A former marine and a Spundae promoter walk into a warehouse … that’d be the abbreviated version of how Alex Clark and Oscar Molina met and formed Spacebyrdz. But what you really need to know about the Las Vegas duo is not how they met, what’s up with their label RiffRaff (new remix EP out soon), or even exactly what genre they spin (just know that it isn’t electronic dance music). Spacebyrdz wants you to know why people should dig deeper when it comes to electronic music, why they’ll stick to their roots and never sell out and how the experience changes beginning March 14 when Club After opens its patio.
You two first teamed up after playing a warehouse party in L.A. in 2007. In what direction has your sound gone since then?
Clark: As time’s progressed, we kept current on our music changes: electro, progressive, tech house, deep house, techno. You have to stay relevant. It’s just kind of a growing snowball.
You talk about staying relevant, but you aren’t playing that Vegas big-room sound that prevails at the megaclubs.
Molina: It’s a big-room sound, but it’s a big-room sound to what we like. The techno that we play? That’s a festival, big-room sound.
Clark: Big-room sound here, they’re thinking Hakkasan, Calvin Harris—but it’s all the same cheesy buildup, big synth-y buildups and drops. The thing about that stuff is all of the resident DJs are playing that same music, the same tracks in a different order. You have a headliner come out and you pay them $400,000?
You’re hearing the same shit your residents are playing for $1,000. So what’s the fucking point of having a headliner playing the same music your residents are playing—not just your residents, but everyone in this town?
Molina: I don’t understand how everyone gets away with playing the same music and the clubs think that’s cool.
Clark: I have a friend who’s a go-go dancer at The Bank, and there’ll be one DJ who she said plays the same song three times within an hour.
As DJs, if we play, say, an eight-hour set, we might play one song twice if we played it really early and might want to play it again later when there are more people, but it’s because it’s that good. But even then I’m still iffy about playing the same track in the same set in one night—no fucking way. It’s like an unwritten rule. We have way too much music. We just want to expose the global shit. The shit that’s being played all over the world—Ibiza and all the best parties—aren’t playing Calvin Harris and all that shit; those aren’t the best parties in Ibiza. It’s Music On [Marco Carola’s party], Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, Jamie Jones and his Paradise party. They play together, they all circulate with each other playing each other’s parties and playing the newest sounds.
Hawtin and Jones have played Vegas. What do you think about that?
Clark: Everyone’s like “Oh, they’re selling out and playing a commercial club.” I’m like, “They’re playing a commercial club at 3 o’clock in the morning, that’s an after-hours set. They would never play at midnight.” This town isn’t ready for it. The earliest you can play the music that we play is 3 o’clock in the morning in this town, because people who go out earlier want to hear the shit they can sing along with like it’s karaoke, and you have to cater to that. The people at 3 a.m. are fucked up and want to dance, and we play shit that makes people dance. You have no idea what we’re playing, but you can dance to it and want to know what it is. Richie Hawtin, when he played [at Marquee], he had a great time I guess, he played three hours. I heard Jamie Jones [playing at Marquee], as soon as his two hours were up [snaps fingers] he was gone, and he just had a horrible time there. The staff was rude, they didn’t even relax the dress code.
You mention dress code, a sore subject for many in the underground.
Clark: The people who listen to [underground] music don’t wear button-up shirts. If you have a hat and nice jeans and nice shoes, you should be able to get in. Now, if you’re wearing a nasty-ass hat that’s all sweat-stained and some busted-ass sneakers, then you can’t get in. But sneakers and jeans and T-shirts is a style, it’s a comfortable style, it doesn’t mean you’re dressed like shit. Half of our shirts cost more than some whole outfits anyways. It should be based on appearance, not based on what they’re actually wearing. That’s how a proper club should be run, where it’s judged at the door by somebody who has fashion sense. No one fucking dances in button-up shirts.
Molina: I don’t get it. I’m gonna wear a $5,000 suit, and I’m gonna go to the club and be like, “Hold on, let me not rip my $1,000 Gucci shirt. I don’t wanna get sweat stains on my shirt”?
Why not just take the commercial EDM route and be set for life?
Clark: We put in years of our lives doing this, but because we keep up with the times, it’s not like we have to do it all at once now. But if you’re someone new on the DJ scene? You just go to the Beatport Top 10, download those tracks, it’s easy and you can just play that and everyone will love it. New DJs want to do it for the limelight, the glory, to look cool and make money. You can fake it till you make it. There are a couple of people in this town—I won’t mention names—who faked it till they made it, but they still want to claim their underground roots, and you can’t do that, man. Once you go that route, your credibility is gone. And that’s fine, but at least just claim it. Claim that’s what you’re doing: You’re a commercial, open-format jukebox for the club and you make good money. Good shit. We need people like you, because I wouldn’t do that.
The patio at Club After kicks off March 14. Explain why people should hang out as that dreaded sun comes up?
Clark: First of all, the patio is legendary just because of the location [in the Tommy Wind Theatre at 3765 Las Vegas Blvd. South, the space once occupied by Utopia and Empire Ballroom]. Everyone’s like, “Oh, it’s so bright out!” I’m like, “It’s bright when you walk right out into it.” When you subtly get let into a sunrise as the music’s playing, the right music is playing?
That shit will change you.
I’m going to be bringing out the guys who do the Love Life parties in San Diego. RollingTuff, that’s another promotion company out in L.A., the guys who do End Up in San Francisco. We’re also going to be working with Gene Farris and Steve Gerard who do Sound Bar in Chicago, gig-swapping with Dino G. who runs Spybar in Chicago. Plus working with the guys who run NORAD Dancebar in Denver. So I’m getting a lot of people involved with After, and I want to put them on the patio. As of right now, Brett Rubin’s also a resident with us, so he’ll probably be playing the main room when we’re playing on the patio on Saturdays.
Sounds busy. When are you going to sleep?
Clark: We sleep during the week. It’s not about us; it’s bigger than us. We just want to provide a platform for good music.
Originally published in Vegas Seven.