It's weird: I have a lot more to think about now than I did with the old show, because I used to have people who covered this area and that area, and now I'm having to cover a lot of areas! But I'm much happier with the sound, the crowds are much more frenzied, much more rabid and insane. I think before it was a little bit more of a show that you watch and enjoy and clap clap clap, and that's not what I want.
The other thing is that I met a singer [Aerea Negrot] six years ago when I was on tour with Antony, doing merchandise for him. And she was really curious and I was talking her and she told me, "I live in Berlin cuz Berlin's the coolest techno place blah blah blah, but I'm classically trained in ballet. And I sing and kind of have an operatic voice." And I thought "Wow, this girl is weird — and kind of amazing!" And I told Antony, "We've got to have lunch with this girl who came to the show last night, she seems really interesting." So we did, but then I lost touch with her, until years later I found someone from Berlin who knew her and had her number. So I called her, and got her in the studio. And she was awesome, she took it to a place that I could never have imagined. So once again I was blessed with someone awesome who dropped from the heavens.
And the other new singer, Shaun Wright, who I met in New York, who's just been born and bred on house music. His mother was a singer in an R&B group — it's in his blood! And so he brings to Hercules this kind of more gospel-tinged African-American voice, which I'm really happy about. His voice is really powerful and I'm really excited about him. And when I first saw him I was taken aback because he was covered in sparkles and braids and just reminded me of Rick James and Sylvester.
All of that is interesting, because you probably could have just as easily put out another album of '70s/'80s-sounding disco music, and everyone would be perfectly happy.
Yeah. No, no, this is a completely different thing, a completely different beat. That said, there are moments on the new record that are very . . . "Herculean." You'll hear a horn arrangement that sounds like the first album, or a string arrangement, so there's some consistency. But this record was much more about honing and displaying my compositional voice as opposed to relying on references. It's much less referential, and more about songwriting.
Do your records have a message of any kind? Is there something thematic underlying your music, album-to-album?
I think if there if there was a message on the first record, it was "Dance music is legitimate music." You know, there's a history to it and it's not just throwaway trash. On this record it's more varied, but at the same time it's kind of the same deal: "If it's a dance track and it's coming from Hercules and Love Affair, you're gonna have to respect it as a song, and not just as a track." I'm saying it loud and clear: dance music is legitimate music. It's the real deal.