There is nothing more refreshing than change and people that aren’t afraid to embrace it. Detroit’s Hugh Cleal and Bryan Jones came together to form Golf Clap, a cheeky, satirical image complete with costumes and golf-themed parties. Beyond that it also signaled their move towards a deeper more sophisticated sound, and in under a year they’ve already capped up numerous gigs as well as music on labels such as i! Records and Freeze Dried, with a whole lot more to come in the next few months.
I’ve known you both individually prior to you becoming Golf Clap. Bryan, what made you move to Detroit, and how did you two decide to work together? Has it really only been a year?
Bryan: I’m from Indiana and lived in Chicago a few years. In early 2012 I played a couple of shows in Detroit for Hugh and quickly felt more at home in Detroit than I did anywhere else. Best life decision I’ve made in quite some time. We picked our name out in late January 2013 and put our first song out as Golf Clap in March of this year with the Grant Nelson remix.
Hugh: Detroit born and bred. Like Bryan said it started with ChatRoulette and the rest is history.
Are you both still doing Coyote Cuts? Walk me through the transition you guys had from that label to becoming Golf Clap. Was it an ‘Aha!’ moment or something that had been marinating?
Bryan: Well Coyote Cuts is actually Hugh’s label and the company he used/uses to throw events. We played tons of shows together and were writing a lot of music, and we realized we were listening to and playing a little differently than we had previously and wanted to start a new project to reflect this sound we are currently pushing.
Hugh is still pushing Coyote Cuts and I’ve been trying to help him find new talent and re-brand the label with the more current sound that we’re playing in our sets.
I was talking to the 1200 Warriors, and they too are going through a similar process. They want to get away from being pigeonholed into a certain sound and move on to different styles. Did you try playing differently at other gigs prior to being Golf Clap and what reception were you getting?
Bryan: Yes, we played that style at many gigs before we decided the best idea was to start something fresh and re-brand it from the ground up. The first couple of Golf Clap songs were written before we even had a name or concept or anything. A couple almost came out under our own names, but luckily we came up with a plan in time. We wanted to start something new and not confuse people with what sound we are pushing. There’s a lot out there these days, you need to have a clear message for what you’re about.
Detroit has always impressed me with the amount of talent it has. In a city with so much character yet going through economic turmoil, where do you go to get inspired?
Bryan: Detroit is just inspiration central. There’s such an incredible amount of good shows, good DJs and good people around, its hard to stay unmotivated for very long. For us, playing shows and going out and staying active is what keeps us going. When either of us stay at home and aren’t out playing shows we get really antsy. Going out for amazing gigs on the weekend really helps remind you why you’re doing all that work during the week to make it happen.
You guys are definitely the ‘it’ promoters right now with your nights at Grasshopper. It seems like every week you have some major headliner gracing your parties! What are your nights at the club, how long have you been doing them and what are the concepts? How do you manage to get such huge talent for a small (but pretty damn awesome) space?
Hugh: We don’t really have a “night” so to speak at the club. More so a general programming that we like to keep, but the focus has mostly been kept on the headlining talent over our label, company or the club even.
I guess its been about a year and a half since we took over as creative directors of Grasshopper Underground and the concept is ever evolving like our taste in music. We are really trying to push the envelope by bringing in music we feel is on the verge of going big, but not too big of course. We are really lucky to have the support of so many great agencies such as Liaison, CAA, Bond Music Group and many others that are very forward thinking when it comes to the artists they represent.
As far as how we pull it all off the main thing is that we work with the club unlike most promoters that have to cover the DJs off the door cover, which makes it nearly impossible to break even. We do things in-house and take everything into account so that we can simply focus on packing the club. Since the club is open 7 days a week we don’t have to hit a home run every night as long as we keep the party going everything else will fall into place.
Any dream DJs you’re working on?
Hugh: Kerri Chandler, Chris Malinchak or any of the French Express guys, Kink (Live) and a ton of upcoming UK talent whenever we can get them this side of the pond. We also want to arrange the return of Eats Everything.
I was there one time and your crowd really loves you. As far as getting nights going, is it a challenge for promoters to cultivate an audience?
Hugh: It was definitely a challenge to get the ball rolling considering we are uptown and many people won’t leave the city for anything. We were originally introduced to the club by a local promotions group called Stimulus which was the first to approach Troy at Grasshopper and introduce the idea of bringing bigger name DJs into the club. Everything else was just the next logical progression as we are never ones to rest on what we have. We are very lucky to have such a loyal following at Grasshopper and being uptown has turned into more of a blessing considering most people that go to clubs live in the suburbs and this gives them a local option to see a lot of their favorite DJs.
