Written by Steve Weinstein
One of the joys of editing noiZe is introducing top new talent to the gay dance community. Meet Micky Friedmann. This Israeli native, now based in Berlin, not only is talented, but his ear for sounds, how they mesh and how to get songs to talk to each other recalls the Old School DJing of Larry Levan or Little Louis Vega. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also drop-dead gorgeous and, in a business full of (unearned) diva attitude, a genuinely nice guy. It’s a combination that guarantees success, as his star continues to rise in the international club firmament.
A “sabra” (native of Israel), Friedmann’s father taught genetics and his mother owned a boutique in Jerusalem, his hometown. Friedmann loved music from an early age. His parents encouraged his interest and enrolled him in a dance school, where he excelled.
After a stint in the Israeli Armed Forces, he became a ballet dancer and a highly sought model. If you flipped through the high-fashion glossies a few years back, you probably saw his sculpted face and chiseled bod staring out from the editorial pages or ads for products designed to make you look like him.
It was an offer to become a soloist with the prestigious Berlin Ballet in 1998 that led to his move to the German capital—which, not incidentally, has become the club capital of Europe. That was also the year he decided to buy a pair of used turntables and started spinning at home, “just for me, for fun,” he says. But it was at the Palm Springs White Party that he came to the attention of a man who would change his life.
Friedmann was with a friend, dancing to the music of Junior Vasquez when the master mixer spotted him. “He came down with a bottle of water and asked me if we would like to dance for his Pride party at Spirit,” in New York, Friedmann recalls. The two stayed in touch via emails, and he traveled to Fire Island to hear Vasquez. When he asked Vasquez whether he should take the plunge and make a 180-degree turn in his career path, the man who learned his craft at the feet of Larry Levan told the Israeli-German, “You are a talented kid, go for it.”
And he did. For the past 10 years, he’s kept busy spinning at Europe’s largest clubs, with residencies in Hamburg, Cologne and Amsterdam as well as Berlin. Now 37, he’s happily in a relationship and happy when he’s home in Berlin. His music is happy, too: sexy-happy. He describes his music as “sexy house—music that makes people feel sexy. We all know how sexual the dance floor has become nowadays. Hot bodies, sweaty skin, searching eyes. I spin music that fits that atmosphere.
“It’s really easy to put on Deborah Cox, then mix in some Britney,” he adds. “Anyone can do that. But, when I go into a club or party, my goal is to introduce music that has a different edge, something new that has depth to it. I love diva anthems, but a DJ has an educational task to bring new sounds to the dance floor and make people think as they dance.”
An International House Style
Micky Friedmann incorporates several styles into his sets: tech house, vocal house, electro-house—their only requisite that underlying, propulsive beat that distinguishes house music.
Along with Vasquez, Friedmann cites a potpourri of contemporary DJs as influences, including Victor Calderone, Ismael Rivas, D.O.N.S., Tom Novy, Danny Tenaglia, Pablo Ceballos (of Chus and …) and his fellow Israeli, Offer Nissim, a favorite since his earliest clubbing days in Tel Aviv. “I used to go every Friday to hear him spin,” he says. “Offer is a huge producer of music that brings a touch of Israeli soul to the dance floor. These days, when I play a track of Offer’s, I feel like I am bringing a piece of home with me.”
Friedmann isn’t shy, however, about his preference for American-produced music. The Europeans, he complains, like their music in degrees of hard, harder and hardest—mostly techno, trance and very deep house.
Maybe that’s why he’s gravitated to the U.S. His first gig stateside was at New York’s Splash only a year ago, September 7, 2007. That quickly led to big changes: gigs around the country, from Provincetown to San Francisco; and a chance meeting with his future rep, George Dellinger, one of the top DJ managers. This year, he’s playing both the New York and Berlin Hustlaballs; the Berlin version of the love-for-sale celebration has grown to one of the biggest gay events (if not the biggest) in a city known for big-room events and street-filling dance festivals like the Love Parade.
Playing a party like Hustlaball involves a different vibe and another set of records from a dance bar like Splash: “I play a completely different set when playing to a crowd coming to a party so sexually oriented. The music must also represent that dark kind of sensual vibe these events have.” Unsurprisingly for someone whose music and whole demeanor are so frankly sexy and sexual, Friedmann would love to play a Black Party. But don’t pigeonhole him: He’d be as happy at a White or Winter or Alegria.
Staying True to His Art
Friedmann considers himself a professional and an artist. He also knows that he hasn’t been hired to impose an artistic vision from on high but to get people off their butts and onto the dance floor. As someone who worked for years in controlling his muscular body to move to music, he understands that the essence of dancing is expressing emotions through music—and the importance people attach to physical beauty. So he’s frankly realistic about the fact that when he’s spinning a party, his bodacious bod is going to be featured in the ads.
“We live in 2008. Turn on the TV, open a magazine, look at the advertisements,” he notes. “We live in a world where looks are integrated and penetrate into every aspect and genre of our lives. Being on ads and in magazines is a part of my life and I look at it as work.”
Friedmann still occasionally moonlights as a model. In fact, next month he’ll grace the cover of the German issue of Men’s Health. But it’s his love for the music that drives him. Lately, he’s been working in the recording studio with master producer Mike Cruz.
He wants to learn every facet of what makes a great song, not only to take full charge of his career, but to prove he’s so much more than a pretty face and a buffed bod. “Trust me,” Friedmann complains, it is a lot harder to prove you are good at what you do when you are “good-looking.” Charlize Theron or Nicole Kidman have to work that much harder to prove they are more than just a pile of muscles and model good looks.
He considers himself as an all-in-one entertainment package. “Even the best product needs good packaging,” he says. “What counts in the end is that people come and have a good time.”
As more and more people come to hear Friedmann play, they’ll soon forget about the package and go straight to what’s coming out of the speakers. The man who spent his youth sneaking into Tel Aviv clubs wouldn’t have it any other way.
Maybe it will take someone with such an international background to bring us all back together after three decades of Hi-NRG, techno, hip-hop, grunge, power pop, diva anthems, house in all its forms, electroclash, and everything in between has fragmented music more into warring states than a thriving community.
Maybe someone can lead us out of the wilderness of synch-infused multi-tracked Disney starlets, the deadening repetition of tribal rhythms, and retro-techno machine sounds to a clearer sound, a cleaner vision of music as the purest expression of human emotions voiced through sounds. Maybe he can help us rediscover what a night of dancing should do: purify our emotions by allowing us to express our inner feelings through movement inspired by music.
A year ago, Friedmann compiled a CD for EMI Germany called Instinct: Love and Pride. That pretty well sums up Friedmann’s philosophy: Follow your inner beliefs. Love yourself and others. Take pride in who you are and what you do. It will all come together, someday, someplace.
Where is he playing next?
By Taznboy on 10-24-2008
Check out Micky’s myspace page for all of his upcoming dates.
By Gary on 10-27-2008
Just heard Micky spin. Wow! Damn amazing.
By sonsa on 11-30-2008
This guy will go far? hot music, hot playlist.
By Satoshi Kawabe on 03-02-2009
I catch Micky every time he spins in Toronto @ FLY, occasionally Montreal. He brings new material that is sultry, hot, sensual and never heard before. His live mashups are high quality. He is professional, down-to-earth and has great workmanship.
He is also a sexy beast but I completely respect that he is in a happy relationship. I find that most gay DJs aren’t… good to know that there are committed gay men out there.
By A on 12-10-2009