Bailey House Auction
GLAAD Out Auction 2010
Ali Forney Luscious
Broadway Impact
Communion Art
Compass at Halo
Garden Party 2009
Garden Party 2010
GLAAD Out Auction
GLWD Day of the Dead
Hetrick-Martin Awards
Join The Impact
Kips Bay Show House
Live Out Loud Gala
MGLFF Benefit
NY Leadership Awards
Janice Dickinson
Jennifer Holliday
Joe Gauthreaux
Jonathan Peters
Junior Vasquez
Rauhofer Nissim
Sin Morera
Tony Moran
Love Is In The Air
The Garden Party
Musto Celebrates 25
Black Party XXXI
Miss'd America Pageant
Voodoo Purgatorio
Work Halloween
HOP Pride
NYC Pride Rally
Alegria Pride
NYC Pride Events
WPF VIP Reception
WPF Shopping Spree
WPF: Media Reception
WPF Departure Lounge
WPF Safer Sex Party
Sobe Halloween
Save Dade Halloween
Amnesia Joe G
Salvation Amnesia Encores
Beach Birthday Bash
NYC Gay Pride Parade
Alegria Pride
Hades Music After Party
Masterbeat Release
WPF: Fashion Runway
Sunset T Cruise
RSVP Mediterranean
NYC Gay Pride Parade
DP1: NY Dance Parade
GLAAD Media Awards
HX Awards
NYC Pride Rally
Special Events
PIFA: Academy Bistro
PIFA: Paul Poiret
PIFA: Basil Twist
PIFA: Ralph Rucci
PIFA: Les Nubians
Election 08
Gay Flags Flying
Key West Chicken Scratch
Latino Press Awards
Our Anniversary
St. John the Divine
Freemasons Celebrate Pride
Pier 54, New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
May 31, 2010 Bookmark and Share
Picture this: nearly 10,000 dancing queens frolicking on a pier in the Hudson River on a sizzling hot Pride Sunday in New York City—and as the sun sets, the Empire State Building glows lavender, while overhead, fireworks explode in the sky. One of the more exuberant displays of collective ecstasy, New York City Pride’s Dance on the Pier has a history of surprise performances from the likes of Janet, Whitney, Jennifer Lopez, Pussycat Dolls, Jennifer Hudson, amongst others. This year, it might be all about the music—as the announcement of the deejays for the 24th incarnation of this much-loved event has been greeted with the kind of enthusiasm one associates with musical superstars.

For the first time, one of the planet’s biggest hands-in-the-air parties will be headlined by the dynamic British duo, Freemasons. Masterful remixers and maestros of upbeat melody, the Grammy-nominated Freemasons (Russell Small and James Wiltshire, also known as Phats & Small) are known for their work with dance divas such as Beyonce, Shakira, Kelly Rowland and Kylie Minogue—all of whom will be tossed into the rumor mill as possible surprise performers for this year’s Pier Dance.

Hot on the heels of their feverishly successful headlining appearance at White Party Palm Springs, Freemasons return to New York on Sunday, the 27th of June on Pier 54 at 13th Street—and recently, we caught up with them (just prior to their Montreal debut at Unity) to find out what they’re planning for New York City Pride.

MRNY: You wowed the boys at the main event of the 21st White Party Palm Springs this past April. How was that for you?

FREEMASONS: Fantastic! We loved it right from the start. Flying into the desert—and then walking around, bumping into friends. The party is so well supported by the town. And we found an English pub right across from the hotel!

MRNY: And it was called Freemasons Palm Springs, right?

FREEMASONS: [laughing] One of the best parts was making so many new friends. Everyone involved was so great to work with. The crowd was so warm and welcoming.

MRNY: White Party Palm Springs is one of the biggest circuit weekends in North America.

FREEMASONS: We knew it was going to be a big event. The party was phenomenal. We only recently saw the videos on Facebook and MySpace. Being in the back, we couldn’t see it all—and our jaws just dropped when we were watching those videos. The party was phenomenal. Visual design—and the lighting was incredible.

MRNY: So how do you top that? What do you boys have in mind for NYC Pride?

FREEMASONS: Lots of stuff, loads of edits. We’ve been in the studio working on some new material that we’ll be debuting. And we’re in contact with Guy Smith about lighting plans.

MRNY: Guy Smith, the man!

FREEMASONS: Yeah, an amazing man. It was wonderful to meet him in Palm Springs. Guy is this really humble man in person—and then when you witness his work, you’re just blown away. We saw him on the street in Palm Springs and he said, ‘I wish I could light a set like that all the time.’ As we say, we really feel like we came away from Palm Springs with a lot of new friends.

MRNY: Your parties often become a sea of hands in the air. Barbara Ehrenreich, the pop sociologist, describes that as “collective joy.”

FREEMASONS: We are proud of the way we remix, and therefore, it’s always a joy for us to play our music for a live audience and to see people responding. And the hands in the air for something like Beyonce’s “Ring the Alarm,” for example—it really makes all the extra hours in the studio worthwhile when we see something like that.

