Toronto
2 min

Gay, as in happy

Short-circuiting the circuit

GORGEOUS. Local lesbian DJ Denise Benson has created one of the best house/dance compilations of the year. Credit: Xtra files

Gay, the latest in the Obscene Underground series, is not so much about sexuality as it is an intricate voyage into several genres of gorgeous, listener-friendly house music. Using mainly Canadian talent, compiler and mixer Denise Benson has created one of the best house/dance compilations of the year. From the hypnotic opening track of “Our Music” by Kevin “Kaje” Johnson (which has already become a huge warehouse hit) to Nick Holder’s soulful “Make You Mine” and the beautiful Matt C song called “Africa/Zulu,” this CD is obscenely gay – as it’s all about taking you on a happy, sexy trip where music is the drug.



“I don’t play circuit,” was the first response Denise Benson gave Stickman Records when approached for the CD. The series has released four other very successful mixed CDs called Tits, Ass, Cock and most recently Balls, all showcasing various types of music including drum ‘n’ bass and hip hop. The label’s intention with Gay was a showcase of various genres of house music; the title is meant strictly as an attention grabber.



“As soon as you hear the words ‘gay’ and ‘house,’ you immediately assume it’s all about circuit music,” says Benson. “A lot of the house mixed CDs that are out now kind of ride one tempo, one vibe, but not much of a range. I wanted to tell my story via house in 70 minutes or less, so I decided to tell a story that kind of gave a sense of different times of the night that included soulful to harder banging, and end with some tech-house.”



Benson’s story involves 15 years of club DJing, radio hosting and print music journalism that has made her one of the leading and respected voices of the underground, someone who is seriously passionate about searching for new sounds and inspiring others to do so. “The exciting thing about house today is that more people are bringing musicality to it, such as live bass players and other instruments.”



On the latest trends, she says that the energy, enthusiasm and fun of electro is going to have an impact on house, techno and tech-house and that broken beat is the newest genre of music that is creating quite a buzz. “It’s primarily out of West London, and it’s basically the new jazz, but its dancefloor jazz. Broken beat is huge on an underground level and is already influencing R&B. It’s a very influential sound that could potentially cross over.”



Live DJing and promoting has always been such a passion for Benson as well as her biggest success. “On Pride I was playing to a sea of guys with their shirts off. At one point I knew I had them and then I was fucking with them by playing stuff they would never hear at a circuit party. And then in the middle of this pure house set I played Deelite’s ‘Groove Is In the Heart’ and people went off.



“That’s what I enjoy doing. I really like playing with an audience. Music and DJing is about communicating and reaching out to an audience.”



Benson says that we are brought together, in terms of partying, because of sexual orientation, but that says so little about who we are in our day-to-day lives in terms of our interests and backgrounds. “Within the lesbian scene, people are more vocal about what they want to hear, whereas gay men are not and rarely request songs to DJs. I think there are a lot more queer people at long last going to straight clubs. That totally matters to me. I feel like, in some ways, that’s what I do for the community – I’m a bit of a bridge that brings people together.”



Gay: Obscene Underground (Vol 5).

Compiled by Denise Benson

Stickman Records.

$13.



* Denise Benson spins at the 52 Inc Hot Summer Party on Fri, Jul 12 at Roxy Blu (12 Brant St).