For the past 9 months, an Atlanta team including DJ Pierre of groundbreaking Acid House group Phuture has been nurturing a child in the form of a new nightclub called WildPitch Music Hall. WildPitch is a style of producing music or sound created by Pierre while he was living in New York, and it seemed like the perfect name to call this labor of love.
It’s been an uphill road for them paved with the purest of intentions, so much so that the fruits are slowly but surely bearing. I spoke with Andrea Sutherland, DJ Pierre’s business partner in Afro Acid, (a movement and umbrella that houses labels, event management and the club) on the 9 months since their big opening.
How has it been since the opening and who are some of the people you’ve had guest DJ so far? Some of the names have been quite impressive!
Thank you for the opportunity to share our venue with your readers. Honestly it’s been one of the most difficult undertakings we as team, which includes DJ Pierre, have ever undergone. We did not plan on being venue owners. We moved offices here in about 7 years ago and a comment was made through the music circles that DJ Pierre and the others that live here that they do nothing for the scene. That wasn’t entirely factual because we were doing smaller events here and there, where we booked Green Velvet, Gene Farris and Doc Martin but we (Afro Acid) were more behind the scenes.
So after the comment was made and it came to our attention that “more” needed to be done, we took a more upfront role in promoting events. That led us to the venue where we are now. We were there at the ground level, at opening weekend. We brought in Satoshi Tomiie and that led to Kevin Saunderson, Doc Martin again, Danny Howells, Harry Romero, Boris, Chus and Ceballos, Felix Da Housecat, Doorly, Mr. C, Oscar G, Victor Calderone, Carlo Lio, Louie Vega (in partnership with Tambor), Will Clarke and so many more amazing legends and newer talent.
That’s our passion and our niche. Sharing and teaching about the foundation guys while mixing in the newer generation who seem to refer to the guys who came before them.
“Atlanta is a Trap, Hip-Hop, Dirty South vibe. The heyday of House in Atlanta was amazing I hear. The process to get it back and even beyond where it was — that’s where we are.”
Has the local community been supportive and did you have to tweak the club some?
The local House and Techno community here is growing once again and we actually got caught up in the resurgence. Bringing the level of talent as frequent as we do helps, and I believe the heads are appreciative of that. You have your bad seeds of course, for whatever reason they will always find fault, instead of seeing the pure, honest blood, sweat and tears. Atlanta is a Trap, Hip-Hop, Dirty South vibe, you know. The heyday of House in Atlanta was amazing I hear. The process to get it back and even beyond where it was – that’s where we are. We think Atlanta can be a stop where international artists want to come and be part of what’s happening. It’s tough because we are at the very beginning it seems, but you can see the breakthrough ahead.
The venue went through a total revamp. We built a new DJ booth, extended space, added an outdoor patio, and we bought an entirely new sound system which we proudly mention every chance we get. We have the D.A.S Audio Soundforce system, the only one in the US at the moment.
As far as culture and the experience, we’ve developed a system where every person represents what we stand for: Our front of the house (security), our bar staff, our sound and lighting guys all go the extra mile to make you feel special. We want each and every person who comes through our doors to feel welcomed.
What is the schedule of parties the club has right now? Have you noticed any trends in what’s popular amongst the local crowd?
We have shows every Friday and Saturday but our goal is to open daily. This is a music space, not just a nightclub. Atlanta is filled with so much talent looking for avenues, so we plan on doing an open mic night, a Jazz night, etc. on our off nights. Saturdays we stay true to who we are. We are booking shows like “DJ Pierre and Friends” where Pierre develops a night and invites someone he wants to DJ with. He did an amazing back-to-back with Doc Martin at the last one we had. We have our faithful regulars like Tambor now on every 3rd Saturdays, run by DJ Stan Zeff. His parties are amazing. He also hosted the “Chi-lanta” event which was a collaboration with the Chosen Few DJs and those were amazing.
And speaking of Chosen Few, I believe I can let you know that Wayne Williams is developing his own concept for the Chosen Few for our 4th Saturdays. It’s still in the planning stages but we look forward to it. We also have “Unity” which is a Trance night and they share our concept in paying homage to the guys who were there twenty-plus years ago. So they will book the OGs of Trance and some newer guys. We have a few younger guys like Midnite Panda for the 18+ every first Fridays who mixes in a blend of House, EDM, Techno, etc. Quality… not cheesy. Second Sundays we have our Reggae massive hosted by Highlanda Sound. We try to keep things well rounded but underground.
Recently we did an interview with the owners of Djoon in Paris, and they were talking about their early days. They had to weather ups and downs and really stand by their sound until eventually they became a big success. I think there’s always an advantage when a DJ owns their own club, because they understand the struggles behind the music.
One of the biggest challenges is doing just that. Because this venue is owned by DJ Pierre, who you and I know is a huge part of the history and foundation for dance music, we try to highlight that history by showcasing the first and second generation pioneer guys. It is a very different approach because Pierre is an artist and he wants us to make choices and decision from that perspective, and not from a strictly business perspective. The venue was a very expensive undertaking and we are still putting our own resources in, but we see the rainbow coming.
It was so good to see you and Pierre at Smartbar for Spank’s tribute. Such a sad time.
It was a beautiful moment for our friend and brother. We will always carry him with us. Phuture still tours and once DJ Pierre is able to deal with the reality (he still misses his brother), he will finish up the album project they started together. Phuture will survive.
So what else do you have in the pipeline?
Coming up we have Derrick Carter! Love him and he is Chicago. We have Chus & Ceballos coming back for their second time. The first time they were here they tweeted that, “Finally Atlanta has a true underground club for Techno!” That caused a sandstorm online here in Atlanta! A popular magazine picked it up and posted an online blurb on Pierre opening a new venue and used Chus & Ceballos’ quote as his quote. It was an innocent quote and one we are very thankful for coming from guys like Chus & Ceballos who tour the world over and over. There was unfounded backlash… from some of the other promoters who thought Pierre was being insulting… I think. I’m not sure what the real issue was. But I think that only brought our team closer and allowed us to see the inner dynamics at play here. It caused us to put on more blinders and push on. Our goal is to unite and not divide. To recognize the hard work that others have done and help build on that.
This was a happy accident Afro Acid being venue owners. It’s not our final goal, it’s just part of the journey and the process. The process is to use this music to impact lives, create hope, to encourage love, and really allow the music to heal and do its job. “Music is spiritual,” as Pierre says. It can change lives. So we see WildPitch as a vehicle of change. A movement really.
Visit WildPitch on Facebook at facebook.com/WildPitchMusicHall.
Support #RealHouseMusic! This post was originally published in 5 Magazine Issue 145 featuring Joeski, Ricardo Miranda, WildPitch and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music for only $2 per month!