There’s a magical feeling surrounding the dance music community in Taiwan today. It’s not often that someone as respected in underground circles as Juan MacLean (real name John MacLean) comes to Taipei. It’s also the fact that he’ll be playing a set of what MacLean calls “melancholic retro futurism” in the graffiti-covered halls of the Nangang Bottle Cap Factory (南港瓶蓋工廠), which will give Bass Kitchen’s third anniversary party an early-1990s rave feel.
The reason why MacLean got into music was the German avant-garde electronic project, Kraftwerk. “The thing about Kraftwerk is that they sound more like a rock band than anything else,” MacLean said in an email interview with the Taipei Times. “In the 1980s as a kid I was into lots of groups who were influenced by Kraftwerk as well, like Gary Numan, Joy Division, New Order, Chrome and Big Black.”
Once MacLean formed his first band, Six Finger Satellite, he built a recording studio and formed a bond with James Murphy, who would go on to be the mastermind behind LCD Soundsystem.
“We were both sort of obsessed with sound. We spent a lot of time on tour together listening to and talking about music and recording,” he said.
Murphy started the independent record label DFA in 2001 and recruited MacLean to release vinyl singles when he first began producing electronic music. “After a couple of years pounding away at dance music production, By the Time I Get to Venus was the first track that really came through as my distinct sound,” MacLean said. “I made like 100 tracks before arriving at that one. I would send them all to James and he would keep saying, ‘OK, this is good, but not great enough.’ Venus was the first time he said, ‘OK, now you have something.’”
Even though MacLean and Murphy rarely see each other because of hectic schedules, they remain close. “We’ve both traveled the world and have been living these pretty amazing lives that still revolve around music. It’s a very special thing.”
After years of touring, MacLean’s best memories are the people he meets. “When you can connect with people on a musical level it’s very special. It’s a very universal human thing. I just played in Beijing and Shanghai and those were two of the most fun shows I have had in a while,” he said.
Juan MacLean promises to take those in attendance on a musical journey tonight. “I like to ease my way into things then decide how up front, how hard or how deep I can get by throwing things out there to see what the crowd is interested in,” MacLean said. “I’m very much into melodic House with a deeper groove and I like to get to that point later in a set and ride it out for a while. It’s a very late night vibe.”
Just One Fix and Bass Kitchen present The Lost Paradise Project V5.0 — Juan MacLean and DJ Kent (Tokyo) with @llen, MiniJay, Yoshi, and B.B. from 9pm to 5am at the Nangang Bottle Cap Factory (南港瓶蓋工廠), 13-1 Nangang Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市南港路二段13-1號). Admission is NT$700 at the door and includes one drink.