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Maison Premiere’s Bluesy Soundtrack

In The Maison Premiere Almanac (debuting on April 25), co-authors and Maison Premiere co-founders Joshua Boissy, Krystof Zizka, and William Elliott share 90 recipes from the award-winning bar, along with everything from how to properly serve absinthe to their top 10 picks for oysters and how to make their signature Bloody Mary. Also highlighted in the book is the important role music plays at the bar. “When creating Maison Premiere, we tried to consider every sensory angle in order to support the narrative vision we had in our heads,” says Zizka, who curates the bar’s soundtrack. Here, Zizka shares more about Maison Premiere’s approach to music.

What is your music background?

I grew up in the City of Brotherly Love—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—where music was an integral part of the city’s culture. The sound of beats and rhymes seemed to blare out of every passing car, with loudspeakers everywhere you went. My passion for hip hop began at a young age when my father would buy me bootleg cassettes on Chestnut Street during the heyday of early Def Jam.

As I entered my early teenage years, I began to collect records and to DJ, searching for samples from my growing collection. I was heavily influenced by albums like De La Soul’s 3 High Feet and Rising, which featured a far range of genres from artists such as James Brown, The Turtles, Steely Dan, Malcolm McLaren, Pointer Sisters, and Cymande. 

At the age of 22, I landed a job as an assistant audio engineer at a recording studio in Philadelphia called “The Studio” owned by esteemed string arranger and cellist Larry Gold. The Roots were our main client, and I worked on numerous projects with Tariq [“Black Thought”] Trotter, Ahmir [“Questlove”] Thompson, and Richard Nichols. It was an incredible experience to work alongside such talents.

“Since the narrative of Maison Premiere includes a heavy dose of New Orleans, we wanted to reflect that timeless blues influence in the dining room.”

What is music’s role at Maison Premiere?

We specifically feature the blues, but with nods to many different styles: Delta blues, Chicago blues, jump blues, boogie-woogie, New Orleans blues, etc. Since the narrative of Maison Premiere includes a heavy dose of New Orleans, we wanted to reflect that timeless blues influence in the dining room. And that choice especially stood out in the early 2010s of Williamsburg, where blues as a genre was rarely played. 

What do you think is the perfect album for an evening of oysters and martinis?

The full-length album “Transa” by Caetano Veloso is considered his back-to-basics tropicalia folk masterpiece, recorded while he was in exile in London. Veloso was persecuted by the Brazilian dictatorship for being an enemy of the state. He sings back and forth seamlessly in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Listening to this album transports me in a way that I hope the Maison Premiere experience transports our guests.

And which songs would you cue up to start the evening and to end it?

To start, Betty Davis’ “They Say I’m Different.” Betty Davis is the iconoclastic funk rock singer and fashion icon who has had a lot of influence on Maison Premiere. This song is joyful, upbeat and sets up the vibe for a great night. Codine’s “The Litter” is the perfect way to end the night because it helps set the mood for guests on how they want to explore the rest of their evening—just relaxed enough as we approach last call, but not so downbeat if they want to continue their night elsewhere.

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