Only at MEAT would you find yourself listening to modern disco at an industrial-meets-posh speakeasy. Located in Butchertown (no kidding!) this stylish, low-key bar hosts OK Deejays (Alex Bell and Aaron Chadwell) with JP Source (Jon Paul Hill) as they bring the funk out of the ‘70s and into your Thursday night festivities. Upscale yet chill, the knowledgeable bartenders will make you one of their specialty drinks, such as the refreshing Gin-Gin Mule. I sat down with Alex Bell and Jon Paul Hill to talk with them about their music and the atmosphere at MEAT.
Sara Nelle Murphy: How did you and Aaron Chadwell come together to form OK Deejays?
Alex Bell: We’ve been doing this for about five years. We were off doing our own thing, mostly indie music then, down-tempo stuff. I was always more into house and club music. It’s good to have two people because you can collaborate, and while one person is working on a track the other one can be out there promoting. We’re friends, we have fun, we work together as a team.
SNM: It probably helps you out a lot in the music business, having the creative side and the producing side.
AB: Definitely. It’s so important to get out there and promote yourself. I was kind of a shy art kid back in the day, but when you start making your own music and playing for other people you have to open up and put yourself and your work out there.
SNM: How would you describe your music – what is OK Deejays?
AB: It’s changed over the years. We used to DJ at weddings and other events, now we’re more club-oriented, experimenting with electronic like house and this disco thing. We’re inspired by French DJs and guys like Hot Chip. Fun, classy, dance-y music.
SNM: It seems like dubstep is dominating the electronic music scene right now, so it’s good to know that there’s other stuff out there. You can’t fist pump all the time, right?
AB: It’s cool, if you want to fist pump to our music, go ahead. Whatever you want to do is great. I love when people get into it at our shows.
SNM: Jon Paul (JP Source), you’ve been playing and collaborating with OK Deejays. Tell me about what you’ve brought to the Louisville music scene.
Jon Paul: I moved here a few years ago from the UK, and when I got to Louisville I heard about these guys. So I contacted them and we started talking about music, I came to a few shows, and there you go. I guess you could say my style of music is cerebral, more for a lounge atmosphere. There’s this idea in America that the electronic music scene is new, but in Europe it’s been going on for ages.
SNM: Alex, has JP taught you guys a lot?
AB: You know it sounds cheesy, but I look up to him as a mentor. He’s been a DJ for about fifteen years. I guess it’s a cultural thing, because in other countries you get kids who start mixing their own stuff at a very young age. I’ve basically taught myself everything, so it’s nice to have someone to help you out and teach you something new.
SNM: Tell me a little about this gig at MEAT. How do you put your own spin on disco?
AB: Good music from any genre will translate well no matter what year it is. The key is to mix it into new music, and back it up with a fresh beat. Don’t get me wrong – there’s some bad disco. But even the cheesy disco is great in the right context. We like MEAT because it’s a chill atmosphere. You can come here and relax, have an interesting drink and listen to some good music. We like playing at other nightclubs, but it’s nice to be at a stylish, classy bar. And there’s no pressure. You don’t have to dance if you don’t want to, you can sit and relax and contemplate the music if you’d like.
SNM: You and Aaron do some other things in the music scene as well, can you tell me a little about that?
AB: We have a show on WFPK, Night Visions Radio, Monday through Thursday from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. Also, check out our website (www.nightvisionsradio.com), which features a lot of great new music that we discover.
Check out OK DEEJAYS at MEAT, 1076 E. Washington St., on Thursday nights and listen in to Night Visions Radio (OK Deejays & Sam Sneed, weeknights at 1 a.m., WFPK 91.9).
Photos by TIM VALENTINO | Contributing Photographer