Ria Bouttier of 88 Palms Talks Disco & 70s Club Culture

By Lindsey Anderson

Ria Bouttier is a NYC based DJ, songwriter, vocalist and then some. She’s now working alongside Midnight Magic keyboardist Morgan Wiley under the moniker 88 Palms. I got to chat with her about 88 Palms, DJ-ing & Disco.

How did 88 Palms begin?

I was introduced to Morgan through my friend Jonathan. After Midnight Magic wrapped their last album, Morgan was looking to collaborate with new people. I had done a track with Jonathan for fun and Morgan heard it and suggested we collaborate. We met up at the studio and within 4 hours, Morgan and I wrote 4 tracks. It was a really easy & organic partnership from the start. I knew of Midnight Magic before Morgan and I had started working together so I was always down to work with him.

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Is there a story behind the name ’88 Palms’?

I was born in ’88, Morgan was born October 8, 1980, there are 88 keys on a keyboard and the number 8 is a really even & balanced number in terms of numerology and that’s how we came up with it!

You also DJ, how did you get into DJ-ing?

My dad used to DJ in Tijuana in the 70s. My dad wasn’t a religious guy but music was his religion so I’ve always been close to music & DJ-ing. One day I came into a friend’s bar and the music was terrible so I offered to play music from my phone. While I was playing music, the owner of the bar came in and I was terrified she’d be upset that I was behind the bar controlling the music. She ended up calling me outside and asked if I wanted to take over DJ-ing. I also had a few friends that were DJs so the interest was there. It just came naturally and was the product of being really obsessed with great music.

Woah, that’s so awesome! I really connect to that! I was asked to curate playlists for a local theater production and I was reached out to because they had heard my music curation skills at another production. So it truly was being in the right place at the right time with all my music knowledge.

Exactly! Dj-ing my first gig was so stressful. I spent the last $400 in my bank account to buy a dinky little controller and taught myself how to use it in 3 days. It has paid for itself many times over!

Do you still have the controller?

No, that was about 5 or 6 years ago so the technology is quite outdated now!

What music are you listening to?

I created a Halloween playlist so I’ve been listening to that a lot. It has a lot of dark, industrial sounds like tracks from Nine Inch Nails as well as creepy obscure tunes like tracks from Trust & The Knife. In general, I listen to everything from classical & old country to techno. It really depends on what’s going on.

What inspired the concept for the ‘Bright Lights’ video?

Morgan and I really vibe on a shared love of that vintage disco sound. We’re very influenced by old school disco/studio 54. I’m drawn to the heyday of New York clubs in the 70s so that was definitely a big inspiration for the video. In my mind, I’m always trying to get back to the time of 1977 club culture. I feel that the style and music were so exciting at that time.

88palmsmbhThe 88 Palms EP is coming out this Nov/Dec. How would you describe it?
It has a sexy, tropical, cougar, disco, miami vibe. We started recording in the winter and in my mind I was trying to transport myself to somewhere warmer with palm trees, a beautiful pool boy and a Piña colada.

 

Once music is released, typically a tour follows. Who are your top 3 dream tour mates?

Daft Punk is a huge influence so that’s the biggest dream tour mate. I really respect what they did with their album ‘Random Access Memories.’ Everything was much more analog and they took the time to record the instruments in the studio instead of just having a drum track. Second, LCD Soundsystem. They’re in the same realm & genre. Thirdly, Chromatics, I really admire their sound and production.

Are there any other projects you’re working on?

I dabble in quite a few different realms and genres of music in a variety of ways. For example, I moonlight with some of my producer friends in New York. 88 Palms is the main project right now and I have a few under the radar projects that I don’t think I can talk about yet. I’m a huge fan of Billie Holiday & Etta James so we’re in the works to curate an 88 Palms acoustic show with a jazzy, Jessica Rabbit vibe.

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Is there anything else you want to talk about that we didn’t touch on?

Our 1st official show is in New York on November 10th at this new club called Squares. It’s going to be a fun chance to show people what 88 Palms looks like live!

Keep up with Ria 

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Keep up with 88 Palms

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