House Of Hot Breath Karaoke
Because karaoke’s all about having a laugh, House Of Hot Breath are going to be bringing the lols to Land Of Kings with their TV Party. There’ll be a DIY, mini green screened karaoke booth, supported by HOHB’s conceptual and literal engineer Mike Gable. Using vintage video mixers, CCTV cameras, found footage and lo fi computer graphics, Mike’s going to be turning people’s performances into a dizzying video mix, ready for projection back at them. In the words of the man himself: “think karaoke meets Videodrome on public access television at 2am.” We caught up with him to chat about his unique karaoke format.
HOW DID HOUSE OF HOT BREATH GET STARTED UP?
Well my wife and I found a karaoke night at Uncle Sam’s (now The Haggerston) around 2003 that was totally insane and hugely influential for us. Hosted by this mad Scottish woman who dressed like a stripper/pro wrestler, when you sang her partner would film you and then give you a VHS tape at the end of the night. The couple suddenly relocated to Tenerife and we were devastated, so we started our own in June 2004.
YOU ESPOUSE THE ETHOS OF OVERTAINMENT. FOR THOSE THAT MIGHT NOT KNOW, WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Well it’s kinda about throwing everything you’ve got at an audience and really getting them involved in what you are doing. Let’s make our own music videos, let’s make people sing karaoke running on a cross trainer, let’s dance to 25 genres of music in 2 hours, let’s make people wonder why they can’t move the next day. That’s overtainment.
THERE’S BEEN SOME TRULY ZANY IDEAS TO COME OUT OF THE HOUSE OF HOT BREATH, WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE?
That’s really hard to say because we’ve done so much over the years but there’s a special place in my heart for the clubnight we did based on the Argos catalogue. Stokchek is still one of my proudest achievements (see video below).
THE KARAOKE’S ONE OF YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL FORMATS, WHAT DO YOU THINK DRAWS PEOPLE TO IT?
I ask myself that all the time. I think deep down singing is fundamentally joyous and getting up and making a fool of yourself is very liberating. It’s way cooler to look ridiculous than to look ridiculously cool.
YOU MUST’VE SEEN (OR EVEN BEEN THE ORCHESTRATOR OF) SOME PRETTY WILD THINGS AT HOHB’S KARAOKE EVENTS. CARE TO SHARE?
Well a guy took off all his clothes once at Ace Hotel. That was good. I don’t know, it’s always wild. That’s how I like it.
WHAT SONG DO YOU ALWAYS HEAR?
Probably Total Eclipse Of The Heart. It’s a monster. It just never gets old. It was made for karaoke. Living On A Prayer needs to go away. Please stop singing it. Love Shack can f**k off too.
WHAT’S THE MOTIVATION BEHIND THE FORMAT YOU’RE BRINGING TO LAND OF KINGS? WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE DO YOU USUALLY GET FROM PEOPLE?
I wanted to do something in a really small space so it’s intimate. Plus I’m really into the look of vintage video production and a real lo fi approach to media. In the digital age everything is so slick I wanted to do something retrograde and personal. As for the response I get, people at first are like “Who is this nutcase?” but give me an hour and they’re begging to be next.
HOW FAR AFIELD HAVE YOU TAKEN THE KARAOKE? IS YOUR DALSTON HOME A SPECIAL HUB TO COME BACK TO?
I’ve done karaoke everywhere. In the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, in the window of Colette in Paris, Emirates Stadium, even in the showers at London Fields Lido! But yeah, it’s great to be back in Dalston. That’s where karaoke started for me.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO HANG OUT IN THE AREA?
Probably Ridley Road Market. I’ve lived in the area for 14 years and for me it’s the heart and soul of Dalston. I go there pretty much every day. For fruit, for clothes, for fabric, for anything. I’ve always said if Ridley Market goes, I go.
WHAT’S YOUR KARAOKE SONG?
Nothing Compares 2 U because you make karaoke happen. I just push play.