Chatting with Ryan Jaso about Control, Lobby and The Identity Of Dance Music

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Chatting with Ryan Jaso about Control, Lobby and The Identity Of Dance Music

Control Los Angeles, located at the Avalon Hollywood, is notoriously and famously known for being the go-to venue for all critically acclaimed electronic-music acts that have appeared in LA. It acts as the stage for dance music in the center of the Hollywood. Covering acts from all over the globe, it retains its place of influence and has received recognition in the international club scene. Many of the shows often go down as the memorable beginnings of an act that opened up for someone else, only later to return as the headliner. Skrillex and Porter Robinson fall into that category. You can also find anything from deep house to trap in the club; it also has side rooms with up and coming acts hosted by C-Town (who recently departed and is now working on solo events) and Gotta Dance Dirty. Almost every name within the past couple years has been through there and with good reason.

No one was doing dubstep or electro outside of the warehouses in LA, we wanted to change that.

There are two names that represent the Control brand, its past, and its future. Ryan Jaso and Chris White of Whitelight Productions, Technique Management and Lobby. Whitelight being the brand behind Control, Technique being the management outfit to Cold Blank, PeaceTreaty, Lazrtag, Whiiite (get a few Whiiite remixes here), MakJ, Blake Miller and Luca Pretolesi.

Lobby is the boutique men’s and women storefront headed by buyer, Ryan Jaso. While acting as trendsetters in the electronic music world, the movement into fashion is a complimentary choice. Ryan Jaso could be easily spotted in a crowd. It’s that unique image that parallels the EDM scene. One of the staples of EDM has always been the affinity to be unique or more so, yourself…so as they set the sound of Hollywood, they also have the potential to set the look.

What brought you guys together as partners? Were you initially involved in the club scene, or friends before?

We had met years earlier when I lived in OC and apparently I brushed him off like a jerk the first time we met, although I don’t think I would ever do such a thing. Years later we met up in LA and we started doing a small party together called Plus+ Sundays which was strictly indie/electronic format. We were in a 200 capacity room with a $300 talent budget. I just looked at the flyers the other day, we had some incredible acts like Miami Horror, Nosaj Thing and Classixx to name a few.

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How did Control come about?

Chris was asked to be the resident DJ of a party called OMG at Avalon. The idea was to do a Hollywood type night in a big room. We didn’t really see the sustainability and after a few weeks it started to struggle. We then came up with the idea for Control, which would bring in acts from Ed Banger, Dim Mak, Fools Gold, etc. Back then Saturday’s at Avalon were massively famous for bringing in the best in progressive house, tech house, “big room house.” So we saw this new movement coming and wanted to be apart of it, and more importantly contribute to it, (help it grow if you will). No one was doing dubstep or electro outside of the warehouses in LA, we wanted to change that.

Hearing Skrillex say we helped solidify bass music in LA, or Wolfgang Gartner saying Control was his favorite show he played all year was truly humbling for me.

As you did your initial bookings what would you say was the turning point for the party? Were there any downs on the way up?

I think the first turning point for me was getting A-Trak, the energy and the amount of people who came to that show made me think, wow I think this is really going to work. There were tons of downs on the way up to name a few; we went thru multiple promoters, bookers, etc. I can’t tell you how many meetings we had with the venue, where Chris and I thought to ourselves, well, we had a good run, but the venue stuck behind it.

Being such a stable night and representative of the scene, do you see the influence Control has on the music scene?

For our 3-year anniversary I reached out to a few artists I had a connection with to see if I could get quotes about the party. The responses I got back exceeded anything I could have imagined. Hearing Skrillex say we helped solidify bass music in LA, or Wolfgang Gartner saying Control was his favorite show he played all year was truly humbling for me.

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We just installed the biggest and best resolution LED wall on the west coast. Not because we needed to adapt, simply because it makes the club and experience for the consumer that much better.

The scene changes so quickly, initially I noticed a lot of acts that were Hype Machine oriented or fueled by blogs, while more recently you guys will have acts like Deniz Koyu or Michael Woods. What do you guys attribute that change to?

To be honest I’m a fan first, and the two aforementioned acts are some of my favorite producers so I always try to get them in the building when they are in LA! Control is lucky in that we can go from dubstep one week, progressive house the next, tech house the week after and maybe some drum and bass the following week after that.

