Lunar Lounge: an NYC DJ Collective Shining a Light On New Talent

Hunter Frederick

August 4, 2022

Yeah, yeah, we know the new Drake album is dance-focused (Massive is our favorite). And yes, there’s is a tiny voice in our heads singing “🎵You won’t break my soulll🎵” whenever the day’s troubles get particularly aggravating. But don’t mistake that for our love of house music being some new-found flash in the pan (not that it would matter anyway, the door for new house-heads ought to be wide open #f*ckgatekeeping).

For those that don’t know (no judgment), house music was born in the late 70s/early 80s, out of nightclub in Chicago called The Warehouse, whose customers were primarily gay, black men. It soon spread to New York City and across the globe, transforming as it did. It’s my belief that house laid the groundwork for a lot of the modern genres of electronic music we enjoy today, and even some non-electronic types as well. And while that might be an incredible oversimplification, there’s a way to delve deeper into the legend; and not just with words but with sonic history as well. Check out Frankie Knuckles (R.I.P.), Jesse Saunders, Larry Levan, and countless others.

Frankie Knuckles, Jesse Saunders, and Larry Levan. Photographed by Steve Black/REX, Raymond Boyd, and Bill Bernstein, respectively.

It’s also important to clarify that tracing the lineage of things like this, is unfortunately not an exact science. Sources are slim and accounts vary, so don’t be surprised if you hear some conflicting accounts.

To that end, I was pleasantly surprised to see a flyer for a house music event focused on rising artists in the New York scene while scrolling on Instagram. I had to know more about it. So we spoke to Aaron Root, a DJ and promoter who is using his brand, Lunar Lounge, to uplift local talent and curate shows under the title, NEW MOON.

20XX: So Aaron, tell me about this “NEW MOON” event series that you have planned in the coming days?

Aaron Root: There’s so many great reasons why I’m doing this, but in general, the New Moon series is a goal of mine.

I want to give local artists a chance to play music; I have artists hitting me up all the time asking to play our shows. Plus, it’s hard as a promoter not only to book everyone reaching out to me, but to do so in a way that is financially responsible for myself and the artists. Unfortunately, I’m in the business of selling tickets and I know the pressure that creates. I’m not about putting that pressure on artists, especially because I know it as a DJ myself, and I get that pressure from other promoters.

The timing is also great to do this event: It’s free, it’s on a Thursday where not a lot of other events are competing, and I have a great relationship with Sweetie, so it’s a win-win for everyone. New artists who want to get some recognition get a chance to do that, a new audience gets engaged with the Lunar Lounge community and brand, and I get to pay my artists fairly. It’s just kind of a win-win for everyone. I’m really excited to get this series going more frequently and see what lies ahead of us.

I noticed the IG post said that you had done something like this in the past? Can you tell me about previous iterations of this?

We have done NEW MOON shows in the past for sure. We had our first show at Sweetie back in January, and then we did one last month too. Same concept; basically just getting local people, paying them fairly, and just starting to introduce people to house music.

The first one we did wasn’t a small party, but it definitely wasn’t bangin’ by any stretch of the imagination. However, the last one we did was actually really bumping for Thursday; the bar was super happy, I was super happy, the DJ’s were really happy. And it was a pretty eye opening event for me as well. Like this can really work; I can actually throw some free parties on Thursdays and it’ll go well.

So I guess that last success showed you that you really had something worth developing further, right?

Yeah, seeing how well that last event went inspired me to bring it back and keep it going. I have, on the Lunar Lounge side, been doing a lot of text invite shows and free shows as a way to grow my brand and audience.

And these folks, when they get the text alert about these shows, they get super excited and they want to re-engage. So it’s just a great way to keep my audience’s attention during a time where they might not have something happening, like on a Thursday. Normally a lot of promoters aren’t necessarily booking stuff out then; it’s just a really good opportunity.

photos from @lunarloungepresents on instagram, by

I’m glad to hear that something so positive and eye opening inspired the return of this series. Any chance the “mainstream-ification” of house music, like things like the new Drake album and Beyoncé's latest single, had something to with it?

As for the idea that there is any influence by the new Drake album or the Beyoncé single for me to do this series, I can assure you there isn’t. I typically stay away from that, not because I have an issue with it, but because I want to position my brand and company to do what I really want to do, which is to focus on the underground scene.

That said, when I book my artists, I kind of tell them, this is the vibe of the party, obviously don’t go and play some dubstep or something like that. But also that you have free reign to play what you think is right. I’m hiring you because I think you’re a professional. Some people like to play that type of stuff, and I don’t have any issue with that. The projects you mentioned have no direct influence on me, but I’m sure that some of the artists I’m booking are playing that type of stuff more, and that’s great.

How can interested parties get in contact with you for making the bill for the next New Moon event?

There are two ways for interested parties to get in contact with us about being on the bill. One, is just DM-ing us on Instagram, @lunarloungepresents. Two, we have the phone number, 718–795 2763; you can just text us and send out your info.

On the back end for me, I have a spreadsheet where I track pretty much everyone that’s ever reached out to me. I listen to the quality of their mixes and I listen to their sound to see if it lines up, as well as some due diligence in regards to their social media presence and if they are someone who is taking this seriously.

One of the things that matters the most to me personally is the ability for an artist to get engaged with the community. There are people out there who will message me with little to no regard for what I’m trying to curate, just saying things like “Yo, book me, put me on your show.” I respect that and I understand you’re trying to hustle, but I think the better approach is always like, “Hey, I saw you had this show on Saturday. I’d love to come meet you in person, etc.” Then we could meet face to face, and I’m sure they’d mention that they’re a DJ and ask if there’s an opportunity for them to play.

Those types of people are the type of people that I want to get involved with. It shows that they are engaged with the community, it shows that they’re personable, and it shows that they’re committed to not just advancing their own career, but also moving the scene forward in general.

So I’d always recommend for anyone that wants to, get in contact, come to a show! Come say hi to me in person. Personal connections are always great.

Excellent, thank you so much Aaron. I think you’ve got a really powerful thing on your hands.

Look below for an in-depth look at the lineup for the latest NEW MOON event, featuring comments from some of the performing artists:

20XX:What can the people expect from you this Thursday?

Charlie Neuman photographed by @ryandavidmurray

I typically describe my style as tech house remixes, and tech house mashups, of mainstream pop songs re-engineered for the clubs. I love to play songs that anyone at the event, even if they’re not tapped into the tech house scene, are familiar with and can dance to, but with a drop no one is expecting. This Thursday, I want to do a bit more disco inspired set while keeping the energy of a main stage tech house set.

Thursday will be like if tech-house and disco had a baby. Proper groovers mixed in with some old school acapellas and fat drums. Gonna get the people dancing!

from @IMDEADNOTJULIAN on Instagram

My style and sound is more on the deep house & garage vibe. I like music that makes you feel, whether it’s happy or sad. I like to mix a bit of both those feelings in my sets to create a sort of ecstasy type vibe in it. I’m a big lover of old school house and beat breaks as well. Love all around hip hop house and jazzy sounds along with nice deep vocals too.

from @malibu.cathy on Instagram

People can expect tech house from me, with a sprinkle of some nice bass house drops!

from @immlikemee on Instagram

People can expect house/tech house, and maybe some throwback vocals. In an intimate event like this let’s just party, sound.

20XX: Do you have a favorite memory from DJing or being at a party?

My favorite memory of djing in New York was at a private party on the upper west side I did last summer. While I was mixing, a saxophonist who played by ear came on stage and played along with the house music I was playing. Absolutely surreal moment.

My favorite memory was while supporting James Hype at Schimanski and dropping an original and seeing his amazing reaction. One of the most wholesome and cherished memories I have. Either that or supporting Green Velvet who is one of my idols and a tech house legend.

I love that I get to meet such great people, who are also amazing artists in other areas of art, not just music. It’s really inspiring and fun to have people around you that share common interests and passions. But if I had to pick one, it’d have to be Circoloco at Club Space in 2019 for Art Basel. Absolute madness that was. My favorite set at that party was Jasper James b2b Jackmaster. I stayed till the end for over 24 hours!

Every set and party is unique because it’s about the people, all of us together. My sole perspective is not the collective experience thus I don’t have a favorites. Let’s make this one our new favorite!

My favorite memory from DJing has to be when I opened directly for James Hype, and he was standing behind me bopping to my last 10 minutes, congratulating me after and exchanging info. It made me feel like I was doing something right and being able to impress such a big artist made me feel like I was a force to be reckoned with if I keep going.

NEW MOON is being held this Thursday, August 4th, from 9pm to 2am at Sweetie (85 Ave A). Follow @lunarloungepresents for more NEW MOON events and updates.