It’s hard for me to understand what it’s like to be Hot Sugar, the New York producer whose dead-eyed selfies and brilliance with sampling make him probably the only Tumblr celebrity with a Grammy nomination. Connecting those two things—his music and presence on social media—is a general feeling that’s at once very funny and very sad. To that same end, this mix is fullllllllll of originals, starting with the first track, which features recordings of Hurricane Sandy, bugs being electrocuted and the silence during a friend’s funeral (more recordings from the funeral emerge 43 minutes in). At seven minutes, he’s made a song based on notation painted onto a man’s butt 500 years ago. Download the mix below, which Hot Sugar calls “Seductive Nightmares: Part II” (here’s Part I), and read an interview about hanging out with Neil Degrasse Tyson, Mozart’s sexting habits and more. His God’s Hand LP is coming soon, and he’ll play NY on April 11th.
Download: Hot Sugar’s FADER Mix, “Seductive Nightmares: Part II”
Where are you right now? What’s around you? I’m hiding under a shoe store’s awning on the sidewalk in the East Village waiting for this crazy rain to die down. Right now I’m the only person under this awning which is cool but I’m not opposed to sharing my awning if I find that special someone.
Around me? There are a couple more awnings down the block I guess. It’s raining so everyone I’m looking at is kind of thinking in terms of awnings right now. The rain is hot lava and we’re all just trying to hop from one sheltered spot to another (except for this lady who just walked by with a hollow look in her eye and a disregard for the discomfort of wet clothes).
What was the hardest sample to record that you’ve featured on this mix and why? I never really know. A lot of them are difficult to obtain. I lit a giant wooden dollhouse on fire in a junkyard in New Jersey. The flames erupted into a fire way bigger than I had anticipated, but I tried to stand as close as possible to hear everything crackle. I stood too close and burned my freaking hand, but more importantly I dropped the sound recorder into the flames and it got really melted. The recording ended after about 10 or 15 seconds of being in the fire, but the remains sound really cool. It’s the closest thing I can imagine to the sound of being burnt alive in a giant fire.
The hardest thing to record emotionally was my friend’s funeral. It was very intense. He was a hermit so no one showed up other than his accountant and me. His body just hung out there next to a bunch of fake candles while they blasted elevator music renditions of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” over a built in PA system. It’s hard enough having to sit and silently stare at your dead friend dressed in clothes he never wore for two hours but it’s even worse when having to listen to a Casio keyboard playing the saxophone riff to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Listening back to the recordings gave me chills. I can’t even listen to the silence of that room without immediately feeling the bleak sense of futility that struck me while I was there.
What was meeting Neil Degrasse Tyson like? Neil is the definition of cool. His curiosity and excitement towards the unknown has always been an inspiration to me, so I was very flattered and honored by his support and suggestions. We met last Monday in some conference room at the American Museum of Natural History and chatted about the importance of recording audio of the universe in the future.
Sound recording is a very young concept. The condenser microphone itself is less than a hundred years old and only up until about 10 years ago were portable recorders both efficient and affordable. For the majority of the microphone’s existence, people have been using it to amplify what we already hear. That’s a cool/practical use of a microphone but it’s by no means adventurous or revelatory. I think a microphone is like a microscope in that the most stunning and revealing results come from amplifying the unheard. Our human ears are very limited, but just because we can’t hear something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
I talked to Neil about my recordings of perceived silence and how when I crank the volume and clean up some of the noise I discover the unique eccentricities of every location and then I can turn them into keyboard patches. I told him about the concept of Associative Music and he got excited. He said I should record a caterpillar eating a leaf and then he gave me a look like that would be the hottest thing in the streets.
What’s something you’ve read recently that you really liked and why? I’ve been into Rimbaud lately because he can be hella based and very intimate/romantic. His poems are really cool but this book has a bunch of letters he wrote to people during his life and reading historical letters is always weird to me. I like to pretend the letters were posts on that persons’ social media pages or sometimes even a private Facebook message correspondence. A lot of them are very private so it feels sketchy to read Rimbaud write things to Verlaine like “come back, come back! I swear I’ll behave. It was a joke! Please forgive me?” without even knowing the context of that week’s stupid fight. It reminds me of when my friend found a cellphone in the grass and the texts on it were like, “I need you, I must have you. Please? I want what I cannot have!!!” except these are now published and for sale. That got me reading letters from other historical figures to their friends or lovers. The coolest one I read was probably a letter Mozart wrote to this girl telling her he was going to cum on a painting of her. My dude was sexting girls in calligraphy with a feather and ink.
What food do you like to cook and how do you make it? I don’t really cook much yet. I either buy pizza on a bagel or I’ve been spoiled by girlfriends in the past that like cooking. I feel like I’ll like cooking when I’m older and more bored with life but for right now, when I do cook, I usually go too hard and accidentally make a super expensive, indulgent meal. I don’t even really care about food to begin with so it’s weird because sometimes I’ll blackout and find myself serving a filet mignon with a balsamic reduction sauce and goat cheese crumble to myself on a random Tuesday at like noon. It’s cool but its also unnecessary. The only food I really even like are Peanut M&Ms.
(0:00-2:53) Hot Sugar – Moonlight Sonata (feat. Hurricane Sandy + Bugs electrocuting + Silence during a funeral)
(3:34-5:28) Hot Sugar – A widow with nice perfume
(5:28-7:29) Hot Sugar – Deposition
(7:29-8:47) Hot Sugar – The Garden of Earthly Delights
(8:47-11:03) Hot Sugar – “your nails are so pretty”
(11:03-14:04) Hot Sugar – The dead guy I found frozen next to the dumpster behind Westcoast Video
(14:05-15:16) Jeanette – Escucha (Hot Sugar edit)
(15:16-16:10) Hot Sugar – Fader mix interlude 1
(16:10-18:53) Björn isfält – The scene from Swedish Love Story where the kid rides back 4 his girl on his little motorcycle while crying (Hot Sugar edit)
(18:53-21:03) Hot Sugar – Assassination Plots (feat. Antwon + Andre Martel)
(21:03-22:42) O.G. Van B. Boys – Cobra Clutch (feat. Hot Sugar)
(22:42-24:24) SnckPck & Hot Sugar – Hiking in an undiscovered forest on another planet
(24:24-27:20) Hot Sugar – Dark Angel (demo)
(27:25-29:51) Hot Sugar – Theme to “On My Way To Steal Your Girl”
(29:54-33:45) Hot Sugar – No one ever asked to be born (demo)
(33:45-35:19) Hot Sugar – Black Lipstick
(35:19-37:17) Hot Sugar – Fader mix interlude 2
(37:17-37:55) AudioOpera – Merlin
(37:55-39:11) Hot Sugar – They said I’m not allowed to hang out there
(39:11-41:19) Nancy Leticia – étude no.2 (Prod. Hot Sugar)
(41:19-42:12) H3X3N – Fire (Hot Sugar edit)
(42:12-42:50) Hot Sugar – Fader mix interlude 3
(42:50- 44:17) Hot Sugar – Bill’s Funeral
(44:17-46:48) Hot Sugar – The forest nymph that lived behind the school
(46:48-50:31) Hot Sugar – The time I poisoned my teacher’s donut