I’m obsessed with educating myself about the origins of dance music. I'm not the first to say this, but it’s so important to remember that all of house and techno is derived from disco, which evolved out of soul and RnB. All of these genres were pioneered by people who dared to express themselves in defiance of the immense oppression and persecution they faced in their daily lives.
And who dared express himself more flamboyantly than Sylvester? A soul singer at heart, he and Patrick Cowley revolutionized the sound of disco in San Francisco. Sylvester is inspirational to me because in art and in life, he fearlessly embraced his authentic self: black, effeminate, and extremely homosexual.
When I found the acapella for “Mighty Real” at Streetlight Records in the Castro, I knew I wanted to do something special with it. By setting Sylvester’s timeless vocal to searing, full-throttle techno, I aspire to honor his legacy and also look to the future of dance music.
I chose the surname Sylvester in tribute to the Queen of Disco (and, by extension, to all the originators of dance music). The name reminds me that all dance music is rooted in disco. It reminds me of the past and present pioneers of civil rights. It reminds me to check my privileges—to examine myself in relation to the people who lived and created (dance music’s) history. Most importantly, it reminds me that all art must help make the world a better place: by spreading joy, by undermining hate, and by challenging expectations.
I hope this song helps to make the world a better place.
David Sylvester, April 7, 2015, San Francisco, CA.