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Aaron Clark

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AARON CLARK PHOTO BY KEVIN KAUER

Not only a Hot Mass resident DJ and promoter, many can attest that Aaron Clark’s enthusiasm for music and genuine support for others goes far beyond Pittsburgh. For this month’s Sequencer Soundcast he presents us with a special “33 Rotations” mix, in anticipation of his 33rd birthday coming up October 26.

As an Ohio native he got his feet wet in the Columbus and Cleveland party scene, eventually moving to Pittsburgh for school. His introduction to electronic music came to fruition during the days of Napster, and when he first saw a full DJ rig and live PA set up Clark was pulled deeper into the performance aspect of the scene.

As a DJ he has played throughout the United States: As You Like It in San Francisco, alongside Cleveland’s In Training, Signal > Noise in Rochester, various New York City venues, Detroit, and Colorado, to name a few. As well as Klubnacht at Berghain in Berlin, and Harry Klein in Munich. He has ran the gamut as a DJ playing opening slots to peak hour sets. Before a party, he says, “I usually try to do my homework a little bit on the crowd and room size if it’s somewhere that I’ve never been. But mainly, I just get there early and soak up as much as possible. You don’t really know what the place is feeling unless you’re along for the ride with them,” he says. “When playing, it’s mostly intuitive. If I’m opening, I try to keep it pretty restrained until the floor is filling, focusing on stuff that’s more about setting a tone versus ‘shake that ass’. If it’s more of a peak hour set, I try to come out of the gate with tracks that punch a bit – something to signify a change. Sometimes it’s just finding things that have a lot of bass or heavy kicks. From there, I usually just go with the flow.”

Through Honcho and Humanaut he and his cohorts have been steadily booking quality artists for about five years at Hot Mass. The bathhouse environment thrives on the first Saturday of the month as Honcho focuses on booking solely queer artists. Not only providing a safe space for dancers but the crew helps bring exposure to hard-working artists of the queer community. “That’s still our starting point. There is such an endless amount of queer talent, and more people getting out there and getting involved every day. We want to do our part to be a platform for people, help build confidence. We also want to shine a light on people who are contributing something to the community in some way. Musically, Honcho goes all over the map, although generally sticks within four-to-the-floor beats; house, disco, techno, and electro are all fair game.”

Techno-driven but not exclusively queer bookings, Humanaut lands on the second Saturday and historically goes beyond the bathhouse. Clark says, “Being an older crew (going on year 12, I think), Humanaut has evolved the most. We got our start doing larger club events back in the mid-2000s, and the first round of people involved came from a progressive house and tech house background. Big room club stuff. That’s changed a lot over the years as new people have come into the fold and others have stepped back. But even with folks like Tony Fairchild coming on board, we find ourselves bonding over a lot of the older ‘90s tech house sounds that have always been a part of the crew since the beginning.”

With so much on his plate he says he isn’t so interested to start down the path of production. Between gigs and throwing parties at Mass, he says “I realize where my talents are – bigger picture things like promoting and working on spaces or brands. Unless I win the lottery and quit my day job, I just don’t have the desire or time. I’ll stick to what I do well and cheer for my friends who are better at producing.  Together, we’ll hopefully keep making some kind of beautiful scene baby.”

It has been an eventful year for Clark. His highlight moments? “I’ve had a lot of fun tagging with friends this year. I was extremely happy with how Ryan Smith and I played together back at Club Toilet in Detroit this year. For whatever reason we were pretty convinced that side room would be waning when we took over, so we prepared a bunch of slower wind down tracks. Obviously, that’s not what was going on as Eris Drew was before us, laying waste to a packed house. So we threw everything out and winged it. One of my favorite sets of the year. I also loved Jason Kendig and I’s impromptu tag at Honcho pride in Pittsburgh this year, which we ended up releasing as a podcast.”

Looking ahead there is plenty of excitement coming up. The Honcho crew “has some fun out of town gigs coming up. We play a queer warehouse party this Saturday, October 28 in Vancouver, our first time out there to DJ. Then another first, on November 25, playing the Por Detroit party in Mexico City. Honcho is also working on a proper underground for Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve; a return to Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in DC for January; and a return to Denver in February.” You can also catch Clark at Smartbar as the club celebrates 35 years with a 23 hour party November 4-5.

Back at home in Pittsburgh he says “November will be insane with The Carry Nation playing Honcho on November 4, followed by my dream team of Ciel and Titonton Duvante for Humanaut on November 11. Also have to give a shout out to In Training, because they’re taking over Honcho open to close on December 2. We’re super excited to have them back again. They are shining beacons of light.”

Celebrating 33 rotations around the sun, Clark brings a mix of music that goes hard and heavy. “I went full Hot Mass on Humanaut night with this one. It’s about 50/50 newer stuff that I’m digging, and some older favorites I pulled off an old hard drive. I’m finally getting my digital life organized here.”

1. Lusine – “Chatter (Dauwd Mix)”
2. London Modular Alliance – “Brockie Det” 
3. Galcher Lustwerk – “Capabilities Survey”
4. Simon Weiss – “Tele Vision (Dexter Mix)”
5. Savile – “Watch Scan Wait” 
6. Ynnk – “Interstellar Smalltalk”
7. Don Froth – “DOCs”
8. Danuel Tate – “Mexican Hotbox” 
9. DJ Slip – “Spice”
10. Randomer – “Smokin”
11. Mor Elian – “Drum Vortex (Joey Anderson Remix)”
12. Terrence Dixon – “Multiply”
13. Trus’me – “In The Red (DVS1 Mix)”
14. Michael Klein – “Yourself (Eduardo de la Calle Mix)”
15. Surgeon – “Convenience Trap Pt 4”
16. Christian Morgenstern – “She Is Me (The Kitbuilders Remix)”
17. Shawn Rudiman – “75 all the way …” 
18. One Day In Metropia – “Solaris”
19. Orson Wells – “Hemispheres”