Rephlektions Into The Future – An Interview w/ Justin Kleinfeld

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

The old adage is “if you do what that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” However, if you want to succeed at life, on par with this needlepoint maxim, you must accept that realizing your potential and your dreams doesn’t happen overnight. Traditionally, you have to define your dream and then you have to work for it. Sometimes, an individual’s passion, a fortuitous turn of events, and a gentle nudge from a friend can bring a dream into focus that you never even knew you had. Justin Kleinfeld is living his dream. He was able to nurture his innate love for electronic music into a public relations dynamo that has represented global powerhouses like Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, and Swedish House Mafia.Magnetic-JK-822x1024
A’Damaged Pro – Can you describe the “AHA” moment that led to the creation of Rephlektor Inkorporated?

Justin Kleinfeld – A friend of mine who is also a prominent artist manager was the one who first made the suggestion that I start my own company tied to public relations. I always wanted to do something on my own but it didn’t occur to me that the “thing” would be starting a PR company. So I guess a little encouragement from a friend was that “AHA” moment.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the personal significance behind the name?

Justin Kleinfeld – I wanted to pick a name that people would look at and try and pronounce. Something unusual. My thought was that people would never forget the name if it was cool and different. The name itself was inspired by an acid techno track from the 90’s.

A’Damaged Pro – What was the electronic music scene like when you were in college? What are two key differences that you notice between now and then?

Justin Kleinfeld – I was in college during the late 90’s electronica explosion. So we’re talking about the days of classic Underworld, Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, The Orb, Orbital, Drum n’ bass, breaks, Twilo, etc. What an amazing time. One of the major differences was that there was more anonymity in the music. Of course there were “hits,” relatively speaking, but I would often go to a club back then and if I heard more than a handful of tracks I knew then it was unusual. There was something special about how the DJ would take you on a journey playing tracks that you never heard before. Today, most sets are filled with tracks we’ve heard many times. The internet plays a big role in that as does the nature of “the concert experience” where fans have an expectation to hear certain tracks during a Djs set.

Another difference is the record store experience. I’m all for progress, but man do I miss browsing the aisles of Tower Records. I used to go there at least once a week and always found music I didn’t know was even released. Also, since the CD and vinyl experience involved a physical product I felt that I needed to listen to it until I liked the music. Not everything will sound great at first, but since I spent my money on it, I gave it many chances. Now with digital music, it’s so easy to click and if you don’t like it, throw it in the virtual trash.

A’Damaged Pro – What prompted your foray into media relations and artist publicity?

Justin Kleinfeld – I was first in the film industry and then being that I was such a fan of dance music I took a job at CMJ. In time I became the dance editor and had a weekly column. I then freelanced for many other magazines and made a lot of connections. A PR company came to me and asked if I would be open to helping them on a part-time basis and that’s how I learned about PR. So it all sort of happened unexpectedly.

A’Damaged Pro – Was there a defining moment where you realized “I’m in the game for real?”

Justin Kleinfeld – I look back to one moment when I was at CMJ. Back then there wasn’t this infatuation with chilling in the DJ booth. You were out on the floor and you danced. So I had interviewed Josh Wink a few weeks earlier and knew he was coming to NYC to play a club called Centro Fly. I went to the club with my girlfriend (now my wife) and I took a napkin and wrote a message in her lipstick explaining who I was. I reached over and handed the napkin to Josh while he was Djing and he immediately invited me into the booth. I’ll never forget that feeling when the door opened and I saw the crowd from his perspective. It was kinda like in The Wizard Of Oz when Dorothy lands in OZ and the film turns from black and white to color. I still think about that to this day.

A’Damaged Pro – Los Angeles, Vegas, New York, Chicago, and Miami are often touted as the premier hubs of the domestic EDM scene. What do you think other metro areas can do to raise their respective national profile and bring awareness to their EDM community?

Justin Kleinfeld – Those are all places that have traditionally had ties to dance music. Vegas is Vegas. But there are a lot of other smaller markets you wouldn’t expect to have strong scenes. Places like El Paso and Albuquerque have tremendous fan bases and many Djs love playing there. I think it boils down to having a strong dance music community lead by great fans, promoters and a top notch venue.

A’Damaged Pro – How do you feel that technology has influenced the realms of media relations and artist interactivity?

Justin Kleinfeld – It’s changed a lot. When I first started it was all about mailing CDs with a press release. Now you can get someone music through a digital download as an acceptable promo. Definitely more efficient and saves me time and money. The other thing is social media. Artists can often help increase their own awareness by being strong on socials. we’ve seen numerous examples of artists generating awareness by having a strong opinion on a topic, being funny, etc.

A’Damaged Pro – Parties and glamour aside, what is the most intrinsically rewarding part of your job? What makes you smile from the inside?

Justin Kleinfeld – Being able to make a career out of what I’m so passionate about. When I was in college I was the one blasting dance music in my dorm. I wanted everyone to hear the music I loved. So now I have a job that enables me to do just that.

A’Damaged Pro – Channel your inner soothsayer on this one. Genres are fusing and have been fusing for some time. Cross-over collaborations are becoming more and more common. What progression do you feel is necessary to create the tipping point for large media outlets to recognize EDM as a true force and not just a “niche market?”

Justin Kleinfeld – I think larger media do regard this as a true force, though, that doesn’t mean they necessarily want to write about it. In fact, one prominent journalist even wrote me that he considers EDM to be “anti-music.” So it’s a constant fight despite dance music’s popularity. I think that dance music artists who continue to push the envelope and do things differently and/or that relate on a human interest level will get the majority of the mainstream press.

A’Damaged Pro – Any chance of circling the wagons and having a “Rephlektor Fest?”

Justin Kleinfeld – Well, I would definitely choose a different name for such an event  Approaching Rephlektor’s 10-year anniversary in about 18 months so maybe I’ll figure out a way to celebrate. Maybe I’ll rent out an abandoned prison and throw a big party. I would call the party “The Big House.” Obviously, it works for dance music but one term for prison is also “The Big House.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

With the constant influx of newer technology, the remarkable interconnectedness of the global community requires that methodologies and business models be perpetually refined in order to stay ahead of the curve. At the very core of this evolution are the people that keep the machine running. When personal integrity and genuine appreciation for the artists and crafts they represent are the guiding forces of these individuals, prosperity and communion can be attained. Justin Kleinfeld is definitely one of these individuals. He has my respect and I wish him nothing but continued success. The only advice I can provide is that I hope he follows through with “The Big House” celebration because that sounds like it could be a great time.

Connect with Justin Kleinfeld: Website | Twitter