all photos by: Shauna Alexander (feat. Will Eastman, Jesse Tittsworth and the Nadastrom mascot)
interview by: Svetlana
It has been a year since, just days before opening the doors of their new nightclub on U Street, Will Eastman, in an interview to BYT, announced that he’s “feeling giddy and after testing out the sound system, literally in tears of joy”. The first song that came off of those (now) fabled speakers was Goldie’s “Inner city life” and the rest, as they say, is dancefloor history.
Since then, the team (which aside from Eastman, features Jesse Tittsworth as the other public face of the operation + Eric Hilton, Farid Ali, Ian Hilton, and Brian Miller as the co-owners) has managed to cultivate what can only been called (and has been called) one of DC nightlife’s crown jewels where DJ is God and President and we’re all grateful followers. The policies stayed the same: no fuss, no muss, no cameras, no sitting down (unless you really HAVE TO)-just the deepest bass in town, lots of room to dance, and probably the most consistently impressive dance bookings around (Matt Dear? Yes! Optimo? YES! Dimitri from Paris? Yes PLEASE.)
TONIGHT, on their proper birthday, they celebrate with JESSE ROSE (Made to Play, Berlin) JUSTIN MARTIN (Dirtybird, SF) NADASTROM (Dubsided, LA) .RSVP at the link below by 3/10 for FREE admission if you’re 21+ http://bit.ly/uhall1year (it is $10 for 18+).
In the meantime, we caught up with Will, and swung by the place for some pie and to take some celebratory snaps of him, Tittsworth and that SkyMall Nadastrom mascot we’ve all grown to know and love.
If you could sum up how you feel on your 1 year anniversary in one sentence (or word): what would you say?
When you look back, has the last year been exactly what you expected it to be or nothing like you thought it would? (and elaborate)
There was no way we could have predicted the wonderful, positive response we’ve received from the DC music community and electronic music community beyond DC. It’s light years from anything we remotely expected. We’re very grateful for the support we’ve received which has far surpassed anything we could have hoped for when we planned U Hall.
Has the idea of the club stayed pretty close to what you imagined, or has it evolved and how?
The concept of the club remains as we planned it: back-to-basics, focus on sound, dancefloor and little else. We like to think of U Hall having everything it needs and nothing else. Anything else would be a distraction anyway.
If there was one thing you wish you knew a year a go as you dived into this, what would that have be?
To take a really long vacation because I don’t think I’m going to be getting one for awhile.
Lets talk favorites: favorite act you had around (And why), favorite night (and why), favorite moments (and why)?
I can’t pick a single favorite act or night but I have a million fond memories already: The look on the Aeroplane guys’ faces when they turned up the bass on our opening night. Breaking my toe at the soft opening while moshing to Nadastrom. Michael Mayer giving me a hug after his performance. He’s German. They don’t hug a lot. Classixx dropping DC Go-Go. The Martin Brothers completely blowing my mind with their set. Getting schooled on amazing old house stories by Sam Burns and Jellybean Benitez. Tittsworth dumping a huge birthday cake on me on my birthday and me DJing with frosting all over my hands and face. Pantha Du Prince performing in a monk’s hood. Trouble Funk’s special secret show. Dancing like crazy about 100 nights.
Lets talk least favorites: least favorite act you had around (And why), least favorite night (and why), least favorite moments (and why)?
A very small number (fortunately) of folks disappointed me. Those people, who shall remain unnamed, will not be coming back. I have high standards and if I didn’t you wouldn’t want me running and booking any club you’d want to go to.
As DJs, how different does it feel to DJ in your own club as opposed to someone else’s?
It’s my favorite place to DJ in the world. It feels like home. We created U Hall to be our dream place to DJ and I feel very fortunate to be a resident there. I feel a lot of pressure when I DJ at U Hall. I feel like every time I DJ there I need to earn it. I can’t sit back and relax. I can’t take it for granted. We have some of the best DJs in the world coming through on a regular basis. As a result, I think U Hall has made me a better DJ.
Has having a club taken away from your DJ career in any way (or added to it) or have they been able to merrily co-exist?
My primary job is DJ and producer and U Hall is technically my second job. I just work harder now than I ever have before. They happily coexist, and as I said U Hall has def made me a better DJ and producer. I can go down to the club and test out my new tracks and remixes on the sound system now, and I do that often. Again, grateful.
Do you feel DC finally having a club like this has helped the local DJ scene over the last year and how?
I think DC DJs have helped the DC DJ scene. Let me be clear, U Hall is a sum of the support it receives from the local community. Titts and I didn’t build the music–well, except our own tracks–DC DJs, bands, producers and promoters did. We just gave it a platform.
If you could orchestrate a perfect U Hall night, time and space continuum non withstanding, what would that night entail?
Daft Punk, Tiga, Gui Boratto and lots of bourbon
In year 2 of U Hall what can we expect? Anything you’d like to change? Someone special you’d like to bring by?
I’d like to bring in Daft Punk, Tiga, and Gui Boratto. I’m not joking. We’re starting a petition for Tiga to come to the club. Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Thomas Bangalter, you have an open invitation to play U Hall any time you wish. Holler at us. Gui Boratto is a producer all of the U Hall owners admire and we’d love to host him in DC. For year two, the focus is now to work hard to continue to improve the club. We see it as a work in progress. I can’t wait for the next 12 months.
If you could pick a 12 song soundtrack for your U Hall experience (one for each month) what would that soundtrack be?
For the past 12 months, I’d pick Dave Nada’s Moombahton (his original track and the genre it launched,) Tensnake “Coma Cat,” Justin Martin and Ardalan “Mr. Spock,” Play Paul “Tijuana (Trumpets Of Lust),” Massive Attack “Paradise Circus” (Gui Boratto Remix,) Duck Sauce “Barbra Streisand,” Steve Starks “Get Em,” mine and Micah Vellian’s “No Sleep,” Beautiful Swimmers’ “Big Coast,” Midnight Magic “Beam Me Up” (Jacques Renault Remix,) Pase Rock “Nights” (Nadastrom Remix,) and Dmerit’s Love Cubed.
Any words of advice for new venue owners?
Work your ass off and if you don’t you’ll only have yourself to blame.
Finally-a shout out? (to anyone, anywhere, your choice)
When I left my day job 4 years ago to DJ full time a lot of people thought I was crazy. A few who didn’t were my mom, my boss at the time, Art Molella, and Jesse Tittsworth and Brian Miller (aka Brian Billion). I would like to shout them out as loud as a shout out can be shouted. Thank you.