RealMusic Events co-owners (and power couple) Andrew Parsons and Kelly Gray are two exceptionally driven people. They have spent the past eight years building RME from the ground up, booking artists from all over the electronic music spectrum to spin tracks and orchestrate the dance floor. One of my favorite things about their business is that it isn’t about who is popular, nor what will make the most money. RME is about educating the public in both new and quality music, as well as expanding the dance music scene in Austin. In order to grow the scene though, promoters first must grow their brand. Growing one’s brand takes more than just a constant flow of creative ideas, but also the time invested to embark on new concepts, and the guts to take risks.
The newest endeavor of RealMusic Events is a Thursday night series kicking off this week with Dada Life at Highland. If you’ve never been inside of Highland, then this is a PERFECT opportunity to get your first glance. With its multiple levels, spacious patio, and extra production we're bringing in, this club is going to be home to some really memorable nights. I was able to ask Kelly a few questions about this new venue and her future visions of RME with the concept. Read what she had to say below!
RealMusic Events holds the majority of their events at Kingdom, but also pursues other venues from time to time, the newest endeavor being a Thursday series at the Highland. What are the benefits of exploring other venues in Austin for your shows? What drew you to this specific venue?
Over the years, we’ve always enjoyed peppering in some events at different style venues to compliment what we do at Kingdom. Our beginnings were rooted in doing shows at an intimate space AND a larger event space. We understand novelty, variety, and experiences are key aspects in this scene, but we prefer to be as strategic as possible when venturing out... sometimes we feel like Goldilocks testing out venues that feel just “right.” For the larger event concept, we feel strongly that that is Highland.
We’ve had our eyes on the spot for some time as the space just looks like a great layout for a big show. We really don’t have many clubs sets up like that in Austin. Sometimes I’d see new pics of the place and feel a little envious that we weren’t using it yet! But then we were contacted by their new director to do shows there on Thursdays to add diversity to their format, and it felt like the right timing. We took a tour of the place and knew it was something we had to do.
The floorplan is fun with the two tier, open space for the main area with raised DJ booth and spots for our dancers, PLUS a cool basement area for a 2nd dj lineup, AND a large contained patio where you can still hear the music. The aesthetic and design also fit our style! Basically, it all just comes together with the right elements, and we could really envision the flow of a big event there… it felt exciting and REAL just thinking about it. So here we are; the plan is set to motion! We decided to start doing a special event series with about 1 per month to provide our Austin scene a different spin on our premier events. :)
What aspect of Highland are you most excited for your concert goers to experience?
Definitely the layout of the space!
In what way do you hope this Thursday series will broaden the RME brand?
Ultimately, we want to be able to provide different experiences with our brand of shows (where music and passion still take precedence). We have some major events of grander magnitude planned for 2018, and this is a solid building block to that. It just rounds out the offerings we can provide to our patrons and to the Austin dance scene.
The first Thursday of the series features Dada Life. Why did you approach this specific artist for the premiere event?
We are big on ensuring that each decision “makes sense” and that we place artists where it fits stylistically. We had Dada Life at a show of ours at the old Republic Live. They’ve done really well for themselves and have such a high energy. You imagine a Dada Life set and it looks bright, loud, and larger than life... so it felt right to pair the event kickoff with artists that fit the space if that makes sense? It’s going to be a welcomed change up from what has come to be our typical style of show... with a lot of pizzazz and attitude. ;)
What do you see for the future of RME at Highland?
We’re planning some high energy shows for Highland that cater to a variety of folks. The next is Kristian Nairn (Hodor) with a Rave of Thrones special event. We bring in a bunch of extra production to amp up these events so it’s going to be exciting!
Plus, if we can successfully connect various sub cultures in the Austin nightlife scene, that would be a beautiful thing! We really feel that this is a space where we can combine some different nightlife scenes through a common bond with dance + music. <3
Photograph by Robert Garcia