I did three pieces this week on party promoters, focusing on Todd P, Karenplusone and Leo of Crashin' In. Below is the transcript of the interview for the Todd piece.When did you move to New York?
I actually moved directly from Texas, but I lived in Portland. I only lived in Texas for about 6 months. I moved here in about March 2001, and I think I put on my first show in October.How did you start promoting?
I had put on a couple of parties in Austin 5 years ago. And then I moved to Portland and I ran a small all-age club that did really well. I did that for about 2 years. So I had, you know, a couple of connections that way.But you came to New York for a girl? How did that pan out?
Oh, it was over before I arrived. I'm sorry to hear that. Believe me, it was for the best.How do you do it non-profit? Do you have a day job?
I don't have a day job. Well I rent practice spaces, commercial spaces. But it's not non-profit anymore. These days I do take a small profit, because I don't have a job. But it is fairly minor. For the first 3 or 4 years I never took any money, and I had a day job. But these days I don't because I'm trying to get my space open, and I have the rehearsal spaces which give me a small living wage. But I do pay myself out of the shows.What is your philosophy regarding the music you want at your shows?
I'm into a lot of different styles and a lot of different approaches. I do like people that have the energy of early rock and roll and the politics of punk and hardcore, without really sounding like that. My overriding philosophy on music is that it has to sound provocative, which is really the same criteria you can use for any art form. Art is interesting when it has a look or a sound or whatever that catches your eye with its novelty, and after that has something to say.How does that philosophy relate to your audience? What type of people are you hoping to get to your shows?
The kind of people who are looking for that in life. I want the shows to inspire. Whether everybody who comes to the show is thinking of it that way, conscious of it, before they come out. I hope to bring together people who can be inspired.Does this mentality attract a certain demographic to your shows?
I hope it doesn't, but it does. My hope is that there isn't a demographic, except for people that want to be alive. But of course there is, of course it's upper-middle-class white people just because that's what I am, or at least that's where I came from. That is the type of person that has been interested in the forms of music that I work with. I would love to expand my crowd, and to be more multi-cultural, but obviously it's mostly college-educated kids.Do you see this as a conflict--being provocative, and having comfortable kids at your show?
Well, for one thing I would say that most of the people at my show, the cynics would say they're slumming it. The bottom line is people have consciously not followed the comfortable lifestyle when they could have followed it, and have created a lifestyle that is somewhat challenge. However much cynics see that as a cliché--a bunch of cultured white kids living in a loft out in the ghetto--and that that is not being inspiring, whatever, it is inspiring, and it certainly is an improvement over people living in track housing. No, I don't think there's a conflict. What I wish is that the sort of in-grained culture and the minority cultures of New York didn't have such a (I guess the word would be) lexicon for free-thinking. It makes it hard to bring people together, and to be more universal. I mean New York is the most segregated city in America [sic: Boston, or so the legend goes] and though we all ride the subway together, everyone lives in their own little communities and hangs out in their own little scene. Suppose you're an Ecuadorian living in New York. Aside from the guy you buy stuff from at the bodega from, and the guy you see in the subway, you could never speak to anyone in the world who's not an Ecuadorian. And that's how it works. It's greats for the immigrant on the subway, because everyone has their own little world. But it also makes everything very segregated into its own little universe, which from my perspective, who would love to see everyone hang out together, as cheesy and old school liberal as it sounds, I really would like that. I'm not happy having a niche. I am really into the music I put on, and I put a lot of time into music, and just into art and music in general. I would love to share what I do.So do you shape your publicity accordingly?
I'm not a publicist, and so the publicity I get is unsolicited, and it comes to me. But it's all about who you've sold as the artist. I've tried and continue to try to go to things that are in different communities, and find stuff. I'm not that knowledgeable, having not grown up with those things all my life, that I feel confident enough to put together groups of artists that I'm into. My hope is that once I actually have a venue of my own that the process will become easier.What is the status of your venue, the Llano Estacado?
