Gettin’ Fr33ky with Steve Starks

starks

As a certified party rocker and one-third of DC’s party crew, Nouveau Riche, Steve Starks is quite the force to be reckoned with here in the DC EDM scene.  He maintains a heavy presence in the city by frequently collaborating on productions and live-appearances with Nacey, releasing original tunes on T&A Records, and playing for all different kinds of party people.  Last Friday, he played for a rooftop of glowing ravers and moombahtonistas at Ibiza for Steez Promo’s MEGA event with Boys Noize.  Next Saturday, he’ll be playing with Craze at U Street Music Hall.  But if you need more evidence that he’s got the dopeness factor on lock, see below:

Exhibit A:  “Fr33ky in the Club” – Starks’ utilized DC’s hometown advantage in the moombahton scene by releasing an original production, “Fr33ky in the Club”.  This track turned out to be a moombahton anthem from the jump, as it encouraged party people to enthusiastically lose their shit in the club.  Girls, you know what I’m talkin’ about.  “Fr33ky in the Club” received some major love from Mad Decent and was also featured on many early moombahton mixes, including Brodinski’s European Introduction to Moombahton.  Because of this song, all of us moombahton-lovers are now known as “fr33ks” and for damn good reason too.

Exhibit B:  “Problem” – Most recently, Starks dropped a banger, “Problem”, for free download!  “Problem” is most definitely one of my favorite Starks productions so far.  It’s a classic dance track, full of bass and a touch of Baltimore club, all the while sampling an unlikely throwback, The Cardigans “Love Fool”.  (RIGHT?!)  With “Problem”, Starks not only rescued and revived “Love Fool” but also transformed it into a massive dance tune that totally bangs.

Exhibit C:  KIDS – Starks was one of the originators of DC’s old-school hip-hop dance party, KIDS.  For a few years on the first Saturday of every month, Starks joined his friends Nacey, DJ Jackie O, and DJ Lil Elle at DC9 to take you back to the old school by playing all the throwback hip-hop jams you could handle.  KIDS was inspired by the 90s cult classic film of the same name and embraced city culture the best way they knew how.  KIDS ran for a few years until they collectively agreed to end that chapter a few months ago.  But in its time, it was a rager for sure, usually packed wall-to-wall with sweaty party people gettin’ busy to Montel Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It”.

Exhibit D:  Nouveau Riche – On the second Saturday of every month, find Starks at his second home at U Street Music Hall for Nouveau Riche, a monthly dance party/shit show run by him and his friends Nacey and Gavin Holland.  As one of my favorite monthlies in DC, you never know what to expect at this one.  These self-proclaimed “party hunks” (I’m not arguing) play everything from dubstep to Baltimore club to electro to their very own productions.  Anything goes at this party and the unpredictability of it all is extremely exhilarating.  The only element you can truly rely on is everybody having an amazing time.  Hands down.  Starks and the rest of the Nouveau Riche boys rock that party like it’s their J-O-Bs (I guess it kind of is…) and they do a damn good job of it.  If everyone is crawlin’ out the club lookin’ like a hot mess, I’d say it was a successful night.

Keep watch for new tracks from Steve Starks comin’ atcha at random times via the innerwebz.  Unpredictable, but it’s happening.  Trust me.  It’s easier if you just stay ready.  In the meantime, if you wanna see him live in action, catch him and the rest of the Nouveau Riche crew at U Street Music Hall this Saturday starting at 10PM.  It’s bound to get totally w3ird so bring your favorite fr33k flag and let it fly high.

I recently caught up with Steve Starks to talk about his new tune, “Problem”, his favorite memory from Nouveau Riche, and what kind of goodies we can expect in the near future.

Cool Breezy:  How’d you get into DJing and producing?

Steve Starks:  I first started messing with production on an old demo program that I installed on my parents computer.  I would just make weirdo beats all day until that computer crashed.  I got one of my own in college and my homie, Nacey, showed me how to use Fruity Loops.  I learned all the basics on that program and have been making music since.  Along the way, I figured I should learn how to DJ so I could do the performance part.  I saved up and got some turntables and started playing parties here and there.  After school I moved to DC and linked up with Gavin Holland and started doing Nouveau Riche with him and Nacey and have been doing it ever since.

