to go with one of my favorite mixes from a little while back that really covered a lot of territory…it kind of feels like a condensed night. Mix starts out on the slower, deeper side and weaves through deep house, a bit of classic fare and some deeper stuff to round out the back end.
Drink of choice…
CD: Despite what Sean will tell you, my drink of choice is NOT an Old Fashioned in a crowded nightclub.
SC: Ha! That Old Fashioned was disgusting… looked like it came from a mix or from a fountain. I’ll stick with the Irish Speedball – a proper beer accompanied by anything with a bit of caffeine in it.
CD: It’s hard to argue with a proper beer, although a nice scotch on the rocks will always do the trick, or as my son calls it “Daddy’s milk” ha!