Techno Tuesday: The state of LA techno, narrated by Cyril Bitar of Minimal Effort & Human Resources
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
The Los Angeles underground community has evolved tremendously over the past few years. The scene continues to expand beyond the confines of secret warehouse parties to more accessible venues such as Exchange LA, Couture, and Sound nightclub. Serial events like Minimal Effort and All Day I Dream are staking a claim in the market, while newcomers like Cityfox are just now looking to break in. Simply put, it’s an exciting time to be a techno fan in LA.
To learn more about the changes the scene has gone through in recent years, we tracked down seasoned promoter and artist, Cyril Bitar. As an LA resident entrenched in the underground community, Bitar wears many hats. Aside from being one of the founders of Minimal Effort, he helps run Clinic Wednesdays at Couture and DJs under the alias Human Resources with Ahmed Elwan. We picked his brain on the state of the LA techno scene ahead of Minimal Effort’s upcoming Halloween show.
On October 31, Minimal Effort will host Agoria, Miss Kittin, Hunter/Game, Finnebassen, Blondish and more at the Belasco Theater. Tickets are available here.
The LA Techno Scene has come a long way. In fact, since I moved here two years ago, I recognize that LA has endured quite the evolution. When discussing this change, I reflect back upon my roots in Beirut, Lebanon, in order to make a clear comparison.
Prior to living in LA, I was heavily engaged in Beirut’s nightlife scene, which is where I found my interest for it all. At the age of 21, I found myself captivated and inspired by culture of electronic music. Of course, I wasn’t well-known, so I had trouble getting booked at first, so my friends and I said, “Well, let’s just do our own parties then.” That’s really how everything began for me. Underrated, was originally a part series, which evolved into an event company. Through that, I ran Stereo Club Nights for over a year—which I will always remember as my first success in the scene.
Although, I hold the highest regards for my roots, I knew the capacity was near. The dance music scene in Lebanon is extremely vibrant with spectacular venues, surrounds and people. The community is very tight knit, which has its pros and cons. With a smaller scene, it’s much easier to pack events, but at the same time this smaller scene was limited. With little room for expansion, I knew my vision would fit much better within a young, untapped city like Los Angeles. Thus, the migration to U.S. with Underrated and myself.
When I arrived, I was definitely unfamiliar with every aspect of this country—including its electronic music scene. Fortunately, I had my brother to help with the acculturation process. However, it quickly became apparent to me that LA would be a tough market with not only the city’s restrictions, but also the public’s taste. Like I said before, the city was untapped. Think way before to all these festivals (Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis Gathering, etc.) and you have a very inexperienced scene—LA over five years ago. I think these small festivals have definitely been a major contribution to LA’s growth. Festivals are unique and lively.
This “renaissance” state LA is in can thank these festivals. Additionally, any massive shows contribute to this such as our event Minimal Effort. The exposure these festivals or mega-shows reach is beneficial to the market because more people are aware and attending, thus gaining more knowledge of the culture of techno and house. Overall, that is the foundation of Minimal Effort. Creating something that is raw, edge and of other likes of techno music listeners, yet making it accessible to everyone so, the scene can expand. I look forward to seeing more events like Minimal Effort in the city. It would be a great drive for LA’s scene.
Aside from festivals, my interest was in club nights. Wanting to build something consistent in LA, I was determined to curate a weekly club night that could fill the void I was experiencing from saying goodbye to Stereo. With the limited resources of LA (venue wise/restrictions), I knew the resources had to be accessible in order to pull it off. I then turned to my brother for assistance, as owned clubs in Hollywood. Upon that, Clinic was born and has remained a consistent club night for almost two years. Like Minimal Effort, I would like to see more promoters take the commitment and venture of running weekly club nights pop off like Clinic.
If we want the state of LA’s techno scene to mature, I believe it’s necessary to build a proper foundation. The scene has many positives aspects, as well as negative. First off, LA is an amazing city, with a diverse population. This is a wonderful market to connect with, but because it’s so diverse, this can be a challenge for promoters. Nailing events is hard, especially the first few rounds, thus many promoters remain fearful of failure. Additionally, this contributes to this “renaissance” state LA is in. Yes, there are countless parties going on right now, but what I notice is that the consistency has not been reached. Although the underground house/techno scene has been alive for quite some time, I would like to see an increase of steady and constant parties. Our vision is to instill the existence of awareness and appreciation of sophisticated dance culture in LA—but above ground so it’s accessible to all.
With that being said, since I came here the scene has definitely evolved. The momentum is building and LA’s scene has slowly started to sway off from the likes of flashy, and outrageously expensive, EDM festivals as well as illegal warehouse parties that are not reachable to everyone.
The future is bright for the City of Angels. In time, we are confident that LA will resemble a distinguished, lively, and massive nightlife scene.