Catching Up With Catch

The thing about Monday nights at Catch, that  EMM Group staple in the Meatpacking District, is that you could cast your line anywhere in the joint and hook a gazillionaire or stooopid-hot hottie faster than you can say "I used to do this at Butter.” Last night I went to their Monday night shin-dig, the heir of the Butter Mondays that reliably entertained us for a decade. I know I’m a little late to the game but my Mondays are reserved for Bingo and bedroom. Armed with some well-heeled friends, we were treated to fine fare and conversation. Table-hopping is the norm. I noticed the cork and sound treatment on the low-ish ceilings, put there to keep the socializing bearable to those actually trying to eat. Every table was a scene to be seen. Celebrities dined with their posses while tycoons were tycooning. Tables of beautiful girls picked at the menu.

We had traveled in a chauffeured car from Bingo at Hotel Chantelle, and noticed how dead the streets were as Manhattan has already emptied out to the fantasy playgrounds of the last-gasping summer. The bon vivants at Catch were in no rush. They truly believe that the party always starts when they get there. Every table was a success story. Every table was offered food and drink suitable to worldly tastes. This crowd was in no hurry to get elsewhere as they all knew full well that they had already arrived.

We were whisked upstairs to the roof like we were Elvis by a staff who probably could handle even that. The place was crammed with the beautiful.  I shook a lot of hands and kissed a lot of cheeks. It was deja vu…all over again. The never-ending party of the party set. The endless supply of luxury bottles. The eternal flames of the sparklers. The plush banquette, the music, the girls du jour and the girls of yore mixing it up with the swells who were spending the GNP of small countries for these females’ affections – or maybe just a minute, or three, of their time. All this while hipsters are starving in Bushwick.

It’s always the little things that tell you that management has shown the staff the way to this naughty nirvana. Like, an hour in, when I thought I had lost my jacket and a nearby security guard immediately noticed and helped me with a flashlight. He found it at the table next to mine, moved by a model type who wanted to get up there and dance and didn’t want to soil it. He assured me that I could put it down again and that he would be watching it. I believed him. I noticed a few promoter types keeping it on the low to help maintain the illusion that this was happening organically.

As the bottles popped, we were surrounded by the smiles of the party girls, the b for beautiful, but not quite campaign models so I-can-be-out-this-late girls, and the genuine grade-A bonafide girls. Our table was a spending table and I assume the one next door was an "image" table put there to assure us that we were indeed at the end of the rainbow. The six-foot Russian blond, possibly looking for that proverbial pot of gold often found at ends of rainbows, was apologizing to me for something she didn’t do. Amanda laughed at my naiveté. That girl or someone just like her is always there. She was there before she was born.

Bottle after bottle with their 4th of July-esque flares sizzled by. They moved through the crowds like Olympic torch bearers bringing expensive wheat juice to players who long ago earned their gold.  Jeroboams of champagne and their beautiful, happy, delivery systems passed by every few minutes, The sparklers lit up the ceiling, a signal for one rich suit to show off to the next and buy yet another bottle for their table of worshippers. DJ Politick was taking us all to that mindless frenzy we need to justify the love. I was told he was a DJ AM protégé. I was told he’s a big deal in LA. He was a big deal last night in NYC. I don’t usually enjoy the style of music offered by mixed-format types, but he was real smooth,and his mixes of stuff I don’t like into stuff that I love made me enjoy it all. This guy is…superior.

Catch Mondays is killing it and it couldn’t happen to nicer guys .I chatted up owners Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum who are living proof that nice guys can indeed finish first.

Zev Norotsky On the Launch of New Electronic Dance Music and DJ Magazine “Elektro”

Electronic music has changed nightlife forever, for better…for worse. It has made DJ’s rock stars, strange and remote places destinations, and has filled clubs and stadiums. It’s inspired Woodstockian festivals. It has defined, along with mash up/mixed format, a renaissance in nightlife. When clubs were going through their doldrums just a few years back, it was argued that there had not been a new genre of music to lead us out of the boredom. Mixed format combined other genres and was considered by some to be a sort of wishy-washy sound for the musically-challenged masses. DJs like AM certainly shattered that misconception. Electronic was lumped in as a progression of house and not much new. This has proven to be an inadequate description of the sound that has swept the world. Many DJs I have spoken to speak of how it has united people worldwide, as superstar DJs play for hundreds of thousands, from Asia to South America.

