Live Review: Coldharbour Night @ Exchange LA 12/14
There was a special feeling in the air on Friday night in downtown Los Angeles. Electronic Dance Music parties can bring about an interesting mix of people. Sometimes fans are there for the big names- the mega DJs who have transcended their genre and entered the world of universal stardom. A whole other group of clubbers would be there regardless of who is playing. They are there for the scene, looking for the right tempo and beats per minute that defines their idea of a weekend party. But last Friday had a much different feel. There was a solidarity within the crowd, a reason to be there on a rainy LA night that bonded every clubber and fan. This feeling was facilitated by the four men who took the decks, not as individuals looking to increase their singular popularity, but instead a cohesive group of artists with the one goal of making this night as special as can be for the fans in attendance. This was Coldharbour Night with the artists of the Schulz Music Group.
As we prepared for our interviews with four of the five artists that make up the Schulz Music Group, we watched as the crowd began to pile up in front of Exchange. There was a palatable sense of excitement in the air that grew with each party-goer and fan that was added to the line. Inside, we were sitting down with KhoMha, the 21 year old rising star from Colombia. With a huge smile on his face, he talked about his life in Colombia, and how an aspiring trance and techno artist can make it in a country dominated by Latin music. You can hear how proud he is of his home in the way he talks about it. While Latin music is something that has inspired him his whole life, he is destined to make the sounds and music that he creates a part of the national music of Colombia. In KhoMha’s world, there is Latin music and trance music from Colombia- they can both coexist. We followed KhoMha back to the main dance floor of Exchange, an old bank that serves as one of Los Angeles’ premiere clubs environments, where he waited to take the decks from the night’s opener- Grube & Hovsepian.
Anyone that has been to more than a handful of trance shows has seen the inevitable “lame duck” opener. That’s an opening DJ who is little more than a time filler to allow the headliner to get to the venue, make sure the fans have packed the building, and then hand over the headphones for the real party starter. Ya, that’s not happening with Tim Grube and Mike Hovsepian. The two admitted that they like to bring the tempo down for their opening sets- something that they love doing by the way. You would think that the live performance artist would yearn to take on the headlining slot in any situation, but not on Coldharbour Nights for the duo. Mike and Tim love their opening slot before KhoMha, and they take it very seriously. They dropped their hottest track “City of Angels (Deep Mix)” to the enjoyment of everyone in the building. Even though they take the tempo down to allow the night to progress, the two are sweating profusely as we catch them backstage following their set. Ten minutes after they’ve finished, they are still smiling and reveling in the excitement of the night. They are the fun-loving duo of the Schulz Music Group. Their almost unbelievable story of how they became a collaboration DJ effort (it involves chance meetings, hundreds of e-mails, and Tim blindly sending a track to Markus on MySpace) is essential in understanding the way they approach their sets. They take nothing for granted and care most about giving the fans a memorable experience.
As we close our interview with Grube & Hovsepian, we can hear KhoMha on the decks lighting the building up. He’s dropped “In My Mind (Axwell)” and his new track “Vapor”. The crowd is going off. He turns his back to the crowd for a moment, hands in the air as he looks into the huge LED screen behind him. He looks into the pixels as they dance around, and as if he is looking into a mirror, offers a huge smile that the crowd can’t see, but can most definitely feel. They are with him and he is there for them- solidarity.
We have to pull ourselves from the dance floor and KhoMha’s amazing set to run upstairs and chat with Adrian Ivan, better known as Mr. Pit. We’ve spoken to Adrian before via e-mail for an interview earlier this year, but this is the first time we have met him in-person. We try our hardest to press him on what it’s like to headline Coldharbour Night and be the premiere DJ of the Schulz Music Group. He won’t bite. He tells us that the Schulz Music Group is a collaboration, and that there is no “face” of the group. They are all equal parts brought together by their mentor and friend Markus Schulz. Adrian spent over 40 hours traveling to Los Angeles from his home country of Romania to perform this night. 40 hours in an airport and airplane would drive most human beings insane, but Adrian doesn’t flinch at adversity. He’s excited to play the closing set of Coldharbour Night, and he’s even a little nervous to drop a new track on the crowd. While there are a lot of unknowns about how a set will do on any night, there is one thing that we both agree is a foregone conclusion. The city of Los Angeles loves Mr. Pit (he’s played 4 sold-out shows in LA this year) and he shows that love right back during his sets.
As the hours pass on this amazing night of trance and techno music, Mr. Pit’s set hits full swing around 2 AM. The bars have stopped serving alcohol, but no one dares to even look at the doors to exit. A group of fans wave a Coldharbour banner around the middle of the dance floor, and people who just a few moments before had never met each other, are talking about how amazing this closing act by Mr. Pit is. There are hugs, high-fives, and a whole lot of those “Wow! Did that just happen?!” looks being exchanged. The strobes go down for a second, making the at-capacity dance floor eerily dark. The first few notes of “Push The Button” can be heard over the monstrous speakers of Exchange. That deep bass drops heavily and welcomes in the driving theme of what is one of the most intense songs on Markus Schulz’ latest album Scream. Words don’t do justice to how that track feels and plays live. I think back to what Mr. Pit said about the track when I asked him how he created such a massive dance-floor destroyer. He insisted that he would not take the credit for it. Instead he explains how it was two minds working in complete unison and harmony that made the track possible. In that same manner and sense of unity, four men put together an unforgettable set on that Friday night that was only possible by all of them working together in musical and spiritual harmony. There is something different about these four- you can just feel it.
We will have a video interview up later this week. Check back here.
All photos by Jerry Lin.