EQ Produktions Interview

by | Aug 6, 2009 | MUSIC



RVA Magazine’s John Reinhold sat down equipped with a lot of beer to interview EQ Produktions owners Mike Holderfield and Jesse Pruitt. There was allot of talking and drinking, and drinking and talking. Once again proving Beer = Good.

In many ways Mike and Jesse are like me, just laid back people that like to have fun. They also have been bringing some great music to this city with their production company EQ. You can check out their facebook page or myspace and get an idea of all the different acts they are brining in. They are bringing “Pretty Lights” to The National on August 29th, with Dj Long Jawns opening, this a show that you should not miss. (check out the sick video at the bottom of interview)

Ok so … Here is the (albeit lengthy) full, but fun interview. Check them out online when you can…


John Reinhold: So, I’m here with Jesse and Mike from EQ Productions. Why don’t you guys start off by telling me how EQ Productions it formed?

EQ (Jesse): It formed in 2007 or 2008. We were together at this festival, the project festival, where his buddy that works for a clothing line company that later became our sister company. Problem Child Product, which was the clothing company. But he was there with his buddy and we just started talking about how we wanted to see more music in Richmond that wasn’t really there. And nobody was bringing it. And we decided to stop bitching about it and do something about it.

Start a revolution!!

EQ (Jesse): So, we kind of butted heads at this project festival and came back from that and knew of each other’s existence but it still took a little while for the gears to crank up. Then once they did, we booked a couple of shows… comfortable shows, you know, that was after Thanksgiving weekend. It was with Alex B, yeah so, we figured we’d roll the dice and have a show and our show was Black Friday, 2008. And it did really well, it did better than we expected. We actually had some competition in Charlottesville that night with Orchard Lounge, a band we actually ended up bringing later. We actually blew them out of the water that night (laughs) I think the Richmond community was happy to stay home on Thanksgiving weekend and have a show to go to.

Where did that take place?

EQ (Mike): At the Canal Club.

Well, for me, Canal Clubs is the first place where I heard of you guys.

EQ (Mike): There’s a definite flexibility with Canal Club. If something’s gonna be really good you can have it upstairs. If you’re gonna cap it off at 500 people, than you can do it downstairs and it’ll all run smooth. And even if there are just a hundred people there it feels like a great time. I feel like it’s cool. It’s hard to find a venue in Richmond for just about everything (laughs).

Honestly. It’s always been, well especially with electronic music, which is of course something that you guys have brought…you know one of the reasons that I think RVA wanted to talk to you, and of course I know you guys personally anyway. Tony, I’ve seen flyers for events that I’ve never seen in Richmond. And you brought talent of a different genre that most of time I have to go to like Philadelphia, Baltimore, or DC to see.

EQ (Jesse): Places where there are busier markets, that oddly enough, are right around us. So, it’s conceivable we can bring them down here and make Richmond the scene just because…I think there’s a huge scene for electronic music in this area, for some reason. There seems to be a real booming fan base for it. But, yeah I agree with you. We originally started out bringing stuff up here that we had never had here before because nobody else was doing it. And that was like the sole contributing factor at first, at least.

You guys have done shows in Hampton too haven’t you?

EQ (Jesse): We did one show in Hampton. Oh, well… (laughs)

Yeah, it’s a tough one. We tried to throw a Phish after party in Hampton. It was an odd scene because there was just so much going on down there and everyone was so excited about Phish being back. And then the venue that we were working with decided the day of that they weren’t going to be able to serve alcohol.

That kinda ruins everything (laughs)!

EQ (Jesse): Yeah, that takes a big chunk out of peoples party plans. A beer and a concert tend to go hand in hand.

Yeah, it seems like that’d be a must. Why did they?

EQ (Mike) : I think the city just didn’t want us to serve alcohol. I guess, the ATF stepped in a couple days before that. It’s just the scene I guess and they thought…

You’d get in trouble.

EQ (Mike): Yeah. I guess the scene and alcohol would cause problems.

You would think with the Hampton area and the jam band scene being kinda strong…

EQ (Jesse): In Hampton? Um, it’s not necessarily a scene down there it’s just it has the Hampton Coliseum, you know, it’s been around. Phish is a big magnet too. Phish quit for a while too, they stopped doing their thing. And all these jam bands have made a living like being around where Phish fans are and like thriving off of people who want to party after their shows are done. But uh yeah, it’s a weird turn of events because Hampton’s such a hard city to work with. We had to go through so much paper work. It’s probably the most work we’ve done on a show and probably will ever do. Cause we didn’t realize because it was our first thing we did outside the town of Richmond, we didn’t realize we shouldn’t have been doing that much work. Like something was wrong you know. We should’ve just kind of stayed away. I think everybody learns lessons for a reason. And we’ve gotten a lot better at planning and decision making since then.