Zev Norotsky formerly of Mirrorball and Get There PR, has joined Harris Publications as president of its H360 Group. They are launching elektro, a new magazine…
"[It’s] geared toward electronic dance music/DJ fans… elektro’s mission is to take you behind the turntables and into the lives of DJs, sharing their passion for the music, giving fans an all-access backstage pass. From Tiesto’s sold-out gig, to David Guetta’s new album and the Swedish House Mafia’s unreleased track, elektro will show you the tools to make the music and the lifestyle they live. Electronic music is now the fastest-growing genre in music. DJs are the new rock stars and are selling out arenas around the world. elektro brings you face- to-face with the fans that attend these events, along with powerful marketing solutions including print, online, and experiential activations at sold-out shows and festivals across the globe."
Tiesto is on the first issue’s cover. It will come out quarterly. I sent Zev a few questions (electronically of course) and got these answers:
 
What is elektro?
elektro is a new platform for electronic dance music enthusiasts to learn about DJ culture and their favorite artists and producers. It’s definitely much more than a magazine as we have also built in a comprehensive digital ecosystem and a large special event calendar for 2012 to round out our presence nationwide. This includes our online hub at www.elektrodaily.com, very active social media engagement, and strategic partnerships with Spotify, future.fm, mixcloud etc. We will also be distributed at all the large festivals including Ultra and Electric Daisy in New York and Las Vegas, etc.
 
You have been a promoter/marketing guy;  is elektro an exit strategy…a way out of nightlife’s day-to-day, er… night-to-night, or a natural progression and a deeper commitment?
I must refer to a quote from Steve Jobs where he said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards." I got my start in nightlife very early working the doors at Limelight and Kit Kat Klub when I was in college, striking out a few times on my own and eventually landing with Eddie Dean at Pacha NYC.  Nightlife is my absolute passion and I like to say that I got my Masters following Eddie around as we launched the Pacha brand in America. That was, by far, the most valuable experience of my life as I learned not only the importance of branding and guidelines, but also how vital nightlife can be to the world of marketing and how strong the connection is between consumers and brands. I have been jumping up and down on corporate board room tables for the last four or five years, begging brand managers to pay attention to what’s going on in electronic dance music (EDM) and people are finally paying attention. It’s an amazing feeling and now I have elektro to make sense of it all. I never could have imagined this starting out but when I look back it all makes perfect sense.
 
Everybody in the world is going electronic..or is it elektronic… as online is more and more the way people want it…why print?
We are very in tune with the digital space. I actually moderated a panel a few weeks back during Social Media Week based on a theory that the explosion of EDM in America is intrinsically tied to social media; that’s why we have created an extensive online presence across every single medium there is for us to share content. We are curating playlists with Spotify, streaming from events with future.fm, YouTube, Instagram, etc., you name it. The honest answer is you need everything to succeed and we take a 360 approach here. The sweet spot for me is how everything connects from the live events, the social media, and the print piece. That gives us maximum leverage as both an editorial property and a marketing vehicle for brands.
 
How did Tiesto become your first cover boy?
This was such a no-brainer for me; he is arguably the most iconic DJ of all time and truly personifies how far dance music has come in America, from the initial burst in late ’90s, to now. I literally made a mock-up of elektro about a year ago with him on the cover to show my partners what I look at every day to remind me how this all started.
 
It’s a quarterly; will there be events to celebrate each issue at various clubs around the world? Will the cover boy be the DJ? Will the distribution of the magazine at these events be a huge part of the marketing strategy?
Absolutely. We are gearing up for a massive launch during Miami Music Week. In addition to a private launch party with Roger Sanchez that we are hosting for the industry on Thursday, March 22 at The Setai, we are going to be distributed in the VIP section at Ultra, are an official media partner of Winter Music Conference, and will be hosting events all week at the National Hotel, Villa221, Mansion, as well as a big in-store event with Guess Jeans on Saturday 3/24. We’re also working on an official launch party in New York on April 14th at Pacha NYC which will be a sort of homecoming for me I guess, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

