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Since 2015, Mamby On The Beach has been allowing Chicago’s festival-goers to relish a diverse roster of acts right from the lakefront, the awe-inspiring Chicago skyline as its backdrop. Perched quite literally atop the sands of Oakwood Beach, Mamby is known for its eclectic lineup, which this year features everything from Chicago rapper, Common, to the indie accents of Cold War Kids, along with ample electronic titans like Gorgon City, Duke Dumont, and Jai Wolf. Dancing Astronaut sought to get a closer look at a few of the festival’s cant-miss house acts before Mamby hits the beach June 23-24.
Pulling his name ever-so-fittingly from a 1970s disco track by Orlando Riva Sound, Moon Boots (real name Pete Dougherty) is known for bringing his classic, boogie-fueled brainpower to modern house music. The Brooklyn-born Dougherty got his start in the Chicago house music scene, spending time in the city’s most storied house hot spots like Wrigleyville’s Smartbar—signing on with the “protectors of the feel-good,” French Express imprint not long after.
Dougerty’s music is intrinsically tinged with R&B, emanating through his use of soulful, original vocals and blissful chord progressions, which he masterfully blends with high-energy house beats. The result is Moon Boots’ all-encompassing, glistening dance creations. He has worked extensively with Anjunadeep in recent years, where in 2017, he released his first full-length album, the appropriately-named, First Landing. A product of his astral aesthetic, the album’s groovy, nu-disco center propels the listener through corridors of swimming kaleidoscopes of color and warm, sensuous melodies.
Upon his return to Mamby and the city that set him up for success, Dougherty will be bringing many of the vocalists featured on the album, as well as two members of the synth-pop group, St. Lucia. The performance will be the last of a string of live sets carried out by Dougherty and company; but before they hit the Beach Stage Sunday, June 24, Moon Boots sat down with DA to talk about his Chicago come-up, his disco roots, what he has planned for Mamby, and more.
Tickets to Mamby On The Beach, as well as the full lineup, can be found here
What prompted you to want to start making dance music?
I was into electronic music from an early age. The thing that tipped me over to make me really want to make it happened towards the end of college. I think it was the rise of blogs actually, right around 2005. I’d been getting into it before then, but that was when I thought, ‘I can actually do this.’ I was just completely obsessed, and still am.
Do you think you’ve found a permanent home with Anjunadeep?
Yeah, I think so. It’s been wonderful. They allow me to be me. That’s all I really want out of a label. And a sense of community. They really deliver on both of those things. A lot of talented artists too, of course. It’s been great.
You’re someone who blends a lot of genres in your music. Who are some of your biggest influences outside of dance music?
For biggest influences, I would still probably stay in the dance music world. There’s a disco producer named Patrick Adams. He’s one of the first that I heard with really lush and beautiful chord progressions. Then I started to really listen for that in a lot of older disco and early 80s disco/r&b records. Nile Rogers, too. The combination of just percussion, the hooks, the chords. The whole thing. The French touch scene definitely had an influence, especially early on, that sorta filter disco.
You lived in Chicago for a while. What significance does the city hold for you?
Big significance because it’s where I really started. I knew I wanted to try it out when I was in college, but it wasn’t until after I graduated college and I moved out there was when I started making music for real. The club scene had a big impact on me: going out in Wicker Park and finding Smartbar. I actually lived right by Smartbar for a while. My roommate worked there, so I’d go there like three days a week. And Debonair Social Club. So the scene had a big impact on me, just having a great time partying and being in that community to get a sense of where the music was going. Smartbar especially, connecting with real Chicago house music. And that still is with me.
Being a Mamby On The Beach veteran, what was your experience like at the fest when you played in 2015?
It was amazing. I hadn’t actually been to the site before. It was gorgeous. The vibe and the lineup were wonderful. I played right after No Regular Play and then J. Phlip came on right after. Both their sets were great. Wonderful time and great music. Of course at that time I was DJing. This time I’m playing live. So that’s what I’m really excited about. I can get into that if you want.
This is going to be the last live show for a little while, actually. We got offers for a few one-offs since doing the last few, but we had already booked seven shows. I didn’t want to get caught in doing a lot of one-offs because it’s just been really special. I think that we put a lot of rehearsal into it. So I think this is kind of the logical place to put it on pause for a little while after this until I finish the next album, and hope we start up again next year. I’m bringing two of the guys who are also playing later that day from St. Lucia, their main gig, a new guitarist, bassist/guitarist, synth pointer. I’m also taking four vocalists on the road with me: Black Gatsby, KONA, Nic Hanson, and Kyiki. And I’ll be playing keys, backup vocals, and dancing around.
Will we be hearing any new music at Mamby?
I am working on a second album. I will be playing some of that at the afterparty at the Virgin Hotel. You won’t be hearing it at Mamby. With a live set, I think it’s important to focus on the music that’s already out there.
What three acts would you recommend not missing this year at Mamby?
I want to see, since I can only come on Sunday, Jamila Woods. I think she’s great. St. Lucia, I want to see my bandmates do their thing. And I want to get down to Gene Farris, too.
Photo Credit: TracyGrahamCracker