Touring. What’s been going on with that? I imagine this year has been pretty busy for you guys and will continue to be.
Hugh: We started touring under “Golf Clap” pretty much instantly because we were already booked pretty far in advance under our own names and just switched them to Golf Clap shows. We’ve been playing out of town much more lately with trips in the last couple months to San Antonio, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, Columbus Ohio, Fort Wayne, Chicago, Phoenix, Albuquerque and whenever we’re not out of town we have shows locally.
So in terms of Golf Clap, should your focus change, do you intend to keep the name or perhaps cultivate another identity?
Hugh: It’s hard to say. It was a big leap to drop our aliases and start from scratch but in the short months since we made the plunge, the response has been better and faster than anything we have done solo. The music we made last year compared to the direction we are going now has changed somewhat but we like to keep ourselves open to new thoughts and ideas musically because the landscape for what makes people dance is ever changing.
Another thing to note is that the majority of our previous production is made for people to listen throughout their day to day lives – ya know, the other 99% of your life when you’re not in a club. I figure if someone has your CD on repeat in their car everyday, it has much, much more impact than hearing you in a club. The deeper stuff also has more relevance for after the club when it’s late and everyone is hanging out. I always hear “someone put on a mix” at the after afterparty and we really think that’s where our tunes shine the most – sunrise, sunset, super late night vibes. Don’t get me wrong though, when we are in front of a crowd begging for craziness we’ll amp it up plenty.
I want to thank you guys for the newsletter email you put out right before Movement. Not only did you pub your gigs, but you also showed love to your peers which I really appreciated.
Hugh: We love Movement weekend. It’s like Christmas. It’s really a showcase for everyone in this city. We played at least once a day just at afterparties. There was so much good music in town that weekend that we wanted to make an “out-of-towners guide” to Movement more or less. We’re always trying to show people what we think should be showcased. That’s why we constantly do new mixes, bring new artists to Detroit, post new songs on our twitter page, etc. We push the artists and music we love and hope that other people out in the world do the same for our music. Big thanks to Paxahau for everything they do here in Detroit.
Vocals. After going to several deep House shows this year, I’ve witnessed guys in flannel shirts and flip flops go nuts at a screaming diva vocal. Often times those are missing in sets, men opting for the more ‘masculine’, the ‘I’m going to beat it to death’ route. Your thoughts?
Bryan: We decided a long time ago that we just need to get young cute girls to like our music and everyone else will follow suit. Surprisingly enough, they usually opt for the really extra dirty techy stuff we play as opposed to the slower sexy vocal tunes. Maybe that’s because we are in Detroit though. Detroit women are a breed of their own. To answer your question, we’ll go anywhere from girly vocal deep house to dark techy garage. Just depends on the setting and where our head is at the moment. I’d say I push for more of a slower housier vibe & Hugh goes for more of the big party tracks when we play out. It all balances out in the end.
Thank you so much for the interview and the support throughout the years. Tell me what we’re going to see from you this year?
Bryan: Thank you very much for asking us. We’ve been supporters of the magazine for quite sometime and actually have been meaning to ask you for a stack of all the old issues so we can put them in the gig bag. They are top shelf airplane reading material – will read them cover to cover.
We are going to continue to release a lot of free music. We’ve made that one of our main focuses. We really admire labels like French Express that give away quality music for free. We want as many people out there as possible to have our music. Other than that, we have a single coming for Grant Nelson’s Freeze Dried with a remix from Low Steppa coming soon. We recently remixed Armand Van Helden’s massive hit “U Don’t Know Me” and are currently waiting for details regarding the release. We are working on a Rinse FM guest mix for Huxley, a licensed mix compilation for i! Records, and the usual podcast/guest mixes we do for various blogs and websites. Some of our recent mixes guest mixes have been for Deep House Amsterdam, Data Transmission, Paint It Blank, Music is 4 Lovers & even 5 Magazine. We are also throwing upcoming shows in Detroit with acts like Dennis Ferrer, Carl Craig, Homework, Mark Farina, Huxley, Burnski, Shur-I-Kan, and many more at the Grasshopper. We just remixed Colette’s new single “Hotwire” from her album, which will be included on the vinyl single release with a remix from Sonny Fodera. We also have a few other vinyl releases coming soon on 294 and Groovetraxx. We don’t really play vinyl much, but want to cater to those that do.