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Less than a week away from his next big show, The Naughty List, we caught up with Robert Knight AKA DJ Doza about all things Poler Nights.  Read on.

ST: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

RK: Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to share a little about myself with everyone out there

ST: Then let’s get this party started. You’ve been doing events for some years now, can you please tell our readers a little about your background in the event scene?

RK: Let’s see…Well, I started out getting into raves in about 2002…Here and there, not too much. Around 2007, it really took ahold of me. At Monster Massive, I was jamming out to Judge Jules in the sports arena, and I just had that moment of clarity where I just knew that this is something I really want to be a part of.
I looked around and realized these are my people. I can talk to anyone at any time and feel this connection like we’ve been friends for a long time. It was a special feeling. So when the rave ban came down in 2011, and we had far less parties to attend, I started having my own parties at my house. They became too large to have there, so we had to start finding places to hold these parties… And here we are today.

Robert Knight AKA DJ Doza
Robert Knight AKA DJ Doza

ST: That would explain the intimate feel your events still carry. Speaking of intimate, how does working as a strip club DJ tie in to your own events? For example, do you notice a lot of crossover between your club’s patrons and guests at your own parties or vice versa? How about with music selection?

RK: Well, there’s definitely an advantage to playing music 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. I can test out a lot of my new songs at work and gauge people’s reactions. I mean, if 45 year old white dude–who prob listens to mostly country and rock–can start bobbing his head to this electro beat, chances are the 25 year old girl that loves that music is going to really enjoy it. As far as the patrons go, not so much. Here and there, but for sure the girls at work get pumped up for the events.

ST: Yeah, and, as far as L.A. events go, Poler Nights parties have always had a good variety about them. You could be doing a pool party for one night, a club takeover for the next one, and a warehouse party another night, etc. How do you stay focused to your mission between changing themes and settings so often?

RK: Yes, this is something I very seriously take to heart about our events. I LIKE VARIETY. We have a pretty loyal fan base, and I don’t want them to feel like “Okay, here we go. Same ol’ DJs, same ol’ location.”
I want them to feel the excitement of something different rather than the same thing over and over.
Case in point, this Saturday we are using a location new to our events, even though our last two events were in a location that everyone absolutely loved. I just don’t want to overuse a location or get something that awesome and make it feel less attractive when people see the flyer and say “Oh, man. Same place AGAIN.” There is just something about being new that makes it feel that much more exciting.

ST: Agreed. A lot of companies just gnaw on a venue until there’s no meat left on the bone. You seem to have a bigger vision, though. On that subject, what’s the main long term goal you’d like to see Poler Nights achieve and how do you plan on getting there?

RK: Unity.
…To be honest, I don’t care for the name as much as I care for the events. I want to combine and colab with the other promoters of our scene and put on mega-shows, outdoor festivals, or big 3-4 stage shows like we have this Saturday. Aldo Valentine of HMD and the Underground Heroes guys share this view with me as well. One of these days, we’re going to make this happen. Until then, you can expect us to keep doing what we’re doing. Pick great places for great people to get together and have a great time. I know we’re one of the most active promotions out there. We do shows frequently and they’re never bad… There’s always a good turn out, so we have no reason to slow down.

The Poler Nights team

ST: That’s a good mindset to have. What inspires you to keep going in spite of any setbacks you encounter or previously encountered in fulfilling your goals?

