When we were all in grade school and middle school and the occasional techno/electronic song would burst onto the music scene, we would treat it like the guilty pleasure it was and play it on repeat until we deemed it tired and juvenile.
No one will ever forget the classics like Eiffel 65’s “Voglia Di Dance All Night” or Darude’s “Sandstorm.” These were exceptions to an otherwise pre-electronic music market. Other techno was seen as random and euro-trashy. Now, we can’t escape electronic music. Even Taylor Swift’s new album “Red” includes some EDM, or electronic dance music, flavor.
Visiting CC as a prospie in 2008, it was clear that Colorado had a leg up on the electronic music scene compared to that of my suburban high school in Chicago. Arriving at CC in 2009, I found that a good amount of students, myself included, were deep into the electronic music scene. Pretty Lights and Bassnectar were already household names.
It seems like everyone has a friend or knows a friend-of-a-friend that calls him (or her)self a DJ. Where parties used to be a constant flow of drunk kids tossing an iPod back-and-forth and picking jams, now it’s common to find someone huddled behind a MacBook Pro with headphones on, bobbing and tweaking some random buttons that seem to do nothing.
Even with the multiplicity, a few DJs stand out. Who can forget Siborg, or Silas Scheer in the real world, DJing at the Carriage House back in 2010. All was good until one of his shows got the fans so rowdy that concerts in the Carriage House were shut down for a while.
While we hope to see more appearances from Siborg soon, there’s been an undeniable presence of a student collaborative that has produced some of the biggest school parties: PlayHard Productions.
PlayHard has been a part of off-campus parties like Jackson Pollock Alcoholic and the Psychedelic Nomad Factory, but the group is probably best known for such school-sponsored events like Electrocircus (Fall 2010), Candyland (Spring 2011), Invasion (Fall 2011), Jumanji (Spring 2012) and this year’s Things That Go Bump.
The music production group has evolved over the last eight years. It was originally called Sensation Productions under the direction of Ian McGhie, CC ‘11. It was this same McGhie who trained the then-freshman Eli Michaels who now, as a senior, runs PlayHard Productions.
“It used to be sketchy and unprofessional. Now we’re a lot more transparent and a lot more professional. So far it’s worked in our favor, so I hope to continue that,” Michaels said.
Michaels has the support of sophomore Alex Gilbert, juniors Chloe Banning, David Becker, and Julian Katz, senior Ryan Haas, and seven freshman interns. Each member of the core team is separately responsible for putting his or her natural interests and skills to use, including graphic design, sound production, transforming event space, branding, or working with the administration.
“We are working to produce a product for the student body. Everyone is in the group not just to have fun, but to better whatever it is that they are producing,” Michaels said.
Of course, these elaborate events could not happen without the funding from CCSGA.
“It’s awkward turning in budget requests asking for $3,000 for decorations, or $700 for lasers, but it all goes into making these events amazing,” Michaels said. “[CCSGA] can see how well we’re received by the community and they want people to go to our events.”
While the group‘s seriously hard work certainly plays a role in CC’s trust in their event planning, Michaels points out that “the market [for electronic dance parties] has increased so much. It’s not a weird countercultural thing any more; it’s the norm.”
PlayHard has a slew of DJs that throw down, but their headliners often are sophomore Alex Gilbert (DJ Gilbert) who dons a giant Squid hat and junior Julian Katz (DJ LOL Katz). These two DJ’s provide very different sets. Gilbert reads and responds to the audience and plays everything from super bassy hip hop to progressive house untzing. Whatever will get the crowd most wild, he’s ready to play on the fly.
Gilbert explains that while some of his show is live, Katz’s show is much more pre-planned. Katz’s is a set that takes weeks of preparation to build. Finally, after badgering for a while about what exactly is going on with all the knobs and buttons with their controllers, Gilbert clarified that it really is a lot of theatrics and jumping around.
PlayHard will host its next event Ice Age on Dec. 8, the second Saturday of fourth block.
“We’re trying to make it the rebirth of Ice Age,” Michaels said about an event that has gone under the radar in recent years but what used to be a student favorite, comparable to Llamapalooza or Blues and Shoes.
“It’s going to be like a winter wonderland, Narnia, twinkly, ethereal, winter forest, magical dance party, meant to be a stark juxtaposition to Things That Go Bump. It’s supposed to be light and beautiful,” Michaels said.
When it comes to school parties, PlayHard Productions has a single thing in mind: the student body.
“We’re really doing this for CC. We try to cater what we’re doing to our audience. Marketing in a way that CC is going to be receptive to and with the type of music that we play,” Michaels said. “It’s so good to look out and see everybody having so much fun and knowing that you made that happen.”