Hailing from New York, musclecars is a DJ and producer duo consisting of Brandon Weems and Craig Handfield whom equally share an admiration for music and a desire to blend genres, expressing their appreciation for the art form. Focussed on the community, their goal is to unite people and in 2018 the pair launched a party called Coloring Lessons aiming to add value to their city’s nightlife culture. Whilst not genre specific, the party and sound is heavily focussed around house, disco, jazz and soul – embracing the musical elements of their ancestors. These monthly parties intend to bring New York City’s dance music scene back to the golden era, aiming to spread music that has been influential to them and spread it amongst their peers.
The pair also use Coloring Lessons as an imprint to release music, including their very recent Shelter (Building It, Still) EP which features a classy remix from Prescription co-founder Ron Trent. Following a series of releases on both their own label and toucan sounds, the newest offering burrows deeper into their love of grooving, soulful sounds. You can listen and purchase the EP here.
How are you doing and what have you been getting up to recently?
Craig: We’re Great! Truly blessed to be able to start doing what we love again and playing out to crowds in safe environments. At the moment we’re gearing up to release some new music for you all!
Brandon: Now that nightclubs have been open for these past few months, I’ve just been enjoying the experience of playing music to people again.
How have you found life in lockdown?
Brandon: I found life in lockdown to be introspective. It definitely forced me to confront and work on any personal issues.
Craig: I think we were fortunate enough to be able to still find some semblance of balance and productivity while stuck inside.
Has lockdown been a blessing or a curse for music production?
Craig: At first it was definitely challenging to find inspiration, but I think we hit a stride at one point with our production and it has allowed us to make music without focusing on if it will work in the club.
Brandon: It has definitely a blessing for us! When clubs and venues were shut down, we found ourselves with so much free time to work in the studio.
What music have you been digging recently and can you share a couple of tracks you’d like to play in your first set back?
Craig: I’ve been super into early Bossa and Latin (specifically Brazilian) music. I think some of those influences can be heard in our most recent remix for Bad Colours and our latest track ‘She Raised Us In Sunset Park’. A few tracks that I’m excited to play in this vain are ‘Demais’ by Azymuth & ‘Bobeira’ by Edson Frederico.
Brandon: I’ve been listening to different genres, but I’m really excited to play I:Cube – Tunnel Vision, Patti Labelle – New Day (Louie Vega Dance Ritual Dub) and Isaac Hayes – Fragile.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite clubs you like to play at and why?
Craig: I feel like we get this question a lot and I have to go with my NYC holy trinity of Nowadays, Mood Ring, and Le Bain. Something different about all these three spaces, but they’re truly so special to me and I always have the best experiences there.
Brandon: Mood Ring is where we started our party (Coloring Lessons), so that space holds a lot of sentimental value to me. I really love the intimacy of that room. Nowadays is the benchmark for how night clubs should operate. The sound system, super friendly staff, programming and the amount of intention that they put into making sure that their patrons have a safe and enjoyable experience, is really remarkable. Le Bain at The Standard Hotel is another favorite. Craig and I would go there just about every weekend when we were younger. They’ve never caved in to the pressures of running a club in Manhattan. Their DJ programming has always been some of the best in the city.
Favourite vinyl bought in the last year?
Craig: Air’s self titled album from 1971.
Brandon: Shannon Harris – Desperado / El Montuno.
One vinyl you’d save from your collection?
Craig: Lil Louis & The World – Journey With The Lonely.
Brandon: The Carlos Sanchez Movement – Flying High.
Mood Wax – What do you listen to?
When I’m feeling good I listen to: Drake – Time Flies
When I’m sad: Jessica Pratt – Back, Baby
When I’m relaxing: Alex Lattimore – Lullabye
When I’m in the car: The Revolutionaries- Kunta Kinte Dub
When I’m watching the sun rise: musclecars – Sun Track I
When I’m cooking: David Shrigley – What I Ate
When I’m at the beach: Incognito – Wild & Peaceful (K-Dope Remix)
When I’m pre-drinking: Conclave – Habla
When I’m at an afters: Cables – Tom X Tom (Flyin Shur-I-Kan Mix)