by: Amanda Savage
William Reed is a lot of things, bored is not one of them. Known for his dance parties, music and insane ambition — Reed has made a profound impact on the Phoenix nightlife scene over the past decade. AFM spoke with him about his laundry list of projects, the music he loves and makes, and what he would do on a day where he wasn’t allowed to work.
AFM: First, can you list all of the events and projects you’re involved with?
William: I’m currently involved with Sticky Fingers Mobile Soundsystem, which is a reincarnation of the award winning Sticky Fingers dance night; formerly a weekly, and now a pop-up event at various venues around town. The Sunday pool party series at Lustre Bar on top of the Palomar Hotel, which runs through Labor Day Weekend. I’m also half of the house/nu disco production and DJ duo, Blaque Panther Disco. Aside from that I regularly maintain weekly DJ residencies at various locations around town such as Icon Lounge, Merc Bar and The Vig. I also own Arizona Deejay Company and Los Angeles Deejay Company. Both companies focus on more of the corporate end of the DJ spectrum. We also dabble in talent management. That aside I teach as adjunct faculty at MCC and SCC in the music business departments and am an on-again, off-again radio show host. Oh, and I’m working with a LA based record label out of their Phoenix satellite office.
AFM: Okay wow! That’s a lot! Let’s start with some ice breakers, what are you doing right now?
William: I just had lunch and am trying to stay awake while completing this interview. I’m also listening to, and downloading new music.
AFM: What are some tracks you’re really into right now?
William: As of today, I’m listening to the new Boards of Canada and Disclosure albums. Locally, the forthcoming album by The Holy Coast. As far as dance tracks go, mostly deep house and nu-disco. Producers like Karmon, Blank & Jones, Villanova, Severino, Juan Maclean and Touch Sensitive to name a few. And the usual indie rock/indie dance stuff that’s been coming out.
AFM: What’s your favorite place to eat? Or favorite local menu item, or both.
William: Indian food is my favorite, but I can’t eat that everyday. I like to support local business as much as I can by eating at places like Scratch (RIP), Hana, Windsor, Palette, Sochu House. The Vig and Timo.
AFM: Best place to have a beer? Or cocktail if that’s more your thing?
William: That’s tough. There’s so many great bars in Phoenix. For cocktails: The Merc, Jade Bar, AZ88, Durant’s, Lustre Bar. Wherever there’s a pool, good music and good people. Bikini Lounge is an old favorite haunt of mine.
AFM: So I hear your from Berlin. Is that true? How did you end up in Phoenix?
William: I grew up in Germany and lived in a few cities there. The city I most recently lived in before moving to the states was Heidelberg — just outside of Frankfurt. I came out to Phoenix a little over a decade ago to live with some mates from high school. The rest is history.
AFM: It’s safe to say you’ve been in the Phoenix scene long enough to have an opinion about it. How has the scene changed over the years. What was it like when you first got involved compared to what it is today?
William: Of course, I’ve seen people and places come and go over the years. Although scenes tend to change with the trends a constant element always remains. The faces change but the nights pretty much stay the same. There wasn’t much in the way of “indie” or “electronic” dance nights when I started, which is ultimately why I started DJing in the first place: to have a place to hang out and listen to music that wasn’t being played here.
AFM: How did that start?
William: At the time, there wasn’t a night where you could dance to punk, indie and rock and roll. So I started one. I called it Shake! and it blew up. It ran for five years and had three Grammy winning artist perform: Paul Epworth (Adele), Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire, as well as members of The Smiths, Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Joy Division and Guns N Roses — among hundreds of others. Still to this day, that was by far my favorite. I always wanted to do a northern soul/mod/Brit pop dance party, so I started Style Council. That was back in my Vespa days. Lot’s of fun. French Kiss was the first proper electro dance party in Phoenix. I started that with my great friend DJ MyKill now based out of SF. There was nothing else like it at the time, so it was a huge hit and so much fun. Sticky Fingers was sort of a hybrid of all of those previous events combined. At least initially. A few years ago I hosted a private Memorial Day pool party at my condo. Cuban themed and fully catered. Totally over the top. That gave me the idea for Adult Swim. I’m sure I’ve missed a few details but you get the point.
AFM: Do you identify yourself more with being a business man or artist/ musician William: Ha ha. Is this a trick question? I suppose my development has been backwards. I started out in business and then switched over to the artistic side much later. To be completely honest, the line between business man and artist are blurred and I personally balance the two.
AFM: What was your first music love? What genre of music got you passionate about making music, and how did it grow and evolve you into the person you are today?
William: I grew up to the sounds of Michael Jackson, Prince, The Rolling Stones and Beatles blaring from my father’s stereo on the weekends. He’d open up the windows and crank it. This only happened on the weekend but it definitely got my attention. From there I was exposed to “alternative” music in Germany–The Cure, New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths, Stone Roses, Talking Heads. The whole 80s / new wave / Kraut rock thing. From there it went to punk, post punk, and on and on. Until one day I wandered into the basement of Club Schwimmbad and discovered acid house and techno music. I had no idea what it was at the time. But it changed my life.
AFM: What are all of your different musical alter egos?
William: There’s Blaque Panther Disco, we DJ and produce music which leans towards the deep house and nu disco genres. The Strobes, which is a 3-way collaboration remixing and DJing indie dance tracks. Traum, which was actually the name I used for my first ever DJ gig 10+ years ago. I use that monikor for my minimal / techno sets and, of course, William Fucking Reed which has kind of stuck over the years.
AFM: How is the music you create different from the music you choose to play on your radio show? How do you approach that?
William: The music is influenced by sounds in the similar genres, respectively. I just play what I’m into at the moment. Whether that’s disco, deep house, techno, indie dance, French new wave or funk and soul.
AFM: Where did all of your ambition for success in so many things come from?
William: I’m a workaholic. That’s the bottom line. But it has to be on projects that I actually like. My musical tastes are wide and varied. And that shows through the various projects I’m involved with. Also, when there’s a void, it’s better to fill it then to complain, right?
AFM: You’ve got a ton going on with music and nightlife, what other projects and hobbies do you have? Career related and not.
William: Isn’t that enough (laughing)? I always have something new either in the works or on deck. AZDJCO has really taken off over the last year and I’m quite proud of that. As such it consumes quite a bit of my daily schedule. For hobbies I like to dabble in art, photography and travel.
AFM: Any big plans for the rest of summer? Career related or personal?
William: I like to get through the Phoenix summer as quickly as possible. Of course I’m really excited for our summer long pool party series every Sunday at Palomar Hotel. That aside I have quite a few DJ gigs that will take me to the east and west coasts.
AFM: You have a whole day to do whatever you want. You can’t work. What are you doing?
William: I’m on a beach, in a hammock, reading a James Bond novel.
Follow Amanda on Twitter @Amanda_Savage