Denis Sulta Sings Both Parts in the Elton John and George Michael Duet
This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral. In this edition, Interview spoke with DJ Denis Sulta ahead of his performance at Time Warp USA, the electronic music festival celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary, and fresh off the release of his new EP, entitled Aye Spoake Te Sumwuhn & They Listenhd. Here, Sulta waxes poetic on Channing Tatum, the skinniest jeans he’s ever seen, and what makes an average house party scarier than the largest crowds he’s ever played to.
CONOR WILLIAMS: First question, what was the last song that you listened to?
DENIS SULTA: The last thing I listened to was “Bombtrack” by Rage Against the Machine. I think they just released an anniversary edition of that album, and I used to listen to it a lot when I was a kid. Big, badass track, man.
WILLIAMS: Who was the earliest musician or musical group to influence you?
SULTA: I mean other than my father, I think it had to probably be Earth, Wind and Fire. I reckon it was probably them because it was via my Dad, but definitely his connection to disco stuff that I was listening to was a foot in the door.
WILLIAMS: What was the first concert you remember going to?
SULTA: My first concert was Christina Aguilera, it was in Glasgow.
WILLIAMS: Oh, no way.
SULTA: I went to see Christina Aguilera with my dad because he knew the sound guy. So we basically sat in the middle of the room. I had this Eminem t-shirt on with a giant mushroom print on it and I was surrounded by young, crazy, pop Christina Aguilera fans. That was amazing, actually.
WILLIAMS: What’s the last concert you went to?
SULTA: I went to see Arctic Monkeys not long ago, in Berlin. That was really, really fucking cool, man. Arctic Monkeys was definitely an absolutely serious show. I thought it would merit a much bigger crowd but it was so, so sick.
WILLIAMS: I saw them a couple of years back, I think they were with the Black Keys at the time.
SULTA: Oh, wicked, wicked. Man, they’re just so on point, and the sound was perfect, it was just class. I reckon that was the last proper gig I can remember going to.
WILLIAMS: What’s your favorite movie soundtrack or score?
SULTA: I’ve got a new favorite. It changes quite a lot because I listen to quite a lot. I was watching Spider-Man 3 last night and there’s an amazing score in that. But there’s also an animated film called Smallfoot, which is this animated feature-length film with Channing Tatum, he’s the voice actor of the main Yeti in it. It’s written just so beautifully, the song that Channing Tatum sings, and the one Zendaya does too. It’s a great adventure movie soundtrack, it’s really catchy. There’s a song in it called “Perfection,” which is Channing Tatum’s lead song in it, and it’s my favorite song now, it’s so good. It brings a smile to my face every time. It’s just written to just insinuate joy and it’s beautiful, I love it.
WILLIAMS: Do you have an all-time dream collaboration? And also currently, if there’s a collaboration that you’d love to do, too?
SULTA: I’ve always loved the idea of working with Hudson Mohawke, who is from my city, Glasgow. There’s always the sense that there’s maybe someone you’d like to work with vocally, and right now there’s a guy called Slowthai, who would be wicked to work with. He’s the coolest, badass guy. He reminds me of Jamie T. He’s quite punk, he’s got that indie feel, but he’s still got that sass of a U.K. grime star.
WILLIAMS: Alright, some playlists: What would you put on a road trip playlist?
SULTA: When I go on tour, I won’t really listen to anything until I get to the first destination. When we went away to Australia earlier this year, all we were listening to was Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream.” It kind of came to us there, so whenever we go somewhere we tend to take the sounds of wherever we are and that’s how I end up looking for music when we’re away.
WILLIAMS: If you’re having a dinner party, what do you put on?
SULTA: God, I’m not sure if I’ve ever really had a dinner party before. I’m not really sure if I’ve ever given myself that responsibility. I would definitely have something on that wasn’t going to be too offensive, put it that way. But I would probably go down the route of a Birdman type thing, just something you can talk over, something you can just chill to, something you can bounce to. I’m a huge disco fan, a mad disco fan, and I reckon that cooking to music is always a fantastic thing.
