The Secret Project comes to light: moments that defined Factory 93’s debut festival in DTLA
Amsterdam Dance Event generally sucks in all attention from the electronic music realm throughout in October. On the 13 & 14 of the month, however, the global spotlight turned Westward and onto Los Angeles, where Insomniac’s Factory 93 arm finally revealed its ‘Secret Project’ to the world. Taking place in a covert corner of Chinatown, the two-day gathering represented a step in a completely different direction for the brand — one that took the brand outside the box of its rave reputation, and into the radar of mature dance music aficionados.
Over-the-top lasers, LED screens, and confetti were replaced with industrial accents, allowing renowned underground dance acts like Peggy Gou, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Marcel Dettman, Carl Cox, and more to let their music be the true centerpiece of the show. Gone too were the bright colors and outlandish costumes one normally sees at massives from the brand, replaced with the dark colored palette favored by the veteran attendees. Factory 93 endeavored to put on a serious dance music event, and they certainly succeeded both sonically and visually. To tie it all together, edgy new cocktail bar Apotheke and David Chang’s iconic Majordomo restaurant worked in tangent to provide Secret Project’s VIP guests with an equally stimulating experience for the tastebuds. The saying, “a little goes a long way,” certainly applied in the case of this festival.
With a tasteful offering of talent where Carl Cox and Âme x Dixon took precedence over those normally dominating festival mainstages, and extra mindfulness paid toward local promoters who’ve grown the LA scene from its grassroots, it’s safe to say that what seemed like a risk for Insomniac certainly paid off. Is this the new boutique festival hub of the city that puts it on the map for techno tourism? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, we present some musical moments that defined Secret Project.
Kicking off the festival with Making Shapes, Lights Down Low, & Masha
In the vast majority of festivals thrown by mega-institutions, the promoters who hold the real credit for cultivating and maintaining the surrounding city’s vibrant dance scene are often left in the dust. Secret Project was intent on paying its dues, though, inviting Masha of NTS residency fame, and the venerable local LA crews Lights Down Low and Making Shapes along for the ride. Their jovial energies and cheeky grins were as infectious as their track selections, and really helped set the tone for the rest of the day.
Roman Flügel brought a time machine to the show
Seasoned professional Roman Flügel is known to think differently when it comes to his set approach, mixing in an array of electronica from all ends of the spectrum into a mix that feels put together and authentic. This time around, he brought a slice of the 80s to Secret Project, filling the main stage space with synthwave and other off-kilter cuts that stirred heavy feelings of nostalgia. Despite the retro flare, however, Flügel did just fine in arranging each piece in a way that felt plenty refined and futuristic — as he usually does.
Peggy Gou smashed the decks for late-afternoon domination
There were no prisoners taken during Peggy Gou’s set; instead, she opted to completely steamroll her crowd in the best of ways. After a grooving warm-up on vinyl by Octo Octa, Gou showed laser-like focus as she plugged her USB in and got to work behind the decks. She came out swinging, immediately obliterating the dancefloor in a pungent vocal house cut that was impossible to stand still to, and continued on this roll all the way through to finish. It was a veritable journey through house, techno, disco, and acid that left the crowd fiending for more when she was done.
Bicep put on an angelic live performance that enchants viewers
With the Bicep boys having skyrocketed in fame over the past few years and solidifying their success with their critically-acclaimed debut LP, the bar was set quite high for their Secret Project live performance. Meeting these expectations seemed not to pose a hurdle. They made the most out of their one-hour gig, taking onlookers on an enchanting trek through breaks and quality house, with a hint of trance melody sprinkled in. The versatility and overall excellence of their mixing and live creation ultimately made Bicep a standout set of Secret Project, and left a distinctive afterglow that would carry on after the weekend was done.
Tale Of Us melt minds while closing up shop
Like Peggy Gou, Italian duo Tale Of Us did not come to Secret Project to play nice. Rather, they played hard ball showed off the side of their artistry that is a perfect counterbalance to their usual ethereal flare. They doused their audience in moody melodies and atmospheric techno all throughout their two-hour excursion, raising goosebumps and shaking the ground beneath them in the process. Not to mention, their mixing was seamless, which only amplified the foreboding feeling of travelling deeper into the rabbit hole. Anyone in attendance can agree, however, that this was a trap that they had no desire to escape from.
Âme x Dixon’s avant-garde boogie
Secret Project forced fans to make a tough decision when it came to picking a closer on Friday night, and there is no denying that Carl Cox absolutely annihilated his crowd. Luckily, the stages were close by in case the craving got too strong. However, we must tip our hats to Innervisions co-owners Âme and Dixon, who opted to treat their to an array of oddities and outlandish grooves that left some who were expecting a chugging house set scratching their heads before ultimately succumbing to the beat. But possibly the best part of all was their dance moves — these rivaled the music.
Featured image credit: Troy Acevedo