As I have noted in prior posts, as a New Yorker moving to Boston it was a bit of a challenge. It took me a while to discover the soul of the town. Once I really dug in, it was amazing to connect with the likes of George Andrinopoulos (DJ 7L & Soundtracks), Deano Sounds (aka Cultures of Soul), Jeremy Sullivan (Vinyl Index), among many others. But, one of my favorite Boston-area discoveries was made not in Beantown but at a show in Chi-town that featured DJ Saucy Lady.
Back in October 2017 before these pandemic days, I had the great fortune of being invited out to the Hideout (a great Chicago club) to catch a show put on by our fav Chicago boogie monsters the Star Creatures crew. For me, the highlight of the show was Saucy Lady. I had also seen her DJ sets in New York City at one of the great Shake nights & enjoyed her band’s set at the ICA in Boston. (Pro tip: If she has a show or set in the area, do not sleep on it. Follow her to stay informed)
Cultures of Soul label owner Deano Sounds turned us on to her amazing covers of Japanese boogie gems on the 12” Town. I was impressed with the production & learned that her partner-in-crime was U-KEY, (aka Yuki Kanesaka).
U-KEY is a multi-talented musician, producer & DJ. I was happily surprised to learn that they are also based in Boston & feel lucky they also call Beantown home.
I’ve been working to get them to be part of our DJ series, & I am thrilled to share my recent interview with them both & their killer, beaitful boogie mix.
INTERVIEW WITH SAUCY LADY & U-KEY
Hi guys! How are you both? How’s your summer going?
Saucy Lady: Chillin’, it’s been a relatively relaxed summer.
U-KEY: I’ve been making music daily from the studio.
You both were just on the Cape, right? I was out on the Outer Cape in Truro where it was sublime. How was it for you guys? Any highlights? See any sharks?
SL: I would use the same word "sublime" to describe my experience also. We rented a home right on the sand by a beach so we swam daily. We saw no sharks but we saw a bunch of seals.
UK: We caught a few porgies & ate them for dinner.
How have you been doing now that things are slowly opening up? I was happy you were able to join Vinyl Index’ “Open Late” series at Bow Market. I loved your set. How did it feel to play wax in front of human beings IRL?
SL: It was great to see some friends I hadn’t seen in over a year.
UK: It feels more interactive when we spin with records than digital, & people tend to be more engaged.
What has it been like during this pandemic for you both creatively? Any positives for either of you that came out of being locked down?
SL: I felt more productive overall, we renovated our home that we moved into before the pandemic. It gave us a chance to make the home our own. Musically, although gigs were all canceled except virtual ones, I got to continue making tunes. I also was able to start playing the piano again after a hiatus for 20 years. It helped that nail salons closed down, I finally cut my nails short so I can play again!
UK: I have been more creative, because I could stay focused. Majority of musicians believe music creation comes from social interaction but for production and completing projects, it really requires project management. With the pandemic, everyone was online so it felt more organized & projects were able to move along more smoothly.
Tell us more about how you both met & how you work together.
SL: We met at a gig he had been performing at, a downtown Boston restaurant. We were introduced by a mutual friend. We started working together on my first album “Diversify” around 2009 & we released the album in 2011. We then started to perform together.
U-KEY, I’ve consistently been impressed with the music you’ve made with Saucy Lady. What have been some of your musical influences? Anything I might be surprised by?
UK: Steve Reich is a big influence on me, also visual artists and designers such as Kenya Hara from MUJI, Tadao Ando, to name a couple, have impressed me greatly and have influenced me musically and culturally.
& Saucy Lady, what about your influences?
SL: U-KEY. To name one.
U-KEY, tell me about your studio, Komugiko, and your other projects.
UK: I closed Komugiko studios in 2020. I had been running that studio on Newbury Street in Boston for 10 years. I’ve moved my studio to Weymouth, MA where we live by fully converting our two-car garage. You should come visit. The
new studio is called Hummingbird Recordings. You might see some Hummingbirds by the feeder if you’re lucky.
Saucy Lady, I read that you interned at Jive Records in NYC. What was that like and what was the most important lesson you learned there?
SL: It was during my college years. I didn’t enjoy it much because I saw first hand how music and artists were taken advantage of, considered “product”, and not respected as art or human beings. It just never sat well with me.
What brought you to Boston? What do you like about the area?
SL: I had family in Boston, so I chose to go to college and grad school in Massachusetts and decided to stay as I got a job. I like that it’s diverse to some extent, and close to the beaches and there’s a lot of natural beauty nearby.
UK: I came to Boston to enter Berklee College of Music. I teach music production and engineering there now. What I like about Boston is that there are many generations of musicians with backgrounds in a variety of musical genres. Many are humble about it too.
What’s your take on the current music scene in the Boston area? Any artists you are into these days?
SL: My buddy Lee Wilson has been on fire releasing a ton of tunes and burning up the charts on Traxsource amongst other stores. He’s such a natural and inspirational performer.
