When it comes to EDM in Chicago, two nights are at the top of their game: Bass Kitchen and Mayhem at the Mid. Tonight, they go toe to toe in what should be an epic battle of huge bass and dirty beats. We spoke with Zach Partin and Martin Malafaktor, the mad men behind these epic nights to talk about successful promotion of dance music in the Windy City.
Bass Kitchen and Mayhem at the Mid have become two of the most consistent and heavy-hitting nights in the city of Chicago, both in the world of bass music and in the house/trance/electro, respectively. Did these nights grow organically out of a necessity to bring this type of EDM to Chicago, or was it more about organizing a disorganized scene so that people who were into progressive trance or dubstep could lock on and say "Yes, I know Mayhem/Kitchen will find the best artists in my favorite genre and all I have to do is show up and party my ass off?"
Mayhem at the MID started when the MID opened over a year ago, and has since housed everyone from Visionquest to James Murphy to Wolfgang Gartner to Skrillex to Classixx to Green Velvet to Car Craig. Literally every genre of electronic music has come through, and every generation at that. Mayhem prides itself on looking past the trends and what is in the Beatport Top Ten.
As for Bass Kitchen, it grew with the rise of dubstep and bass music. It was definitely a much more organic process, one that filled a void in Chicago. Our first show was at the Subterranean, a 350 capacity club, with NERO DJ'ing. From there, the scene just took off and we've been lucky enough to host artists such as Kill the Noise, 12th Planet, Figure, Killabits, Foreign Beggars, Koan SOund, Downlink, and most recently, we had our largest Bass Kitchen at the Congress Theater with Skream & Benga and Feed Me.
Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/P0_r5WNjeUM Both Mayhem at the Mid and Bass Kitchen, by necessity of the size of the rooms they occupy, cater to a specific "level" of artist. Obviously, your Rusko's and Dash Berlin's will be swooped up by React Presents at The Congress (which is great, because you're all one big family), but at these shows, you have the opportunity to cultivate new artists and introduce them to the city of Chicago. Is that part of the fun, or at least part of the impetus behind these niche nights?
Yes definitely. We strive to stay ahead of the curve in all of these genres. On that same tip, I'm wondering how Logan Square Auditorium and Bottom Lounge for Bass Kitchen, and The Mid for Mayhem work on an aesthetic level. How do the physical structures lend themselves to the atmosphere you're trying to create for two definitively different vibes?
Bottom Lounge and Logan are great for the BASS music, as they're kind of grimey.
Still great venues though and we love them.
The Mid is more upscale, but that doesn't stop MAYHEM from getting down! Years and years of promotion in the city predated these relatively new nights. Was it still a struggle to get them off the ground, or were you good as gold from the start because you had a built-in budget, relationships with artists and their representatives, and advanced promotional networks already in place?
Both nights have taken a lot of work from the promoters, artists, staff, and Chicago. We hope that our respective fans trust us enough now to come out for the events, even if they don't know the artist. Because Chicago is such a vast metropolitan area, you're going to have a giant pool of people of all stripes who love all different types of stuff. I'm sure you're happy with the numbers you're doing, but how do you go about busting into new demos and new markets and trying to reel in people who may not ordinarily think to attend an EDM show on any particular night of the week.
PROMOTION PROMOTION PROMOTION! Always getting creative. But if the music is there, all it takes is for one person to tell another person, they come and have a good time, and it snowballs from there. Everything is cyclical, and because you've been in the game for a while, I imagine you can see the writing on the wall before anyone else. Is the electronic music scene a bubble like the DotCom boom or real estate a couple of years ago, or is this the golden age (or resurgence) of dance music? Are you seeing things get bigger and bigger? Lineups for both North Coast and Spring Awakening must be some indication of that...
Both MAYHEM and BASS KITCHEN don't think Electronic Music is going anywhere anytime soon. Tell me a bit about this show. Bass Kitchen going head-to-head with Mayhem. What's the inspiration? What kind of crowd are you expecting for a show that's really giving audiences a wide swath of the electronic music spectrum?
New Zealand's MT EDEN and Toronto's the KILLABITS reached out to us at the same time as Brazil's DIRTYLOUD and Chicago's own LUCKY DATE. Given the mad men behind both the nights, we wanted to combine forces and see what happened at Chicago's favorite dance music destination, the MID. A night of Bass filled MAYHEM is definitely going to happen, and we can't wait!