One thing about me is that I frigging adore DJ and producer Eris Drew—who, along with her music and life partner Octo Octa, has been bringing pure rave energy back to dance floors and increased the visibility of trans techno players X million.
I’ve been a fan since her party Hugo Ball helped preserve and re-energize the Chicago underground queer scene more than a decade ago. (Name a party after the founder of the Dada movement and you have my heart). Her expert delineation of the divine healing power of the dance-floor Motherbeat and the bangers she’s released on her and Octo Octa’s T4T LUV NRG label have only cemented that devotion.
So if this interview ahead of her appearance Sat/14 at Public Works with UK DJ wizard Ben UFO as part of the As You Like It crew’s massive two-weekend 13th anniversary blow out is rather gushing, hey, that’s just the feeling I get when she sends giant festivals, heaving underground rooms, and even a tiny cabin in the New England wilderness flying into space. Check below for Motherbeat briefs on ethnobotany, UFOs, psychedelics, fighting anti-trans oppression, and vinyl goodies.
48 HILLS Hello Eris! So excited about you coming back to SF. The last time I saw you in San Francisco was a T4T LUV NRG party at at Public Works for Valentine’s Day 2020 and then a smaller underground party from queer collective Squish—you and Octo Octa were on fire at both. San Francisco seems such a home for Motherbeat energy, both in its historically faerie queer vibe and musical liberation. Do you ever feel drawn to perform here on a psychic wavelength level?
ERIS DREW I absolutely do! I’ve been inspired by many individuals connected to the Bay Area: Patrick Cowley with his early electronic music explorations; Jacques Vallée with his critical theories on UFOs; Terrance McKenna with his deeply important ethnobotany; Janis Joplin with her screams at Monterey; Jeno, Hardkiss, and Mark Farina with their infusions of breaks and acid house culture; and Matmos with their music-making out of ordinary objects, just to name just a few.
I’ve been deepening my personal connections to the Bay Area over the last few years. I now work very closely with Faited on the LUV NRG Soundsystem, which loosely speaking is the set of speaker stacks and amps she maintains, adjusts, and otherwise wrangles with me and Octo Octa. For those who don’t know her, Faited is the technician, speaker builder, and renegade master from Oakland’s Envelope Soundsystem. Bored Lord, also based in Oakland, is my label mate and soul sister. They are both very important people in my life and we share some important wavelengths and adjacent cycles.
48 HILLS Your 2021 album Quivering in Time brought much-needed healing energy during the height of the pandemic. Now that you’ve been back touring the world for a bit, what are your current feelings on the role of dance music in fighting rising oppression and LGBTQ backlash?
ERIS DREW That’s so kind of you to say about my album.
Queer and trans people deserve safer spaces to dance, to be together, and to experience something ineffable and powerful that is created by our music and interactions. Places to be fortified. But, and this is important, we queer and trans people need to significantly and meaningfully create and control the infrastructure and apparatus of the dance music scene to not feel utterly sold out by it.
Dance music and dance music culture can be such a powerful tool in our arsenal but it is fragile and something we have to actively protect to maintain.
48 HILLS I love your candidness about your personal history with psychedelics, especially as they slowly become decriminalized here (maybe) and people need positive guidance to help navigate through the new landscape. You said you could “write a book” about your experiences with psychedelics, microdosing, music-making, and harm reduction. Would you ever really consider writing that book?
ERIS DREW Thanks for asking about this! I am about to launch a free Substack with my writings on psychedelics, raving, and the subjective experience of music. It is called “Journal of the Motherbeat” and will also include my writings on the technical aspects of djing, sound systems, engineering and vinyl collecting.
Hopefully these essays will form the outline for a book over time. I am honestly bored-to-death with Twitter/X and really want to start sharing thoughts in long form with the ability to moderate. I’ve already written three articles and I promised Octa I will have them posted by my birthday on October 28th.
48 HILLS More basic question here, but since you are primarily a fabulous vinyl DJ, what are a few of the records burning up your crate right now?
ERIS DREW Aw! You are too kind. I’ve picked up so much great new music lately. I am going to do a substack year-end list because this was such a great year for vinyl releases and new music. Here are just a few…
- Bliss Inc., “Delusion” (Magicwire)—Gorgeous mid-tempo trance with otherworldly flute.
- Caldera, “Dolphin Skii” (Nummer Music)—The Mystery of the Motherbeat is strong in this up-tempo techno number.
- DJ Autopay, “Trope 2” (T4T LUV NRG)—Stirring dub house in the spirit of Dana Kelly from the alias of Russell E.L. Butler on T4T LUV NRG.
- Genius of Time, “CS70 House” (Aniara Recordings)—A song to process difficulty and transform challenging emotions.
- Ryan Clover, “My Light, My World” (Ecstatic Editions)—The psychedelic wooze of The Cyclist paired with demonstrative vocal samples and non-stop energy on my label Ecstatic Editions.
- Bored Lord, “My Prayer” (No Bias)—7-inch breakbeat religion without dogma from my sis Bored Lord.
- Thurlow Joyce, “Varial” (NAFF)—Really incredible dub techno with spiritual propulsion.
AS YOU LIKE IT 13TH ANNIVERSARY WITH ERIS DREW, BEN UFO, DJ HARAM Sat/14, 9:30pm-3:30am, Public Works, SF. Tickets and more info here. (Plus: Don’t miss next Saturday’s continuation of the celebration with incredible Palestinian DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi and more.)