Imagine a cruise dedicated to the very best in dance music, which is also one of the most exclusive, unique experiences in live music – period.
Now imagine you can’t go on either of its two voyages due to extremely high demand. Or, if you are able to go, you just want to feel the hype that surrounds it between sailings.
Then Ship2Ship is where it’s at.
The cruise I’m talking about is the phenomenon known as Holy Ship!, but since I fall into the former category (and have also been known to suffer mal de mer), I opted for the Los Angeles stop of the nationwide Ship2Ship tour.
Ship2Ship runs alongside Holy Ship! (January 3-6 and February 10-13 this year) and aims to keep up the momentum between the voyages — something it’s done very successfully.
Every single outing of this year’s tour has sold out, including this past Saturday’s event at Avalon Hollywood.
It was a huge night due to it being something of a homecoming show for HARD founder and Holy Ship’s creator and veritable captain Destructo, who spoke exclusively to M&C about the tour and his plans for 2016.
The night was an especially windy one in Hollywood, and early birds got to enjoy a ephemeral set from LA regular Bones.
But once the massive line of Angeleno electronic music fanatics and Shipfam (a clever little nickname for those who have shared the Holy Ship! experience) were corralled into the palatial venue, they were treated to a mind-blowing set from newcomer Rezz, whose dark, predominately mid-tempo set got a rapidly filling room dancing hard and immersed in her galvanizing mix.
Very few openers can amass a huge crowd that early on in the night but even fewer can do so this early on in their career.
If you haven’t been under a rock the past year then you know that Rezz is one of the fastest-growing names in electronic music. Her set on Saturday only reflects why she has had such a meteoric rise.
The ominous red light pouring on the young artist perfectly complimented her unique, tenebrific sound. Every track she played (nearly all were her own) got people dancing or hypnotically bobbing their heads.
The deeper into her set we got, the more the dance floor got packed, proving that the attendance was going to be one of the venue’s largest. She started off the night better than anyone else could.
Following her was house maestro and Dirtybird records favorite Justin Martin, who delivered an electrifying mix of some of the most cerebral house I’ve ever heard.
The veteran player kept the room’s energy up and then some. At the end of his set, Martin jumped into the morass of a crowd to greet fans and give all the hugs, high fives and selfie opps he could before he made his way back to the DJ booth to introduce the captain himself – Destructo.
Gary Richards, otherwise known as Destructo, is a true champion of electronic music. Whether as a promoter behind one of the nation’s largest event companies, HARD, or as the DJ/Producer with a successful career going back to the early 90s, Richards’ deep reverence to electronic music resonates in every one of his ventures, including the much lauded Holy Ship!.
His mix for the night started off with a bang with his brand new single 4 Real, an incendiary G-House dance-floor slayer featuring Ty Dolla $ign and IloveMalkonnen.
The mix was a high energy blend of house, techno and hip hop that got the sold-out venue completely into party-their-faces-off mode.
Once 2am came, his solo DJ set turned into a wild back-to-back with other Shipfam artists: Justin Martin on the decks again and Wax Motif.
Just before the HARD father’s set, I got to chat with him about the tour, his favorite moment from this year’s first Holy Ship! voyage, playing on his birthday and the new music he has coming out.
Read the interview in full below:
Monsters and Critics: How’s the Ship2Ship Tour been going?
Gary Richards: It’s been good, I think every show has sold out!
M&C: Holy Ship! will be embarking on its second voyage in a few weeks. What was a special moment from the first voyage?
GR: The whole thing was pretty special but I have to say the sermon was pretty cool. This is the first time that the sermon was packed.
It felt like the whole boat was there, and when the sermon was done I went down to deck five and just started knocking on people’s doors at nine in the morning. I was like, ‘Housekeeping!’.
People would open their doors and freak out. That was pretty fun. I had a good time at the sermon.
M&C: You’re referring to the “sunrise sermon” set, which has become bit of a trademark for Holy Ship! for you, how did the idea for that come about?
GR: The first club I ever did, way back in the early 90s, was called The Sermon, and I started at six in the morning on Sunday morning and some people on the boat thought ‘why don’t you do one of those on the boat?’
I thought that was a great idea. So there you go.
M&C: Since we last talked in Red Rocks you have come out with Bodyback, Techno, and this week you released 4 Real. Are these singles leading up to a release?
GR: The plan is to have another EP in the spring. I’m working on it right now just trying to finish the last couple of tunes and get it out.
M&C: So, your prom after-party was also here at Avalon?
GR: I just went to high school in LA and our after-prom was here. I think it used to be called The Palace.
