Electronic dance music (EDM) is burning up the House today, but its roots can be traced back two decades when afterhours parties like those held at NASA (Nocturnal Audio & Sensory Awakening) on Friday nights at the Shelter Club in New York City flourished. Back then, nightlife goers were into House and Hip Hop, but many started flocking toward a new House music with sounds falling under the umbrella term Techno. Popular terms for this type of music included Happy Hardcore, Electronic House, Electro, Amen Breaks, Florida Breaks, NASA Breaks, Drum & Base also known as Jungle which later morphed into today's Dubstep sounds. Crowds of all ages were partying to EDM at raves and mega-clubs like NASA.
To pay homage to the 20-year history of EDM, NASA and the talent of the era, there will be a celebration event held at Brooklyn, New York’s Music Hall of Williamsburg on July 21. In what is shaping up to be oldies show for EDM, acts including 808 State, NJOI, Altern 8, Fierce Ruling Diva, Joey Beltram and Carlos Soul Slinger will perform. Alex English and original NASA founder DJ Scotto will also be on hand.
I asked Scott "Scotto" Osman to share his insight on NASA’s 20-year history, the upcoming reunion event and today’s electric underground.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): At one time, NASA catered to a crowd of electro enthusiasts whose age skewed toward 15ish. Now that crowd is in its late 30s. Is this your target audience or will it be 20-somethings who have heard of the talent?
Scott Osman (Scotto): The target demo is the original crowd. If your first nightlife experience was NASA at age 15 in 1992, that person is now 35. For reference, I am 43 this month. It is a similar experience to a high school reunion, except with much better music. I like that it's open for those that wanted to experience it, but couldn’t.
They can come and get a sense of OUR vibe and we can share it, pass it on. The NASA Rewind 12-year reunion I produced in 2004 was a perfect mix of original NASA heads and later generations. There is no better way to pass on the spirit of our true culture. Similarly, I was taught by the original Disco and House club people like yourself, Arthur, Maurice, Richard Vasquez, Suzanne, etc. It is critical now since EDM is so popular and expansive to instill values of tolerance and moderation and support the creative talents of artists coming from it. Whether it’s a festival or a club environment, it's lasted this long and exploded recently in part because of this factor and dedication by many.
A 20-year EDM reunion event will be held at Brooklyn NY's Music Hall of Williamsburg on July 21.
NCC: Will the acts be performing their hits from 20 years ago as well as more modern tracks?
Scotto: I think it's appropriate when looking back at 20 years of EDM to include the whole 20 years, not just 1992 or 1993. Most of the UK and European talent I'm flying in exclusively for this reunion will play the hits they created and similar tracks of the era...but since Alex English and myself are getting booked at all the current big festivals. We will be playing a mix of newer remixes of classic dance tracks--a newer trend in electro and dubstep style which producers use now. It's amazingly fresh and familiar at the same time.
NCC: Tell me about the venue and ticket availabilities.
Scotto: Since we cannot physically be at the original location ever again and duplication is impossible especially in NYC 2012, I opted for a more proper showcase. So, I hand picked the venue Music Hall of Williamsburg. It reminds me of an old Times Square theater before it Disney-fied, with a proper stage and expansive wood dance floor.
It's a medium-sized venue with a capacity for 700. This is the same capacity as the original, which will provide a more intimate family vibe, and also for the amazing line array concert sound, exceptional production and management staff. The Bowery Presents Group is a solid organization.
NASA was special in part due to the polite security, like you were coming into one's living room instead of an airport. Tickets went on sale June 1st and are going rapidly at $38.50 for general admission. Doors open at 8pm sharp. You can visit www.scotto.tv for event details.
NCC: Tell me about Maskarave? Is rave a dirty word now that electronic music has festivals and Gods? Is rave a word that insinuates illegitimate or even illegal one-offs in a new electroworld of seven-figure gigs, stadiums, agents and all the trappings of rock stardom? Now that EDM isn’t underground anymore is it the same?
Scotto: I don't agree "rave" is a bad word... and I own the trademark RAVESTOCK™ (the 1st ever USA EDM massive festival inside of Woodstock 94 which I will do again next year) and of course my Halloween MASKARAVE™ event. I think most intelligent people knowledgeable to the dance music culture don't distinguish festival/rave any longer.
I am quite happy Electronic Music is front and center now, mainstream. Many of my friends are getting rich! Honestly, it's about damn time. America is finally embracing what we all love. Hopefully the MUSIC can INSPIRE everyone and unlock the key to self-enlightenment and self-expression and tolerance.
NCC: Is there an electronic underground similar to 20 years ago NASA? Now that electronic is mainstream what genre is kicking it in the streets and how and when will it break through?
Scotto: The underground will never die. I still play outlaws. Raves still get busted out in fields. Nothing has changed in 20 years. The underground is important for many reasons. New producers and DJs always cut their teeth and strengthen
and sharpen skills. The fashion trends always come up from the underground, as well as the new styles of music. Some of the new styles gaining traction include Moombathon, Bro-step & Complextro. When NASA opened in July 1992 maybe
1000 people in New York knew what Breakbeat or Jungle was. Now Rusko and Skrillex and Dieselboy sell out stadiums like Van Halen or a Monsters of Rock tour. From a NYC/clubs perspective, it is very, very different now. I frequently miss afterhours experiences ala Save The Robots or Choice or NASA, and more often end up in people’s private lofts in formerly bad Brooklyn neighborhoods at 5 or 6am now... After the NASA 20th anniversary show, we will have an after-party somewhere... but you'll have to be underground to find it.
NCC: How else are you commemorating the NASA 20-year marker?
Scotto: We are issuing limited edition T-shirt designs and posters available at the event and online as well as releasing free music downloads of the live digital recordings of NASA at the Shelter, NASA Rewind and this 20-anniversary event. I have always diligently recorded and filmed DJ sets from the day I came to NYC in 1989, from Red Zone to Limelight to NASA and my own DJ show tours. So awesome to have a documentary gene in me and be able to license footage to various films and projects to share the history of that era.