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The Many Lives of Larry Tee, the 90s Club Kid Who Coined "Electroclash"

The veteran DJ serves up a fresh new mix of ballroom, electro, and house.
August 18, 2015, 8:35pm

DB Burkman, otherwise known as DJ DB, was one of the first British DJs to bring drum and bass across the pond, and has been a fixture in America's rave scene since the early 90s. In this column No Skool Like the Old Skool, he'll be sharing long-forgotten mixes, photos, flyers, and other treasures from his archive. Break out those notepads…

I've known Larry Tee since the early 90s, when he achieved massive success writing the '93 breakthrough hit "Supermodel (You'd Better Work)" for RuPaul. But the veteran DJ isn't just a talented songwriter. In fact, there's very little that he hasn't done, from promoting parties to producing tracks and playing in bands. Behind-the-scenes, he helped to launch the careers of artists like RuPaul, Scissor Sisters, and Fischerspooner; he even coined the term "electroclash."

Read: Larry Tee is a Super Electric Party Machine

The first time I witnessed his larger-than-life character was when Michael Alig, who ran a party called Disco 2000 at The Limelight, called me to stand in for the resident DJ Keoki. Larry was hosting Hot Body, the party's notorious crowd-focused contest.

This photo was taken from a normal Wednesday night at Disco 2000—that's Larry on the mic wearing a white jumpsuit.

Here's a video of Larry in action, MCing the Hot Body contest:

We've since become close friends with much in common, but there's one important thing I'd like to mention: we're both drug and drink-free. When I asked Larry if he was cool letting me mention that, he had a beautiful reply: "I am totally 'out' about being in recovery in the hopes that it might help someone that sees me do my thing in that environment." I have always felt the same way.

Larry Tee (left) and Michael Alig (right)

New York is a little less colorful since Larry moved to London, but London needs a bit of color anyway. Here's a new, original mix Larry made for THUMP—it's a glimpse of what New York is now missing. (Scroll down for the tracklist.)

Larry's musical career included playing keyboards in the Atlanta new wave act the Fans, which produced the B-52's original "Rock Lobster" 7-inch. After that, he joined the fabulous group Now Explosion (pictured below) with fellow Limelight host Lahoma Van Zandt. Now Explosion launched the first shows by RuPaul and Lady Bunny, and became the Pyramid Club's' house band in the mid-80s.

The Now Explosion in Atlanta in 1984

Larry's video "Come Fly With Me" serves as a perfect time capsule for the club kid fashion moment in 90s New York City.

When I couldn't remember what his connection to the Scissor Sisters was, Larry replied, "We hosted most of their early shows at our electro party at LUXX in Berliniamsburg"—referring to the nickname for Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood in the early 2000s when it was full of 80s clubs—"and booked their first show when they opened for my electroclash cutie-girl group Whatever It Takes (WIT)."

Here's another little gem that Larry worked on behind-the-scenes as a songwriter:

Even back then, Larry was just as happy behind-the-scenes as he was on stage or behind the decks. In fact, he managed to keep a cool head even through the most frustrating business deals.

For example, when Andrew Goldstone and I were doing A&R at Warner Bros, we discovered a little-known, but extremely interesting art and electro-based act called Fischerspooner. Then Andrew and I got hired by Ministry of Sound, and Larry got a massive bidding war started for Fischerspooner. They were eventually signed for a ridiculous amount of money, but through some loophole, Larry never got what he was promised. When I asked if he was bitter, Larry was very zen about it. Andrew and I also got fucked over by Ministry of Sound, but I'm not sure how zen either of us feel.

Finally, I love this shot from 1992 of the dearly-missed Frankie Knuckles with Larry. It was taken when they were spinning alternate weeks at the legendary New York club, the Roxy. Clearly, Larry never lost his sense of style.

Tracklist:

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1. Doctor Jeep and Kreuger - Cave Dive

2. Ridney - Raver (Modek Remix)

3. SEPM feat Portia Ferrari - Body Talk

4. Disclosure and Friend Within - The Mechanism

5. Chocolate Puma - Rubberband Lazer

6. Mason - Earmark

7. Prefect - Whats Love

8. Tony Quattro and Bert On Beats - Put Up Ya Hands

9. SEPM feat. Cunty Savage - Karl Lagerfeld

10. Weichold and Namito - Zick (systematic)

11. Kings of Class - Stomper

12. Vangelis Kostoxin - The Chief

13. Hidden Cameras - Carpe Diem (Absolute rmx)