DJ AM: Alive Last Night At Santos’

It was a mandatory event. One year after his death, DJ AM was memorialized at Santos’ Party House. He was great in so many ways: DJ, performer, person, friend. Everybody was making their own list last night. Santos’ honcho, Dave Delzio, was furiously texting me to get there. “Damn man, every club owner, can’t even drop names—it’s that crazy. It’s insane, it’s packed. Amazing!” It’s hard for me to get from my house to Santos. Even though it’s a short jaunt, I have to stop and chat with the local yokels. My path took me by Goldbar, where I waylaid Jon Lennon, who couldn’t leave ‘cause he was working—but he realized had to pay respects, be part of it. As we walked the final few blocks, we talked of gin and beer, Greenpoint, my ex-assistant Nathalie Glanzman (who we love), and the state of our art. Santos is almost amazing, but falls short too often. They need to become more dynamic to reach the full potential of this ridiculously perfect space. Last night shows what it can do, and I hope management gets it done this fall. As we approached it from Canal street, we spied the eclectic crowd in line and felt the good vibrations. Jon was happy he skipped out for the half hour.

“Adam DJ AM Goldstein” still lives, even while he rests with Elvis, Morrison, and the rest. Last night, all of clubdom came to support his charity. From the one-sheet:

“The DJ AM Memorial Fund carries on his legacy, raising funds and cultivating media partnerships to bolster the efforts of several organizations and projects combating addiction.”

Jon and I shook a hundred hands as we worked our way to the booth. DJ Jus Ske was murdering it. When he is on, he is as good as anyone. Everybody respects that. Last night he was over the top. You can always tell when that’s happening, as an inordinate number of heads are looking at the booth. I shook hands with Stretch Armstrong, Andy Brown, Jesse Marco, and half a dozen other great DJs. I looked around for Mark Ronson. I think the word is melancholy. Everybody was having a great time, seeing how good clubs can be and all that, but under it all loomed the tragedy of addiction and its terrible tentacles. The best DJ wasn’t there. The booth would be crowded but missing at least one player. Drugs, addiction, and other nocturnal distractions have taken DJ AM, and Larry Levan, and too many other talents. Drugs are one part of our culture that doesn’t discriminate, evaluate bank balances, popularity, or potential. It cuts a deep swath, and never stops knocking at the door. I’ve lost way too many friends to remember. Last night, we remembered, and realized our loss, and the gift that was DJ AM. I never met anyone who didn’t like or respect him. I asked Santos’ co-owner Larry Golden to give me his take.

“We had a really special night tonight. Lots of legends—lots! Too many to begin to name, but the main thing was the music, fucking sick! Highlights for me were Clark Kent and Stretch, but all the DJs were amazing, and I’m not just blowing smoke. The crowd was a downtown who’s who, beautiful. This is why I love my job, and why I love NYC. Legendary shit, people will remember tonight for years.”

Larry sent me that at 3:30 am. He’s more eloquent at 4am. Dave Delzio got in the final word, as is so often his desire:

“Everyone is here to support their true friend, and to honor his memory. They were friends, peers and fans. They want to keep his memory alive, and plan on a annual benefit in his name and support of the am charity/benefit.”

DJ AM’s Kicks Hit Auction Block

As of last Friday, the bulk of the late DJ AM’s massive sneaker collection began going up for grabs via eBay. The musician, born Adam Goldstein, was a well-known sneakerhead, having collected over 900 pairs in total including numerous limited-edition pairs and hard-to-find shoes. “More than 800 pairs of limited-edition shoes from that collection will go up for auction on EBay beginning today at 4:30 p.m. and running through Dec. 14 at www.ebay.com/djamshoes,” All The Rage said Friday. But the sale isn’t just about unloading the artist’s beloved stock.

“All proceeds will go to the DJ AM Memorial Fund, an organization described as “maintaining the legacy of Adam Goldstein through extending his commitment to helping others struggling with addiction.” All The Rage ads, “through an organization called Creative Visions, the funds are earmarked for groups and projects that deal with issues of addiction and recovery.” Deadstock pairs slated to go on sale include Nike PlayStation Air Force 1s, Supreme Dunks, Supa Dunks Air Jordan PE’s, and a pair of Eminem Air Jordan 4s (of which only 50 pairs were made). While prices are sure to reflect the limited nature of the kicks and reverence for DJ AM within the music world and beyond, thanks to the charity hook, shoppers can rest assured their purchases are going towards something more.

