Modern electronic music has some influential and prominent figures who push its boundaries and help it evolve. Some work behind the scenes by throwing shows and festivals, like Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac, some work on stage and in the studio, like Boys Noize and Knife Party, but a very small and select few do both successfully. One of those pioneers is Gary Richards, better known as Destructo.
First learning to DJ because at his former club, The Sermon, they had none, Destructo has recently released his first EP, Technology, on Boysnoize Records‘ sister label BNR Trax. He went on to found HARD events in LA in 2007, one of the most successful and recognizable event production companies in the city. Five years later, HARD has expanded to include HARD Haunted Mansion, HARD Summer, and most recently Holy Ship! On June 26th, Live Nation acquired HARD as part of their ever growing EDM portfolio along with recent acquisition Cream Holdings.
We had a chance to talk music, industry, and the future of electronic music with Gary on the run up to his show at Voyeur tonight to learn his inspiration for his EP, how it’s like to be part of the Live Nation family, and why a good festival is like a well prepared salad.
DropTheBeat: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Your new EP, Technology, recently came out on BNR Trax, what inspired you to finally release an EP?
Destructo: Well, I’ve been trying for a long time to come up with original music, and finally last year I hooked up with some good studio partners, the Oliver guys, and found time to get into the studio once or twice a week over the year. We worked on all kinds of different things and I felt that I really crossed some ground and found sounds that I was interested in. The first one I did was Technology, and that one came together really quick. I sent it to Boys Noize and he started playing it and thought it was a pretty good tune and was already out, but I told him no one had really heard it. He wanted to put it out so he asked me to come up with some more tracks, so we started working on some other stuff. With Holy Ship! coming up, I wanted to make something unique for summertime. I went for a different vibe with a more fun, daytime kind of feel to it. That became LA Funky, it started catching on and I made a video. I try to spend as much time in the studio as possible but I’m kinda busy with a lot of different things. I wish I could go in the studio every day, I’d have a lot more releases, but I’ve got other businesses I work on as well.
DropTheBeat: You touched on Holy Ship! so let’s talk about HARD. You just joined Live Nation, and a recent interview said that as of July, everything was pretty much the same. Has anything changed? Do you have access to a lot more free time or resources because you’ve joined the Live Nation family?
Destructo: Yeah, I mean they’re learning how I operate and I’m learning how they operate, but I definitely have access to a lot more resources and a lot more help as far as the business dealings. It’s going really well and not that much has changed other than the resources I have access to which are making my company and my life in general stronger.
DropTheBeat: I noticed you’re bringing the upcoming Boys Noize tour at a lot of Live Nation venues like House of Blues. Does this mean we’ll be seeing more events at their venues?
Destructo: Yeah, that whole thing came together really organically. I was working on the Boys Noize live show in LA and NY, and then I got over there and they were already trying to get Boys Noize into places like St. Louis and smaller venues where I wouldn’t normally get to do shows. We just combined all our efforts and did the whole thing. It worked out great, and Boys Noize has never played live before and his new album is unbelievable so for me to able to present his new tour is amazing. We want to do a good job on that tour and you’ll definitely see more of these things in the future.
DropTheBeat: Now LiveNation has recently become known for signing deals with some big artists like Shakira, Madonna, and U2. Could we see HARD having exclusive artist deals such as yourself, Boys Noize, or others?
Destructo: I wouldn’t rule anything out but I haven’t had any conversations of that nature. Right now we’re really focusing on the HARD brand and if those kind of deals make sense we’ll do it. However, it’s not something that’s been discussed.
DropTheBeat: I wanted to talk a bit about Day of The Dead. You’ve been doing HARD Haunted Mansion for a while now, why did you decide have less of a Halloween theme and hold the festival the weekend after?
Destructo: Well Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, so I felt like it definitely wasn’t the ideal day for Haunted Mansion. So being in LA, I thought I’d switch it up and do something different with the whole Dia De Los Muertos. I think it felt right and all fell into the master plan, so we’re gonna try it this year and see how it goes. The response has been amazing so far, and it frees me up to do a couple of Haunted Mansion events on the East Coast. We’re definitely gonna bring back the Haunted Mansion event in the future as it’s one of our most successful brands, but with Halloween on a Wednesday it could have gone either way. It’s a chance to switch things up and it’s a really cool theme to be involved with.
DropTheBeat: Not to mention there’s around three festivals the weekend before Halloween so this gives you a little more breathing room.
Destructo: Yeah there’s always a lot going on that weekend, but really I just wanted to switch up the scheme. We just finished the trailer for Day of the Dead which should be out in about a week, and with the filming I got a lot of really cool ideas on how to utilize the theme and make it a unique experience.
DropTheBeat: Now we focus mainly on San Diego, and we noticed that the Boys Noize live tour is coming to our local House of Blues. Since our market has been growing considerably in the past years, could we expect to see more HARD events down in San Diego?
Destructo: Yeah, I mean I’ve always felt that San Diego was an extension of our market. We usually promote there and spend a lot of time encouraging people to come up to LA for our events. I know the LED guys and Voyeur have been doing big things, and Live Nation’s bigger shows have done really well. I don’t really want to come down there and shake things up, but if there’s ways to work with those guys down there and do cool things then I’m all about it.
