First time I heard of Magic Touch was obliquely. I met Sapphire Slows at a Not Not Fun house party during SXSW in 2012, and she subsequently asked about booking shows out here for her and another guy on her label, 100% Silk. I couldn't make it happen but luckily Sacco got both Sapphire Slows and Magic Touch to China last year. The latter was one of my personal favorite Dada gigs for 2013. House music isn't really my thing, couldn't have given you a coherent description of it two years ago. I'm more into the heavy drone shit. In fact I'm not sure if I can even now describe to you what house music is but I kind of grasp what labels like 100% Silk are doing, building a DIY backdoor to the club world, bubbling up onto the dancefloor from the underground like that pink slime in Ghostbusters II.
Magic Touch — née Damon Palermo — just released his latest for 100% Silk, Palermo House Gang. Reviews are pretty good if you care about that. My favorite jam on it is this one, a collaboration with The Horses from Shanghai:
We'll get to hear that one on Saturday night at Arkham — think Damon is doing a 2-hour live set followed by a DJ set or something insane. Caught up with Magic Touch via hungover emails, here's where he's at & what's coming up:
SmSh: You made your China debut a bit over a year ago, coming in for the JUE festival last March. What have you been up to since then? Seems you've been on the tour grind pretty hard...
Damon Palermo: Since the last Asia tour I toured Europe for a month, and Australia for a couple of weeks with 100% Silk label mates Octo Octa and Bobby Browser. Other than that I was settling into Los Angeles and working on finishing the Palermo House Gang record.
SmSh: And you're on a long road now. Where have you been recently? What are some recent tour highlights?
DP: So far I have been to Bali, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and now China. From here I am going to Japan for a few weeks, where most of the shows will be with Oorutaichi. Some highlights have been swimming & riding motor bikes in Bali, renting a practice space and rocking out with Ican Harem, who's also an awesome artist.
SmSh: Last year you rolled through with Ital, your partner in Mi Ami. This time you're holding it down solo. What can we expect from your set this time around? Is it all live / originals? Hardware or in the box?
DP: I am going to play an all live set with new original songs mostly from Palermo House Gang and the True Romance EP. All hardware.
SmSh: You recently relocated from the Bay area to LA, right? What's the vibe at the shows you play there? Is it more of a club thing, or do you play more DIY venues? Are there many 100% Silk gigs in LA, or is that more of a behind-the-scene operation?
DP: I moved to LA about a year and a half ago. In LA there are a handful of warehouse spaces downtown, some hotel pool parties, some small bars. The club scene is not so good as most of the clubs with good sound are posh and booking mostly EDM DJs. There aren’t so many 100% Silk shows in LA. Here and there but the label is so focused on their releases that it’s hard to promote a lot of their own parties.
SmSh: In March you released Palermo House Gang, an entire album of collaborative jams including one done with The Horses from Shanghai. Can you introduce some of the artists you worked with on this project? Are these all artists you've met on tour, or are some from your home turf?
DP: Most of the artists I collaborated with were met on tour, and some I’ve known over time. “I Need The Magic” is with Dan Judd aka Sorcerer from the Bay Area, and Sarah Bates from Manchester. I always loved Dan's music and the way he utilizes live instrumentation. Love his guitar solo at the end, reminds me of Durutti Column. I met Sarah Bates at a Wet Play show in Manchester and somebody DJd one of her songs at the show. We kept in touch and she ended up singing on this track:
“You” is a collaboration with Jonathan Roshad and Roberto Ramone from Los Angeles. I met them at their party “Sweat” in LA and later saw them DJ at A Club Called Rhonda. They are the most stylish & sweetest dudes I know, and make their own tracks. Roberto has a beautiful voice and I wanted to have more vocals on the record. They ended up doing a lot of production on the track and turned it into a Garage Anthem, or that’s how I see it:
“Passion” is the only track that doesn’t include a guest. The vocals are from an old freestyle a cappella and the drums were inspired by a track I heard by Jordan Fields from Chicago:
“Shine Baby Shine” is a collaboration with The Horses from Shanghai. Last year we hung out at their practice space and I liked their productions / audio engineering skills so we re-connected via the internet. “It’s Love” is with Jimmy Gillan aka Ash Williams. Jimmy's a great DJ and producer in San Francisco and, more importantly, a close friend. He played saxophone on this song and ended up doing his own remix, also on the record:
“House Of Intuition” is with Michael Morrison aka Octo Octa, also on 100% Silk. Michael's a close friend who I met on the first 100% Silk US Tour. We both like to party and share party tunes with each other. Funny this one ended up being a deeper/sadder song, clocking in at 13 minutes:
“Calabria” is with Benny Badge from Australia. I heard his keyboard playing on a Tom Noble song released on Future Times. We met in Melbourne and have a common interest in disco/boogie/etc…Got a great vibe from him and his music and later asked him to contribute:
SmSh: I assume you'll be touring on that one for a while yet... what are your next plans for releases? More collaborations, or will you focus on your own stuff?
DP: I don’t have too many future plans of touring, just kind of playing it by ear and enjoying myself in Los Angeles. Honestly I’m not sure what I’ll be working on next. Been thinking about doing some more live music with live drums, bass, and a sampler, but haven’t found the correct space. And I’ll always be working on productions so we’ll see what happens next.
SmSh: What were your impressions from China round one? What are you looking forward to on this trip?
DP: Before I came I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be a bit more controlled, and less European. I also didn’t know the history with Beijing. I plan on buying some DVDs, USB sticks in Shanghai and Incense in Beijing. Already found a lot of great records at Uptown here in Shanghai. Looking forward to chilling in China with my friends, and all of the shows in Japan. I’m doing a lot of Southern Japan including Okinawa. I love the ocean/tropics so I really look forward to being in that region.
Catch Magic Touch LIVE + DJ on Saturday, June 14 at Arkham. Support sets from Acid Pony Club and trippy visuals from Redscale Studios. Solid!