The Hangover, Atlantic City Style

I’m buying two Greyhound tickets to Atlantic City to check out The Water Club at AC’s famous Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa. As we exit the city, the last billboard catches my eye: an advertisement for a nightclub at Caesar’s in AC called Dusk, with a headline that reads “DJ AM presents Dusk” Sort of a glum way to kick off a trip, though part of the motivation for the pilgrimage is to catch the Blink 182 reunion tour at the Borgata. As we all know, Travis Barker and DJ AM were the survivors of a plane crash in 2008. Point is … might be time to update the billboard.

The Accommodations The Water Club was damn fine. Not a Bellagio kind of fine, but like a Bellagio in AC kind of fine. It’s a boutique hotel and spa that hosts what is probably the only gorgeous view of the Atlantic Ocean and nearby marina. Perks ● The rooms are sexy, with a shower the size of Tyra Banks’ ass. ● Guests sporting a Sopranos jersey was the first thing witnessed coming off the escalator. Dining First stop, dinner at the Japanese “pub” Izakaya. I don’t know how they do things in Japan, but at the Water Club a pub means delicious food, sleek design, and no local drunks to be seen (besides myself of course). The Food ● Wasabi dumplings, which was something you’d expect from a contestant on Top Chef, and not one that gets cut in the first round. ● Edamame dumplings, a Disney-fied take on modern Japanese cuisine.

After we scoped the scene and had our food and drink, we were off to the see Travis Barker hit things, along with his bandmates. The concert space at the Borgata reminded me more of a conference hall than a concert hall. I was half expecting Tony Robbins to come out on stage to help me take back my life. The kids didn’t seem to notice, or were too drunk to care about the drab carpeting, so I guess the room was a success. At this point I am sufficiently intoxicated, and I’m thinking that Travis Barker is probably one of the best drummers in the world, and in sobriety I would still agree. I know there are two other guys in the band, but it’s really the Travis Barker show. The after-party happens to be Mario Lopez’s birthday at mur.mur, a quintessential Jerz club, but its state-of-the-art sound system sets it apart from most and attracts top DJs like Samantha Ronson, who happens to be spinning for Lopez’s special occasion. While I sat wondering what Ronson and Lopez had in common, the girl laid down some tracks … or something that makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about. She seemed rather robotic up there and not like she was having too much fun. The hopeless romantic in me hoped it was because a pain-kied out Lindsay Lohan was missing in action. Between vodka drinks we played a few hands of blackjack and pulled some slots, entertained by the huge faction of Philly folks with a dash of Staten Islanders … who knew they could travel this far? In the end, we did not get to give Mario’s chest a raspberry; we didn’t even get a bite of Mario’s cake adorned with a photo of his bulging chest. We did, however, get some Just Cavalli swag, which means the mission of total AC cultural immersion was successful.

DJ AM & Kendra Martyn: A Tale of Two Doorpeople

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. — Charles Dickens

Dickens said it better than a knave like me could ever dream to. On one hand is the young beautiful doorgirl with the freshest of looks and perspectives and dreams and hopes — an it girl thrust into the center of the new downtown. On the other hand, a tragic tale of the last moments of a man loved by all. A talent that reached for the heavens where he surely now resides. We’ll start with the sad story of DJ AM, then let the story of Kendra Martyn speak of new horizons.

I didn’t have anything to say about the DJ AM tragedy. I nodded hello to him a few times and listened to his set a few times as well. He was awesome as a DJ and my closest friends who knew him well are all broken up. I got one of those calls and didn’t want to repeat it, but I was told it is indeed relevant and I had an obligation to tell it like I heard it. A doorman of the building where he lived and died wanted to recount the experience he had with DJ AM (a.k.a. Adam Goldstein) on the night before he was found. He wanted me to say it as it happened, and a mutual friend told him I would tell it as I heard it.

