Interview: IHEARTCOMIX founder Franki Chan Talks Dancefloor Killers, Fillers and New Music Trends
St. Louis has seen some major names in bloghouse come to town as of late: JFK of MSTRKRFT, Le Castle Vania and Designer Drugs. But this Saturday, you can see one of the most sought-after DJs on the circuit today, Franki Chan. Chan is the founder and mastermind behind the lifestyle brand IHEARTCOMIX, not to mention, he's the guy who knows what you're going to be into before you do.
World-renowned DJ and IHEARTCOMIX founder Franki Chan plays The Gramophone on May 1.
IHEARTCOMIX was founded in 2003 by Chan, and early on, they developed a reputation for breaking bands and predicting trends, as well as producing some of the most innovative parties around. It wasn't long before Chan decided to form a label under the IHEARTCOMIX moniker. Notables signed to the IHEARTCOMIX label are Matt and Kim, Acid Girls and the Toxic Avenger, among others.
Chan has played alongside some of today's hottest acts, such as Crystal Castles, Diplo and Peaches, he's a respected mixtape artist, and he's played parties for A-listers such as Lindsay Lohan, Christina Ricci and Paris Hilton. We caught up with him over the phone earlier this week at IHEARTCOMIX headquarters in LA. He'll be at the Gramophone this Saturday, May 1, with DJ Clockwork, Drace and DJ Trash Talk. Ladies are $5 all night, and tickets are $5 in advance; dudes are $7 at the door.
What was the impetus behind starting IHEARTCOMIX?
The name came from a need to have a name for something that wasn't named after myself. At the end of 2003, I moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, I had kind of graduated from being an intern and working for a rock club there, to kind of starting to do my own parties here. Once I threw a couple things and people started showing up, I figured I should brand it something, and so I named it IHEARTCOMIX, because I like comic books. But when it began it wasn't a business or an idea for it, it was kind of just like a mask. Over time it became obvious that it was growing, whether it was through shows or through us working with different people, artists, djs, bands, and I decided we should take it more seriously, and that's where the idea for the record label came from.
Have comics been a lifelong love of yours?
Totally. I'm a big Marvel fan, I'm a big reader of a lot of that universe, like X-Men and Spiderman and The Avengers. Walking Dead, Y: The Last Man, Sandman, Blankets.
What are some of your favorite IHEARTCOMIX productions?
I'm really really proud of everything we do in Austin during South By, we've been there for five years now, and we've always managed to do something that was new and big there. I'm proud of the first Matt and Kim album. I really like the last crop of music videos that we made this past year, I feel like we got a good team of directors, and everyone kind of warked with eachother to make this larger than life. We did a weekly party for two years in LA called Check Yo Ponytail!, which was really cool, and left a very strong legacy.
What IHEARTCOMIX projects are you most excited for in 2010?
Most of this year, I'm actually taking the time to do my own stuff, it's less of a focus on the label and parties and more on me trying to get my own music done and out, and working on new art and doing some writing. We do have a couple of events coming up, we're going to do something big at ComicCon, and sometime in the fall we're going to do a five- year anniversary party. We're just getting going on a much larger endeavor for January 2011, which is going to be a festival on a cruise ship. Three days. It will be pretty cool.
Tell me a little bit about the music you're doing on your own, I heard you were supposed to have a single out this spring?
Yeah. It will probably be summer at this point. I guess it's like dark techno, it's got some minimal elements to it. It doesn't really sound like blog house, or electro or dubstep, it has more of a European feel to it. There's elements of Dutch stuff to it, it's got kind of a Radioclit feel, it's long and dark, sort of like what Jokers of the Scene does. It's definitely a mixture.
I would say July.