CB:  You just released “Problem”, which is a total monster of a track.  What’s next?  What are you working on now?

SS:  I got a new EP in the works for T&A Records and my Fr33ky in tha Club (moombahton) EP will be out shortly.  In the meantime, I wanna keep putting tracks out on my soundcloud.

CB:  Who are some of your influences as a DJ and producer?  Is there anybody you’re trying to work with in the future?

SS:  I grew up on hip-hop.  When I young I was really inspired by old Missy (Elliot) and Timberland tracks.  Being from Maryland, I also listened to a lot of Baltimore Club music on the radio [and at] house parties and school dances.  Once I got turned on to dance music, I found a place to tie together all my influences.  Blaqstarr and Green Velvet are still two of my favorite DJ/producers.

Right now I’m working on some collaborations with my hometown heroes Nadastrom and Tittsworth.  I’m also hoping to get up with Baltimore’s DJ Pierre in the near future.

CB:  What tunes are in your iPod rotation right now?

 

SS:  I’ve been real into Lex Lugar and Juicy J’s mixtape. Brodinski, Brenmar, Movado, Munchi, The Dream, Eric Rincon, Tittsworth and Alvin Risk are in heavy rotation. Lots of hip-hop old and new and the most random tunes from Dolly Parton to Pantera to Jodeci.

 CB:  Got a favorite memory from one of those crazy ass Nouveau Riche parties?

 

SS:  One that stands out is when the music cut one time.  Some one had kicked the plug out, but the vibe was so strong that people were clapping to the beat for like a minute straight.  Once the music cut back on it was pandemonium.  People lost their minds!  Also, our first time playing at U Street Music hall was really special.  I still can get over what a good job they’ve done with that club. I’m so happy to call it home.

Nouveau Riche: Five Years Of Helping You Getcha Freak On.

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Nouveau Riche began as a wee little monthly rager at DC9 way back in 2006.   As the brainchild of DC DJs Gavin Holland, Steve Starks, and Nacey, Nouveau Riche held a lot of promise and soon enough their dance party was filling DC9 to the brim with hot and sweaty hipsters gettin’ their freak on at max levels.  Nouveau Riche became this highly anticipated hotbed of debauchery, selling out every month and led the doors to enforce a one-in-one-out policy.  With this kind of track record, it came as no surprise when in 2008, Nouveau Riche was named Best Dance Party in the City Paper’s Best of DC issue.  In 2010, Nouveau Riche found a new home down the street at U Street Music Hall and has since been celebrating its existence every second Saturday of the month.  Cut to this Saturday and they’re celebrating their Five Year Anniversary – a huge accomplishment in a city that’s got enough dance parties to feed an army.  Wait.  Anyway…

Who are these guys?  Holland, Starks, and Nacey have each experienced their own individual success as DJs and producers.  Gavin Holland is a party-starter-extraordinaire and also works with Chris Burns in Party Bros.  You can find Steve Starks all over DC.  He’s released Git Em on T&A Records last year and now his “Get Fr33ky In the Club” moombahton track is on so many of those moombahton mixtapes infiltrating Soundcloud lately.  It seems like Nacey stays cookin’ up some good shit in the lab and keeps his finger on the pulse at all times.  Last summer, his Bulletproof remix landed the opening slot on Mad Decent’s Lazerproof mixtape.  Both he and Steve Starks collaborated and released Time Run Out/Lydia on T&A Records last year as well.  These dudes are seriously talented.  They create dance anthems on the regular and when combined, the forces are unstoppable.  If ya don’t know, now ya know…

It’s always forward motion for these guys.  Their move from the smaller DC9 attic to the enormous, 300+ capacity basement at U Street Music Hall was risky, but calculated.  Nouveau Riche regulars felt pretty cozy (and fr33ky) at DC9 but the move down the street to U Hall allows Nouveau Riche to grow, getting harder/better/faster/stronger with each passing month.  But no matter where they are, Holland, Starks, and Nacey are sure to remain ahead of the curve as far as what’s happening in the music scene in DC and beyond.  At Nouveau Riche, they’re gonna play some of your fave songs you wanna hear, some shit you’ve never heard before that you’re gonna Shazam and download later, as well as sprinkling in some of their own productions.