This doorman was the second guy that night (the first was on a break) when he got the call from Adam. He called “on the regular phone, not the one by the door. We could tell he must have been in his bedroom.” Adam was “erratic, agitated” and said “come check 7, there’s a problem on the 7th floor, come to 7, I’m in 7A.” The doorman said he was alone and couldn’t come up, but the other doorman was coming back any second. Adam just repeated, “Uh oh, check 7.” The doorman’s relief did indeed arrive only a minute or two later, and he went up to the apartment. “He was like, bugging … he said children were running up and down the hallway outside his apartment and knocking on the door.” There was nothing going on — indeed, “there are no children in the building … the youngest kids are like in their twenties … you know, trust fund kid types.” My source continued, “I knew he was in town, he was always cool, but now he was paranoid, confused, hallucinating like he was on acid or some other trippy shit.” He explained to me that he was never like this — rather, always a cool dude who embraced him and talked about music with him in the past. My source is working on being a producer and has been working on some hip hop tracks. He and Adam talked about it sometimes, and “he was always interested and helpful.” Adam called down again later and spoke to the other doorman and was still confused. The next day, when my source came to work, he saw the cops and the detectives. A glance from the owner, and he knew “something terrible had happened.”

Kendra Martyn is a door girl. She caught my eye recently at the Saturday GBH party at Tribeca Grand, and I watched her for a bit doing her picking and choosing thing. She catches everybody’s eye. She has a charisma, a presence that will soon thrust her into the limelight of the new downtown scene. A thousand freckles (I tried to count them all), an 80s punk cut do, and a style that could launch a thousand ships — I kept running into her everywhere I went. I figured I’d tell you all about her.

She’s from far away but who cares because she left there because of its “limitations,” and anyway now she’s here. She’s studying liberal arts, but not sure why. She likes people, especially the ones “who bring it different, not forced but different, but they have their own way of doing it and looking at it and looking it.” She says “I’m the filter — the difference between the party being bland or a success.” She takes her door job very seriously. All the good ones do. Some a bit too seriously … but picking people is not as easy as it looks. “Anybody can pick the top 80%, but it’s that top 20% that makes it or breaks it.”

Kendra is getting offers at the hipster parties around town. Mostly one-offs for now, but she loves it and wants more. She knows to look at the shoes and “beyond the obvious to find the interesting.” She knows she’s arrived because she had her first death threat last weekend. She didn’t get angry much, but told the guy, “Dude, I didn’t let you into a bar, chill out.” It’s a meet-and-socialize type of gig, and she wants to embrace a bigger role in the scene. It fascinates her to see some guests come in all sober and prim and dressed, then leave “a mess, totally obliterated.” She’s turning down promoter gigs, “unless they want me at the door, I love being at the door.” I asked her if she assumes a different personality when she’s working the ropes. “I’m acting — I can be many people. Sometimes I’ll talk to the guests try to figure them out.” Although she is often offered compromise money, she says “It’s fun saying no to the money.” She did have a modeling contract, but she thinks there are better ways to spend her time. Spikey Phil, the cool cool drummer of Calypso, hooked her up with the Tribeca Grand’s Tommy Saleh. Tommy is no fool — he saw her potential and put her outside right away. She probes, chats, and smiles, always looking for a reaction, a clue to size up a question mark. If I was to be starting something, I’d start with Kendra Martyn.

DJ AM, I Hardly Knew Ye

In this long, slow march of the Summer of Death, we’ve been hit by losses across the spectrum: from newsmen (Walter Cronkite) to musical superstars (Michael Jackson) to art world stars (Dash Snow). But the one that was the closest to our lives in some ways is the passing of DJ AM on Friday. It was unexpected and sad in that he’s already cheated death at least once, surviving a plane crash with Travis Barker that four others did not; and it was surprising because early reports, yet unconfirmed, have pinned it as a drug overdose. AM, a.k.a. Adam Goldstein, was a recovering addict who was publicly trying to help other addicts in an upcoming MTV show Gone Too Far; it’s not clear yet if the show will ever see air. I reached out to some people to get their DJ AM memories. No doubt people are still stinging from the loss, so responses were slow to trickle in. If you have a memory to share about A.M., email {encode=”tromano@bbook.com” title=”here”}.