MRNY: How would you describe Freemasons’ sound to someone who hadn’t yet heard your remixes?

FREEMASONS: Always musical, always about the musicality. When we’re working on a song, we try to make the hair on our arms stand up. We’ve never gone completely down. For us, it’s always about the song and musicality. The song has to work as a dance track.

MRNY: How did your own collaboration come about? Were you friends from the scene?

FREEMASONS (James Wiltshire): Russell was in Phats & Small, and I helped out, and then when Jason left, I moved in.

MRNY: Oh, that’s very Eve Harrington... And speaking of, gay audiences really relate to your music. What’s up with that?

FREEMASONS: We love vocals and we love working with a great song. That’s the common chord: the vocals of a great song. One we feel happy to play. Gays are more receptive. They get the emotive moments.

MRNY: You’ve got a particularly devoted core audience of boys in their twenties. You know that, right?

FREEMASONS: We found something similar in Australia. We’re probably a lot lighter than other deejays. We’re more vocal-oriented, which is sometimes a welcome relief, and the younger audience seems to like that. Then, of course, we do tend to jump around a bit in the booth…

MRNY: [laughing] It’s your moves! Where did you two first fall in love with music when you were coming up?

FREEMASONS (Russell): I started buying music and deejaying at school when I was thirteen. But then I developed a mouth on the microphone, swearing in the mike, so the wedding and bar mitzvah business went downhill quickly.

MRNY: [laughing] Did you check out the vibe at gay clubs?

FREEMASONS (Russell): I went to my first gay bar when I was twenty. My wife was a proper faghag. It was called Shame; it was in Brighton. The longest-running gay club in Brighton. I always loved divas, so of course it was quite an experience.

MRNY: Who were your favorite divas from back in the day?

FREEMASONS: We’re into all sorts of divas. Back then, it was Jocelyn Brown and Martha Wash. And I’ve always loved Diana Ross. No wonder we like vocals!

MRNY: We know people who contend that your first smash hit, the 2005 track “Love on My Mind,” that mash-up of Jackie Moore’s “This Time, Baby” and Tina Turner’s “When the Heartache Is Over” is the definitive dance track of the decade. Can you give us the backstory on how that track came about?

FREEMASONS: Yeah, that mix seems to work wherever we play. James came up with the Jackie Moore and I came up with the Tina bit. We pitched it down so that Tina sounds a little more manly and then Amanda did the revocal. She did a grand job.

MRNY: You’ve worked with nearly every dance diva, from Beyonce and Whitney, to Kelly and Kylie, and Shakira and Solange. Who’s next for Freemasons?

FREEMASONS: Oh, we’re interested in everybody. We’d love to work with all of the divas. Rihanna would be great. We got asked on her last album, but there were such constraints. We just don’t work that way.

MRNY: What is it you listen for in a track before you work your magic with it?

FREEMASONS: Hooks. We look for the hooks in a song, and also we listen to the vocal about two thousand times for months on end. The song really must stand out for us to work with it.

MRNY: A Freemasons remix is kind of like a Gold Seal of Approval for a given track. Everyone wants it.

FREEMASONS: Sometimes A&R asks us, why not? We don’t like to stretch the vocals too far. Sometimes there’s too much wobble in the tracks.

MRNY: The American Idol influence. All that melisma.

FREEMASONS: We got asked to do Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love.” Four times they asked, but it just didn’t work for us. It was all major. Of course it went on to be a massive worldwide hit, but it didn’t work for us.

MRNY: How would you describe the current dance music scene in your home country? How does it differ from what you’re experiencing in the States?

FREEMASONS: The gap is getting smaller. A year ago, there was a considerable difference. But now, because of the R&B/dance fusion thing, we’re getting pretty much the same music as in the US. The kids are loving the R&B on both shores. And it’s a good thing because UK deejays now get asked to work for the American divas.

MRNY: Speaking of divas, New York’s Pride Pier Dance has a history of surprise performers—as well as about 10,000 people from all over the globe.

FREEMASONS: We’re very excited about bringing our music to the Pier Dance, although we’re probably better off not knowing how amazing this event is; it just makes us nervous. We’re better off just showing up and playing our music.

MRNY: Something new, something old? Something blue?

FREEMASONS: We have been in the studio working on a few things for Pier Dance. We’ll have lots of little bits that we’ll be trying out for the boys. We’ve got a lot of remixes for four or five hours. Our sets are always different. We don’t play any rehearsed set. We’re always constantly making music. We’re not like a band that does the same set every night. We play whatever we like, whatever moves the audience.

MRNY: Hey, boys, thanks so much for taking the time—and for bringing your sound to the 24th Dance on the Pier. Happy Pride to you both!


NYC Pride: Dance on the Pier 24
DJ Steven Oliveri (opener)
Pier 54 @ 13th Street, West Side Highway, New York City
Sunday, 27 June 2010, 4 pm – 10:30 pm

All proceeds benefit NYC’s LGBT Pride Week.

Contact MRNY     Copyright © MRNY LLC 2013-14