A WALK IN THE PARK
Returning to Nature with MIKE FUREY of DANGEROUS MUSE
By Lori Zimmer
The first time I saw Dangerous Muse perform, I had no idea what year it was. Being a child of the 80s, I was heavily into music, even in primary school. I loved (and still love) synth-pop bands like Soft Cell, Human League, a-ha, New Order, Thompson Twins–and Dangerous Muse had a quality that they all possessed. It isn’t so much just their musical style, but just the sheer quality of singer Mike Furey’s voice–it is timeless, and moody, evocative of what I imagine underground clubs in New York in the 80s sounded like. His looks evoke that time as well, not necessarily his style of dress, but somehow his facial features seem un-modern, in a classic way, a fusion of James Dean and Morten Harket of a-ha (without a drop of Luke Perry).
Apparently, I am not the only one who sees this, as the band has recently been featured in Delux Productions’ (Merchant of Venice, Girl With a Pearl Earring) latest film, House of Boys, which opened July 29th at Cinema Village. House of Boys is centered around the 1980s gay dance club scene in Europe, and Dangerous Muse not only appears in the film, but also contributes original and era-appropriate cover songs on the soundtrack.
One sweltering July day I met up with Mike, with photographer Hadar Pitchon, to take a stroll through Central Park’s Ramble, and talk about the film and the new album. Mike often performs in deliciously sexy designs and accessories, from zentai-like checkered body stockings to bondage-inspired pieces, so we decided a simple “return to nature” (by NYC standards) was appropriate, considering his new move to continue Dangerous Muse on his own.
As we hiked deeper and deeper into the Law and Order: SVU woods, climbing rocks and dirt in the most inappropriate shoes ever, we all suddenly burst out laughing. The path quickly became strewn with more and more used condoms, syringes and caution tape. It seemed we couldn’t escape the sexual underbelly of New York, even on our return to nature. So, why fight it anyway?
Lori Zimmer: How has Dangerous Muse changed/evolved in the last year?
Mike Furey: At one of our last shows, I looked out into the crowd to see that some people were actually sitting on each others shoulders and dancing their asses off. It was the first time that I had seen this in New York in a long time. There was this overwhelming sense that the boundaries had come down, that people were losing themselves and we were coming together. I give every drop of myself on that stage and they give back to me. It’s like sex. This past year has been all about developing more layers, to create a dynamic and exciting live show.
LZ: I know everyone keeps asking about the release of your next album, but you’re rationing the songs one by one. “I Can’t Help It” is your next single to be released–can we expect an accompanying video?
MF: Over the last few months, I have been working with a New York based video artist to develop more visual content for our live shows. That’s my main focus at the time.
LZ: You pretty much play yourselves in House of Boys. Do you see the 80s parallel in your music?
MF: I’m inspired by artists from that time (Depeche Mode, New Order, Sisters of Mercy) but my production decisions are based on what sounds and feels good at the moment, not attempts to simulate what’s already been done. House of Boys was a very special project. The movie has a beautiful message of love and awareness and I feel honored to have contributed to the soundtrack, along with such brilliant artists as Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat and Spandau Ballet. Shooting our scenes in Germany and working with the cast and crew on the production are some of my favorite memories.
LZ: We talked a bit about the pieces you wear during your performances. What influences what you wear? What would you categorize your style as?
MF: My work, including my style, is influenced by my heart and my gut. It’s from within. I am excited by high contrasts, subtle details, and the unknown.
LZ: Who are some of your favorite designers to wear on stage?
MF: Collaboration is key for me. Every piece that I wear is part of a larger thought, a bigger gesture. I don’t just wear designers, I wear my friends. I wear what we select and create together. It is a union, a coming together. In this way, I become a designer and they become a performer. Here’s a short list of the people I love: Zaldy, Asher Levine, Franc Fernandez, Brian Lichtenberg, Goddollars, Gregory Alexander, Zana Bayne, Willa Wirth, and Alex + Chloe. I have also had the pleasure to work with personal stylists Stephen Candelino, Brett Bailey, Sah D’Simone and Patrick Mackie. Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Dior Homme and, most recently, Petrou/Man, are friends of Dangerous Muse and have contributed special pieces for appearances and performances.
LZ: New York feels like it is having a nightlife resurgence–is there anyone/anything that you are finding particularly inspiring?
MF: I think what is happening is a resurgence of day-life in New York. People are working very hard during the days, to make things happen in the world–financially and creatively. A few years ago, it was more about nightlife for nightlife’s sake. But now it is becoming, in a way, what it was back in the day–an escape, a necessary release from long hours at the grindstone. It is less pretentious, friends having fun.
LZ: What are the goals on your plate for the next year?
MF: The next year is centered upon live performance and connecting with people who enjoy our music. We are looking forward to playing more international shows. In addition to developing the live show, as I have mentioned, I have also begun to balance larger scale shows with smaller, intimate performances. Last week, I was invited to perform at The Watermill Center, an art organization founded by the artistic director, Robert Wilson–an absolute genius. I collaborated with Meg Harper, best-known for her work with Merce Cunningham, and Illenk Gentille Mohamed, of Indonesia, on an expressionistic performance entitled “Danger in the Kitchen.” I played the piano and sung as they danced. I would say that the most important goal I have, beside finally unveiling the full-length album, is to expose more of myself.
Mike Furey is a New York based musician and DJ.
PMC readers can download Dangerous Muses’ latest single here: “Fame Kills”
Written by Lori Zimmer
Photography by Hadar Pitchon
Design by Marie Havens
Mike Furey in Central Park, NYC, August 2011, Photography by Hadar Pitchon