After hearing the news via Twitter, I was struck by the difference in the tone of the reactions to AM’s death, when compared to the reactions to Dash Snow’s overdose. They were close in age and ran in circles that might have crossed over, but in many ways, they couldn’t be more different. Dash Snow’s persona was less sympathetic, in part because of a New York profile where he came across as a spoiled rich kid, throwing away the silver platter handed to him, and still getting rich and famous anyway. AM’s mythology is that of a self-made man, once very chubby, and who with the help of gastric bypass surgery got very skinny and handsome. He moved in the upper echelon of mainstream young Hollywood, dating Nicole Richie and Mandy Moore. He was a regular guy who made good and seemed to savor it. When he nearly died in the plane crash, people rooted for him. The fact that he succumbed to an old demon seems sad, and not selfish like in Dash Snow’s case.

In the end, they were more similar than any of us would like to admit. They were human beings with weaknesses that killed them. I admit I wasn’t very familiar with AM’s music. He played in clubs I wouldn’t normally go to, for a crowd I don’t really roll with. I come from the dance music underground — a child of raves and electronic music — and I always assumed AM was a celebrity DJ playing corny stuff for corny celebrities. A little prejudice on my part goes a long way. If someone was trying to sell me a party with DJ AM, I assumed it was not my sort of thing.

It turned out that was my loss. A quick listen to the last mix he put up on his Facebook page reveals a thoughtful take toward music — an ability to pair Fiona Apple in the same space as Massive Attack (the latter I snobbishly assumed he wouldn’t even know about).

A closer inspection of his career and musical taste reveals far more commonalities than I had naively thought. There on his Facebook page is a flyer for an Ed Banger party — that’s the French crew associated with Justice and Daft Punk, a crew with serious underground cred, and one I will gladly stay up late to hear. The remarkable thing about this party is that AM is not top-billed; he’s one of several DJs, standing side by side with far lesser-known jocks … and for this crowd, he’s perhaps not the most interesting. That a DJ like AM, who has played for major superstars and who made more money in a gig than most of the underground DJs on that flyer combined (at least in America), would be humble enough to be listed third or fourth was telling. It was about the music and not about the ego. I also didn’t know that he was a huge fan of Daft Punk and had dressed in Thomas Bangalter’s outfit and “punked” the Hard Fest crowd on Halloween last year wearing the whole mask-helmet get up, before revealing it was him. (That’s him in the picture making the Daft Punk symbol at another gig.)

There’s also his contribution to DJ culture: a DJ maven friend of mine pointed out that AM was a high-profile adopter of Serrato Scratch, the digital DJ mixing tool that most hardened vinyl diehards scoffed at when it first appeared on the scene; she also pointed out that his style, quick shifts between short snippets of songs across genres (including 70s and 80s rock), was hugely influential. This was particularly true in the mainstream bottle service clubs, where, like it or not, DJ culture has far more influence than any underground DJ has. That style was also perfect for our generation, with our short attention spans.

Then I read this quote on his website (it’s not clear where the interview comes from originally). It gives you some insight into how he developed his style.

Well I like all kinds of music… I was very much a “Hip Hop and Soul (rare groove)” DJ when I first started. Then one night I decided to play George Michael’s “Freedom.” I saw how loud the crowd sung along to it and I was hooked on making people sing, not just dance. That is how I started reaching for the different kinds of records. Then, I think a lot of DJs caught onto this and do something similar now.

While the party he did with Steve Aoki, Banana Split Sundaes, has been canceled, no doubt there will be more opportunities to celebrate his life and music in coming weeks.

Nic Adler, the owner of the Roxy, a venue AM has DJed, wrote me about AM’s passing. Perhaps, he says it best”

To this generation AM was our bridge between genres of music and culture that had not yet been brought together. He made it cool for the metal rockers to listen to hip hop, the bboys to bang their heads and the electro kids sing a long to a 70’s ballad. I think it will be years til we truly understand how he shaped the way that we see and hear music. AM made music fun again. DJ AM FOREVER!

RIP.

Email tips to {encode=”tromano@bbook.com” title=”tromano@bbook.com”}.