Like many a young DJ, Kim Ann Foxman went through a short-lived “Short Dick Man” phase in her 20s. But as the now 32-year-old settles into her third decade her once-silly sensibility has evolved into a serious love for soulful, classic house of the “genuine, sincere and timeless” variety.
“There was a time for my silliness and it was fun,” she says.
Best known as one of the singers for acclaimed disco pop band Hercules and Love Affair, Foxman is spending the downtime between tours honing her skills as a DJ. On Fri, Apr 24 she makes her Toronto premiere at Seventh Heaven, Jaime Sin and Will Munro’s west-end disco party.
Born in Hawaii, Foxman spent her teenage years boogie boarding and working in her dad’s jewellery factory. In 1995 she moved to San Francisco to go to college, started designing her own jewels, joined an indie electronic duo and threw herself into the city’s rave scene. By 2002 she was ready for a change and followed her girlfriend to New York.
“Of course as soon as I moved, we broke up three days later,” she laughs. “It was the classic tale of following your lover.”
The move to New York ended one romantic relationship but led to a new, creatively fruitful one. Her soon-to-be ex lived with a guy who was dating Andy Butler, now the driving force behind Hercules and Love Affair. Foxman and Butler bonded over their shared affection for weirdo disco and classic house, music that was, at the time, considered passé by indie rock-obsessed New Yorkers.
Around the same time Foxman was offered a bartending job at now-defunct East Village gay bar The Hole on the condition she throw a weekly Friday night party that would attract lesbians to the dingy, graffiti-covered dive. She named the party Mad Clams and recruited Butler as the resident DJ.
“It was such a great space. It was the only queer night at that time that was really mixed and it was super debaucherous,” she recalls. “People would get naked and dance on the bar, do drugs off the bar. Everybody was smoking and it was after the smoking ban, so that was really exciting for people.
“[The owner] didn’t put any money into advertising. He was like, ‘Oh my way of advertising is to give away one in every three drinks.’ But I gave away three in every four drinks so I guess that’s why it was so successful.”
Butler and Foxman’s first musical collaboration was a series of Mad Clams theme songs. They also filmed a series of seriously silly videos with titles like Nightmare on Clam Street that featured a lot of drunken, dry humping; the films were projected at the party alongside selections from Foxman’s extensive archive of novelty workout tapes. When Mad Clams ended, she began DJing.
Foxman says her singing career, which started during experimental sessions in Butler’s studio, was unexpected. “Andy kept pushing me and he pushed me to the point where I couldn’t be embarrassed singing in front of him.”
When “Blind,” the euphoric first single off Hercules’ debut album, blew up, Butler hit the road with a seven-piece live band fronted by boyish and petit Foxman and flamboyantly feminine singer Nomi Ruiz.
“There was so much hype before we played any shows,” she says. “Our first show ever was sold out in New York at Studio B for over 1,000 people. So that was really frightening, but by the end of the tour I was stage diving and having a lot of fun. I think I grew a lot in the seven months we were on tour. I’m a lot more confident.”
Lately Foxman divides her time between Barcelona with her girlfriend and San Francisco recording vocals with Butler for Hercules’ next album. Though she’s had requests to guest star on other records she’s not ready to lend her voice to anyone else. “I’ve been approached but I really love working with Andy,” she says. “I’m really picky about aesthetic and he’s always been my favourite aesthetic.”