Seemingly out of nowhere, 2007 was struck by the birth of HARD and almost overnight, a singular EDM phenomenon took the California dance music scene by storm. With an identity all its own, the aptly named HARD brand events became the new kid on the block that everyone wanted to meet and no one could ignore. Known for its envelope-pushing and diverse blend of electronic music, the binding theme to the music was simple—talent was solid and had its finger right on the pulse of the very aural present. Furthermore, it had the roiling energy of a packed massive without losing the intimate and exclusive appeal of a club.
The catalyst behind the party? Meet Gary Richards a.k.a. DESTRUCTO. Ambitious, savvy and possessing tenacity in spades, Richards’ events are very much a reflection of the man himself. HARD events shine with their exemplary musical choices, exude conviction in its planning, and most importantly, burst with unbridled zealousness just this side of wild. Richards is very much about getting the details right but all for the end goal of creating the most mind-blowing and hard to forget experience for any one who shows. A dance music aficionado through and through, compromise is not an option.
In the midst of all the planning and while on his way to New York to introduce the HARD way of partying at Terminal 5, we caught up with the super swamped Richards for a few words.
How would you describe a HARD event to someone who’s never seen/heard/smelled/attended one?
It’s a collection of amazing DJs/bands/artists from around the globe who all come together on one night (sometimes two) to bring the most off the wall party you have ever been to. The energy is turned all the way up to 11. Everyone comes to dance their ass off. We really try and push the envelope on sound, lights and visuals.
To those who are familiar with the party scene and all the talent involved, DESTRUCTO needs no introduction. But for the rare creature out there who’s never heard of DESTRUCTO, what should they know?
I do all this because I love this music. My goal is to make dance music cool and credible. I have been DJing and producing music and events for over 20 years.
What is it about dance music that you love? What particular aspects of the genre draw you to it?
I just love the energy and power of electronic music it pushes the sound
boundaries like nothing else.
The line-ups of HARD are always top-notch. What advice would you give to an attendee who wants to see two acts that are playing at the same time in different areas?
Pace yourself. I am trying to make it so that type of thing does not happen. But, with a festival, it’s almost impossible. That’s one reason we went two days this year for Haunted Mansion—longer sets and less conflicts.
Last year’s HARD Haunted Mansion was packed to the gills and sold out. What made it the hit that it was—the definitive, must-attend party in town when there were other massives going on?
Bringing all those people together in L.A. for one single night, it was a dream come true. Both artists and fans together in one place and one time, it was very special.
HARD Haunted 2008 was an out-and-out success and upped the bar as far as an event of such caliber goes. How is it going to top itself this year and what is going to make it even better than before?
I don’t think we are trying to top last year. Each event is unique to itself. I just want this year to be special in its own way. It’s really not a contest. They will both be remembered as very, very special events. That being said, we have some amazing performance art this year that’s going to blow minds. Friday night the Hipster Apocalypse and Saturday the Alien Autopsy is going to be sick.
As a performer, you’re known to meticulously craft a night’s playlist before a show and subsequently toss it out the window the moment you see a crowd to improvise something even better on the spot. How does this apply to the way in which you select talent for an event?
I just pick all the artists I love and it works out.
As the gold standard of promoters with a string of successful events under your belt, how do you go about selecting a venue? What is the thought process and concerns behind that?
It’s a very tough process putting HARD together. It’s an enormous task and we are always searching for the perfect place. So far, the Shrine seems to work the best.
How and when do you know a place is just what you are looking for?
You never know for sure until the event is complete.
What are the criteria and things you look for when you book talent for an event? Like say, the essential qualities and elements that you seek and won’t compromise on?
I always try and book something that I would enjoy personally.
As a veteran promoter and performer, you’ve been to scores of cities, numerous venues and interacted with crowds and audiences of all shapes and sizes. However, you’re also an integral part of the L.A. party scene. In your observations, what do you think are characteristics particular to the L.A. scene?
L.A. just has it going on. We have been doing this thing since the early 90s and L.A. just knows what’s up with electronic music.
When you put together an event, what sort of experience do you hope to create for an attendee? What do you want them to come away with in order for you to be satisfied that it was a successful event?
That they had the time of their life.
Describe the HARD philosophy in six words.
That’s not enough words to describe.
In six words, who and what is DESTRUCTO?
A crazy music and party lover.
You dedicate yourself to creating good times and memorable entertainment for masses of people. What do you yourself do for fun and entertainment when you get a chance to? How do you unwind?
I love to train Jiu-Jitsu, skateboard, hang with my family, and of course, listen to music.
Last question. If you could be a fly on the wall of one of your events, what would be the most gratifying thing you think you could possibly overhear?
THE THUMPING BASS....