My brother used to manage a lot of metal bands, like Hatebreed played here before and I used to do Control here on Friday when they opened.
I just like this spot. It’s been a long time coming back to the Avalon. I love Hollywood, it’s a great club.
People always think ‘this club has a stigma or that club has a stigma’. For me it’s more like this is a good building, has a great sound system…we’ll do the f**king rest, you know.
M&C: Rezz had an amazing turn out earlier on, how has it been having such a nascent artist on this tour?
GR: We’re showing her the ropes, it’s cool, she’s learning fast about tour life but her music is dope.
She’s got a long career ahead of her and she’s been a great addition to the tour and for her to come on Holy Ship! in [February], it’s going to cool to show her what that’s all about.
M&C: After listening to 4 Real I am reminded of how well the G-House sound you helped cultivate is taking off. How does it feel being behind that?
GR: It’s cool, man. I never really think about it like that, you know, I just think it’s a good song.
I do hear influences of what we’re doing in other people’s music, other tracks. It’s a good thing but I think the key is not trying to get bogged down to a genre, just trying to make better songs.
I think that’s where it’s heading, just learning how to make the songs better, make them flow better, make them work for the club. But they still got a good melody and a good hook.
Being able to work with Ty Dolla $ign you get some pretty strong melodies.
M&C: You [And Ty Dolla $ign] have done two songs together now. Are there any more tracks with him to come?
GR: I’m sure we’ll do more. Ty is just down, it’s so cool to see somebody in that world that really gets what we do, what I do.
He’s supportive of me and I’m super supportive of him. I’m sure we’ll do tons of more stuff together!
M&C: After Ship2Ship, you have the second voyage of Holy Ship!. What are some touring plans going into the spring?
GR: I’ve got some shows booked. I think I’m doing some shows in Acapulco and there’s festivals in the summer.
I think I’m going to go to Asia and Australia this year but it’s kind of coming all together now, probably another tour in the fall will be what we’re doing but right now I’m focusing on getting the EP together and probably playing some festivals in summer.
M&C: The first HARD event was HARD NYE, which is your birthday. We haven’t seen many HARD events or sets from you on New Years but you played this past New Years down at [Havoc New Years Eve 2015]. What changed?
GR: I kind of realize the joke in the industry, not so much a joke but they always say that New Years Eve is amateur night for promoters.
And the problem with New Years Eve is that everyone’s doing a show, so it’s really hard to stand out.
So the first HARD I did on my birthday and I used to always do New Year’s Eve but I have kind of realized I’m better picking March 18th: there’s nothing fun going on March 18th you know.
I just pick a day and do a show instead of picking the one day of the year where everyone’s trying to do a concert.
So for me and HARD, it’s more like I’ll just go and DJ. Actually this year I was just trying to take it off cause it’s my birthday and my kids want to hang but my booking agent was like ‘I got you a gig in Orange County, you wanna go?’
I thought ‘that sounds cool’ so we all went down there with family, got a hotel, played the show, which was really fun and went back and hung out with the kids.
Since I’ve had kids I’ve been somewhere every New Year’s Eve, so they’re kind of like ‘what are you doing dad? We want to hang out with you on your birthday!’ So we did that this year.
M&C: HARD has had some amazing artists play over the years. Who are some artists you would like to come back?
GR: There’s a million of them. I mean I love Justice, I love Boys Noize. We had Future perform, [Skrillex], just everybody.
We have our crew of guys but there are so many great artists now, we’re so fortunate to have such good music that’s on a big scale now.
Before we always had really good stuff like this, but it was a much smaller scale. So I don’t know. We had Giorgio Moroder, Bootsy Collins so we’ll take anyone that’s ever played.
There’s a reason why they played and I’ll always have them back. If you’re in the family, you’re in.
M&C: Who would be some dream headliners for your events?
GR: I don’t know: Dr. Dre, Daft Punk, and Led Zeppelin. That would be pretty cool. Couldn’t have it but it would be pretty cool. [laughs]
M&C: Will the GoHARD tour return this year?
GR: We’re going to do a tour like that, but I don’t know if we’re going to use that name but we’re definitely going to do more shows in multiple cities around that time.
But I don’t know what exactly we’re going to call it or how we’re going to brand it but we’re definitely going to be bringing HARD to more cities around the country and across the globe.
M&C: What are some other plans for 2016 you want people to know about?
GR: We’re going to finish up the tour, Holy Ship!, going to finish the EP and get that out there, that’s kind of the main thing for right now, you know, just focus on LA tonight and San Diego tomorrow.
We’ve got half of the year planned and the upcoming major HARD events ahead.