So things got a little heated today with our recent post on LA's Cure and the Cause DJ policy. So we thought we go to the source and get his thoughts in more detail.
Kenny Summit, owner of the Cure And The Cause, gives us the scoop on why they set their current DJ booth policy, an update on the club and his thoughts on the House music status quo.
This whole stance on no laptops and controllers has sparked up quite a controversy. Can you please elaborate on your DJ booth policy at the Cure And The Cause?
KS: We have House music events four nights per week. So we get A LOT of DJs coming through the club every week. We have the occasional big headliner (unexpected for such a small venue), and we also get a lot of locals and young DJs who get hired by promoters to warm up the room. The problem lies with the opening DJs (mostly), many of them show up with a laptop and controller, and that's all they've ever used. That's a problem. They don't know what to connect with our Pioneer system; they have no clue what they're plugging in or what plugs they're taking out.
Now I know young DJs have to cut their teeth, and that's why we give the promoters the opportunity to bring in their own DJs to open... but its gotten to the point where it's like an epidemic with these DJs who haven't bothered to go the full distance and LEARN how to set their shit up without interrupting the flow of the night. Midnight is not the ideal time to turn the mixer off, pull it out and start guessing which port to plug your Traktor into.
I'm OLD, I know, I come from a time when DJs didn't dare leave their house unless they knew they could put on a good performance. But we also took pride in knowing the equipment, knowing how to set up every component in the DJ booth. The kids just don't seem to give a fuck today. We immersed ourselves into the culture whereas this is now just a stupid hobby that anyone and everyone seem to have picked up.
Many people believe that the art of mixing has been lost with many of the new DJs, what are your thoughts on the topic?
KS: I'm a New Jersey / New York club vet, so I've got mixed signals when it comes to that debate. I've had the pleasure of being entranced by David Mancuso, a man who simply does not mix, yet has impeccable selection. Nicky Siano, another long time favorite of mine, not exactly known for riding a mix, but every time I've come out to hear him, DJ, I would leave with swollen feet. Then there're people like Tenaglia, who can go 12 hours without every even slightly going off with his mixes. Danny Krivit, Tony Humphries, Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, these guys could do it all and I've had the pleasure of playing with all of them, so I've witnessed first hand all the types of transitioning from one record to the next and how it translates to the crowd on those different dancefloors.
Same with Hip-Hop, I spent most of my early days behind the turntables trying to mimic Red Alert and when it came down to rocking a good Hip-Hop event it all came down to selection. Sure it helps if you could transition from one track to the next in a way that keeps the vibe, but I think selection is the thing that's been lost more than mixing. I say that because today mixing is not hard because of the technology. Even on the CDJs you got the sync feature. But I'd LOVE to see these kids try and play an all rare grooves set where the drums are live, and you gotta REALLY stay on top of the mix. So no, I don't think mixing has been lost. That is an easily learned/taught skill that I think anyone who can tap out a 4x4 beat can pick up relatively quickly. I think the real loss has been the music selection.
Tell us more about Cure And The Cause. What's behind the name? What's the music policy? Why start another club in such turbulent environment?
KS: Its basically an old Gaelic saying about liquor: it's the cure and the cause for all your troubles and happiness. It's something that's been carried on by my family who have been in the liquor business through prohibition. Our mission statement is simple: provide tasteful, quality underground house music to the people of Los Angeles while featuring as much local talent as possible. While living in NYC, I was lucky to be involved with some successful nightclub ventures, and when I moved to LA, I promised myself I'd never open another club. But my buddy DJ Fido found a deal we really could not turn down and so we opened Cure And The Cause. I wouldn't consider the club world in LA turbulent at all. I'd call it corporate as it lacks any semblance of soul or passion. I don't know one club owner here right now who opened their doors for anything other than to make money. I think King King was the last bastion of hope for anyone seeking underground satisfaction from a legal venue. I don't know, though, I've only been here for four years so it's not fair for me to judge.
Tell us more about your label?
KS: Good For You Records just had a birthday, it turned four years old this past March. The label focuses on house for the most part. It's been a great learning experience owning/operating GFY, I've got to work with a lot of my inspirations and made some life-long friends in the process. Frankie Knuckles was obviously a big part of the label getting started. Eric Kupper continues to be my rock in the sea of bullshit that is the music business. We've had a good dozen or so #1 releases, almost 50 top 10's by now. It's forever changing, like, it's always morphing into what I like more and more, it's refining itself I think. Got some great tunes out at the moment by Terrence Parker, Vanilla Ace, Joeski, Chaka Kenn, myself and of course the PROPER duo which is Eric Kupper and me. A lot of cool shit happening for the GFY family this year.
Would you ever bend the rules for someone like Louie Vega, etc.?
KS: If Louie wants to play on a fuckin Commodore 64 at this club, he is more than welcome to. We're banning the idiots that don't know how to use them. Obviously, DJs like Louie or Kenny Dope or ANY seasoned veteran are welcome to use whatever the hell they want to use. This ban on laptops is a more like a ban on the people who can't bother to learn how to be a real professional and learn how to setup and break down their equipment without ANY disturbance in the night. But yeah, I'd actually ask Louie to use USBs or vinyl and if he said NO, I'd be like "alright." lol.
Are you hopeful for the House music scene these days? How has the reception been so far to the club and the music policy? Are you getting younger patrons coming out or just older heads?
KS: I don't really focus on anything outside of House music, so I might not be the right person to ask about it. From my standpoint, House music has grown tremendously thanks to the EDM shit. I think a lot those kids who were really into EDM 4/5 years ago grew up, did a little googling as to where that cool dance music came from and they've started to embrace real House music.
Again, our policy is only House music. Not to say we don't veer off occasionally and play funk and soul and some proper tru-school Hip-Hop, but for the most part, our music policy has been embraced by the crowd we've focused on as our target demographic. This is not my first rodeo. I've had the dumb luck and pleasure of working with the BEST club owners in the world in NYC: from Ian Schrager (owner of the original Studio 54, now owns W Hotels) to John Blair (probably THE most influential promoter ever in the history of NYC), Peter Gatien (Tunnel, Limelight, Palladium), and finally David Sarner who in my opinion is the most knowledged person in nightlife alive today. I got to work with each of them closely over the years and was extremely lucky to pick up bits and pieces of the puzzle until I put together a full picture of how the club world works and how to make good money owning a club.
We opened Cure And The Cause 4 months ago with ZERO budget for marketing, talent, promotions or advertising and we did it with only one week's advanced notice that we were going to open. Now we have parties every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday night, and we're booked out for the next three months. I was talking with an old colleague last night about how we went from nothing to something in only four months with no investors, no budgets and we did this while focusing on the smallest demographic of club goers: underground House fans. If you know another person who can pull that off, I'd like to meet them.
As far as our crowd goes, it's always a nice mix of people; from 21 to 50-something, our crowd is an ideal mix of black, white, gay, straight, burners, hippies, cholos, freaks, geeks, queens, you name it, and they can probably be found on our dancefloor.