UK: Debo Ray is a great artist from the local area.
What music have you recently discovered that you are into or are playing on repeat these days?
If you had to choose a single name for you both as a band, what would it be?
SL & UK: We have one already. The Honey Sauce Band.
For the uninitiated, what is the ethos of your art? What should they expect from your music and/or DJ sets?
SL: I just play what I love, and I go by the mood of the moment so it could really vary in genres. I also get easily bored if I keep the same style throughout a set so I like to change the vibe up quite a bit.
UK: I play what I find “fresh” even if it’s older music, or new. There are no walls between music in my opinion, & I like to break boundaries.
What can we expect from your mix for OVER&OVER? What inspired your mix?
SL: I picked up a lot of records recently so I basically played them all. I wanted to hear what it sounds like blended with one another, & hearing it in the basement speakers. We converted our basement to a disco, so we have 14 speakers in the basement. The records sounded great down there.
UK: I tried to play tunes that I’ve been involved in one way or another. Whether I’ve been the producer, or songs from our labelmates, etc.
Okay, rapid fire DJ Q&A. Ready? Set? Go…
Describe yourself using the title of a song:
SL: Great Balls of Fire
UK: Left Alone
Where’s the strangest place you’ve woken up?
SL: In the middle of the woods
UK: A bathroom in Osaka
What would be the worst dance track in the world to be tortured with on repeat?
SL: Din Daa Daa by George Kranz, it’s not a bad song but I never was into it & too many times it would be torturous.
UK: Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters, same reason as Saucy.
What is the one music genre you will never play?
SL: I’ll play all genres if it works with the vibe.
UK: War anthems.
The most awkward moment you’ve had as a DJ/musician?
SL: When I jumped a girl for trying to steal Yuki’s hat when he was mid-performance.
UK: When I was pepper sprayed & got my wallet stolen during my DJ tour in South Africa.
What’s the most played record in your bag?
What’s the most prized collection in your crates?
UK: The Billy Cobham / George Duke Band “Live” on Tour in Europe, signed by George Duke himself.
What is the one record you are still crate digging for?
What was the first concert you ever attended?
SL: Michael Jackson’s Bad tour in Tokyo.
UK: Zoo’s Choo Choo Train Tour.
Where was your first DJ gig and what did you play?
SL: My first DJ gig was at Zuzu at my first residency in Cambridge. I played mostly boogie and disco.
UK: At a venue called Seven Eleven Boylston Street, played MAW.
What was the first record you bought and where?
UK: James Taylor Quartet (Acid Jazz)
What artist or person who isn’t a DJ would you like to see DJ?
SL: My dad, he has such good taste.
UK: Joichi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab
UFOs/Aliens - Is the truth out there?
If asked, would you leave Earth to boogie with ET?
SL: Hell yes
UK: Hell no
What question would you like to ask an omniscient, all-knowing being before you die?
SL: Is it all it’s cracked up to be up there?
UK: What do you not know?
Last question: What is coming up for you next? What are you working on? When and where can we see you spinning and/or playing live next ?
SL: I have some 7” records coming out in the next few months! I’m also as usual working on new tunes, collaborating with a few folks in the disco / funk / boogie scene.
As for gigs, on Saturday 9/11 I’ll be spinning an early set at Dancing on the Charles on Charles Esplanade; on Friday 9/17 we’ll be DJing a late set at CITRUS in Portland Maine; & on Friday 9/24 we’ll spin at Electric Haze in Worcester for “Our House” … just to name a few.
UK: Five new TV commercials will go on air in Japan and internationally for some that I produced music for. Also includes one with Saucy’s vocals. There’s also a new anime soundtrack I’ve produced, which will be on Netflix in October.
Saucy Lady & U-KEY, thank you so much for sharing your talents & thoughts with us. We love this mix & are stoked to put it out! I can’t wait to spin wax for the people with you IRL soon.
Alright, time to go down to the basement & boogie on down...
01 Happy Music by Jaymz Bedford
02 When You're Far Away by Gladys Knight & The Pips
03 Something Else by Logg
04 Caveman Boogie by Lesette Wilson
05 Be Free by Dr. Togo
06 The Queen On Her Throne by JKriv *
07 Don't Tell Me, Tell Her by Odyssey
08 Soft & Easy by The Blackbyrds
09 Mellow Mellow (Right On) by Lowrell
10 I'm Satisfied by Natalie Gardiner
11 Wrap You Up by Yam Who?
12 The Gift (Part II) by Up Hygh
13 Be Your Lover by Giovanni Damico
14 Rock The Funky Beat by DJ Regal
15 One Another (Saucy Lady & U-Key Remix) by Koala Kaladevi
16 Ain't Nobody by Woodyfunk feat. Monolog & T-Groove
17 Take The Wheel by Shiro Schawrz feat. Zackey Force Funk
18 It's All Here (Shiro Schwarz Remix) by Saucy Lady & U-Key
* Track 6 is an edit of Darlin' Darlin' Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love) by The O'Jays