The Death-Defying Warehouse Party Life: An Interview by William of Orange

About an entire local music industry that's rarely heard from, briefly navigated by a remote being that coalesces, rarely, around music scenes and their absurd atrocities; published by "The Stranger" weekly newspaper of Seattle, WA.

Sonny Chelf is the orneriest house party producer I know who hails from Tacoma. In fact, he's the only such producer I know from Tacoma. Most of those kind of guys hang about the Seattle area, drifting back and forth in their musical skeins and ongoing search for monetary angles.

Jason Alley's from Issaquah. They both operate forklifts in warehouses for their real livings. And I met them over coffee awhile ago at Starbucks on Broadway for a happy, peppy interview with two of the greater Seattle area's own warehouse party producers.

Sonny, casual, relaxed and vivacious, wore "Portuguese" golden earrings; Jason, soft-spoken and shy, wore a diamond-blue ball cap over his sweet blue eyes and blond hair. Sonny is fair and Black, but doesn't sound that way until you press him, and then a trickle of southern Blacklish begins to filter in, conversationally speaking.

How long have you been involved in the warehouse game, I suddenly ask.

Sonny: The first part of this took place in 1981. That was in Germany. Parties in Germany used more hype. Parties here seem to be more about money and competition.

Jason: I joined TUF Productions for the last party. I joined with another party than ours?some producers have a different agenda than others?(indicating Sonny, giggling.)

What is your agenda? I asked the cute black dude.

Sonny: First we sit there and have a headache. Nah, usually I like to find a space first. That's kind of a last minute thing you have to do.

Jason: There's been a lot of problems with the city. The city is pushing hard to shut the shows down.

Sonny: There was a battle over permits being in order.

Jason: The city would threaten to take the house over.

Sonny: Yeah.

Jason: The city would intimate that a party would be through. The owners of the building would refuse to rent to those who produced shows, for fear their properties would have police action taken against them.

These statements led to general murmurings amongst us.

So, whatever is your "agenda" now, I softly inquired.

Sonny: (About) the agenda? Line up the DJs!!! They come from everywhere, basically. When we produce a flyer, we try to promote it (the party) day in and day out. During that time, we finish producing the rest of the show. Lights, sound, security, permits, "etcetera." And then it's showtime! I like to get in a building at noon, but it never happens. Just to fine-tune the building! (He laughed, sliding slowly backwards in his seat.)

Jason: If we have decorations, some people put up fences. (I never found out what "fences" are.) It needs all completed. The sound system usually arrives in the middle of things.

We joked around about the house movement?."Yeah, the houses are moving!!!" as I'm not much of a raver m'self, yet. The joints do indeed jump.

What message to others, anyway, do you guys have to impart?

Jason: Positive energy.

Sonny: Peace, love, joining one another together. But after the party comes the teardown. I hate it, but it has to be done.

I asked Sonny if that's his real name. Yes, it is. He was wearing a hunting cap, Polynesian earrings, and he vaguely resembled a certain letter of the alphabet due to his glasses.

Jason's blue ball cap was fastidiously reversed. Two more either-bread and mayonnaise guys could not be found, but they were definitely having to skirt the law.

I finally found out what happened last spring, which had been the current House Party Mystery Scenario.

Sonny: A dividing of the whole scene here occurred. There were occurrences of two parties being thrown on the same night. Something had to stop. Seattle's not that big. It's not that good here, we need more party room. Evolution (back in October, and partially run by a close relative of mine named Joachim, incidentally) just had 1500 people. It was over 15, really.

Jason: We had over 1200. But Seattle is not really a good indicator. In LA (what doesn't begin, end, and stall out in LA?) they have BIG huge parties, with a couple hundred thousand people, easily.

A couple?what? I stupifiedly intoned, slurping my Starbucks. That couldn't be real, I thought, they'd need a football stadium?which they have, somewhere.

I dreamed to myself, the party interview vortex has been reentered. I've been being told that everyone and no one ever interviews these warehouse party guys. Now I see why. No one ever believes them when they talk about the party sizes.

Sonny then said he begged in on things with Jason through a mutual friend of theirs named Tim. On Tim, Sonny said, "we've talked to Tim. How're you?" This, referring to my earlier interview more on the Seattle end of things, with Joachim. Tim, there, is not a part of the company anymore. I guess that's the party vortex for you.

