Cyril Bitar on the branding and evolution of LA’s foremost Halloween underground party: Minimal Effort
Thanks to underground collective Minimal Effort, house and techno fans in Los Angeles have had unusually stellar Halloween and NYE options for the past several years. Following the success of their sold-out 2015 Halloween event, Minimal Effort will be relocating to a more spacious 3,000 person cap venue for this year’s festivities.
The upcoming event will run for 10 hours on October 29 from 4pm until 2am, and include three stages both indoor and outdoor. The top-notch lineup features Tiga (who is presenting the LA debut of his new live show), Pete Tong, Coyu, Jonas Rathsman, Kidnap Kid, Mark Farina, Satori: Live, Steve Bug, Tensnake, Thugfucker, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, among many others.
Grab your tickets for Minimal Effort here.
In advance of the festival, we spoke with Minimal Effort founder (and the artist behind Human Resources) Cyril Bitar on curation, direction, and the evolution of Minimal Effort’s aesthetic.
Photo Credit: Jamie Rosenberg
Artist curation, particularly when putting together large productions like Minimal Effort, is for me both an art form and a balancing act. While all parts of event production are important, artist curation is paramount to shaping the vibe and identity of an event. There are many factors to consider when putting together a show’s roster and, while some may not be pondered by the scene at large, all will leave an indelible mark on the brand and its followers. An event can be well-produced, but if the artist curation isn’t on point, the event’s brand awareness and identity will suffer– even if the attendees have a good time. A strong sense of identity and awareness is what sets great brands apart, and is why we think about the direction we are moving our brand and the experience we want for our attendees when we put together our rosters. Everything needs to click.
Minimal Effort’s brand aesthetic has developed organically over the years. As the name would imply, our creative process has relied less on contrived artistic efforts and more on a free-flow directive to create whatever kind of experience we wanted. The movement that ensued quickly outgrew our humble beginnings in the underground warehouse scene of Los Angeles and, as we continue to grow, we have to be very conscious about our direction and the vibe we cultivate operating in the context of legal venues and clubs. So far, it feels like we’ve made all the right decisions, and the loyalty we’ve received from our followers has reassured this feeling. Having built a trusting relationship with LA’s underground scene is something we are proud of and hope to continue.
An integral part of my curation process relies on trusting my own palate. My musical journey began during my youth in Lebanon, absorbing the regional and western influenced sounds alike. I have since developed a taste for a wide array of styles and genres, and my journey continues on with no end in sight. I have been lucky to have a wide breadth of musical influences to shape and refine my taste, which in turn has allowed me to create show rosters with both credibility and appeal. Here are some of the songs that have been most influential along the way:
LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
LCD Soundsystem has always been a great example of party music that is inherently good and works for everyone. They have created a following that transcends many generational and cultural divides and for good reason. I can’t think of a sound that exemplifies ‘sun’ more than this.
Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You
Even though I’m not a particularly big Daft Punk fan, it is impossible to deny how influential they have been for electronic music. I have, however, always loved this track by Thomas Bangalter under the Stardust alias. This was maybe my first introduction to French Disco House, and I haven’t looked back since. This type of music really sets the tone for a good party.
Tiga – Shoes
I think there is a serious identity crisis in the dance music scene. We are all here to have fun, but some people take every aspect of this too seriously. I’m happy to see artist like Tiga take a more lighthearted approach to things. I am even more happy to have him headlining Minimal Effort Halloween this month with his live show.
P.S. – I’m still waiting for someone to make a Zoolander’esqe parody interpretation of the ‘underground’ dance music scene. Strong look press shots, mix-offs, and all.
DJ Sprinkles – Midtown 120 Blues (Intro)
I can honestly say few have furthered my understanding of house music as much as DJ Sprinkles. In his prologue to ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ he expresses his understanding of house music not just as a form of art but a conceptual space. This is the most accurate characterization of house I understand to date.
Moby – Go
Moby is likely the most easily identifiable personality in dance music throughout its relatively short, yet rich history. This could be chalked up to his easily distinguishable shaved head or reserved stature, but it is more likely the breadth of his work as an artist. He pioneered a sound in the electronic spectrum that resonated with so many in the 90’s, and he continues to captivate audiences to date. Listening to Moby for the first time was a transformational experience and has shaped the way I look at the contemporary history of electronic music and the scene at large.
Aphex Twin – Windowlicker
I’m a man with an emasculate hairdo, people know this about me. Some know this very well because they have asked, and have been given permission, to touch it. Most of them are the lovely women who attend my events– the ladies just don’t have time for a wack-ass hairdo. I identify with Aphex Twin in this regard. Just watch the video.
The Cure – Just Like Heaven
Bands are really tragic, but in a beautiful way. In contrast to a single performing artist, they are more fragile and human; they feel less permanent than their solo counterparts. The concept of a group of people who come together to create something out of passion is incredible, but almost always the groups grow apart to their own demise– replacing a bassist here, a keyboarder there, and maybe even the occasional singer. You’re often left with a descent into something that is completely unrecognizable from where it began, that is until the band finally decides it should cease to exist. But in this world of bands it’s completely normal. It’s a lot like life as a whole. As far as bands go, The Cure has always felt to me like a band that knew this was happening and did not try to fight it. Their music is as tragic, yet cathartic, as life itself. But honestly, what more could you ask from a band called The Cure?
Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls
I’m not old enough to remember a world without synthesizers, and this is fine by me. I think the most important change to music in the past half century has been the advent of the synthesizer and the impending rise of synth-pop. So many great artists came out of the synth-wave of the 80’s. For me, Pet Shop Boys are one of the most indicative of that sound and movement. While there are so many others deserving of credit, Pet Shop Boys’ formative music paved the way for some of the more developed sounds we listen to today.
Rod Temperton | Michael Jackson – Rock With You
Sadly, this month marks the passing of one of dance music’s relatively unsung heroes, Rod Temperton. Rod laid down some of the most iconic beats and baselines of the 80’s and 90’s. He is credited with having produced “Thriller”, the greatest selling album of all time for Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones. Rod also worked with likes of Michael McDonald, Donna Summers, Herbie Hancock, and James Ingram. His work has touched countless lives for decades, and has played a role in shaping my musical taste more than any other single artist.