Hercules Comes to Town: Nark interviews Andy Butler

Andy Butler's dance music project Hercules & Love Affair is named for the implacable strong man of Roman mythology. Herc, as fans of historic dreamboats will already know, was the son of top god Zeus. He slayed the nine headed Hydra, bamboozled the girdle off of the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta and managed to clean out the Stables of Aegus in a day (they were gross.) For queer dance floor enthusiasts, Butler cuts no less of a heroic figure. On his Instagram, he jets across the world, a successful ginger Adonis. He wears bowler hats and oversize zippers in London, swim trunks and a come-hither scowl on Moroccan beaches, an all-white utilitarian R. Swiader looks with bare feet in the streets of LA. 

Here is your Hercules, now about that Love Affair. Butler's explained in the past that the band's moniker refers to the coupling of Herc and his young babe Hylas, the hero's companion until Hylas was seduced by water nymphs. Before his watery downfall, the curly-haired Hylas and Herc were in much in love, traveling the world as Hercules beat the beasts. Even the powerful have hearts, and groins, Butler reminds us as his club tracks wrap around you, driven by classic disco sounds and the powerful voices of the singers with whom he creates. One needs only sink into the flow of "Do You Feel The Same?" featuring Belgian vocalist Gustaph, melt into the video's swooping fluorescent desert visuals to feel, really feel that emotions shouldn't be restricted to dance floor ecstasies.   


Hercules & Love Affair [ Seattle / Portland ] from Nark Magazine on Vimeo.

Next week, Butler and Hercules & Love Affair singers Rogue Marie and Gustaph come to the Pacific Northwest for a Nark tour (they'll be in Seattle on Sept. 16 and Portland Sept. 17.) We caught up with the band leader for some banter on artistic counterparts, self care strategies and about staying blissfully pedestrian on hook-up apps. 

Photos by Kevin Kauer / Nark

NARK MAGAZINE: What do you look for in an ideal collaborator?

ANDY BUTLER: Collaboration happens in all kinds of ways with this project, both visually and musically. The unifying detail among my collaborators is that they are people who have something striking to say, who bring a fresh perspective that resonates with me. At this point, a voice that I find captivating is as big of a draw as a good deal of musicianship or intuition. Perhaps just as important is willingness and a constructive attitude. I am too old to put up with antics anymore!

NARK: When you recruited Rouge Marie and Gustaph into Hercules, how did the dynamics and sound of the band change?

AB: Rouge and Gustaph are pretty phenomenal performers, real “show people”. They have kept me on my toes and continue to elicit a desire in me to bring a more developed sonic element to the show (more thrill, if you will) to meet their virtuosic and dramatic abilities. The group's personal dynamic is the most solid it's ever been. 

NARK: What are you hoping to accomplish in your endeavors as a solo artist? What aspects of yourself as an artist are heightened when you're on your own?

AB: I am just not interested in being solely tied to any project. I have written songs since childhood, long before any notion of Hercules existed and that voice needs an outlet. My compositional voice is a unique one. I will always be writing and producing music, and it already takes so many different forms. I might want to pitch some beats to a hip-hop artist, write a piece of art/classical music, or do an ambient techno record. My personal musical endeavors, of course inform Hercules but I don’t want to have to link every piece of music or art I create to the project. 


NARK: Describe your perfect night at the club.

AB: My perfect night at the club has changed over the years, but not too drastically. Essentially, it's about a brilliant, risk-taking DJ playing music that excites me to a place where I lose myself in dancing, with friends that are in it for the same reason. It is a rare occurrence, and becoming even rarer. 

NARK: You've spoken about the importance nightlife played in your life as a gay young person. How do you think the significance of clubs has changed or not changed for the little queers of today?

AB: Little queers are still cutting their teeth at the party. The club is key, it’s still a prime place to test their talents and congregate. I wish I saw a bit more substance and less hedonism, more clubs fostering outsider art movements, more scenes that are conducive to thinking, rather than just “escaping”. We're all so easily caught up in nonsense and overstimulation, and it is really easy to get stuck in the superficial and flightier side of nightlife culture.

NARK: You're from Denver. I know very little about place besides weed and sunshine. What are some hidden gems that a first ­time visitor should check for?

AB: I haven’t been in a minute. But Twist and Shout Records is a definite required stop, as is the Tattered Cover Book Store. There are some great thrift shops on the west side, which shall remain nameless. Wax Trax Records is a fun visit too. 

NARK: You're also someone who's dealt with being on the dance music circuit for a minute, along with all that entails. What are your favorite self care tactics?

AB: Self care definitely starts with only consuming water, Red Bull and the occasional Diet Coke. Deep breathing, particularly when the temper is triggered, at airports and places like that. Say yes to the occasional dinner with promoters as it is gracious and keeps me socially engaged and counters my hermit tendency. Don’t stress eat. And say a prayer when the nerves get you.

NARK: Kill fuck marry: Angela Lansbury, ­the robot from Short Circuit, Bill Clinton.

AB: Kill the robot from Short Circuit. I dated a few robots and they are the WORST. Marry Angela Lansbury -- she will be such a great companion, a wonderful knack for storytelling and a voice that will put you to sleep at night. And fuck Bill Clinton. He is a pig I am sure and I can be a sucker for a Southern accent. Ha that sounded weird. 


NARK: ­Fill out a gay sex app profile for us. (We know you got a man, just roll with it.)

AB: God I don’t know really, I can be after so many different things when I am single. But here goes:

I’d use a picture of myself in a very pedestrian setting because if I can try to avoid being recognized, I do. Shirt on, a nice smile. A good shot but not the BEST one. I like it when someone says, “Wow you are way sexier than your pictures.” Ha. 

For "what I am into" -- I am into sexy big dudes named Frank.

For "what I am looking for" -- I am looking for an outsider/non-scene oriented, rugged beauty who is big, gentle and wants to run away with me. If he likes Disney movies and Coil its a major bonus. 


Check out Hercules & Love Affair live w/ Chanti Darling, Vera Rubin & Nark in Seattle and Portland September 16/17, tickets available at here.


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