Image by Louie Banks
Late last year while the world was deep in the throes of lockdown, German photographer, musician and multi-disciplinary artist Wolfgang Tillmans released his video work, Can’t Escape Into Space. Filmed on an empty dance floor on location at a venue in the iconic LGBTQIA+ haven of Fire Island, New York, Tillmans’s work was a grave commentary on our imposed state of isolation at a time when escaping into space was all anyone wanted to do. A slowly turning disco ball scatters red and green lasers across an empty room, a desolate bar lies in darkness. Scoring the arresting imagery is Tillmans’s signature 80’s darkwave; a dark, synth-driven cut in the vein of Depeche Mode produced by Berlin’s Tim Knapp and Bruno Breitzke. In hand with Tillmans’s cinematographic mastery, Can’t Escape Into Space was a beguiling reminder of what the world, and more specifically the queer community, had lost to the pandemic. For queer people, nighclubs and bars become spaces of safety and community. They are alternate worlds and utopias, spaces to explore the potential of one’s ideniety through the queer principles of pleasure, hedonism and desire. Our safe harbours from the dangerously oppressive and conservative world outside. It’s fitting then that as the world slowly begins to reopen, Tillmans’s dirge to the dance floor should make a startling comeback. This time though, she’s beat for the gods and ready to party. This is thanks to the makeover Can’t Escape Into Space receives from one of house music’s most formidable forces, the delicious Honey Dijon.
Dijon is the only correct choice to rework Tillmans’s original track. The Chicago DJ and producer has fiercely been carving her way as the new voice of house music. Returning the genre to its Black queer roots, Dijon’s infectious brand of four-on-the-floor is distinctly informed by the past but also entirely a product of our present cultural moment. Her original productions aside, Dijon is a particularly skilled and talented remixer. Her résumé includes takes for gay pop royalty such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, and her ability to completely rework a track while maintaining its nucleus is somewhat unmatched in the current arena of house remixers. For Can’t Escape Into Space, Dijon keys in on the track’s innate darkness and goth eccentricities, extrapolating these away from gloom and towards transcendence.
For her version, Dijon chops Tillmans’s foreboding vocals into a modulating sample and layers this atop a pounding techno thud that pivots the tone of Can’t Escape Into Space from brooding mournfulness to something out for vengeance. Across its seven minutes, Can’t Escape Into Space (Honey Dijon’s Euphoria Mix) delivers on its nomenclature, simmering and exploding at just the right moments. The squelching synthline Dijon unleashes at the track’s apex sends things into overdrive, turning what was once a death march into a monsterous homecoming anthem for the freaks and creatures of the night. The collaboration between Tillmans and Dijon is unexpected, but so very welcome. With the world moving from one phase of being to the next, the soundtrack that the two provide for this rebirth buzzes with the promise of releasing the tension felt by our collective conscious, As venues such as London’s Heaven open their doors again and icons like New York’s Ladyfag restart the party, it’s easy to imagine the beat of Can’t Escape Into Space (Honey Dijon’s Euphoria Mix) emanating from inside, ready to consume you as you cue in your best club kid drag, eagerly awaiting your return to the space that made you.
Listen to the track and see the music video created by Wolfgang Tillmans below.
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