First came the malicious rumour spread by a jealous ex. Then came the music. Los Angeles-based New Zealander Dan Mancini aka DJ Ladypills and Mrs Mancini, Lindsay (aka DJ Bettie Blue) spun their loved up DJ act TSR Airlines out of some real bitchy shit.
The TSR stands for Tennessee Sex Ring, the name of the band version of their musical pairing which they use to take their sound to much darker, country noir places than their DJ party sets. Despite living Stateside, neither have spent much time in Tennessee.
“We've both only been to Tennessee once each, and unfortunately Bubs (Lindsay) spent her time in a courthouse and I spent mine in a green room,” says Dan. “Unbeknown to us it turns out that there has been a number of sex trafficking rings in Tennessee but for us the name came from a rumour that had been spread about Bubs by a jealous co-worker, who I’d previously dated. She said Bubs was running a brothel out of the LA hotel we were working in at the time, which Bubs took as a compliment, and since my pre-Bubs pet name for her was Tennessee we thought we'd just run with promoting the rumour by making flyers for a non-existent LA hotel club prostitution ring. Time went by and we started making tunes and DJing sets round the gossip.”
TSR Airlines is coming to New Zealand for Auckland City Limits, and playing the Noisey after party. It’s a rare trip home for Dan who is well established on the Californian scene helming nightly residencies at venues like Chateau Marmont, No Vacancy and Soho House.
NOISEY: Is this TSR Airlines first appearance in New Zealand?
Dan Mancini: Our first DJ appearance, although my old New Zealand free noise band Mancini500 reformed and played a year or so back at Auckland's KIngs Arms, so inevitably an intoxicated Bubs jumped onstage with us and made some TSR magic. What’s the best thing about DJing with your wife?
It all rules. We get to travel and play both together and separately; Bubs as DJ Bettie Blue and myself as Ladypills, all in the name of pleasure for work. If we’re in a town or venue DJing for more than a night we always set up our little pillow case home studio and do some Tennessee Sex Ring band recordings, which is pretty sweet as we've recorded all over from deep in the heart of the Joshua Tree desert with scorpions in our beds to sunset clifftops in Mexico to puking lobster butter in the Hamptons. The environment definitely shapes the songs.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Auckland City Limits?
Hometown LA prince Kendrik Lamar, Sturgill Simpson, Grace Potter, fellow Vermonter like Bubs, and our expat Kiwi/LA pal Ladyhawke. What’s your favourite party TSR have DJed to date?
We just played the Regent Theatre in Downtown LA with some other local LA acts, Gateway Drugs and Together Pangea, which was pretty great simply because it was curated from the UK by old timer Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order. The night before was old school too as we played an unannounced joint DJ set with Keith Shocklee of Public Enemy and Bomb Squad at Dirty Laundry, a basement disco in Hollywood. It’s been a good weekend - sweet old school legend vibes abound.
You made us an exclusive mix. Thanks! Wanna talk us through it a little? It sure is one hell of a half hour journey.
Cool and you're welcome. The Tennessee Sex Ring band action we do is so completely different to our DJ sets in that its almost soundscape, slow as fuck, death-noir vibes. It’s definitely not club music and so when making this mix Bubs and I also wanted to instigate a separation from the traditional dance floor, so a road-trip style no wave and disco/boogie vibe seemed to be in order. We recorded the mix live in one afternoon take at the rooftop club of The Standard Hotel in Downtown LA. It opens on a 1972 instrumental synth tribute to Elton John's “Rocket Man” and gets weirder from there. Some of our fave tunes feature, from the Jujus and Disco Devil to a tropical Too Short edit to Sandy Kerr and Boo Boo Davis to Grace Jones covering Joy Divsion's “She's Lost Control” to authentic Nigerian disco in “Jay U Experience”.
Oh, and the mix ends on a snippet of one of the funniest tunes ever made, Screaming Jay Hawkins talking about how cool he is in the 80s. Ridiculous, as the man’s been the coolest since the day he was born. TSR Airline’s play Auckland City Limits, March 19 and the Noisey official after party at Whammy.