RK: I always have 1 goal in mind… “Let’s have a good time.” I do well enough in my day job that I don’t need to do this to make money, so I don’t like to be annoying with our events and push them down peoples’ throats because I’m worried about covering costs. It’s more like “Hey. We’re having a party, come have fun! If not…Okay, maybe next time.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to lose money so I do what’s necessary, but I would say that hasn’t been an issue in over a few years now. And I do things differently. We do presale tickets with our artists and promoters. Some think it’s crazy, and that’s fine. Thing is, that this way the event is going to have a full dance floor the entire night. Person A’s crowd is going to vibe with Person B’s crowd and so forth.
I want all of my artists to feel like they are the headliner, and that can’t happen if everyone is sitting around waiting on a crowd. With me, they’re already guaranteed. The shows are already paid for before we step in the building and that makes the night that much more smooth and relaxing. You don’t have 10 people walking around on edge all night. You won’t see a shred of fear on my face all night. I want to have fun at my own party. So as far as setbacks go, we just haven’t had any lately. That hasn’t always been the case, as you know. You have seen us grow and grow. It has taken some time to get to where we are now as a team. Another way I find inspiration is giving inspiration by picking up hungry but extremely talented artists along the way. Ones that share the same vision I have. My team works hard early so we can have a good time later.

ST: Speaking of work, let’s talk about your next event, The Naughty List. What is it and how does someone get on the list?

RK: [Laughs] I don’t know many people who aren’t already on the list, so this is a holiday party for them. We chose a location that has many different areas and ways to party to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
We have the main room that is going to be a blend of things–Deep house, electro house and the last few hours will be strictly trance.
We also have the House and Techno Stage, which will be playing just that all night.
I’m a househead and I love to groove to basslines. I know a big part of our crowd does, too, so that room is important to me. I have some real talent in there.
Last but not least, on the 3rd floor of the building we will have our trap/dubstep/ hip hop room.
Hvdes will be hosting a twerk contest during her set so, I mean…It’s gonna get SUPER NAUGHTY up there.

We try to do as much as we can for our patrons to feel like a night with us isn’t gonna cost them more then $30-$50. Drink prices are cheap.  We even give out free vodka early in the night. We’re here to have fun, and if you’re going wire to wire with us, you deserve to get some free stuff out of it. 

ST: Sounds like a great time. Speaking of going wire to wire we’re about to do just that with 2015. What can we expect to see from Poler Nights in 2016?

RK: We’re going to keep doing our thing, my man… I love my squad and, as long as they’re on board, I have no reason to slow down. These guys and girls work so hard to make these events happen. I love them all so much. So once a month or twice a month, you’re going to see a Poler Night pop up somewhere in the L.A. area. Looking forward to March, we’ve got the 2nd annual Whoville. ‘Cause the first one was so awesome, this will now be an annual event for us. This summer, I want to have my outdoor day festival. This is a call to arms for any promotion company who wants to take on the big boys, get some headliners and tear up a day fest. Get in contact with me, let’s make it happen.

 

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You can catch Robert and his team’s latest and greatest show, The Naughty List, this Saturday night.
Details here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/104972573203647/
Discounted presale tickets are available through this link for a limited time:
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-naughty-list-tickets-19650001684

You can also listen to Poler Nights tracks anytime you wish on Soundcloud.

Just returning from his trip across Europe, we caught up with DJ and mastermind of the Balse Project, none other than the renown Yohei Abe.
Here, we talk about his experiences, influences, goals and how he’s put them all into his upcoming Balse event.
Read on.

ST: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.
Before we start, you just got back from a trip all over Europe.
Where did you visit and how was your experience?

YA: Thank you for having me.

The trip was two weeks visiting Moscow Russia, Provence France, Florence, and Venice, Italy. The Moscow stay was really a day, so really I cannot say much, but I would love to make a longer visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg in the near future.

The trip was about nature, culture, and art. I constantly think of inputs that are natural, cultural, and artistic. I seek things that are authentic and genuine. This trip was very much planned to research these things, and of course with the intention of giving back through our Balse events.

The highlights of Provence was the nature and the visits to the studios and ateliers of the great masters: Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir , and Jean Coctaeu. Florence was to research Renaissance. Finally, the climax was Venice, where I did the Venezia Biennale, the biannual contemporary art festival (http://www.labiennale.org). This was the first time I have visited Venice and the Biennale, and I believe Venezia is, hands-down, the best city to experience art, old and new, in one single location. I cannot think of any other place on earth where you can experience all this art. I plan to visit Venezia every two years for the Biennale.

