He launched the careers of RuPaul and the Scissor Sisters. Now, after moving to London and launching his fashion line, TZUJI, Larry Tee sits down and chats to So So Gay about his friendship with RuPaul, inventing electroclash, and making Perez Hilton sing about penises…
So So Gay: Perez Hilton worked with you and sang ‘My Penis, My Penis’. How did that collaboration come around?
Larry Tee: Perez Hilton emailed me to get a copy of the track I did with Amanda LePore called ‘My Pussy’ to post on his site. When we traded emails, he suggested we do a track for ‘shits and giggles’, a particularly American phrase. So I thought why not? When we were recording, he kept quoting ‘My Pussy’ so I said he should do a penis track.
SSG: Let’s go back years to you launching the careers of RuPaul and the Scissor Sisters. Can you tell us about that?
LT: Well, I grew up with Ru in Atlanta and we were best friends there… I moved to New York in a van with him and we lived together in a brownstone in the middle of what is now the Meat Market in NYC, the most desired real estate there now. But in Atlanta my band Now Explosion did a wedding show and Ru was a bridesmaid. He was never a bridesmaid again, he stole the show.
Later after going to see a Gianni Versace show in Milan, I wrote a song for Ru called ‘Supermodel’ and he added some stuff and some new melodies and voila, a 5 million selling anthem.
As for the Scissor Sisters, they did many of the first shows with me either with my girl group WIT or at my electroclash club in Brooklyn called Berliniamsburg. I knew since the first time I heard Jake’s voice they would be the electroclash group that would make it big, he had a powerful voice and that’s what was needed.
SSG: Electroclash was coined by you, how did that term even come up? And does it make you smile to see it in the Oxford Dictionary?
LT: Well, I don’t really read the Oxford dictionary, but it’s awesome that something I created made such waves. I was looking for a name for a festival in NYC, that featured Fischerpooner, Peaches, Chick on Speed, Felix Da Housecat, 2 Many Djs, and Erol Alkan to name a few and I needed a name to sum up the diverse elements within this group of acts. It felt like a clash of influences, so electroclash came out.
SSG: Where do you find inspiration from?
LT :I find inspiration everywhere. I look to myself and think ‘Whats hot? What makes me excited?’ And I follow those leads whether it’s doing shows with Brooke Candy and Charli XCX and Leif, or designing clothes for my brand TZUJI.
LT: Yeah, I love RuPaul. I am so happy he has exploded recently because he really works hard and deserves his success. He is hilarious! I ran into him about a year ago in a Uniqlo (sorry to blow his mystique) and we screamed. When I see something funny about him I send it to him and look him up when I’m in LA.
SSG: Tell us about your venture into fashion?
LT: Tzuji is my new fashion brand that has been doing the biz. I have always wanted amazing swag when other DJs were sweating the latest computer equipment for their supersized monster shows. And since I run the coolest party in London, I started making stuff for me to wear to my club. Everyone wanted them because they are totally fun and amazing, I must humbly say. Visit tzuji.com. and let me know what you think. We have just been picked up for VFILES site in NYC for the Fall. That’s so BIG!
SSG: You’ve been in London since 2011, how do you like it here?
LT: I wouldn’t be doing my fashion line if I hadn’t moved to London. I feel it’s the most creative place I can be that speaks English, although Berlin is pretty exciting too. I could also do LA as it’s on fire right now and so exciting. Tell me how to get into Wildstyle, LA. I love the people of London and I love the sense of humor and style here. It feels like home.
SSG: What would you say are the differences in the music between London and say New York?
LT: New York is a great place for Djs and bands that have already arrived as it’s a business city. It is a smorgasbord of talent and ambitious people to do something with that talent. In the clubs I frequent there, they love the NY House sound and the EDM madness. In London they worship a new breed of electronic music and every week is a new #1 hit dance song. So much variety from London Grammar to Disclosure to ABSOLUTe. I feel I am in the center of a hurricane of great dance music.
SSG: You did the party that became the movie Party Monster, how did it feel watching the film knowing that?
LT: It felt like everything else does when its re-created. In parts good, Marilyn Manson, and in parts bad, Macaulay Culkin. But if I wasn’t there and I was 18 now, I would probably think it was pretty outrageous. I was so afraid to claim those drug years as something that had any value to me, but after 17 years clean from drugs and alcohol, I am starting to see the good side of that time. I actually used ‘Disco 2000′ as the theme of my latest TZUJI collection but gave the techno era prints new shapes and made them comfy and wearable.
SSG: I once read that you and Ru love Mahogany, Are you and Ru ever going to make Mahogany 2?
LT : We already re-made Mahogany 2. I played the Tony Perkins character and she played Diana Ross of course. I feel so lucky I got to see Ru when she was learning her schtick in Atlanta. Now I can let the world enjoy her like I did. But I still wouldn’t trade my future for my past. I always think the present is the most exciting time ever. And after my hits as a DJ and songwriter, clubrunner and festival thrower, who would have thought I would get to have the coolest job of all…a designer. I am the luckiest guy on earth.
Bodytalk with Portia Ferarri is out now.
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