5 questions for Andrew W.K.
Andrew Wilkes-Krier, better known as Andrew W.K., likes to party.
But more than that, the 35-year-old singer, performer, producer, club owner, speaker, and advice columnist wants to get other people to party. A lot. One of his hit songs is called "Party Hard." Another is "Party Til You Puke." Then he has "I Love Music" and "I Want To See You Go Wild" and "You Will Remember Tonight."
In other words, his message is pretty clear. And that is pretty refreshing.
Andrew, who grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, says his favorite place to party is indeed New York City, where he has lived for more than a decade and a half. His excitement about the party scene seems inseparable from his infectious enthusiasm for the city itself.
In fact, in late October Andrew threw a party at the legendary Pyramid Club on the Lower East Side to celebrate its 35th anniversary. Over the years, the club has hosted Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Lady Bunny, RuPaul, and many others.
The event was the kickoff for a promotional campaign with Stolichnaya Vodka, which named him "Professor of the Party," to pay tribute to famous club scenes all over the country into 2015. He'll be partying in Chicago, Detroit, Miami, and San Francisco. And he hopes you can join him.
1. What's your all-time favorite hangout in New York?
ANDREW: New York City itself. It's too hard to pick one thing. My favorite thing about being alive is not being dead. My favorite thing about New York City is that it exists at all. Unlike other cities that I have been to, New York -- despite being so vast -- is actually quite compact. If you think about New York City as a phenomenon in terms of a space or an atmosphere, it does feel quite manageable in that I can picture it, to a large degree, as one view. It's extremely intense and really astounding that so much is fit in such as small area, which certainly informs a huge part of the texture of New York. The flavor of this place is based on how much is stacked up on top of itself.
2. How has social media changed your career?
ANDREW: From the very beginning computers were very exciting to me, especially once the Internet began to allow for communication. When we had our first website [in the early 2000s] I had a message board right away.
And actually, we had a part on my website called "Ask Andrew" where people could write in questions and I would answer them. It was basically like a version of Twitter or social media before that was really being used as a formal term. I really wanted to be able to interact with people because interacting is a big part of partying -- and that's my main theme.
So the computer seemed like this amazing tool to facilitate this worldwide party that I really, actually, couldn't have any other way. So everything that has come out since then is just better versions of that, and allowed for even more partying.
3. What's this Professor of the Party gig about?
ANDREW: Stoli has a project called The Scene by Stoli where they are celebrating really great [club] scenes. And we're starting with New York, naturally, where Stoli has been behind the bar at all the most legendary clubs for 40 years. And we decided rather than pick New York as a whole, despite the fact that it is so compact, it also has these worlds within worlds, and that's what these scenes are.
The scene Stoli decided to focus on was the Avenue A scene, which is of course legendary in, really, just culture in general -- nightlife, music -- but also just that feeling of New York social worlds. It's the place where just going out and walking around is an achievement unto itself, is an activity, is like going to a show. Even if there's no music, the music is the feeling on the street. But then, of course, there is music. And there's one venue in particular -- the Pyramid Club -- which has been there for 35 years. To be able to last even one year let alone 35 is an incredible achievement.
4. Your job sounds pretty cool: you get to travel, perform, party. But you have also been open about some of the bumps in the road, including some legal issues and your depression. So is there a downside?
ANDREW: If there is I haven't found it yet. The whole point of what I have set out to do was that it was all upside. The downside is everything else about life that we all have to deal with, and you hope that you have activities or causes or moments in your life that lift you back up. The downsides just happen on their own.
There's enough loss and pain and suffering and struggle in life no matter what kind of life you live that the goal is to try to surround yourself otherwise with enough uplifting, cheerful, positive, good times as you can to make the other ones not as painful or more bearable.
So I would actually say that all the stuff that I've gotten to do is what saved my life, time and time and time again. I would hope that maybe some of my humble offerings help other people find an upside.
5. What's the nuttiest or most uplifting thing that has happened to you in a New York club?
ANDREW: I remember very early on, when I was not even 21 years old, when I first moved here, I got it in my head that I was going to try to get into a nightclub. And it seemed pretty much like it was going to be impossible.
I didn't know much about the city or even club scenes or where to go out so I just went to Bleecker Street. And there was that club Life. I went up to the door -- and there was just something, the things aligned that somehow the doorman let me in. And it was the first time I ever danced in a nightclub, really, ever. Like a real club, not just at a school party or a friend's house or something like that. And I couldn't believe it.
And the thing that was most amazing to me was not just being let in, but that once I was let in I was then let in over and over again throughout the night, it sort of felt like. Meaning, there was that feeling that someone's going to say, "Hey, you don't belong here, you have to leave" or "How did you get in here? You're not, you don't look right" or "What are you doing dancing in this part of the dance floor, you don't belong here." But all there was was acceptance. It was a non-issue.
I felt completely at home in a place that wasn't my home and with people that I'd never met.
It sort of changed everything to think that things like that could happen -- that you didn't have to pass some test. You just had to be yourself. And that was enough.
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