I love California and it’s only a quick jump on the Surfliner or the 405 to get down there. I like going down to San Diego and definitely have to check out a Charger game or two, so anything that we can do down there that makes sense we’ll do it. The way I always do anything is that there’s no rules except if we’re gonna do something we better make it great. So if we’re gonna do a show down there it’s gotta be awesome or there’s no points. I don’t have any master plan like we’re gonna “take over the world,” but when opportunities arise we’ll do solid events with solid music. We’re not under any pressure to meet a quota or anything.
DropTheBeat: Has working with Live Nation given you more time to DJ and Produce?
Destructo: Well I’ve always felt it’s kind of my responsibility to go to new places and see what’s happening, so what better way to do it than to DJ and perform there. I hope that working by with Live Nation a lot of the business end will get taken care of by their guys. A lot of things like getting permits, taxes, insurance, and dealing with lawyers weigh you down as a small business owner. I can do all those things, but it’s really not what I want to be dealing with. I can pass a lot of that to their team and it frees me up to come up with new festivals, work on tracks in the studio, DJ, or put together more events. That’s definitely the concept behind the deal. My team is good but trying to figure out how much taxes to pay the federal and state governments for artists and equipment takes a lot of time and resources and if we can have Live Nation handle that it’ll be amazing.
DropTheBeat: I’ve always felt you have shown some of the most foresight in the industry. You were the first one to focus on “adult raves” and eliminating the “kandi kids.” Now the scene has finally caught up with things like Sensation and White Wonderland, both of which are 21+, but you were really one of the first one to be doing that. What do you think is next for EDM?
Destructo: Well it’s impossible to predict but for me it’s always been about quality and trying to work with the best artists. I was never really trying to make things more “adult” but really was trying to keep the focus on the music. I feel like my career in the electronic world always get overshadowed by all these other things: what people where wearing, how many people a glover made pass out, how many people went to the hospital. Stuff like that is irrelevant and distracts from good music. My goal is ten years down the road to still be throwing events with the best artists in electronic music, and it’s the ones with credibility that are gonna last.
When I first started HARD our first event was 21+ and I expected the people who were older or my age to be the ones digging it. I was surprised to find it was mostly college kids who were in tune to what was going on in music and really paying attention. I really wanted to separate ourselves from the kandi kids and show people that electronic music has more legs to it than going to a party and getting wasted. I think we’ve proven that and that’s what I want to keep pushing as the agenda with HARD down the road. I mean who knows where things will go, when we started HARD there was no Skrillex or Deadmau5 and most of these people weren’t even going yet. Things can really change in a couple years time. For me personally I hope to get a full album out and really get things rolling to the next level.
DropTheBeat: Who do you think is the next “deadmau5″ or “Skrillex” that’s gonna be headlining HARD events in the future? Who do you think we should look out for?
Destructo: Well a lot of these guys are coming up fast like Dillon Francis, I’m really Kill Frenzy is making some really good tracks. Trap music is sort of having its hour, and while I don’t know if those artists are gonna be the next Skrillex or deadmau5, there’s definitely gonna be a big wave of it. As long as I’ve been into the record business you hear a track and say “hey that’s pretty good,” then hear a few more that you like and realize they’ve got legitimate talent and they turn out to an Underworld or Skrillex. I couldn’t tell you now who the next one will be but I know there will be one and we’ll definitely be around it.
DropTheBeat: You mentioned trap, do you think it’s gonna be the next moombahton?
Destructo: A lot of people get really hyped on genres, they’ll say “oh I’m really into dubstep” or moombahton and it’s cool for me because it gives me a way to organize different areas in a festival. It’s cool to have a whole style for a tent -like we have the Moombahton Massive with Dave Nada and Tittsworth and if you want to “110 out” you go there; but then we’ve got the Knife Party stage with more aggressive sounds when that’s what you’re feeling. I really like the sound of trap, it’s cool and big right now but what I think is gonna happen is we’ll have a breakout artist. It’s not like these styles of music are gonna take over the world, I mean I see it all as electronic dance music. But it’s cool when there’s a new thing coming, and when there’s a new genre we like to be on it. There’s some pretty badass producers coming out of the trap scene and that’s what’s new and fresh right now so we’ll see what happens.
DropTheBeat: So do you think genres or BPMs are important these days? I mean there’s moombahton which is 110 electro or house and moombahcore which is essentially 110 dubstep; do you think the lines have blurred to the point where they don’t even exist?
Destructo: Yeah and the people just like it. I mean as a DJ, it kind of matters because my vibe has always been the same. I really like building it up through a set and mostly play techno and get-go at 128BPM. So i tend to stick in my zone and don’t play things like trap or dubstep, but I enjoy those genres and like to hear them for a change of pace. I think people are open minded so we like to give them a lot of everything. I’ve always thought planning a festival is like making a good salad: you’ve gotta find the best ingredients, mix them together in the right amounts, and hopefully make something that’s greater than the sum of the individual parts.