WILLIAMS: So maybe some Donna Summer?
SULTA: Yeah, God, she’s welcome at my dinner party anytime. “Reach Out” by George Duke is one of my favorite songs of all time, and I think that anything from that album would be more than welcome at a party of mine, if I ever find time to have one.
WILLIAMS: If you’re throwing a house party, what are the songs you put on?
SULTA: “Dirty Disco” by Dizzee Rascal. This song is honestly everything to me just now. It’s madness. You must have been in a situation where someone’s on YouTube, right, and they play a song for 20 seconds and then someone else is on and then someone else is on and everyone’s fighting over their music. For me, house parties are the most pressure. You could play records to 10,000 people, as I did last weekend, and I swear to God it won’t be as scary as putting something on in front of ten of your friends at a fucking house party at two in the morning. If you manage to break that audience then you’ve done fucking well. This Dizzee Rascal song, I fucking played it on a rooftop in Sao Paulo and honestly the look on people’s faces was just like, “What the fuck is going on, has he gone completely bananas?” And the answer to that question is “Yes.”
WILLIAMS: Songs for crying in your bedroom?
SULTA: I think I did cry to something recently.
WILLIAMS: It doesn’t have to be your bedroom. Wherever you were crying.
SULTA: I did cry to a Hudson Mohawke song, just the other day in the airport. It reminded me that everything is going to be okay and it just had such a huge, huge scope to it. It’s called “Fuse.” It reminds me so much of home and so much of everything I ever wanted to be and it just kind of set me off really.
WILLIAMS: What about songs to get you through a breakup?
SULTA: I don’t have one. There was a festival in Scotland, and I remember going there as a kid, because everyone used to just go there for the sake of drinking loads of warm beer and seeing how much trouble one could get into. I remember going there because I wanted to see Jamie T, and I remember looking at him and the sun was going down behind his guitarist, who was wearing a pair of leopard print skinny jeans. I’d never seen a human being wearing such skinny pants. And I was like, “That’s what I want to be!” So, I reckon, “Spider’s Web” by Jamie T, would be a good one to cry to as well. I don’t know if you want to call it a break-up track, but it’s definitely the one I like.
WILLIAMS: What are some good songs to get stoned to?
SULTA: I used to really love Clams Casino. Gorilla, all the tracks on that thing are amazing, man. Whatever you’re getting stoned with, that’s a fucking great record to listen to while you are getting high.
WILLIAMS: What’s a song you’d like to have played at your funeral?
SULTA: The Jurassic Park theme song. I’ve thought about this.
WILLIAMS: Why that one?
SULTA: It’s the most beautiful piece of music I think I have ever heard. It’s the most wondrous, most beautiful depiction of mysterious adventure. I never want that situation to be a situation of sadness or situation of mourning. I only ever want it to be a situation of joy or a situation of just utter beauty, you know. A celebration of the things that made me happy.
WILLIAMS: Have you seen the video where they take the theme and put in a shitty cover on the recorder?
SULTA: I have. It’s too much. It’s so funny. It works so well!
WILLIAMS: Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
WILLIAMS: Which part do you sing?
SULTA: I sing both parts, man!
WILLIAMS: You sing both parts?
SULTA: I sing both parts. Of course, the two absolutely are my absolute favorite musicians. George Michael is my absolute number one. If I could be anyone, alive or dead, it would be George Michael. I’m trying to learn how to play it on the piano. My dad can do it, of course. My dad can play pretty much anything when he puts his head to it. But he’s like, “It’s so easy” and I’m like, fuck, like, it’s really not. But stick a microphone in my face and a couple of tequilas and I’ll kill it.
WILLIAMS: Alright, and the last question, if your life were a TV show, what would the theme song be?
SULTA: There was definitely a while I think that probably the theme from GrandStand would definitely have been the theme song to my life. It’s kind of how I carry myself. I think that’s definitely a good depiction of how I walk down a street.
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