Sonny next managed to imitate the world's blandest, meekest expression, which was already on Jason's wan, pink face.

Jason: All I have to say is we hope people keep supporting the shows.

Sonny: I'm the quiet person of all this. I like to come in like the wind and leave?like?the wind?.

Jason: I like to be around the people. I like to be around the friends. (I always got the impression this is a tightly-knit, hard-to-enter crowd. But I asked them about making a living at it.)

Sonny: I like to be around this for the money. If I didn't do this for the money, I wouldn't do it.

It feels like I've learned, after several interviews with Seattle/Tacoma's warehouse partying folks, that there's no money in this, really. Off the last shows, they don't seem to have made a dime.

PeaceFrog's Civilization party in November barely broke even, in fact losing at least $200. One of the PeaceFrog producers told me only about half the people coming in even paid. I don't think Joachim got his cut at all. But their group is still plugging away at making the lively, eventful, and appreciably loud parties continue to happen.

Sonny said, the way I feel?it might make the WRONG money?(I think he meant the probably drug revenues from hangers-on selling at the parties.) Me, I broke in with: But, what if you were, say, normal?

Jason: Good point.

Sonny: What if everybody else was like what's on the street, already there. (Recall that Sonny's Black, please.) You're gonna get 'em "thowed in jay-al." I've done two (parties) in Tacoma (an infamously Black establishment, in some ways.) There's a problem with that. Seattle people don't travel. The Dome is too commercial. This isn't?a commercial event...that I do.

Go to shows, Sonny said. I have a real job. I work, in a warehouse, driving forklifts. I'm a laborer. Saturday nights are my date. That's the party date. (He pretty much implied this is his social life. I am forced to think both Sonny and Jason are house-devoted, maximally.)

After this pleasant, caring interview time was spent, one happy writer left those two fine, unrude, music-bestrewed dudes to hit their next appointment in town. The memory lingers, but the music is fortunately elsewhere, waiting for the next party to begin. From the sound of things, I would suggest checking out LA, if I were you.

Karen Peralta is the occasionally tired but proficient Owner, President and Executive Director of Rainbow Writing, Inc. at http://www.rainbowriting.com. We're partnered with Four Seasons CDROM Store at http://www.cdromshowcase.com/fourseasons, which sells great cheap cds. Someday, they will be music cds as well.

In The News:


New York Times

Rising Star: The Week's 8 Best Classical Music Moments on YouTube
New York Times
Belmonte, a young nobleman, is anticipating reuniting with his beloved, who has been the captive of a Turkish pasha. Listen to Mr. Bliss's delivery of the music's most fretful passage: He manages to convey emotional distress while singing with elegant ...


Forbes

How India, The Global Music Industry's Sleeping Giant, Is Finally Waking Up
Forbes
Bollywood music composer/singer AR Rahman (R) and singer Mohit Chauhan perform on stage during IIFA Rocks, part of the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival, on early July 15, 2017, at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey ...

and more »

Variety

Pink, Harry Styles, The Weeknd Bring the Hits to iHeartRadio Music Festival's Opening Night
Variety
If there was one common theme to the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival's opening night, it was an appreciation for the medium which doesn't always get its due. Sure, artists like Ed Sheeran are breaking streaming records, while others like Taylor Swift ...
Giddy up! Kesha is a country cowgirl as she attends and performs at the iHeartRadio Music FestivalDaily Mail
Harry Styles Proves He's a Rockstar, Pink Flies and Flips Over the Crowd & More From iHeartRadio Festival Day 1Billboard
Superstars take over iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las VegasLas Vegas Review-Journal

all 48 news articles »

Variety

Eric Prydz, Cashmere Cat, Moby Among Winners at Inaugural Electronic Music Awards
Variety
“We're a community that wants to get up and dance,” veteran DJ Paul Oakenfold told Variety backstage at the first ever Electronic Music Awards. Indeed, dance music isn't designed to be a seated affair, so Oakenfold has been trying for the last few ...

and more »

The 30 must-read music books of Fall 2017
Salon
More and more, however, the last three months of the year aren't just a bonanza for major albums: Every year, publishers release a steady stream of high-profile memoirs, biographies and music-related books, with the expectation they'll also make great ...


