You can call Harvey Bassett many things, just don’t call him lazy. He’s been a postpunk drummer, a balearic dance producer, a disco re-editor, the frontman for his own satanic-folk band and, most predominantly, a disc jockey. One of the last DJs to work with the Paradise Garage’s Larry Levan, Harvey’s genre-free all-night sets are the stuff of legend, almost as much as the man himself is. The U.K. expat now lives in L.A. but plays the best clubs around the world on a weekly basis with a cult like following.
You’re like the Forrest Gump of disco, just showing up in all the right places at the right time for all these different events.
“The Forrest Gump of disco”—that’s funny. DJ Harvey is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!
When Harvey Bassett is behind the turntables, he would much rather you make eyes at your fellow party people than gaze up at the DJ booth. That kind of hero worship is unseemly, plus it mucks up the ecstatic communion he’s trying to conjure on the dance floor. And besides, he once told an interviewer that he thinks he looks like “a little old lady making pizza” up there.
That doesn’t mean DJ Harvey isn’t some kind of superhero, though. Rolling Stone once called him the Keith Richards of dance music, while Time Out recently opted for the less-cool “Forrest Gump of disco.” The point is that Harvey is one of dance music’s great journeymen — a rakish Brit who grew up playing drums in punk bands, but eventually migrated to the turntables where he would spend the subsequent decades making disco sound eternally fresh.
Today, Harvey is an underground legend whose parallel backgrounds in punk and disco explain so much about his enthusiasm, his stylishness, his endurance, his wit and, ultimately, his magnetism. He’s a bon vivant with principles — something we should all aspire to be. Just try not to stare, okay?
A video of a wasted fan diving into the turntables at a gig recently went viral. Can you take us through that play-by-play?
I was chugging along having a lovely time, there was this very nice family vibe going and the next thing I know there was an upside down person falling in my direction, heading toward the decks. I took a breath because I thought he might pull off some kind of amazing headspin or something, but he obviously wasn’t in control. So I just gave him a good shove back into the crowd and that was it really. He kind of fell between booth and the front of the staging and he looked up at me with the face of a Chihuahua. His tongue was hanging out, his eyes were pointing in opposite directions and I’m like, Man this guy is from Planet Chihuahua! And I just had to smile to myself because I know he picked up a couple of bruises falling on his ass. But everyone was like, well that’s entertainment and it was actually quite amusing. If I can find out who he is, I will put him on the guest list so people can take a picture with him at the next show. You can’t buy press like that though. It would have cost me a fortune to rent that guy and get all that coverage so, thanks dude, this Tecate’s on me!