To many, Linda Gerard needs no introduction. She has a cult following of devoted fans who journey to sunny Ace in Palm Springs to catch a glimpse and an earful of this self-described — Older, Wiser Lesbian. She’s everyone’s femme idol, the apple of our eye and one of our favorite human beings. She’s also a ridiculously talented woman with many an industry notch on her belt. That she’s decided to settle down with us in the desert, hosting Sissy Bingo every week and otherwise wowing those in the know as well as virgin ears and eyes, makes us incredibly blessed. Linda’s voice carries the oceanic vibrations of every great Broadway star before her, and she lets it ricochet ‘gainst the walls of King’s Highway when the mood is right. Her penchant for show-stopping eyewear and envy-inducing collection of let-your-light-shine sweaters and blazers leave us swooning.
We recently released a vinyl-only limited edition of Linda’s greatest hits, Fabulous Selections on our shop, and for our mutual dear friend DJ Day — another Palm Spring legend — we also present his first album, Land of 1000 Chances, on the shop. Day and Linda sat down recently to thumb through a bit of Linda’s life story — the stuff of big dreams, massive love, brave independence and a woman from whom we all have a lot to learn — entrusted to a confidante half her age but who’s definitely dancing to a similar drummer.
Let’s start from the beginning.
I was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1938, to a very orthodox Jewish family. Kept kosher, did the whole bit. I was always a performer. I always got up in front of people and sang. So, when I was old enough to get on the train my parents would let me go by myself to study in New York. I studied singing, dancing, acting, elocution and all that stuff. My parents wanted me to go to private school, but I said, “No, no, no. I don’t want to go to private school.”
I went to Trenton High School and I was in all the plays and the musicals and that was fun. Then when it was time to go to college and my parents wanted me to go I said, “I want to be in show business, but I’ll go to college if I can go to New York City.” There was a college in New York City called Finch, and it was on 78th Street between Park and Madison. I knew that if I got in I could sing on the weekends because that’s what I wanted to do. I got into Finch and on weekends I sang at 1 Fifth Avenue. I was always singing. I didn’t get great grades but I didn’t care. My parents cared, but I didn’t care. So the following year I didn’t want to go back. I said to parents, “Let me audition for the American Theatre Wing,” which was a very good school, for musical comedy.
DJ Shred One, aka Sheila Red, co-founded the all-female DJ crew RRS FEED with her pals DJs Roza and Raichous (Shred One is in the middle, above). Based in Chicago, she’s gone from LA to Brooklyn and back spinning and touring with artists like Talib Kweli and Exile. She’s playing tonight at Ace Hotel Palm Springs with DJ Day at his weekly party, ¡Reunión!, and she talked with us about the endangered art of DJing, her collective, and the beauty of analog modes.
Tell me about your creative process and how you go about approaching edits and mixes.
I still dig and collect records, so finding new and old music is my main inspiration for making mixes and edits. When I discover a song that’s new to my ears and hits me in the gut, I like to fiddle with it. I’ve been using Ableton, and the more I learn the program the more I get inspired to create the music I hear in my head. For mixes, I like to record live as it keeps an honest element in the sound. In a world of digital perfection, there’s beauty in analog imperfections.
Cosmo Baker is a producer and DJ based in NYC. He recently shared the decks with our friend DJ Day at his weekly hell-raiser ¡Reunión! at Ace Hotel Palm Springs. Cosmo’s playing tonight in New York at Switchboard. Next month and months thereafter it will be at Ace NYC, but for this month it’s happening at Tammany Hall.
Cosmo’s been a champion of New Jack Swing, obscure, special and rad music for a long ass time. He talked with us about some of his projects past and present, and a banana he met this morning.
I heard you have a CD buried in a time capsule in Hawaii. Do tell…
Several years ago me and a buddy Scott Melker did a CD called “Live At The Spotlite” which was the labor of love homage to one of our favorite music genres, New Jack Swing. All that late 80s and early 90s stuff that sounds so dated yet at the same time is still incredible music, production values and songwriting. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine and my knowledge of it runs pretty deep. This was back when it was still possible to sell physical product in healthy numbers as opposed to just putting things up online for download. So the reception for the CD was pretty fantastic, shipping around the globe. I know that we had some on sale in retail outlets out there on the islands, but as to how it got in someone’s hands and why they decided it was appropriate to put in a time capsule I will never know. But it’s pretty cool if you think about it, and when they open it up who knows when in the future, you’ll have an artifact that will represent two separate periods of time. Now whether or not they will actually have CD players in the future is another question.
What’s your history in Hawaii — do you have family there?
I’ve only been to Hawaii once, spending a few days on Kauai with some friends of mine. No question that once you’re out there, you feel the magic and the pull of that place. It’s a very powerful spot on this planet. And I was totally fine with just sitting in a hammock on the beach, beer in hand, doing nothing for 5 days straight. Life sucks!
Tell me about The Rub.
The Rub is a Brooklyn based DJ collective that consists of myself, DJ Ayres and DJ Eleven. We’ve been friends for years and Ayres started the party at Southpaw in Brooklyn in 2002 and I came up and did a few guest spots during the first year. Then in 2003 I moved to Brooklyn, at which point the three of us guys decided to solidify the partnership and we’ve been rocking ever since. We’ve taken the show all around the globe but always continue to rock the first Saturday of every month back in Brooklyn. Musically it’s incredibly diverse and also gives us a place to really open up artistically as DJs, and over the years the crowd that we’ve cultivated definitely have learned that it’s a completely different and unique thing from your standard club night in NY. And we’re stronger than ever, and I’m super grateful that we kind of captured lightning in a bottle with this.
Switchboard is based around the idea of “telephoning music” — the transportation that occurs when an artist interprets a piece of music. What do you have planned and what’s inspiring you as you get ready for the party?
I totally trust Sammy when it comes to his ear and artistic vision so when he approached me to do this I jumped at the chance. In my very humble opinion, the thing about art, or the creative process in general to me is that it’s a deeply personal thing. You put all this energy from your soul into creating something. It belongs to you and only you. But once you release it and let it out in the world, you relinquish ownership of it in a sense, and it ends up belonging to everyone else except you. So when a song is created, and when someone covers it or remixes it, it’s kind of like this cycle that continues on and on. Even as a DJ, the way one manipulates and edits the sounds, using layering or other techniques, you’re doing your own interpretation of prerecorded music. As for how I’m prepping, I’m just trying to pull some really fun, cool groovy shit that people will dig!
What project are you most excited about at the moment?
All the production that I’m working on and collaborating with others for a side project called Sheen Brothers, which is me and my homie 4th Pyramid. We’re looking a a few releases this year for that and I’m very excited about the initial response that we’ve been getting. Other than that, I’m writing a lot, and I’m traveling a hell of a lot. That’s tiring, but it’s still very exciting.
What’d you do this morning?
The first thing was drink some coffee. Then worked on the 4th Pyramid project that he’s putting out for SXSW. Then I ate a banana.
Favorite music right now?
Two things that come to mind — The Miracles Club which is a house music group out of Portland, and Frank Ocean who is an R&B singer from Los Angeles via Atlanta. Both of them are really fucking amazing. But there’s always so much music out there, both new and old, that inspire me. Every month I do a Monthly Top Ten Mix with some of my most favorite music at that moment. It’s kind of across the board but really representative of where I’m at in my head. But I don’t know, I just love music so fucking much it’s insane. I don’t know what i would do without it!
Photo by Kenny Rodriquez