Sean Johnston calls himself an acid house veteran, techno survivor, and freelance disco consultant. Which, you have to admit, is slightly more impressive than telling a mate of a mate that you work in advertising and once auditioned to be on Pointless.
Johnston’s been homing his signature sound under a variety of monikers for the best part of a quarter of a century now, but the DJ and producer is best known for two projects: Hardway Bros and A Love from Outer Space.
The former is the guise he uses to released toned, taut, techno-disco tracks like “Pleasure Cry”, “Mania Theme” and “Legato” that have lit up discerning dancefloors across the globe. The latter is the slow-mo DJ duo he trots the globe alongside Andrew Weatherall.
Specialising in the slower end of the club spectrum, the pair’s sub 120BPM treks into everything from mutant Italo to house-not-house, via skeletal cosmic chug and some of the sleaziest half-speed disco records you’ll ever hear dragged out of the basement of the Earth’s dustiest record shops, began life as a monthly party in a North London basement.
Their oasis of slowness in a world of increasing velocity now transports global audiences to a very special place. There’s nothing quite like being locked into four, five, six hours of the ALFOS experience: time stands still.
With a set of festival appearances and a fantastic new Hardway Bros EP on the way—a thrillingly robust four-tracker called The Laser which’ll be released by New York label Throne of Blood in May—we got Sean to give us the lowdown on his upcoming agenda.
Amuse: What’s the one upcoming event you’d recommend to a festival-sceptic?
Sean Johnston: Whilst I’m fortunate to have been invited to play at a number of insanely well-curated outdoor events this summer, there is only one real contender. Where else could one party in a genuine medieval castle but Andrew Weatherall’s Convenanza Festival? Held in the Chateau Comtal in the Cite of Carcassonne in late September, Andrew Weatherall and Bernie Fabre host a selection of left field live acts and cutting edge DJs. None of your usual festival fodder either, Michelin starred food and selected fine wines. There couldn’t be a better way to round off your summer.
What festival, or festivals, would you visit for a work-free massive party?
This one’s actually a busman’s holiday as I am playing, but Love International in Tisno, Croatia. This year’s lineup sees a gathering of the tribes like no other and will be a rare opportunity to see all my friends from all over Europe and beyond in one place, against the idyllic setting of the Adriatic coast.
And which is the one you’re gutted to be missing due to work?
I still haven’t been able to check out the spectacle that is Burning Man and sadly this year will be the same due to work commitments.
Tell us about the festival that has the best level of hospitality…
I was really lucky to play at Strawberry Fields in the bush near Melbourne Australia earlier in their summer. They really went the distance, a big box full of booze and our own chauffer-driven quad-buggy to get around the festival site.
Outside of clubs, can you recommend a music venue you try and visit as much as possible?
I’m a big fan of the Victoria Park Bandstand Season. It’s a great free community event and is open to humans and dogs of all ages.
Which is the last venue you played for the first time that blew you away?
Last summer we did ALOFS in the Theatre De La Mere in Sete in the South of France. It’s an amazing amphitheatre that overlooks the Mediterranean. It’s utterly stunning.
Give us the lowdown on an intimate venue you wish the whole world could fit into.
We have a world-class venue in Phonox, Brixton. Amazing sound and lights and a crew who really care about getting it right.
Where are you really looking forward to eating while on the road over festival season?
I’m really looking forward to eating fresh octopus salad on the jetty outside Carmen’s Restaurant in Tisno, Croatia. It doesn’t get better!
Are you getting an actual holiday this summer? If so, where are you off to?
I’m hoping to get a fortnight in with my family somewhere secluded with a pool. Last year we had a log cabin in the forest in the South of France. I hope we will do something similar this year.
Where’s the next Ibiza?
Isn’t it dreadful enough not to be repeated?