The most recent update is that, it's been closed for over 6 months now. In its initial months of being closed we went through several stages of how to deal with the situation, seeing if there was a backdoor way to avoid getting shut down again. Those things never came to pass. They weren't really possible for it to be halfway legal. Over the summer we talked to a lot of people who we thought might help us get legal, finding out what the circumstances would be. Most of those people would be architects and lawyers. And most of the connections were through art and music; therefore they were kind of high-end. They were either people who design high rises, or people who were interns working for people who design high rises, neither of which were helpful because they're always people who a) don't work on the small scale and b) don't know how to work on a small budget. Or, on the other hand, the people who work for the people have never designed anything bigger than a toilet. They've designed a bathroom or a deck or something, but that's all they've ever designed. It was pretty frustrating for many months. It meant a lot waiting on people's schedules and having walk-throughs by various legal professionals, and all that kind of crap. It mattered very little.
However, very recently, in the past few months, I've been introduced to some people, some architects and some lawyers, who work in a different class. They work with small business owners. They're people who work in the ethnic communities. They work with small Mexican dance clubs that try to open; they work with little Jamaican catering halls--all those places that the city tries to fight. Kind of like what I experienced, but obviously in a different way. It's not easy to open a place that throws big dancehall parties in Central Brooklyn, at least not ones that are said to stem violence, rightfully or wrongfully, but the city tries to make it hard for those places.
What I've done is I've contacted the people who worked with these places, who have helped bring them up to code, and now we have goals and a plan that is much more within or grasp financially and time-wise. It's a matter of coming up with a small amount of money. This is a very new development and it's only come about in the last month or two and the goal at least now is the fundraising, which is starting to come together.How is it coming together?
Various ways. The same way it comes together for anybody else. Once it comes together, it won't immediately be open. We still have four to six months of the permitting process. It could happen a year to the day.So how do you and your venue fit into the general nightlife scene in New York? Why, for example, do you think it is important for you to have a single venue? Is it because you see your party as very different from what else is happening in the city?
It's because every other place that we've put on shows is not ideal. It's not about distinction. I would rather have an indistinct concept of what is ideal. I would like to come across, again, from a more philosophical view than from a particular creative niche. I wouldn't want to be type-cast like that. What I find, moving around to different clubs all the time, and they're not really clubs so much as dive bars, lofts, and weird rental halls, which is what I mostly use. It's not ever ideal, because a) the lion's share of all the proceeds of these happenings is going to the people who own these bars. Not that I need to make money, but shouldn't that money count more towards integrating the communicative? I think it should. On top of that, all these places have noise problems. All of these places are not living, breathing creative entities; they're places where I host events.So then how do you envision the space fostering that type of community? I'm envisioning the Factory in Brooklyn...
The building is already a creative building; it already hosts and art gallery. We're going to have more gallery stuff going on. And it just won't be as hermetically sealed as you find in most music clubs or whatever. There will be installations in the places where the shows actually happen, that actually change the look of the place constantly, to give it the feel of seeing all these art forms as one art form, and not separated into fine are and music and popular art and blah blah blah... The only reason that I cleaned up is because a lot of people in different industries art making moneys off it. You don't look at it that way. You look at it as just an exhibition in creativity, then you don't have to have fine arts in one room and dance happening in a special dance room. That's crap: a room is a fucking room. It's four walls. Anything that you like or see as important or interesting, or that has meaning can happen. We can show movies; we can do anything we want. It doesn't have to be in the cheesy typical mold of the community art center or that kind of thing.So to conclude, how would you characterize the rest of the New York concert/club scene?
That's a huge thing to say in a couple of sentences. How would I characterize it? In one word: commercial. More commercial than anywhere else on earth. And that's not always terrible. It's not a terrible thing. Great things come from commercial art. But you have to understand that huge limitations arise when the defining factor of good or bad is purely commercial drive.