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Producer Neil Bowman and DJ Keith Kaminski have kicked up a rhythmic whirlwind since joining forces as Ladycréme in 2005. The Brooklyn-based duo’s mixes and original productions draw from diverse influences—from ’70s rock, new wave and disco to acid, house and electro—and, as the name implies, Ladycréme rubs out the wrinkles to keep the flow fresh.
The two met at college in Syracuse in 1999 and bonded over a love of music removed from the stereotypical pop of the era. “A gay boy with decent music taste—that’s unusual,” Neil thought after learning Keith had a Sonic Youth poster and was sequencing beats in his dorm room.
In college Keith moved from trading bootleg tapes by day to deejaying house parties by night. When the two moved together to New York in 2000, Keith quickly integrated into the downtown music scene, spinning at lounges around the city. Meanwhile, Neil started Station Wagon, a vocoder-heavy, retro-futuristic band that appeared at the 2002 Electroclash Festival.
As electroclash fizzled, the duo experimented with composing together. Neil laid the foundation for what would become the track “Permanent Wave,” and, with Keith’s input, the two turned it into a core cut on Ladycréme’s 2007 Motherload EP, a robotic, synth-heavy slice of vinyl released on the Hyptone label. That release was followed in 2008 by two more retro-futuristic tracks on a compilation album Work It!, also on Hyptone.
In the following years, the pair furthered its reputation as a two-man beat and sound factory through countless party-ready podcast mixes, guided by Keith’s philosophy that melody matters just as much as the beat. “I think of making a mix as telling a story,” says Keith. “And each mix is a unique story and has a different tone. There’s a beginning, middle and end, and always some sort of surprising turn.”
Ladycréme also produced bootleg remixes of L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead,” Pia Zadora’s “Let’s Dance Tonight,” Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” Lea Thompson’s “Hunger City,” and Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band’s “Lapti Nek,” proving their ability to reinvent everything from well-shined pop to early ’80s fictional alien pop music. In 2011, Ladycréme released a new five-track, digital-only EP Dangerous Systems that continues the expansion of their sonic palette.
Amazingly, the bulk of Neil’s production--think Daft Punk throwing an Italo disco, filter house party--was patched together in the classic sense, with keyboards, sequencers, midi cables and a 16-track recorder. He only entered the digital realm with Ableton Live in 2010, but hasn’t lost the clean, crisp sound that springs from his old-school production roots.
Neil now admits it was “foolish” to shun digital, but says he was just afraid he was going to be “Mr. Cubicle Music.” As if a group named after a porn spam email subject line (“She’ll shoot her ladycream right across the room”) could ever be boring. The two like to point out that they changed “cream” to “créme” for a touch of class.