It’s anything goes at this party, and I mean that in the greatest way.  The kids are GOIN’ IN from start to finish and you’re probably gonna see some wild shit, but remember, “What happens at Nouveau Riche, stays at Nouveau Riche.”  The music ranges from hip-hop to dubstep to Baltimore club – pretty much anything they feel like vibin’ out to that night.  They’ll keep you movin’ and groovin’ all night and when it’s over, you probably won’t even know what hit you.  It might be the whiskey, it might be all that ass-shakin’ you’ve been doin’, or it might be that hip-hop banger they dropped that made ya head explode.  Either way, whatever it is that you’re looking for, Nouveau Riche will give it to ya just right, all night.

I caught up with the guys to find out where Nouveau Riche came from and where you can expect it to go in the future.  Ch-ch-ch-CHECK IT:

Cool Breezy:  Tell me about the beginning of Nouveau Riche.  What made you three decide to collaborate?  Which clubs hosted the party before you settled at U Hall?

Nouveau Riche:  As the legend goes, Steve and Gavin were coworkers at XM Satellite Radio, and met in the basement gym while jogging on neighboring treadmills.  Steve and Nacey went to high school together and were new roommates living in DC.  Steve introduced Gavin to Nacey, and Nouveau Riche was born.  The collaboration was pretty natural because the three of us seemed to have just the right amount of overlap in musical tastes, balanced with the tastes that are unique to each of us.
Nouveau Riche was mainly at DC9 before U Street Music Hall, but early in the game we bounced around and had parties at a few other venues around town… and a whole lot of house parties.

 CB:  DC is home to such an active nightlife with a million parties.  What makes Nouveau Riche different from the rest?

NR:  Most importantly, we’re producers as well as DJs, and Nouveau Riche is focused around that.  Since moving to U Street Music Hall, we haven’t booked any guest artists because when it’s peaktime, we want to be up there playing our latest tracks.  If it’s 1am and the club is going nuts to something you’ve never heard before, there’s a good chance one of us made it that afternoon and we’re testing it for crowd reaction.  

We’re also unique in our consistency of brand, which probably comes from our real-life friendship.  Nouveau Riche isn’t something we turn on once a month… the music, the clothes we wear, the design sense in the flyers, the way we talk, all of those things come from the simple act of hanging out outside of the club.

CB:  You see a lot of parties pop up and then quickly fizzle out.  Any keys to the longevity of Nouveau Riche?

NR:  Realness.  A gimmick can only last so long.  Nouveau Riche grew organically, as a party that a group of friends looked forward to every month as a chance to get crazy, hear the latest tunes and wear something awesome.  If the turnout was small in the early days, we didn’t care — it’s something we were absolutely committed to.  Essentially people could tell that we really meant it.  That, and being a few steps ahead of whatever the current trend is.

CB:  How do you see Nouveau Riche evolving?

NR:  There’s no question our sound has gotten more consistent over the years.  It used to be a new genre every 10 minutes, now we tend to work and build a huge, fresh club sound.  As our music gains more and more recognition, hopefully you’ll see Nouveau Riche on the road more often, and maybe even get into releasing other people’s music.

CB:  What have you learned about DJing and the party scene in the past five years?

NR:  We’ve learned not to underestimate the audience.  Nouveau Riche has proven that DC party people are hungry for new sounds, not only the stuff they already know.  We’re really lucky for that.

CB:  Nouveau Riche has some of the best event flyers I’ve seen in a while.  Who’s responsible?  Are any of you guys designers?

NR:  Thanks!  Gavin does the flyers.  Doing the best he can do as a self-taught Photoshopper. (Check their flyers here and here – prepare to be entertained.)

Every second Saturday at U Street Music Hall, the stars align and Nouveau Riche emerges like an oasis in the desert.  All is right in the world.  Congrats to Gavin Holland, Steve Starks, and Nacey – here’s to another five years!  See you Saturday. :)

U Street Music Hall

10PM

$10

21+ (unless you ordered presale tix)