Do you see a difference in the scene from when you guys started the party to now?

We are lucky to have a club and owner who aren’t complacent with where we are at with production/sound/visuals. We just installed the biggest and best resolution LED wall on the west coast. Not because we needed to adapt, simply because it makes the club and experience for the consumer that much better. I think we will continue to make Control better for the fans.

Do you find any challenges with maintaining a night like this? With so many variables around and venues moving into this territory. Or it just part of the game?

There are tons of challenges and there will continue to be challenges as long as we are doing this I imagine. I don’t think we have the upper hand but I will say we were fortunate enough to break a lot of artists in LA who now have huge careers. Most of the time they remember that and continue to play for us even if their careers are in a place that they don’t need to. I can’t speak as an artist but I’d like to think Avalon is the best venue to play in as a DJ.

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Management is like having a girlfriend, you fight, you work things out, there are good times and bad, but at the end of the day you love each other. Or maybe you don’t and you break up.

It would seem like a likely idea to move into management, but how did that come about, what was the bridge from promotions to management?

Honestly I would have never become a manager without Chris White, he (Mr. White) was my first client and I only did it because he asked me to. I never thought I’d make a career out of it; I should probably buy him something nice. We’ve been together since 2007 and we still don’t have a contract together, neither of us feels it’s necessary. True Bromance.

What do you look for when you decide to take on a new act? What sparks you to want to manage someone?

For me, I have two things really. First is that I have to love their music. Second, I have to like them as a person. Those are the two biggest things. Management is like having a girlfriend, you fight, you work things out, there are good times and bad, but at the end of the day you love each other. Or maybe you don’t and you break up.

Are there any challenges to managing acts? Any wisdom you’ve gained a long the way?

Challenges are why management is fun! No two days are ever alike; it always seems like I am always doing something different. The old adage, “you learn something new everyday,” definitely applies to management.

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Ryan, you definitely have a unique sense of fashion, what brought you to put together Lobby?

I’ll take unique as a compliment. Lobby was something that was brought to me. Before I did any of the things I’m doing now I was the marketing director for a clothing brand for 5 years. I’ve always loved fashion, and ever since I quit working for that company I always missed that part of my life. Lobby gave me the opportunity to get that part of my life back.

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Coming from the world of music and nightlife, do you associate Lobby with a similar decision making process as you would when booking or setting up a show?

I think it’s relative. I guess it’s similar in that we book what we want to hear at Control and I buy what I think is cool for the store.

Do you feel that Lobby represents Orange County at all? Is there a fashion scene on the rise? Or is it boutique shops like this that stand out.

It definitely represents Orange County, but it also is an extension of me. I buy a lot of things that I would wear or that I really like. As far as fashion scene, I think there is definitely a scene in OC. People don’t give OC much credit but there are tons of amazing things to do down there (especially in the electronic music world.) There are many clubs catering to DJs now, but to answer your question I think Lobby definitely stands out down there. There isn’t anything like it.

I noticed you guys offer a lot of items that resemble weaponry, which is pretty rad, but how important do you feel that style is to Lobby? Do you find it as a unique staple?

This all goes back to buying items I personally like. I wanted to carry unique home goods because I didn’t really see anyone doing that in OC. It’s gotten us a lot of attention with blogs and in the community.

Are there any pieces in particular that you’re excited about?

Anything we should take note of? I’d have to say I really like what I’m seeing from UNIF, Chambers, Wonderland, Skingraft and Cast Of Vices right now. Their new collections are really unique, to say the least. You can see for yourself.

Who would you say Lobby is for? What kind of person?

I think Lobby has a little something for everyone. I wanted it to be a place everyone can find something they like without having to worry that 10 of their friends would also have the same thing. We have really tried to carry brands that can’t be found everywhere in OC.

Do you gear Lobby towards the music industry at all? Or do you separate the two?

We don’t carry any music, but that’s not to say we don’t cater to that scene. I like to think everything I have going on intertwines in some way.

You’ve got a lot on your plate with Control, Technique, and Lobby, what’s next?

I really want another location for Lobby, I also want my own venue…who knows?