We’ve talked a little bit about jam band’s here, and I know you guys have come from that kind of background of jam bands.

EQ (Mike): Well, I guess the last couple of years I definitely have gotten more into electronic music. I’ve always been like an avid Phish fan, which led me to this other band – Sound Tribe Sector 9, which is sorta like a jam band slash electronic. Generally what brought me into wanting to start EQ and stuff was going to sound tribe shows. Like there would be after parties and stuff and I would see a lot of like electronic acts and I don’t know, it just made me realize I need to start bringing that to Richmond. We were kind of getting skimped for the most part. Its really where I started seeing a lot of acts that we’ve brought to Richmond was going and seeing Jam bands. It’s definitely like a part of the jam band scene now with the electronic.

It’s interesting, a couple years back, being into electronic music, I never really saw the jam band scene with the electronic music. There was a kind of separation because you had the raves and the festivals. I think the first time I ever heard of that was Bonaroo. That’s where I heard of Medeski, Martin, & Wood. At the same time, you have other DJs playing in tents, and it kinda just took with the jam band scene. The people, who like jambands would come and support these electronica acts also. So it tends to work out pretty well.

EQ (Jesse): A great example of that would be Starscape. The thing they throw up in Baltimore every year. It’s incredible. It’s done by the people who did the Ultra World event, like way back in the day. But its become more of a mix of genres of music, not just DJs, you know hardcore club DJs, not affiliated with the jam circuit at all but also guys like RJD2 and you know, people that have branched out and tried to make the electronica fan bases theirs also. Starscape’s really done a good job of bringing that together. It’s been a great festival anyway, I’ve gone the past four or five times.

I don’t think I’ve ever had time to make it out. Obviously I’ve heard a lot about it over the years. So, EQ has brought, obviously, a lot of different acts, what was your first act?

EQ (Jesse): Alex B ,Godspeed, and Sonkin. He’s from Philadelphia, It’s kinda like a dubstep sound.

So, after that, where did go to, as far as who you brought in, and how did you come up that?

EQ (Mike): I saw Pretty Lights, and I talked about them and Jesse, he was like lets, you know–I downloaded their stuff. They had a free album online. I downloaded it and I fell in love with it. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I thought it was like really, really great music for just about any mood. I like music that kinda fits, you know, its universal in the ways that you can listen to it. It kinda goes through a full spectrum of sound. Yeah , and they hadn’t been to the east coast yet. Plus Christmas was coming up and their name is Pretty Lights, so we were thinking wow lets throw a Christmas party with Pretty Lights. Like it sounds cool. It worked out really well and we got the guys, the guys that were here anyway, from Existor, which is a good local friend of mine, Hunter Davis, and he’s the drummer from Highly Classified. And Joe and this guy, Paul, a great band, been playing around here for a while and I used to help them promote a lot. We got them to open, so they brought a pretty decent crowd for a bunch of people that had never heard of Pretty Lights either. By the time it was the show time, it seemed like everybody had heard about it because the doors were getting marauded, and people were breaking in the side. And we had to stop people –people were coming in one of the backdoors someone had left one of the doors propped open. so people were sneaking kids in to the show. It was chaos.

That sounds pretty awesome (laughs).

EQ (Mike): It was pretty much chaos. It was one hell of a Christmas party. (laughs)

(laughs) I know, obviously, I was there for the Orchard Lounge show. And Orchard Lounge I knew from, Camp Bisco. So the first show of your guys that I actually saw was the Orchard Lounge. It was huge for me because I was there with Conway Jenning, and you know we both come from that background where it’s like we’ve gone to a lot of shows in Richmond but we haven’t really seen anything like that in a while. You know what I mean? It’s like ah yes, this is like old school, completely packed and people are jumping and dancing.

EQ (Jesse): That was our first show upstairs to which was really cool.

It was so good, it was like the energy was just right. I remember being at the show talking with Conway, and we were like “dude this is like this is old school”. But its actually new school, just with that feeling you get when you’re at a really good show.

EQ: That appreciation.

Yeah, and people were having a good time, there was no people sitting around looking at each other like “is this cool?” It didn’t really matter. I guess it really had that jam band feel to it, you know? Which is one of the things I’ve noticed at the shows, is that it kinda has that draw of that. I don’t even know what you’d call it, the jam band feel, or the festival feel.

