It’s here. Summer has arrived in New York City and that means BBQs, bike rides, and warm nights spent drinking and dancing on rooftops until the wee hours. One of the best rooftops to do just that is Make Believe, a transportive concept lounge at SIXTY LES. The view is great, the cocktails are killer, and the team behind it—Jack Mulqueen and Thatcher Shultz, more on them here—have arranged an outrageously good lineup of DJs to really set the mood this season.
Which brings us to Isa. The Brooklyn-based creative doubles as music director at Nolita restaurant Her Name Was Carmen and also counts himself co-founder of 343 Labs, an organization dedicated to cultivating community around electronic music through classes and programming. Isa was kind enough to take some time away from his very busy schedule to talk Daft Punk, stealing from Dad, and a curiously imperfect path to a perfect night in New York City.
Oh, and Isa also made a Make Believe summer playlist especially for you. Scroll down for that.
Where are you from?
Barcelona, best city in the world—if you weren’t born there.
How long have you lived in New York City?
Seven years. I think about leaving every November, but I don’t think I’ll really ever leave.
Where do you live in NYC now?
Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.
What got you into music?
Most of my group of friends were big stoners. My friend Toni and myself weren’t. So we bought two Technics, a shitty mixer, stole my dad’s speakers, and played vinyl nonstop for our stoned friends, an easy audience.
What was the first album you ever purchased?
I don’t really remember, or maybe it’s too embarrassing to remember. My first concert was Paul McCartney and he opened with Help. Pretty amazing for a little kid.
What was your first big investment as a DJ?
Any DJs or musicians you admired growing up?
It all changed with Daft Punk’s Homework. I went from listening to my parents’ music to loving electronic music and house. Then there was this local DJ in Barcelona, Sideral, who really impacted the local crowd with a release of a super eclectic series of remixes: Popotronic, Schizotronic—listen to it!
What was your first DJ gig in NYC?
A beautiful rooftop in Brooklyn. My friend and music brother, Jason Douglas, invited me to play. It was the first of our WARMTH parties that we still do. We just did one at Storm King—epic!
Album you’re currently very into right now and why:
Such a hard question in the EP era. The last albums I really listened to beginning to end were Four Tet’s New Energy and Daphni’s Joli Mai.
What do you bring to the table at Make Believe?
Make Believe is a happy place, so I bring my disco and my funky house. Then I go into some more of my deep house or electronica side to bring something different to the crowd.
Where are we most likely to find you?
At Her Name Was Carmen, where I curate the music, or at 343 Labs, my music accelerator! Come say hi and learn how to DJ or produce!
The recipe for a perfect night in NYC:
The night starts horribly: traffic, rain, angry people. You can’t get in somewhere because you are with another dude. You touch rock bottom. You bump into a friend and you end up on a random boat somewhere in Brooklyn dancing to amazing music. Isn’t that how NYC works?
Any other places for our readers to find you?
We are throwing a party June 22 on an amazing rooftop on Canal Street. Follow me on Soundcloud here and I’ll tell you how to get there. Other than that, Kuna at the end of June and Public Arts next month.