SF State Students in the Dance Music Industry
By Lina Abascal
The San Francisco State University student body is filled with active consumers of dance music, but is also a learning environment for a community of aspiring industry professionals. Party photographers, publicists, record label owners, and promoters are just some of the hats being tried on by university students.
Grady Brannan, photographer and Media Director at music blog TechiBeats, dominates the concert and bottle service scene in the city. Jackie Angelo, owner of Jackie A. Photography, can be found floating around weekly dance music events and underground bass music parties, snapping photos along the way. Our House Records (OHR), an independent record label operated by Martín Klotzman, puts out music by SF State students Niteppl and Realboy. Temple night club intern and owner of “Professional Fans” music blog Gregory Hill shows off his numerous skills, writing, photography, promotions, and booking all falling within the job description.
Grady Brannan, 21, Junior, Business Marketing Major
-Photographer working for Butchershop Creative, a branding company, and founding partner in music blog Techibeats
Q: How long have you been involved?
A: I have been shooting photos since the age of 15, but it was not until freshman year of college that I developed an interest in shooting EDM artists and events. Techibeats.com was founded in September of 2011.
Q: How do you see yourself progressing after graduation?
A: Honestly I have no idea, but with how fast EDM has been growing here in the states, I can only see things getting better and better from here on out.
Q: How do you think it has positively/negatively affected your college experience?
A: It has definitely been a positive thing, working within the industry has opened up so many opportunities to travel to festivals, meet influential artists, and shoot photos I never would of been able to without it.
Q: What about San Francisco is good/bad for what you are doing?
A: SF is so big, but at the same time so small which creates a lot of competition but also a very small networking pool. Everyone knows everything that happens. it forces you to stay on top of your work and keep a good attitude. Living in a “big city” also creates a lot of opportunities because of the big talent that comes here to play almost every weekend.
Q: What is your favorite venue in the city?
A: My favorite club is Manor West. They’ve always treated me like family there. My favorite concert venue is the Fillmore.
Q: Favorite dance music show you’ve seen in the city?
For me personally, my favorite performance I have seen is probably Moby at the Lovefest After Party.
Jackie Angelo, 21, Junior, Philosophy Major
Owner/Photographer at Jackie A. Photography
Q: Why do you love your job?
A: I do things that make me happy. I’m a photographer, teacher, student, artist, and a bass music and hip hop enthusiast. Combining my art with the EDM scene has been the best part about my work as a photographer. Party people are way more fun to shoot than wedding people. I can’t even consider it a job because when you do exciting things that make you happy, it doesn’t feel like working and then money is like icing on the cake.
Q: How has your job both positively and negatively affected your college experience?
A: It’s had a neutral impact. I think the fact that I grew up in San Francisco and lived in Lakeview, five minutes from SF State probably contributed to the fact that I didn’t really go to college looking for an experience. I’m a jaded city kid looking to learn, grow, and get a degree. Art and photography have always been, and will always be in my life.
My job is to go photograph amazing talent, express my creativity, and have a good time. Most people wake up the next morning with a hangover, while I have a bunch of photos to process and compile into my own creative rendition of what happened the night before.
Q: How do you see yourself progressing after graduation?
A: Shooting EDM events has definitely gotten me into other types of photography. I will probably pursue it a lot further in the next few years. Lately I’ve been more excited about working with musicians in a photoshoot setting, as opposed to a club or concert hall where they are performing. I really like the process of learning about a person through their music, as well as meeting them, observing their style, and from that compiling an image that represents them and their art. My love for the music will always have me coming back to shoot events though.
Q: What’s your favorite venue in the city?
A: My favorite club to go to shows at is Mighty; favorite club to shoot lately — 1015 Folsom.
Gregory Hill, 22, Senior, Philosophy Major
Owner of “Professional Fans” blog and intern at Temple nightclub since 2011
Q: How has your work affected your college experience?
A: Music has done nothing to negatively affect my college experience. However it does take time away that I’m sure some would consider time better spent on college. Either way, I make music work out for me in my life rather then let it control me.
Q: How does your job affect your daily life and schedule?
A: I am constantly thinking music: what’s popular, what’s hot, what’s trendy. I’m always interested in meeting or talking to producers in the city. It’s important to know how artists are different and how artists are the same
Q: How did you learn to do what you do?
A: I’ve read magazines my whole life and gone to shows my whole life but it was the kids who were going to college the same time as me and working in music that made me realize the opportunities available.
Q: Favorite venue in the city?
A: Great American Music Hall, hands down.
Martín Klotzman, 21, Senior, Finance Major
-Chief Financial Officer of Our House Records, established January 2011
Q: What do you do for OHR?
A: Basically I manage every financial aspect of our company from setting show budgets, setting ticket prices, account management, artist financial consulting, credit line management, filing and claiming taxes, and maintaining bank and investor relationships.
Q: What have you learned from essentially starting your own company while in college?
A: Well starting a company you’re responsible for your own work and building your schedule around it. Being a full time student, I treat OHR as my full time job. Whenever I am not at school or doing homework I’m typically doing company work. In terms of how it affects my life on a daily basis, this is my life and I want it to continue to be my life for the foreseeable future. I love what I do and what we are trying to achieve here so it doesn’t take as much of an effort to incorporate into my daily schedule. On a regular day I’ll usually try to get all work done and send out all emails needed in the morning as banks and other institutions close around 5. I have night classes and afterwards I’ll usually try to get done whatever I couldn’t that morning.
Q: What are your post-graduation plans?
A: I’ll be done in the fall of 2012 and I plan on beginning my MBA program right after, which I should be graduating from in the fall of 2013. As a young company, there is so much room for growth and as students, we further our education to grow. In terms of progressing, I have the hope of this company and my studies progressing together. This is ultimately what I want to do with my life and I want to educate myself as much as possible to see this idea succeed.
Q: What about San Francisco? Do you think it’s ideal for the dance music industry?
A: In terms of the EDM [electronic dance music] scene I see San Francisco as an untapped market or blossoming market. Los Angeles and New York I would say are the two leading cities in this industry, however I think San Francisco can kick far more ass than both those cities and will become a major player in this industry. What is great about San Francisco is the general mentality of people. Living in here for four years now you can tell that the city comes together very easily, ie. Lovefest, Bay to Breakers, and the other million parades we have year round. Like I said, the idea of music is to bring people together. So what better city than San Francisco? The most difficult part about throwing events here are the venue options. Were actually pretty limited as to where we can throw a show and the size of it.
Q: Who in the dance music industry do you admire?
A: My idol in this industry is Gary Richards. The man created HARD, an EDM festival, out of nothing and I want the same thing for Our House. I also stand by the Gary’s message and can speak for all of us here at Our House that we are trying to reiterate Gary Richards principle. Unfortunately, the EDM scene has a pretty terrible connotation attached to it, in that it is “drug music,” which is complete bullshit. Just like any other genre of music ie. rock, hiphop, jazz, rap, etc., there is some amazing EDM music produced as well and it doesn’t take being under the influence to enjoy.
Q: Favorite venue in the city?
A: The Mezzanine