Last May, one of our writers had the chance to speak at length with Gary Richards AKA Destructo about how he developed the world renowned HARD concert promoting brand. After taking the trendy company to the top of the West Coast’s minds when it came to electronic music, the Cali-based party planner sold it off to Live Nation, arguably the most powerful concert conjurer in North America. Now that Gary has had a chance to do some globe-trotting under his Destructo pseudonym, I thought it might be time for him to weigh in on what’s happening north of the border before hitting up Toronto on Halloween.
Since Live Nation’s acquisition of HARD back in 2012, Gary’s train of focus has been steadfast for production, DJing and touring. In the case of swinging by Toronto for Bud Light Digital Dreams on almost a yearly basis, Richards has had a chance to perform at a Live Nation-operated event without the worry of anything except for the tunes coming out of the speakers. “I know what it takes to put it all together,” says Destructo. “For me, it’s just fun to come here and not stress about security, parking, fires, and weather. I can just go and DJ for an hour without worrying that the whole world could fall apart. This is like a vacation to me.”
Gary’s tenure behind the decks has landed him at pretty much every major North American festival and nightclub. When not dropping g-house for his hour or two set times, Richards’ accumen for event promoting helps him illuminate the kinks and problems with major music events that the typical touring artist might now catch. “Sometimes I go to festivals and I feel like the way they’re programmed is just not the right way. Like when you have multiple stages; you need to really curate each stage like its own little thing – a satellite stage to make it work. Digital Dreams for example; because I was on earlier in the afternoon, I could play a little bit of a deeper sound and people were into it. At HARD, I know how to do it. If you like bass you can go over here – if you like house, you can go over here – if you like disco, you can go over here – if you want big room shit, go over here. I just know how to do it.”
Ultimately, I wanted to know the difference between Toronto crowds and the typical American music fan. Rather than the traditional flashy music festivals post-2011 that we’ve all come to anticipate each year, HARD’s focus has always been about forward-thinking, cutting-edge and cool music. Gary says Toronto seems to know where its at! “In Toronto specifically, I can do whatever I want and they love it! You dont have to tailor it, because the people here; their ears are more sophisticated. They’re just more into electronic music. They’ll roll with you. You don’t have to spoon feed them. You can hit ’em with some cool shit and they’re down.”
Gary suggests that Canadian electronic music listeners might have a different perogative than fans in some of the bigger North American markets. “I’ve definitely played in Toronto a lot more. I’ve been playing in Vancouver more, I did Montreal. In Canada in general, people just know what’s going on. I don’t know what’s in the water… Maybe because it’s a little more European? In America, 18 and 19 year old kids don’t really know what’s going on yet. When I play here at The Hoxton, they know what’s up.”
Destructo hits The Hoxton this Saturday, October 29th for the final legs of his Renegade Tour. Flanked by house music visionary Felix Da Housecat along with Josh Pan and Sita Abellan, Gary handpicked each one of his very special guest performers.
“From MSTRKRFT to Crystal Castles, The Weeknd, somethings in the water here, something’s going on. The underground is always current.” Gary suggests that Toronto’s house music culture is constant, able to maintain an underground culture even when the general audience members in the market seem disinterested in electronic music. “In some cities it has to be commercial.” This weekend, we’ll see if Toronto’s edge over their friends to the south stands true once again.
Images by Visualbass