At the tail end of their first European tour, which included three Berlin dates, I met up with NYC producer Daniel Fisher AKA Physical Therapy and his pal, the genderfucking shock-hopper Mykki Blanco, as they finished a thrift store expedition. While Mykki firmed up plans to shoot with Wolfgang Tilmanns, Daniel and I headed to a Neukölln diner where I prodded the recently-retired chandelier installer on his burgeoning music career. I admired his finely formed, naturally butch eyebrows while breathing through my mouth to avoid catching wafts of his stinky kofte sandwich, gaining insight on his various endeavors: solo productions, collaborations (both real and fantasized), re-edits and DJing.
You played at Prince Charles for Renaissance Man’s Import/Export series, Festsaal Kreuzberg for Club Transmediale, and Südblock’s Creamcake party. Those are three quite different audiences. How did you find their different reactions?
The reactions were really good in all of them. Prince Charles was the most “club” oriented of all of them, and that’s the kind of place I like to play at, having started out as a club DJ. Festsaal was also really good, but that was more of a “show” venue, so there was less dancing.
Yeah, Club Transmediale is known for more of an academic crowd. And Creamcake, the queer party?
Well, I didn’t play ’til really late at Creamcake. It seemed, honestly, like there was a lot of overlap from all three, with people who were there to see Mykki, and they all had pretty passionate reactions.
How about Berlin as a whole? And not necessarily only in regards to your own gigs, but going out on your own time. How does the clubbing lifestyle compare to back home in New York?
There’s absolutely no comparison! I went to see my friends Total Freedom, E+E and Why Be at a tiny little place, not known as a cool bar, but literally cooler than any place in New York. But in Berlin it’s the shittiest little bar. New York has obviously been a club city, but right now, it is not. There’s not one good venue. All my friends who throw parties are always desperately looking for a new place. Over the last couple years we’ve started doing warehouse parties, but the police presence in New York is so heavy that it’s impossible to do that in any long-term way.
So you think there might be demand for parties, but there’s so much legal stuff to deal with?
I don’t know exactly what it is. There was a while when there were a lot of cool parties happening, but I think a lot of those people spent time in the studio producing music, and now a lot of that music is coming out, and maybe the focus is less on trying to throw good parties. I know for me it got to be too much work. But I definitely think it’s a lack of venues. There is interest, but no one can seem to pull it off right now.
I’ve told some Berliners and Germans about New York’s cabaret license, and they don’t even believe me that venues have to pay extra money to allow people to dance! So, you have both solo material and production work for other performers, like Mykki Blanco whom you just toured with. Does the creative process differ in these different cases?
There isn’t really any production work for Mykki Blanco. Just one track on her upcoming mixtape. Mykki has been my best friend for six or seven years. That’s really our connection.
But you’re not necessarily planning to work with any other vocalists?
No, I do like working with other vocalists, like, I worked with Jamie Krasner on my EP. But I’m a really, really slow producer. It takes me forever to make each track! So I can’t just give them away.
Understandable. You’ve also done remixes for SSION, MNDR and Pictureplane, which I assume were all based on a direct connection to the artist. But then you also did the unofficial one for Alicia Keys that got a strong positive reaction online. Which “big name” artist would make you swoon if they approached you for a legit remix or production work?
Nice pick. So, you just released your first solo EP, and Mykki’s about to drop her mixtape which has a track you produced. Do you know what’s next on your agenda?
I’ll have a white label hopefully coming out this fall, with a couple of edits: “Music Sounds Better with You” by Stardust, and “Controversy” by Prince. But don’t tell Prince that!
I already have three unofficial re-edits of “Controversy”, but that’s one of my all-time favorite tracks, so I’ll be happy to hear a new version.
I like that song, but only the part where it goes, “Do not believe in god…”, so I just took those two bars and looped them for the whole track. It’s hypnotic.
Are you putting the white label out yourself?
No, with No Relation, which is an UNO sub-label. Then, I have another release with Hippos in Tanks slated for next year, which I’m in the production stages of, which will hopefully be a full-length with lots more vocalists, a more ambitious project.