ST: That sounds like quite the experience. Please tell our readers about Balse.
How would you describe it in your own words, and what can attendees expect to experience at a typical Balse show?

YA: Balse is an antithesis. Antithesis to what? Hard to explain, but I think you know the word “Balse” comes from the film Laputa Castle in the Sky (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_in_the_Sky). It is the spell of destruction used at the climax by the heroin and the hero. It is a spell, actually, not to destroy the world, but to save the castle in the sky from villains. A spell to protect what is truly important. Balse Project follows this notion of seeking authenticity and art.

ST: It seems you’ve truly captured something special with this spell, as your fans regularly attest to.
Now, you’ve stated previously that you’d like to expand this experience to an international level.
Did you happen to go to any events or meet anyone on your recent travels who you feel would be a viable candidate for collaboration in this aspect of the project?

YA: I’ve done various events in Tokyo, NYC, LA, Berlin, Vienna, Cologne, and Detroit.

There is one local Barcelona artist, Busi (https://soundcloud.com/xavi-busquets-vidal). I would love to feature him and his team in our future events. I accidentally met him when I was in Barcelona for Sonar Music Festival in May 2014 (https://sonar.es/en/2016/). I went to an after party, and bumped into Busi, who invited me to another after party from 7am at a small warehouse space, where he played. It was the most memorable moment in the Barcelona visit. It would be wonderful to fly his team in and have a session with BALSE. I would love to meet more local unknown DJs from Russia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Italy, Spain.

ST: Sometimes, it’s those random encounters really lead to something special. Fingers crossed on that one.
On a personal level, who do you draw inspiration from for your own musical career? Who really got you starting to think, “Okay. This is not only something I want to do, but something I can do”?

YA: I don’t know. I don’t think it was just one incident. One of the triggers was when I moved to NYC. It was 2004. I rented a small room on 14th St, Avenue B, in East Village. I rented a place in Stuyvesant Town, a project. A block from my place was a tiny record shop, Ave B or C. I don’t even remember the name. It must have been only 200 sq ft. 10 people would barely fit. Anyways, that was when I first listened to minimal. Artists from Chile, Germany, etc. It was shocking. This passion still continues. Then I met Kompakt, the Cologne based label, as many of you know. Completely I fell in love. I visited the label in 2006. Spend a full two days at the label/record shop.

Classical is another strong influence. As a matter of fact, in private, 75% of the time I listen to classical. My roommate in NYC was a classical music critic. We went to the Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center after work, buying cheap tickets 30 min before the concert started. He goes several times a week and has gone to over 1500 concerts. He has influenced me with classical music, and I have influenced him with contemporary dance music in return. This was also when we researched high end audio equipment. We both got Rotel, the UK audio brand, amps, I got a Focal, French audio brand, speaker, and he got a B&W speakers, and we would compare sound quality listening to the same recordings, and discuss music and sound every night. He has a strong influence on my vision and direction. Actually, the visit to Germany that we just talked about, was not only for visiting the minimal scenes in Cologne, Berlin, and Vienna, but also to experience Berlin Phil and Vienna Phil. The routine during the trip was to do Berlin Philharmonie at 8pm, and then go back to my room, change, and to Watergate. Vienna Phil at 8pm, then to Flex.

Other deep influences include David Mancuso and his Loft parties. I truly respect his stance towards quality of sound, and I really enjoy the community that surrounds him, three generations of fans from teens to grandmothers and grandfathers. This spirit of gathering for music into our sixties and seventies is something we wish to continue.

ST: Some of those influences are readily apparent, as Balse is predominately house-themed.
So, what other genres and artists are you a big fan of outside of this field? Is there any you love, but would consider absolutely off limits for a Balse show?

YA: We are mainly classic deep house, techno, and minimal. I would like to also do classical music screenings. We have done in the past, a live broadcast of Berlin Philharmonie’s Digital Concert hall. I am open to genres.
One thing we don’t do is commercial Hollywood. We seek organic and authentic art.

