Photo by Michael Melwani (locotorpphotography.com)
In Los Angeles, the center of all media, there is a brand name that comes synonymous with the underground EDM culture scene. Hit up a dance club or a festival and you’d be hard-pressed to not find their influence in some way or the other—be it a t-shirt on someone’s back, a sticker on the wall to an event. Producers and DJs from the old school appeal to them, everyone seems to mention them; we’re talking Gotta Dance Dirty. A group of individuals, whom not only perpetuate the new electronic music scene to the masses, but participate in its expansion. What was once a blog has become more. Not only a source of free music trade, EDM downloads and posts, but also a strong influence in the way we experience electronic music in LA. From house music and beyond, Gotta Dance Dirty have represented a new wave of the Internet literary experience. A blog which has gone beyond itself. Where the brand uniquely has developed events, apparel, and been responsible for showcasing up and coming talent to the masses. All of their accomplishments have started to make the music industry take notice.
I entered the Gotta Dance Dirty headquarters located adjacent LAX, where every couple minutes we would see a large passenger jet either taking off or landing, which seemed representative of the vibe in which the organization carried. I was able to sit down with founders, Jonah Berry and Trevor Moffit. Here’s our chat…
For our Magnetic Readers, how did you guys get started? From what I understand Jonah you were at UCSB while Trevor was at LMU in LA, how did you guys get together?
Yes, we actually met through our mutual friend, David La Melza, who grew up in Santa Barbara and went to school at LMU. I started coming down to LA more often in my sophomore year of college and Trev, David, and I would all head to the same house parties or shows here in the city. Our mutual love for partying and good music really brought us together and it wasn’t long before we were all together either in LA or SB every weekend.
I started the website in late summer of 2008 and asked Dave and Trevor if they wanted to write with me in the few months after and the rest is history.
When did the blog in a sense “blow up?” How responsible do you feel the blogs were for the recent resurgence of electronic music in the last part of the last decade?
It took a good year for word about GDD to really spread to the masses. We’ve never advertised, so it was really our friends telling their friends telling their friends and so on. We really embraced the organic growth of the site because it felt more real to us in that sense. We were/always have been interested in sharing music we like with other people, and we’re just glad there’s a good amount of people out there that like what we’re doing.
I think blogs have been essential in the resurgence of dance music. Missingtoof was the first blog I ever read (and also was what inspired me to create GDD), and since then I’ve always loved the way the blogosphere has really become an integral part of the scene and community. It’s good to have independent voices commenting on trends because there really is no filter.
Was there a strong sense of campus involvement in the Gotta Dance Dirty organization? Or was it primarily a niche group?
There was definitely a great following in Santa Barbara and here in LA at LMU. Trevor was throwing house parties and playing clubs around LA and getting the word out that way, and I was putting 100s of people through my house on Del Playa on weekends when we’d have our DJ buddies play in my living room.
I think it was a “right place, right time” situation because we were just having a good time in college and putting on fun parties, so we really garnered respect and support for GDD that way initially.
When did you guys realize the exact promotional potential of the brand? When did it become more then just a blog?
I’d say that when we hopped on board with Control we realized that our brand could be used in many ways other than just the website. If people like the music that we like, then they’ll probably also want to know about and go to the events that we were into as well, so it just made sense.
How did you guys expand? From what I understand you guys have reps in Miami and London.
We expanded through sheer luck and friendships. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet some great people in the past four or five years, and even more fortunate that they’ve been involved with what GDD is all about. Troy Kurtz is our brother out in Miami, and Trevor and I met him in college through mutual friends here in LA. Freddie Allen is the Londoner and probably the most stand-up dude I’ve ever met. Although he’s not writing with us anymore, he really branded GDD in the UK and is a huge part of why we have a great readership in Europe.
LA’s biggest EDM club night “Control” over at the Avalon Hollywood, has your name on top of its weekly ﬂyers. How did you guys get involved with Avalon? Would you say that you’re involvement has been responsible for it’s success?
We’ve been going to Control at the Avalon for years. The night really appealed to us in the beginning because they were bringing in names that we were huge fans of (and still are)—Felix Cartal, AC Slater, Tiga, James Murphy, etc. We then became close with the Control founders, Ryan Jaso and Chris White, and they really took us under their wing and brought us on board in July of 2009. Since then, we’ve really become like a family over there and we feel like the night has grown so much in the past few years.
