Changing The Game Up w/ BUKU Flair – An Interview w/ Winter Circle Productions

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

New Orleans and live music go hand-in-hand. Whether it’s a jazz band during a Sunday brunch or a string quartet serenading you from the balcony above, music is everywhere in New Orleans. In a city build on tradition, keeping a fresh approach and an open mind at all times are vital to ensuring a bright musical future for this city. Winter Circle Productions’ co-founder, Reeves Price, spoke with me about how they have approached this threshold and how they plan to keep the scene moving forward, both locally and regionally.

Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. The motivation behind it is what distinguishes it. The desire to take something and make it better is nothing new, especially in regards to the musical ecosystem that is New Orleans. The foundational medley of homegrown jazz, funk, and rock-and-roll has been maturing over the years, unconsciously desiring a new approach to formatting for a contemporary time. I spoke with Reeves Price, of Winter Circle Productions, about how they have chosen to approach this unspoken desire and some of the unique elements they have introduced to the regional scene.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your role and what are your responsibilities within this organization?

Reeves Price of WCP – I am a Co-Founder and Partner in Winter Circle Productions. My responsibilities generally lie in the areas of: production, logistics, marketing, talent buying, and business development.

A’Damaged Pro – How did Winter Circle Productions (WCP) come to be? Was there an isolated moment where you guys realized that you wanted to start changing what music was available?

Reeves Price of WCP – WCP came to be after Dante Dipasquale (my biz partner and Co Founder of WCP) produced an afterparty for a Disco Biscuits concert in New Orleans featuring Dr. Fameus and Gravity A. We were both big fans of The Disco Biscuits and wanted to give friends and fans something to do between shows.

A’Damaged Pro – Is there a mission statement or guiding concept for WCP?

Reeves Price of WCP – The guiding principle is to produce the highest quality events possible for the all fans and the artists of quality music.

A’Damaged Pro – How would you describe WCP’s role in the local and regional music scene?

Reeves Price of WCP – Initially, our role and vision was to bring fresh talent to NOLA for the progressive and contemporary music fans. That vision slowly morphed from simply providing the music to a focus on the quality of the fan & artist experience as well.

A’Damaged Pro – What changes have been made to the musical landscape, credited to WCP’s inception?

Reeves Price of WCP – It would be hard to take credit for any changes but that said there is no doubt that the NOLA music landscape has changed drastically since we started. When we started BASSIK the EDM scene was just beginning to bubble again and we all know what has happened since! We also saw a lot of great acts skipping the NOLA market as they were on tour and now NOLA has become a must stop for a lot of bands on the road.  We are seeing better and bigger shows and better and bigger attendance. We have also started to see more and more young New Orleans bands with fresh sounds form and find audiences outside of the city.

A’Damaged Pro – How would you say the perception of the EDM community has changed over the past few years in Nola?

Reeves Price of WCP – Well, it was all but completely dead post-Katrina. The ONLY venues that were supporting dance music were the Dragon’s Den and Ampersand and both of which were drawing small crowds and rarely bringing in fresh talent. I remember being super excited when we sold 100 tickets to Eliot Lipp & Mux Mool at the Den in 2009. We weren’t even offering presale tickets then. The growth was pretty slow there for a while and then we decided to try something different and launch a brand called “BASSIK” to support the bass heavier sub genre that was emerging known as “dubstep.” We knew that the NOLA fans did not know most of the artists we wanted to bring in by name so we needed to build a brand and night under which the flag would be flown. When we did the first BASSIK at Republic in September of 2010 with Datsik, we didn’t really know what to expect. Tickets were $8 and we promoted the hell out of it. We ended up getting 600 people out and the rest is history!

A’Damaged Pro – How do you guys approach fostering relationships with up-and-coming talent?

Reeves Price of WCP – If there is someone we like that or that we think is going to grow we love to get them down and in front of a crowd as soon as possible. Having BUKU is a huge help as well because we can raise an artist’s profile, locally, pretty quickly that way.

A’Damaged Pro – What are the BASSIK nights? Can you elaborate on how the partnership that coordinated these events began?

Reeves Price of WCP – BASSIK was the brand that we created to act as the banner under which we would bring in international producers and dj’s specializing in the bass heavy side of EDM.  Dubstep as a genre was just emerging with Skream, Benga and Rusko being at the forefront and we saw it as the future of the edm scene and something very new and different.

A’Damaged Pro – In March 2014, WCP and its partners will be bringing the third installment of the Buku Music And Art Project back to New Orleans. Take me back to the first year. What was it like producing a festival from scratch?

Reeves Price of WCP – It’s been a wild ride that’s for sure. The goal had always been for WCP to produce a festival.  We all loved going to festivals and the sense of community and fun that can only be had at those type of events. We also knew that if we had a festival it would allow us to see more revenue from areas like concessions and sponsorship. Once we got to a place where we felt we had the knowhow and contacts to pull it off we went for it. And now that we are approaching year 3 it is hard to believe the amount of support we have been shown by the fans.

A’Damaged Pro – As you guys have added innovations and additional elements over time to the Buku concept, has the process become any easier?

Reeves Price of WCP – Certain things get easier and other more difficult. You start to understand the processes and procedures better as the years go on, you know who to turn to when you need help in certain areas, you learn how to keep yourself and the team organized and on track, you learn to communicate better and delegate tasks. You learn about the challenges and strengths of yourself, your teammates, your venue, your market. You learn to see mistakes before they happen. I guess what I’m saying is there is always room to improve and the more you do it the more you learn about where to improve.

A’Damaged Pro – What role would you like to see WCP playing in the next 5 years?

Reeves Price of WCP – Well, I would like to see us not playing a role and defining ourselves (which I think we are pretty much doing now).  I would like to see us doing more shows in NOLA and other markets, doing more festival-type events, doing more with the communities in which we operate, and having a great time doing it!

A’Damaged Pro – Are there any new projects that you guys have in the works?

Reeves Price of WCP – Maybe so and maybe not…

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

In addition to providing an outlet for new music in New Orleans, WCP has found another way to give back to the community they know and love, through the “BUKU Build Project.” The “BUKU Build Project” is a new partnership with the St. Bernard Project, a housing initiative formed originally as a response to Hurricane Katrina, that aims to help rebuild areas and communities, domestically, that have been ravaged by natural disasters. This partnership encourages young people to volunteer their time to accelerate relief efforts. It’s nice to see that even when the very nature of the business is to keep the flow of music events steadily coming, some organizations are taking the time to do a little extra. Their progressive and pay-it-forward attitude is just one reason to keep your eye on the things to come from WCP.

Winter Circle Productions Links: wintercircleproductions.com | Facebook | Twitter

The Buku Music & Art Project Links: thebukuproject.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram