Life on Long Island
Checking in with Hesta Prynn
On Saturday, July 20, the Sound Waves party is set to take place at the Montauk Beach House (55 South Elmwood Ave, Montauk, 631-668-2112, and the affair has indeed been making a lot of “waves,” as it is to see a turn from alternative/new wave legend Vince Clarke as a DJ.
However, the day will also feature a set from DJ Hesta Prynn – better known as Julie Potash-Slavin. If either of those names seem familiar, they should – for Hesta was once a part of the indie darling hip-hop act Northern State, a group that featured Prynn, along with two of her former Half Hollow Hills West high school classmates (Correne "Spero" Spero and Robyn "Sprout" Goodmark). All three attended during the 1990s.
Today, Prynn is a solo performer, and with her return to LI this weekend, it’s a perfect time to see what’s new with one of the Island’s funkier exports.
Welcome back to Long Island Hesta – or is it Julie when you are back in the 631 area code?
It's Julie to people who really know me, Hesta to everyone else. That's how I can tell the difference.
You’re living in NYC now, correct? Is that Brooklyn or Manhattan?
I've lived in Manhattan for 15 years.
Have you made any trips to Montauk yet, or is this your first? It seems as if the Manhattanites still lean toward the Hamptons proper, while the Brooklyn crowd has a thing for Montauk.
I definitely spend most of my time out East in the Hamptons but have been to the Surf Lodge to watch the sunset a few times. In fact I think I shared a single bed there (badly) with a friend after some late night drinking a couple of years ago! Also spent a romantic weekend at Gurney's once.
When’s the last time you spun on Long Island? Have you done so before?
I haven't DJed any events on LI actually; this will be my first!
What sort of playlist will you be delivering while in-session at the Sound Waves gig?
As always it will be an eclectic mix of the songs you love from the 60s through today. I'll definitely have some beachy tunes on there - maybe some Bob Marley or Beach Boys, DEF [sic] going to do some 80s new wave and 90s alternative. Respect to Vince Clarke of course! Also a little funk, some light hip-hop and some of what's hot today. I like to tell you a story, how it all fits together, how this sound led to that sound, etc. Most important though is setting the vibe right. I set the stage, all you need to do is show up and fall in love.
Have you been following the indie scene’s Montauk incursion? Surf Lodge has led the pack, but there have been a lot of Brooklyn-based bands playing out there – yet otherwise, the indie scene seems to skip LI in general…any thoughts why?
Long Island has a rich history both in hardcore AND in hip-hop. People don't know about Strong Island.
Switching gears, it was with Northern State we first got to know you. Is there more coming from the crew, or are your days with Spero and Sprout a “wrap” ? (pardon the pun)
It's definitely a wrap on Northern State but I encourage people to listen to our older records. Fans of trap (*”trap” is a hip-hop subgenre typified by heavy bass and electronic elements) will respect what we did with DJ Muggs (of Cypress Hill) on "All City", fans of Beck will love the songs we made with Adrock (Beastie Boys) on "Can I Keep This Pen?". Actually you never know if we'll come back with something one day. Stay tuned.
Northern State main reign was in the early 2000s; how long did it take for you to uproot from Dix Hills to the city?
We were always an NYC band. We started after college while I was living in Tribeca.
Did you ever spend any time hanging out on the Island’s nightlife scene before moving? If so, can you remember your favorite bars and/or clubs?
I remember hitting New York Ave and the Roxy in Huntington to see some local bands play in the late nineties. I saw some of my heroes at the Nassau coliseum of course - Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Guns 'n' Roses.
Do you ever come back? If so, where do you hang these days while in town?
I visit the in-laws in Roslyn pretty often. We cruise through Suffolk en route to the Hamptons though. One time I took the new husband to the pond behind Forest Park Elementary School - that's where we used to hang out late night. I was like "this was my youth".
Final thoughts: anything we should know, need to know or didn’t know?
I write a music and pop culture column called “Five 'n' Five” in “Paper Magazine” every week. Also check out my Instagram. I met R. Kelly for the first time earlier today. That was bananas.