Behind the Beat with Shane King and Eric Kozak
|L to R: Shane King and Eric Kozak|
Aside from the fact that Shane King and Eric Kozak (of White Girl Lust) have been around San Francisco for ages DJing, promoting parties, and just being general badasses, they need little introduction because it's all within this special double-helping interview for Behind the Beat. The two have convened on a new endeavor of joint event planning, which will jump off tonight at Mezzanine, and put together a joint mix to get you stoked on the occasion. We've included the collaborative DJ set, along with the length interview, below.
Let's start with introductions. Tell us who you are, and what exactly it is that you do around SF.
Eric of WGL: White Girl Lust is firstly a duo (myself and Clayton) of producers, secondly DJs, and thirdly label owners and managers of Solid Bump Records. Basically, we make and cultivate good dance music that is usually house vibes with a really memorable sound. Our label has been coined the "go-to for disco house," although in the coming months we hope to show we're not ones to get stuck in one sound. Basically, we strive to make dance records you can put on 10 years from now and still enjoy. That is something that is rare in this "turn-and-burn" blog mentality of the last five years.
Shane King: I DJ and operate a promotions company called Hacksaw Entertainment with George Sylvain. We try and bring out interesting electronic music to SF whenever possible. The sort of acts we've worked with in the past year have been as varied as Chromeo, Neon Indian, Jack Beats, Dam-Funk, and Buraka Som Sistema. to name a few. Our intention has been to create as memorable an experience for everyone involved as possible--from the audience, to the act, to the venue.
How did you guys get started in the DJ/production/promotions/label world?
E: I have been DJing since I was 15. In the early 2000's I had some decent success producing drum 'n bass with another guy as D. Ecco & Sabotage. Ironically, right after we put out our most successful release, I got really bored with the d'nb formula, as well as the testosterone fueled audiences. That was when Clayton and I started White Girl Lust. It took a while for us to figure out what the "sound" was going to be. The label originally was supposed to be a one-off release. [Though] I guess not, because we are dropping our tenth release this month. Ha.
S: I started out in radio about a decade ago. After working at a handful of stations around California, I moved to SF, soldered together a transmitter from scratch, and started a pirate radio station in my basement. It was very rewarding project, lasted a few years, and brought together a really talented, and varied, batch of DJs who'd come through and do shows. Eventually the FCC showed up at the door, so I boxed it up, but have recently been kicking around the idea of broadcasting a show here and there, so it may get dusted off and put back to use on of these days. I then interned at XLR8R magazine doing marketing, worked for YBR doing promotions, and worked for Blasthaus throwing events, all of which were extremely valuable in understanding different aspects of the music industry. About a year and a half ago George Sylvain and I put together Hacksaw Entertainment to produce electronic music shows in San Francisco.
How do you guys manage all the different projects you're involved in?
E: Coffee and anxiety, ha ha. Really, it's been about learning how to work efficiently and be decisive. Also, knowing how to shift priorities quickly!
S: Indeed, lots of coffee. It's a delicate balance between doing everything you're capable of, but having enough time to give each project the attention it deserves. Time management can be tricky when you work all day then go out and DJ all night, but if we didn't really enjoy it, we'd be doing something else. It also comes down to working with the right folks
So how did Hacksaw and Solid Bump come to collaborate?
E: Shane and I had been friends through the DJ scene for years. When he started Hacksaw with George I was really impressed with the strategy they employed to their shows. It wasn't a haphazard mess that a lot of promoters seem to generate. When the label grew, I knew we needed a presence with a great promoter working with great venues; someone who took as much pride in their "brand" as we did. That was what made me run the idea by them.
S: We then sat down over coffee and had a long conversation about working on a series of events together. Since we have known each other for so long, I've been able to see Solid Bump Records evolve into a really great label, and seen Eric put in the work. I've always liked having producers as support acts, especially playing live, and working with Solid Bump allows us to tailor the shows a bit differently and create more consistency in the 'disco house' type shows that we're doing. The conversation is ongoing, so I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.
What are some of your favorite local producers/bands right now?
E: I really respect how Dirtybird has grown a defined and focused brand -- both with their music and presentation. Although, musically we are pretty different, I am really inspired by the way they do things and strive to make the Solid Bump vision translate as well as they do. Musically, I am a big supporter of the 40 Thieves and our own artist Mykill.
S: Dirtybird indeed. B. Bravo on Frite Nite Records is one of my favorite producers in the city, and Frite Nite just handles it in general, as do all the Change the Beat guys. Ghosts on Tape is one of my favorite guys to see live, and his productions have that warm analog thump. Sticky K is killing it right now as well.
What are your top three favorite venues/clubs in SF, and why?
S: I'd have to say Mezzanine, Mighty, and 222 Club. All three of these venues take pride in their sound and it shows.
What's the best show you've put on/performed at in the City?
E: For me, it was our first showcase we did at Infatuation (Vessel). It was also the first time we tried translating our sound into a more live production. It was awesome.
S: Our best Hacksaw show to date was Chromeo at Mezzanine. The show, crowd, sound, and everything else just worked out perfectly. Buraka Som Sistema was also a fantastic show (both times). The first time they came out I think they blew peoples minds a bit, mine as well.
Tell us a bit about the mix you guys put together for the show on July 2.
E: Really it is just a quick teaser for what each artist's music sounds like. It includes a few tracks from everyone. For us, we are a fairly new and underground. Unless you follow a pretty specific niche, you may not have heard our tunes. We have a pretty unique sound and it was important to me to convey that in the tunes we chose to include. It was also important to make sure they were songs Alona was on, as she will be doing a short set of these live.
S: We basically wanted to give people a listen instead of simply explaining the sound. It was also a great excuse to drink some 40s and listen to the unreleased White Girl Lust tracks that grace the mix.
What's in the works for Hacksaw/Solid Bump/White Girl Lust/Shane King?
E: Solid Bump Records has two huge singles dropping, Adulture & OCD Automatic's "Paper Cat" and Ghost's of Venice's "Her". White Girl Lust is wrapping up a slew of tunes and remixes. Some of them will be for our label, some are for some larger labels so we can reach some new audiences.
S: After July 2nd, Hacksaw has a show coming up at Rickshaw Stop on July 22nd with Anoraak, which I'm really looking forward to. Loose Shus will be supporting, along with myself, and I can't wait to play some new music that I haven't yet had an appropriate opportunity to. On July 10th I'm playing the Solid Gold Jacuzzi fundraiser at Mezzanine for our LovEvolution float, with Nacho Lovers and Amp Live, and on July 16th 222 Club for a monthly called Ice Cream Social that Sleazemore and I throw.
Any advice for aspiring producers/DJs/promoters/label heads?
E: It is easier than ever to make and release music. In turn, there is more crap out there than ever. Learn the technical end of electronic music before you start pushing it out to the world. It is also really important that you do something that makes your music stand out. There are literally thousands of artist competing for the short attention spans of modern audiences. You need to be something that will stick with them after they have clicked a new link.