I’m not going to say that we alone are responsible for its success, because there are multiple cogs in the Control machine that have made it what it is today, but I think GDD being involved with the party has definitely had a positive influence.
You’ve deﬁnitely been known for being somewhat of a tastemaker, what kind of pressure does that bring to the blog itself? Do you ever ﬁnd yourself on the fence about certain acts that are “popular?”
For us there’s really no pressure at all. For over three years we’ve been posting and commenting on music that we like. Many might call the acts we profile up and coming or underground, and there’s some that people might say is more mainstream.
We’ll get some hate every now and again for posting on more popular acts, but in many cases we’ve been posting on these guys for years before they really hit it big. At the end of the day, though, we just like posting what sounds good to us and we like supporting our friends. There’s really no thought in the back of our minds about pressure on what we should support or not support.
You must get approached with a multitude of inquiries regarding the blog (promotion, press and what have you), how do you keep yourselves organized?
It’s definitely tough to listen to everything we get sent, because of the massive amount of tunes in our inbox every day. We’ve probably let some amazing music slip through. But we try as hard as we can to take in as much content as possible, and having a good team to communicate with has proven to be very important in the success of GDD.
Also, I personally keep a notebook with me whenever I’m working. Making “To Do” lists and having literal and physical documentation of what I’m up to everyday has really helped with my organization.
Now that you guys have been entering the apparel game, I’ve noticed that almost any festival I’ve gone to in the So Cal area, will be littered with Gotta Dance Dirty shirts and tanks, what do you think is the biggest draw towards you’re apparel speciﬁcally? Has this apparel business model been something you guys are going to continuously expand? Has it been beneﬁcial?
I think the biggest draw is that people who support what we do at GDD want something physical that represents the brand. We’ve been so fortunate to have great designers that make some great looking gear, and even more fortunate that we have an unbelievably amazing fan base that wants to support what we do.
We’re definitely running with our apparel. We’ve been at it for a bit now and we’re finally realizing that our model works, so we’ll go with it as much as we can. It’s always so awesome to run into people we’ve never met at shows and festivals who are wearing our merch, and every chance I get I try to personally thank them for supporting us and rockin’ it. Can’t thank those folks enough!
Outside of Avalon, what sort of involvement does Gotta Dance Dirty have with other events?
We’re currently doing two other weeklies—one here in LA on Thursdays at The Central in Santa Monica called Versus where we partner with the awesome dudes over at DANCEiSM, and another one in Miami at the Electric Pickle on Tuesdays called Slap N’ Tickle headed up by Troy Kurtz.
Are there any specific acts you guys are excited about?
Always. These are a few good ones that have been in my headphones the past week: new album from Zombie Disco Squad, Shadow Child, Thugfucker, Country Club (super Aussie duo of Cassian and Shazam), Todd Terje, everything on the new Body Work label, Clockwork and his new side project RL Grime, Wax Motif…The list goes on and on. And next week I’ll have a whole new batch. I love it.
What does the future entail for Gotta Dance Dirty?
We’re hoping to take this amazing ride as long as we can. We’re open to everything and would really like to take the brand as far as it can go. Whether that’s through the site, merchandise, events, or opening up new ways of being involved in the scene like management and publicity, it’s all in the works here.
As the scene keeps growing, we will too.
What does Gotta Dance Dirty mean to you?
Hahaha, well…when I first started in 2008 I was thinking about the grinding, heavy electro that was so popular back then. But since more and more music from all different genres has flooded into the scene in the past few years, I’ve realized that you can/gotta dance dirty to everything. Whether that’s womping around to the newest 12th Planet track to pulling out a sexy groove on the dancefloor to Damian Lazarus at Get Lost, you always gotta do it.
I want to thank the Gotta Dance Dirty Crew for their time and make sure to check out Versus located at the Central Social Aid and Pleasure Club in Santa Monica every Thursday. As well as Slap ‘N Tickle located at the Electric Pickle in Miami, the same nights. Also, you might want to pick up some of the GDD apparel and rock the trademark logo, at their website GottaDanceDirty.com