ST: That’s rather touching, given the propensity of so many event promoters in Los Angeles to do the exact opposite. On the subject of staying true to your roots, your previous project, In The Backroom, was pretty successful. What was the reason for starting the Balse Project? Did you want to start something new or just incorporate what you were doing and move it in a new direction?

YA: Backroom is our roots. We started out, literally, in the hidden backroom of a local Italian restaurant in LA.
A shack, maximum capacity was 30. It had a very authentic underground feel. As we were playing, there would be random locals that strolled in from the back alley, intrigued by the sound.
Balse continues this philosophy, but expands on it. Balse is now more proactive, we want to present a vision. A core power and energy that creates, and propose what we believe to be essential and truly artistic. Something universal and stands the test of time. This might sound arrogant, but really, our wish is to develop something that would be considered timeless and valuable, 300 years from now. The name Balse has that intensity. We will work towards this vision, and we wish to seek supporters and collaborators to realize this.

ST: Shoot for the stars. Someone once said that if no one’s laughing at your goals, you haven’t set them high enough. Now, your events, both Balse and In The Backroom, have always had a very visual element in a way many events do not. For instance, there’s always a lot of visual artists involved, be they painters, photographers, ikebana artists, etc. You’ve even set up stations for people to create their own art at some of your events. This is something many can, and do, appreciate, but what’s your reasoning behind doing this while so many events fail to present much, if any, visuals accompanying their parties beyond perhaps dancefloor lighting?

YA: I am visual.

Sound is my language. Visual is my spouse. I really like working with Alex Andre, who has been my VJ, and really a key member of Balse Project. There is also Atsuko Minami and Tomo Otani, who are photographers and designers, and they are also my key organizing partners.

ST: Yes, they all do very masterful work and will hopefully continue to lend their unique talents to this project for a long time to come.
What are your primary objectives for Balse? Where would you like to see it in, say, a decade?

YA: My vision for Balse is to create pockets of this production locally in various cities and villages around the globe. Similar to how Boiler Room is doing their thing via the web, but Balse is truly brick and mortar, and tangible. We believe in actual human interaction. We believe in locally sourced and farm to table. In a decade, Balse should be conducting members only exclusive micro events all around the globe, every month.

ST: It’s amazing how much we can do and who we can be linked with, even simultaneously, across the globe in these times. International parties a great frontier to explore and pioneer, especially since not many have tapped into doing them yet.
Touching on expansion, you recently came into partnership with Poler Nights.
How do you feel this will affect your overall goals for Balse?

YA: I think the collaboration with Poler Nights is a great next step. I think we have similar mindset, and will mutually benefit in spreading the word to the community.

ST: The Poler Nights team is, likewise, very passionate about their musical art and bringing the best to their fans and guests. Looks like an all-around good fit.
Just to wrap things up, what’s your favorite part of presenting this event?

YA: I feel most satisfied when a guest comes up to me and tell me “I really appreciate you doing this. I have always been looking for something like this: down to earth, authentic, organic, and a welcoming community. Please carry on and serve the community.” The bottom line is, we are creating a community, a community who seeks authentic and highly artistic sound, a community that last and come together 30 years from now, regardless of their age or background.

 

You can catch Yohei and his team of personally selected DJs spinning all the best tracks at the next Balse event, scheduled for 10/03/2015.

Photo credit: Atsuko Minami and T-Born Space

Presale tickets are available through Eventbright: http://tinyurl.com/nndwomw

More details about Balse Project are available through these links:

http://www.balseproject.com/
https://www.facebook.com/events/317431671714321/
https://soundcloud.com/yohei-abe-1
https://www.facebook.com/yohhei.abe.3?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/BALSE-Project-1594660857480615/timeline/
https://twitter.com/maglevmusik

Growing out of the need to have an editorial for the events we cover on ShutterTribe.com, that don’t always get other press coverage. Here on the StereoType site there will be video blogs and interviews alongside articles pertaining to many of the shows and clubs we attend.