EQ (Mike): We kinda nurture that too cause we bring in artists and such that have like paintings, or they’ll do live paintings, or let people set up their art in there to show. I don’t know, it was important to both of us when we started this to include the art community in Richmond, because there’s such a great community of artists around here. I felt like it would get a lot more support and it was give us a chance to let our friends show how really talented they are around Richmond. It ended up working out great because every show people have something to do, they’re not just listening to music and ya know drinking. They’re walking around looking at art …

And that makes it visual at the same time.

EQ: Yeah.

I remember you guys had all the artists on the other side.

EQ: Dave Klemencic did a live projection drawing, he does live drawings with photo shop and projected it onto this big sheet. It was really cool. He’d do like sketches of the DJs as they’re making motions and stuff. (laughs)

Was there any artwork sold while this was going on?

EQ: Yeah they were all selling prints and another guy that does art at our shows, John Blake, “Red Beard”, does live paintings at shows and he always brings an incredible wealth of material and sits it down on the table and puts a little price tag out next to everything. It’s all stuff that was made from other shows, it’s kinda cool, he just goes from show to show adding pieces to his portfolio.

So do you guys sit down now and look at the back order of the people that you’ve brought here like…God, really? (laughs) You’ve had such a large amount of shows, like I’ll go back and look at the EQ posters. I mean, we could have a whole conversation about posters cause I know back in the day we all used to do the poster collecting. I don’t know if you do that?

EQ: Still do that all the time.

Okay, exactly, like the poster collecting where you put them up on your walls for the different parties and stuff. So you have all the different weird art, basically. Because back then, it was new to the promotional world of this like culture, you know? And it was like something that drove the culture, people would collect these and put them up on their walls. So going back and looking at all your guys past shows, its like wow I forgot, look at all these people that they’ve brought here. Do you look at that and think, man really? What will we do next?

EQ (Jesse): Well I think it was important for us–I mean we didn’t know what we were doing at all at first, we really didn’t. We’ll be the first to tell you that we really didn’t. We brought everybody and anybody that wanted to get down over here and we were all about it. I think we took a lot of risks in that time period but at the same time we got a lot of people to turn their heads and notice us at least during that time period.

EQ (Mike): I think at the same time, you and I have done a really good job at making connections and networking. Definitely Jessi and I are good people–good to do business with. We’ve kinda learned who we don’t necessarily like to deal with. But I think we’re a good team, yeah. For sure.

So to get into the production end of things, you do the design Jessie?

EQ (Jesse): Yeah, I do all the facebook graphics, and myspace graphics that you see.

EQ (Mike): Computer guy, here (laughs).

EQ (Jesse) I do the promotional side of things. We both share the responsibilities of like printing them and he has a great outlet for getting rid of that stuff or getting that stuff seen. You know with getting flyers out there with Katra Gala, he works there, which is a pretty crucial spot that we have established ourselves through. I think the most important thing that we do is, especially as a partnership, is like we talk about stuff and we make sure that we’re on the same page. It’s tough (laughs) it really is. It’s like the devils advocate sometimes. I always tell him, we’re yin and yang.

He’s wearing white and you’re wearing black right now. Just to break that down for everybody. (laughs)

EQ (Mike): We balance each other out. Sometimes theres situations that I might not wanna handle and I’m like, Jesse will you do this? And depending on what kinda mood he’s in, he’ll take care of it. And vice versa. It’s good to confide–yeah I don’t wanna tell this person over and over, you go deal with them. You know, depending on a person’s mood.

EQ (Jesse): It’s good to have a partner, sometimes I feel like I might pull my hair out, but Mike’s there to be like, you don’t have enough hair (laughs) you need to leave that.

I’m sure it’s very stressful, especially–I imagine personalities can get kind of…

EQ (Mike): It’s a business and I don’t know, its a dog eat dog world and unfortunately me and Jesse are really nice guys so–

And that can hurt you sometimes.

EQ (Mike): Well I think that pays off in the end. Because people are like Jesse and Mike are cool to work with. So I think we’ve paid our dues, more or less, and like we were talking about earlier, when we jumped into this we had no idea what we were doing at all. I think that we’ve definitely paid our dues and we’re taking a break this summer and I think this fall–you know, we know what to do and what not to do.

EQ (Jesse): Another thing is too, man, we definitely try to support the local scene as much as possible and we always always, always have. Not necessarily just be a DJ, but just local in general. Since we’ve started, a lot of people have been coming to us and, you know, we try to spread the love around as much as possible.

Well Conway and I of course appreciate everything.

EQ: You guys were one of the first, honestly ya’ll were the first that we didn’t know that we went outside of the realm. Other than Existor, because I knew them, I’m like brothers with the drummer of Existor basically. We bitch and moan at each other like brother and sister. But he’s the sister (laughs).

