The next installation for our Heavy Set series comes from Vacations aka John McSwain. His profile reads, “Mostly Editor, Sometimes Director, Too Often DJ, Always Stupid” but he knows how to thrown down a proper mix. From his first Screeching Weasel cassette to attending college in the music-crazed town of Gainesville (which he attributes to his love for Hot Water Music), John is able to create smooth easy-listening tracks with everything from Sade to Janet Jackson to Drake to that make us forget we’re not on vacation.
Follow him on instagram and be sure to catch him one Sunday at Kinfolk for his resident Sade Nights, (and no, he doesn't only play Sade all night). A perfect weekend wrap-up, "it’s a punk show in a basement and that’s exactly how it should feel. But classy. And sexy. “
Your Love is King - Sade
Please Send Me Someone to Love - Percy Mayfield
Kiss of Life - Sade
Saffron - MF Doom
3 Days - Rhye
Smooth Operator - Sade
Club Tropicana - Wham!
Keep on Lying - Jessie Ware
Intro - Spooky Black
No Ordinary Love - Deftones
4 Page Letter (CFCF remix) - Aaliyah
The Moon and the Stars (remix ft Jay-Z) - Sade
A Place Like This - Majid Jordan
Some Jazz Shit - Falty DL
Paradise - Sade
That’s the Way Love Goes - Janet Jackson
How Much I feel - Ambrosia
Never Thought I’d See the Day (L-Vis 1990 remix) - Sade
From Time (Atu & Sango edit) - Drake
Numb - Andy Stott
Galapagos (Spring Heel Jack remix) - Tortoise
The Way I Move - Jody Breeze
You Got Me - The Roots ft Erykah Badu
By Your Side (Reggae remix) - Sade
You're a man of many hats, even I don't fully know what you do outside of making booties shake and orchestrating young loves into early pregnancy. Can you tell me a little about your day to day?
My day to day varies a good bit. I’m a freelance video editor. I edit commercials mostly, so I hop around to different production companies for weeks or months at a time. Sometimes that means I’ll have a week off between projects but it also means I can take a few months off to travel or work on a personal project if I need to.
I just finished directing and editing (my first) documentary for Vice called Coral City -- I’m really excited about it. I’m also a contributing writer, mostly about art, most recently a cover story for Vice. I do some design too - I’ve made album covers, band t-shirts and probably 10,000 different flyers over the years. And, of course, I DJ a pretty good amount. I’ve got three monthly parties in Brooklyn right now and I feel like I’m always playing one private party or another. Most people think I only DJ, probably because it’s easier to post flyers on instagram than show myself sitting at a desk glamorously editing an insurance commercial, but I’ve had to scale my DJing back tremendously over the years because it’s really secondary to the rest of my work.
When did you get into R&B vibes? And how often do you do the Sade Nights?
Even though I DJ a lot of crazy party nights, if you catch me on the street there’s a good chance I’m listening to something really chill and dark. I’ve been making mixes forever and they always tend toward the softer, more morose side. I used to make mixtapes for friends with, like, “Lady in Red” on it and they’d go “yeeeeaaaahhhhh ok.” I associate my musical upbringing the most with hardcore but I was also really into rap, trip hop and drum n bass, they were just less accessible to me. I mean I was crazy about Portishead. Still am. When Refused’s “New Noise” came out and they incorporated that little bit of electronica in the beginning I had a mild brain-melt. I wasn’t really into much R&B back then, most of it was just too cheesy for me, but I always liked Sade. I grew up with my parents listening to lots of Gloria Estefan and Sade and I always appreciated both but didn’t think too much of them at the time. But whenLovers Rock came out I was consumed, and it brought back all kinds of memories for me. Sade has always had this mystique, this all-powerful cool. I think the music’s held up unbelievably well over the years, and it’s no wonder she has such a cult following. It’s funny because we’re all aging hipsters, entrenched in irony and idiocy and she’s one of the most earnest, soulful singers ever and I (we) love her unconditionally, un-ironically. She makes love sound painful and she makes pain sound pleasurable and I think it’s her earnestness that reminds me of the really heartfelt emotion that came out of the hardcore scene, what drew me to it in the first place. But instead of bomb strings and dogpiles it’s just, like, her looking down slowly. And that’s just as heavy. There’s power in restraint, in subtlety.
Sade Night is a Sunday monthly at Kinfolk in Williamsburg. The intent was to have a chilled out sexy night to just sit around and hang out with friends and hear cool tracks you wouldn’t otherwise but I can’t help but play more upbeat jams when I’m up there so even though it starts out really slow and mellow it always ends up an epic dance party. But it’s still a ton of songs you don’t hear otherwise or ever get to dance to and that part makes me so excited. And people get rowdy… I swear I’ve seen the filthiest grinding at Sade Night, it’s like a middle school dance with no chaperones. A good buddy of mine was at the first one and people were going all sorts of ham but to like 112 and Bone Thugs and Brandy and it felt totally different and weird and perfect and he said to me it was the punkest thing he’d seen in ages, which is a total drunk exaggeration, but he equated it to a punk show in a basement and that’s exactly how it should feel. But classy. And sexy.
Best recurring-party that you've been to or used to go to?
I think Ghe20 G0th1k was (is?) amazing, both musically as well as for the community. Look at all of the incredible music, art and fashion that have come from that scene or been inspired by Shayne and Venus’ selections. I know there was a lot before them, but they really brought it to the public.
Tiki Disco/Night People guys are so solid, they have impeccable taste in all of their parties.
Grits and Biscuits is probably my favorite party right now. It’s incredible.
Peachfuzz in Miami is one of the best in the country.
Latest Album you can listen to all the way through?
There’s no way I can do just one so here’s a few:
Flying Lotus - You’re Dead!
Jessie Ware - Tough Love
Machinedrum - Vapor City
Tony Molina - Dissed and Dismissed
Three bangers that make the room go-off, classic or new?
Always depends on the party.
I have a special place in my heart and on the dance floor for Missy Elliott,“Gossip Folks” is one of my favorite “instant dance party” tracks.
Then there is Damien Marley,“Welcome to Jamrock.” Maybe people forget about this song, maybe I happen to play it at the right moment, but this one never fails. Third would be, Friend Within,“The Renegade,” MASSIVE take on a classic. That rolling baseline just gets me.
What makes a good flyer?
You obviously want to do a good job, make it look clean, photoshop those edges precisely, choose the right color scheme, typefaces, layout, kerning -- but a lot of that is mostly for other designers to appreciate. Everyone else just goes “Hey there’s a butt! Wait it’s for a party! It’s on Friday!” and then moves on. But I get 1000x more likes for a slice of pizza than I do for a flyer so what do I know…