Sitting by the window of Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Blackbird Parlour, so many people wave to Lauren Flax that it’s like she’s the grand marshal of The Bedford Ave. Parade. It feels right that someone as sincerely excited and overwhelmingly loved as Flax would be the creator of the perpetually-blooming house anthem “You’ve Changed,” a dance track of unmitigated joy. Planted in Chicago house with escalating synth sparkles and warm high-hat, it expands with a heart-exploding vocal track by Sia. “I wanted Chicago black girl vocals on this shit, but I thought about it and was like, Lemme get this little white Australian lady to sing. And it was perfect,” says Flax. “You’ve Changed” also signals a shift in consciousness, in both the kind of straightforwardly jubilant vocal house kids are willing to get wikkid to on the dance floor and in Flax’s ever-fluid style as a producer, DJ, songwriter and vocalist.
When Flax was seventeen and emerging from her high school gothness, she lived across from a medium security Detroit prison, right above a bondage bar where prisoners would come cash their commissary checks after being discharged. Three blocks away was the legendary club Motor Lounge, but she was more interested in “strumming guitar, playing Jewel songs in the corner.” Then one day, kicking it with her DJ friends, she mixed a Sade record with a random jungle track and blew everyone out the water. That sparked a multi-year residency at Motor, where the legendary Carl Craig became her mentor. She didn’t start producing until she moved to Chicago at the age of twenty-one, where she got deeply into electro and did her first official remix, “Much Finer (Lauren Flax flaxdatass remix)” for Le Tigre.
The day we’re sitting in Brooklyn, where she’s lived for the past six years, Flax is preparing to go to Australia as the tour DJ for Fischerspooner, who she met through her friends in Hercules & Love Affair (she worked retail with drummer Guy Licata). Her dance card is booked. In addition to house music nights around town as part of the IHeartComix crew, she DJs the popular U.N.I.T.Y. party, a ’90s jam with close friend JD Samson, and books the cavelike Brooklyn dance bar Hugs. “I write the best on airplanes, which is a blessing because the amount of travel that’s been going on,” she says. “For ‘You’ve Changed,’ me and JD were flying to Iceland. I was writing it on the computer, and I gave the headphones over to JD, and she was like, This is a fucking hit. And I’m like, Let’s fucking do this!” Yes, let’s.