[UPDATE: As if the HARD festivals weren't surpassing epic proportions as it is, it was leaked this morning via Rusko's Facebook page that there will be a HARD stage at this years Electric Daisy Carnival. More info at the bottom of the post]
With the announcement of the HARD Summer line-up last week, we couldn't help but notice how much they have outdone themselves in terms of bringing the most in the now, up and coming and sought after talent today with a diverse line-up featuring everyone from Dog Blood, Flux Pavillion, 2 Chainz, Empire of the Sun to Baauer. Since 2007 founder Gary Richards, also known by his stage name Destructo, has supplied world renowned acts to his festivals and today he is the only major music festival promoter in Los Angeles. Booking everything from electro, dubstep, live bands, techno and even hip & hop, Richards has helped bring EDM artist like Justice, Deadmau5 and Basement Jaxx to the spotlight.
See Also: HARD Summer 2013 Lineup Announced
By 2010 HARD Summer was hosting three major music festivals as well as several club and theater shows all over the US which drew more than 100,000 people a year to it's events – the kind of numbers promoters die for. Naturally, with eyes on expanding internationally, Richards sold HARD events to Live Nation last year to create a partnership that has made him one of the most powerful dance music execs in the country. He's come a long way from his days throwing underground warehouse parties which includes deejaying all over the world. He is releasing new music on Boys Noize Records in May titled "Higher" which was previewed at Ultra Music Festival by Dog Blood and on the HARD Summer Trailer. Since Richards is about to take off on his "Higher" tour across North America and parts of Europe, we chatted him up to talk about where he came from and where he is going.
The music industry was in Richards' blood as his father worked in radio and concert promotion in Washington D.C. He attended Led Zeppelin & Alice Cooper concerts as early as age 10 and by the time his family moved to Los Angeles, he was already throwing and DJing his own parties. "I used to go out in downtown LA to warehouse parties in the early 90s," Richards says. "I heard techno and house music for the first time and was instantly hooked." Being the ambitious hustler he is, he saw an opportunity and created "The Sermon" where dressed as a priest he would host a weekly 6 a.m. party early Sunday morning. Designed for those leaving the warehouses, but not ready to end the party he says, "my goal was to play the hardest and most gnarly techno to keep everyone awake."
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After that, Richard's DJ moniker Destructo was born – he chose it based on his tendency to play harder beats than most with Metallica & Black Sabbath influences. "I never thought in my wildest dreams that it would be like this in 2013," he says. "I thought it was going to be big a long time ago, so I kind of almost lost hope for a while. I started to think I was crazy or a weirdo because no one liked [dance music] in America." But his good ear for music and knack for launching new artists at hip spots like the Standard Hotel laded him a gig in A&R for the electronic music division of Def American Recordings. Yet in his usual entrepreneurial spirit however, he established his own record labels Nitrus Records and 1500 Records and released music for everyone from Kill The Noise to the Depeche Mode tribute album For the Masses soon after.
"People then stopped buying CDs so I decided to go back to deejaying and that's when we started HARD," says Richards. Since then HARD events have become staples in places like Miami, New York City, San Francisco, on a cruise titled HOLY SHIP!! and now thanks to his recent partnership with Live Nation in Australia and London. "My skills are in music not city and LA politics," says Richards who for years dealt with logistics, city contracts and festival permits on his own. "Now [other people] can handle that and I can be more creative and do the stuff that I'm really good at." HARD events has become so large that he felt being an independent operator was too expensive and risky when there are so many opportunities around the globe. "I took it as far as I was able on my own, and without Live Nation I wouldn't be able to withstand," he says.
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When asked how he thinks his events compare to his peers like Insomniac Events he says, " We're a little different because we put more detail and focus on the artists and making sure the sound is amazing." Not trying to "vibe-up" the place with dancers and theatrics Gary explains that HARD is more about the music and the artists. With the announcement of their sixth-annual edition of HARD SUMMER's line up at the Los Angeles State Historic Park they have proven this to be true. Adding the only US stop on the ED Banger 10-Year Anniversary Tour as well as a special Dirtybird Records stage featuring Claude VonStroke they have nailed it when it comes to booking this summers biggest line up. "Plus when you are on the main stage you get to see the downtown LA skyline and it's unbelievable," he says. "We are very lucky to be able to do events here." Look out for more larger-than-life productions and some of dance music's greatest artist to grace Richards' events worldwide as well as his DJ sets which continue to heavily evolve yet bring that old school funky techno sound to the masses.
UPDATE: Information was leaked this morning via Rusko's Facebook page that there will be a HARD stage at this years Electric Daisy Carnival. Over the span of the three day festival June 21st – 23rd. The HARD stage will host 27 A-list artists including Grammy nominated A-Trak, the Bloody Beetroots, Crookers, Major Lazer, Rusko and Tommie Sunshine. This is a incredible addition for HARD and EDC to combine forces to bring world renowned talent a la Los Angeles style to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tickets for the 17th Annual EDC are already sold out as of yesterday with an expected 345,000 attendees. Pasquale Rotella, the festival founder announced on his twitter that the full line-up would be announced before May 1st and include more than 150 electronic dance music artists. Expect the announcement later today! We know, sitting on the edge of our chairs as well.
Here's the Flier for the HARD Stage at EDC: