Hell NY Muscle

Hell NY Muscle
Although he’s been around since the early ’80s, Gigolo label-head Hell has always been better known as a world-class DJ than a producer. However, with the North American release of his third full-length, NY Muscle, first released in Europe last year, things may change; one look at the liner notes shows that he’s pretty intent on just that happening. Hell has enlisted the talents of some of dance music’s most sought-after names and then some. The DFA’s James Murphy, Suicide’s Alan Vega, folk-pop/DJ straddler Erlend Oye, and techno-dad Abe Duque contribute vocals and production skills to an impressive album. As a DJ Hell tends to bait crowds with vocal-heavy mixes filled with club hits. He brings the same aesthetic to NY Muscle, where each track seems to outdo its predecessor. Alan Vega’s 21st-century Elvis croon on "Listen to the Hiss” and "Meet the Heat” delivers the album’s two vocal highlights. On "Tragic Picture Show,” an increasingly predictable James Murphy deadpans about an all-too-fashionable lifestyle. However, Hell really comes loose and hands over the goods on non-vocal numbers like "Control” and "Let No Man Jack.” No one can fault him for overachieving and wanting to please listeners, though he needn’t try so hard. Although there are more than a bona fide number of club-worthy anthems here, it’s hard to make out what Hell would sound like if he wasn’t trying so hard to keep up with the times.

The collaborations list for NY Muscle reads like a who’s who of the cream of modern music today. But then you’ve also got connections to P. Diddy and Donatella Versace. How do you get a dream team like this to join your album? They were all coming to me; it was the other way around. If you like what you’re doing and are having lots of fun doing it, there will be more people enjoying this art and getting into the picture.

Label-owner, DJ, producer, and as of late, scene definer — which of these roles do you enjoy most and how do you find time to do all this? Music is my life, and I am a man.

What are you most excited about in music these days? It’s still the same: music, girls, cars, parties, sports, fashion. And then you start from the beginning again.

Please describe in a few sentences what NY Muscle — as an album, an attitude, and a city — means to you. As Patti Smith said, "New York City becomes like a big shopping mall.” I also think New York City is like a big gym, always ready to pump up the muscle. (International DeeJay Gigolo)