Monday, August 23, 2010

BLISSPOP! Q&A with Will Eastman, DJ, Producer and Co-Owner of U Street Music Hall

Will Eastman is a DJ, music producer and remixer based in DC. He is a co-owner of U Street Music Hall with partners Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation and DJ Tittsworth. His monthly dance party "BLISS" is getting ready to celebrate its 10 year anniversary!


Q: We understand you are signed with a label in New York called Plant Music. Tell us about the re-issued version of your debut single "Feelin'" they've released and your tour starting Sept. 7th.

A: The single is a disco/house/rave track that's a nod to a lot of my influences growing up. It features live bass and guitar played by myself and Micah Vellian, with whom I co-wrote the song. It originally had a vocal sample and the label opted to release it as an instrumental. In the meantime, I brought a local vocalist, Chelsea Mitchell, into the studio to re-record the vocal and Plant will release the vocal mix in September with 5 fresh remixes by locals Gavin Holland, Nacey, and Chris Burns, Dillon Francis from LA, and ARA and Kenny Summit from NYC. I'm doing a short East Coast tour Sept 8-13 to support the release, playing in Boston and Philly for the first time, as well as NYC, Baltimore and Richmond. I'll be playing Plant Music's night at Ella in NYC on Sept. 8 to celebrate the release.

Q: You are one of the owners of U Street Music Hall in DC. How did your involvement with Brian Miller and Eric Hilton come about?

A: I've known Brian (aka Brian Billion) for about 8 years. We met through a mutual friend and hit it off right away. I asked him to guest DJ my party, BLISS, without ever hearing him DJ based entirely on his knowledge of and taste in music, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. He's the only BLISS guest DJ to this day I've done that with and we've been DJing together ever since. Brian is an architect and designed The Gibson, Paddy Boom Boom and other ESL Group projects. He introduced me to Eric a few years ago and a little over a year ago I pitched an idea to Eric for a no-frills, underground dance club with a rock club atmosphere, no attitude or bottle service, but a high-quality sound system. We shook hands on it and 10 months later opened U Street Music Hall.

Q: You tweet often! Share with our readers the story of your most re-tweeted tweet and how it led to SoundCloud contacting you.

A: Hahaha, quantity on Twitter isn't necessarily quality, but I try to keep it interesting and playful. Twitter is a powerful platform because if you have a good observation and it resonates with people it can get circulated rather quickly around the world. I'm frustrated SoundCloud, which in my opinion has the best online music player, doesn't have a feature for artists to list upcoming performance dates. With this simple addition, I think they could put MySpace out of business in 6 months. I tweeted about it several months ago and DJs all over the world retweeted it. SoundCloud actually responded to me directly, saying they suggest any number of sites such as BandsInTown, ReverbNation etc. but I don't understand why they'd want to cede that segment of the market to other parties and those site just don't have great music players. SoundCloud has built an elegant player that loads quickly and allows listeners to comment on tracks. Their site is popular with DJs and I believe eventually they could gain mainstream appeal. I for one would like to kill my MySpace page. The only reason I still have a MySpace page, like many artists, is to list upcoming dates and because falls highly within search engine results.

Q: The 10 year anniversary of your legendary dance party, Blisspop is happening at U Street Music Hall on Sept. 25th. How did Blisspop start & evolve over the last 10 years?

A: Oh, man, that's a long story. I began curating events at clubs in 1997 because I wanted to pair like-minded bands and DJs. I soon started DJing and fell in love with it. After a couple years, I decided to start a party dedicated to new, forward looking indie dance music, electropop, house and "anything that makes you move." The music has evolved over the years, which is how I like it, but the basic idea has remained the same: No attitude, just fun and insane dancing. We have a crazy party planned September 25 and Brian Billion and I are holding it down all night.

Q: What cities will you be hitting on your European tour that starts in October?

A: The tour is getting pushed back a bit to accommodate the September release. Definitely going back to Berlin, London and Stockholm and hope to play two new places this time, Paris and Vienna.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in DC?

A: My favorite things to do in DC, or anywhere, are to DJ and dance. I also like to have a good drink. A few of my favorite spots in DC are 9:30 Club, The Gibson and Old Ebbitt Grill for oysters.

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