The Guardian

Moses Sumney: Aromanticism review – a single-minded star
The Guardian
Loneliness is a recurrent ache in pop music; the diagnosis is normally heartbreak, unrequited love or loss. Moses Sumney has a slightly different take on what is drily termed “aromanticism” – an imperviousness to coupling up. Born of exacting self ...


TechCrunch

Music and Muzak | TechCrunch
TechCrunch
We are facing a firehose. Data spews at us from all angles, inundating us with ideas, culture, and creativity. We produce terabytes of information a year,..

and more »

Duluth News Tribune

Target flips on the background music
Duluth News Tribune
Target tested music in 2011 at its Minnetonka Ridgedale location to see what shoppers and employees thought. Both groups gave a thumbs up. After that, the retailer added music to the small, urban-area Targets it was building. Now, it's poised to ...


The Guardian

Senza Sangue/Bluebeard's Castle; The Damnation of Faust/Stravinsky ballet music – review
The Guardian
Simon Rattle has been in post as music director of the London Symphony Orchestra barely two weeks but already this ensemble sounds revivified; strings more sonorous, brass gleaming, woodwind lithe and fleet, percussion crisp and vital. This was always ...


Forbes

How Spotify Has Waged War With The Music Industry
Forbes
Spotify has waged a war with the music industry. The streaming company has a history of not paying mechanical royalties to songwriters and music publishers, and has already settled two separate class action lawsuits for failure to pay mechanical ...

Google News

Surf Waves With Jack Johnson

Lately I've been listening to some pretty cool music by... Read More

How to Get Past Creative Blocks

When I first began playing the piano and improvising, there... Read More

Micheal Jackson

I bet your wondering all about the Micheal Jackson Trail.... Read More

Guitar Facts: A Glossary of Terms

It is said that the forerunner of the guitar, the... Read More

Getting Rhythm - Three Tips for Guitar Beginners

If you are just starting out learning guitar one of... Read More

Play Piano in the New Age Style

It's not what you play, it's how you play it.... Read More

Beauchamp Brings Diversity to Music

Everyone has a talent. For Miami, Okla.'s, Brian Beauchamp, it's... Read More

Beginning Clarinet: The Very Start

Like starting with any instrument, beginning clarinet is a process... Read More

Dance Musics Most Popular and Enduring Theme: The Declaration of Independence

It all started with Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" in... Read More

How the Internet Helps Musicians

Everyone talks about the negative impact of the Internet on... Read More

How Many Chords Are There, Anyway?

Since chords (the main component of harmony) are one of... Read More

Top 7 Donts for Successful Improvisation

1. Don't try and make something happen. Trying blocks the... Read More

Flaming Guitars! Minarik Fuels The Excitement of a New Generation of Musicians

From the Telecaster to the Flying V to the Iceman... Read More

How to Buy an Electric Guitar Online

With the increased proliferation of online guitar and musical equipment... Read More

Do you really need college to learn to play music?

Music courses are a great way to learn about virtually... Read More

Creating Stark Atmospheres

One of the things New Age pianist George Winston is... Read More

Rhapsody Music Downloads Part II - A pleasant experience?

Welcome back to Part II of Rhapsody Music Downloads! I... Read More

Modal Theory for Guitar Players - Part 2

Playing the ModesWhen I used to use this pack with... Read More

Oh My Aching Head! Can Music Really Make You Feel Better?

We all know, if only instinctively, that music has a... Read More

Things To Know When Shopping For A Guitar Amplifier

Guitar amplifiers are a major part of your tone. Some... Read More

What is Piano GHD Syndrome?

Do you remember the movie, Groundhog Day? In this wonderful... Read More

Yo, is Rap Just Another Four Letter Word?

Flaunting any excessive or anti-social behavior is considered brazen. When... Read More

Discover The Perfect Place To Perform

Once you know what your Unique Selling Proposition is as... Read More

10 Ways for Unknown Musicians to Get the Word Out

When Clear Channel controls the radio and the monopoly newspaper... Read More

Arpeggios and New Age Piano Playing

Chopin used them extensively. So did Beethoven and Mozart. Arpeggios... Read More