London-based Wayne G is an honorary San Franciscan whose melodic, high-energy mixes are heard around the world. He made his debut as a DJ in 1996 performing alongside Grace Jones, and went on to turn his residency at London’s Heaven into a signature sound that ultimately became synonymous with gay dance music.
If that sounds like an exaggeration, give a listen to “I Just Wanna Fucking Dance,” one of Wayne’s most popular remixes to this day and a theme song for countless gay circuit whores, including yours truly.
Wayne maintains several residencies in London and spins regularly in Sydney, Australia. Most recently, he added a residency at Beijing’s Destination to his international credits.
He also continues to be in high demand as a producer, having remixed Cher, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguliera, Celine Dion, Deborah Cox, and Whitney Houston in between his global gigs and hit records, among them his chart-topping track “Twisted.” Its unforgettable opening line, “Excuse me do you fuck as well as you dance?” was sampled by DJs everywhere, and Danny Tenaglia personally asked to remix the track.
Wayne continues to play huge parties all over the world. Among his circuit credentials are Sydney Mardi Gras, the White Party, the Berlin Love Parade, World Pride, the Fire Island Pines Party, the Gay Games, and the Folsom Street Fair. His travels have taken him from Mexico City to New Mexico, from Sydney to Shanghai, and from Johannesburg to Juneau.
After running into Wayne on the dancefloor at GusPresents’ Paradise party on Sunday, the Original Fag Hag took a moment to learn more about what keeps him coming back to San Francisco, where he’ll be playing Thanksgiving Fresh this Sunday, November 23. He’ll be back again on December 13 in the Steamworks Room at Industry.
How did you become a DJ?
I always liked music. I starting working in a gay bar and used to make mixed cassettes to play at the bar. I wasn’t really mixing, just compiling my favorite songs. At some point, the DJ said, “Why don’t I teach you how to mix?” and that was that.
Your signature sound has evolved since your Heaven days. How would you describe what you’re spinning now?
Believe it or not, I started out spinning hard house, at 150 beats per minute. When I started playing at Heaven in 1998, I moved away from that and started developing a unique sound that was very specific to that club. In some ways I was in a trap with the whole Heaven sound. People would come to me for a gay mix, then say it wasn’t gay enough if it didn’t sound like everything I’d done before.
I often start my sets with the sound I created for Heaven’s dance floor, the housey anthems and the more vocal tribal beats that bring the energy. I mix in Latin-flavored percussion and uplifting infection riffs, and lately I’ve been trying to introduce a more European sound, which is refreshing here in America . It’s a very Hed Kandi sound. A very funky version of house, with a little bit of electro house mixed in.
How do you decide what set is going to work for your audience?
I usually have a rough idea of what I want to play, but ultimately, the crowd dictates where the musical journey will lead. I love to see where it goes!
What’s in your heavy rotation these days?
What’s getting me going right now is a compilation I’m working on for Tommy Boy.
I also listen to a lot of Moto Blanco and Freemasons. I’m really into that piano house sound, on that funky tip, with disco strings.
For a London-based DJ, you spend a lot of time in San Francisco. What’s the draw?
I started playing San Francisco back in early 2000, when Jamie J Sanchez and Audrey Joseph brought me here to play Universe. I only got to play there 3 times before it closed, but I’ve now got a great circle of friends here, and it’s really the only city in America I can imagine living in.
San Francisco is an amazing melting pot. I went to the rally on Saturday at Civic Center (to protest the passage of Proposition 8), and it really made me proud. You’d never get that in England , where the scene is completely backwards, politically.
What’s your favorite type of party to play, and what’s your favorite party in in San Francisco?
I’m known for playing a more vocal house sound, so T dances are my favorite, and Fresh Thanksgiving is my favorite gig of all in San Francisco . I’ve done it for the last 4 years.
The people who go to T dances are really just out to have fun. Maybe they have to work the next day, and they just want to have a few drinks with friends and throw their hands in the air. They want to hear the gay anthems.
Other DJs play more typical circuit stuff better than me, the tribal house that is so American. I can do after-hours sets, but even when I do, it’s still with the vocals on top.
Speaking of vocals, you’ve remixed just about all of the gay divas we know and love. What’s different about producing mixes for the dancefloor as opposed to producing for superstars?
Producing is how I got my big break. Really, I started out making dance tracks just so that I would have stuff I could play in my DJ sets. After a while, I became known for my gay pop mixes, and people would seek me out for this very particular style.
What’s your process when you’re asked to create a remix?
It depends entirely on who it is that I’m remixing and exactly what they’re asking for. Usually the record company sends me the acapella track, and I give it a few plays to hear which elements will work for the dancefloor.
I try to do something that suits the style of the song, and sometimes in takes a week, sometimes it takes months.
What are some of your favorite remixes you’ve done?
I love all the Cher stuff I’ve done, and I also really liked my mix of Madonna’s “Dance Tonight.” I’ve just completed a remix of Debby Holiday’s “Joyful Sound” that I’m very excited about.
And I’ve really grown to love “I Just Wanna Fuckin Dance.” It was all anyone ever wanted to hear forever, but I’ve since grown to adore it. I still get about 10 emails a week about that song, which is amazing considering it never saw the light of day. It was a DJs-only mix when it was released!
What’s next for the circuit scene?
People seem to be coming back to the happy sound. For the longest time it was that one-note, bleepy, minimal techno sound, and funky house took a back seat. I’m actually finding that coming through again, and there seems to be more of an abundance of the happier sound to choose from than there has been in a while.
Like everything else, the circuit scene goes through cycles. There’s been a lull recently, but now, after the election, there’s gonna be an upturn. People going out want to enjoy themselves again.
But there’s definitely a generational thing going on. The younger crowd isn’t going clubbing anymore. They mostly want R&B and pop, and they are fine with the 3-minute versions of songs. In general, the nightlife scene isn’t as segregated as it has been traditionally, with gays going to straight bars and having cocktails with their girlfriends. It’s happening the world round and we’re seeing that on the circuit dancefloors.
What’s coming up next for DJ Wayne G?
Sunday night at Fresh, I’ll debut some exclusive remixes, including “Miles Away” by Madonna and “Womanizer” by Britney Spears.
In January my newest CD drops, and it’s inspired by Atlantis Events. It’s a double CD featuring both nighttime and T dance mixes.