It’s interesting when it comes to the local scene to — like what pulls people out. What makes people come down to the Bottom? How do you promote to those people and how do you get them to come?

EQ: I’ve honestly always liked what I’ve heard out of the PLF and all the stuff that you all have set up.

We’re kinda like a fire spinning circus like jam band in our own way (laughs). Oh yeah speaking of Jamming, you were telling me you saw Umphrey’s?

EQ (Jesse): It was a good show. It was the day Michael Jackson died. They played like 3 or 4 Michael Jackson covers. I don’t typically like Umphrey’s that much, but it was cool because I felt like I was at some kinda landmark event. They were really responding to the audience. It’s a flash bold memory. Everybody will remember the day Michael Jackson died. Where were you? What were you doing?

EQ (Mike): I was driving through Byrd park (?).

I think I was at RVA Compound. Duh…

EQ (Jesse): It’s like when the Challenger exploded, you know, you’re gonna remember that. I don’t really remember when the Challenger exploded, though.

EQ (Mike): I do. They took us out to recess and were like don’t look at the Sun or something like that.

(laughs) Well, that’s a good sign. Ok let’s get back to EQ here for a second. So we were talking about the production end of things. So how has–how have you used–obviously with RVA Magazine we’re very into social media. Extremely involved in social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, etc. How have you guys implemented that?

EQ (Jesse): Those have been absolutely instrumental in our success. Using something that’s free that’s able to communicate to a lot of people is really useful. I’d say more so than a website, even. I doubt that people, even if our website was up and running right now, which we had it going for a little while, we’re in the process of retooling it right now (laughs). Even with the website I highly doubt that people were typing to EQproductions.com to find out about our shows because we had such a rampant success with just going through myspace and facebook. We owe a lot to those networks. Especially Facebook.

Because you have the event page with the RSVP so you can actually get an idea of how many will show up?

EQ: I’ve heard that MySpace does event pages, but I don’t find them useful. I’ve received event requests before on MySpace but I don’t see how that is as central.

It’s interesting because the MySpace is really good setup for bands, the way you can show your band, what you can do, you know, lately MySpace has kinda copied facebook as far as like the layout for communication.

EQ (Mike): I can’t wait till they come together and just become SpaceBook. (laughs) It’s everything. It’ll be all of that shit and a bag of chips.

Did you guys register EQ on facebook?

EQ: Yeah, that was pretty much when we first established ourselves as a business. It was like October 3, 2008. That was the first time the name EQ Productions went live through any sort of thing.

Why EQ?

EQ: Actually we just decided one day to just throw out a bunch of names. Actually my girlfriend Wynter came up with the name Equalize and the Produckions, you know, gotta have the k in there, so we decided to go with a K instead of a C because our sister company, which is my boy J.D., he does the Problem Child Produkt, he spells his product company with a K so that’s kinda how we got the name all together. The K is derivative of produkt which is the clothing line that we originally started working with. When we set out for this thing, we weren’t just setting out to do shows, we were also setting out as a means of giving artists something to work with and J.D. was our first artists that we were working with. Him being one of my best friends so– (laughs)

It usually kinda works that way.

EQ: He also sets up at a lot of our shows, you know, he sets up his clothing line.

Where do you see, this is obviously a question that’s asked a lot, where do you see going to or what is in store for the future? Is that like “God only knows.”

EQ: Sky is the limit.

Has the word, festival, come up?

EQ (Jesse): It has. Maybe but it’s not something we’re leaping into. Many, many years away. We’ve learned some lessons from other production companies that are around, so we really don’t wanna jump into something, and you know, bite into it until we really feel like we can manage that.

Once you sign that contract, you are obligated. So…

EQ (Mike): As far as the future’s concerned I feel like with the lessons we’ve learned in such a small amount of time of being together and doing this thing, that the sky really is the limit because we learn from everything we do. Even the shows that are successful, we learn why it was a success, what generated that success, but also what hampered it from being even more successful. You always have to see the cup at both half full and half empty.

Do you have a lot of people on facebook that contact you guys and are like “What you got coming up what’s going on”?

EQ (Jesse): Always. You know in the past like 6 months, we’ve been learning a lot about our audience as we go along. It’s a fairly consistent group and a lot of them are regulars that come to like every one of our shows. We have this one kid that’s so great, he comes to every one of our shows, charged up with like 2 fresh glow sticks and as soon as he walks in the door, he cracks them and he’s like ready to go (laughs).

We are totally affiliated with glowsticks …. (laughs)

EQ (Jesse): I just admire his energy. I’m not really a glowstick man myself but this kid, he’s a cool kid ….

Well in wrapping this up and finishing this beer (laughs), look for EQ Produktions shows on facebook, you can find them on the RVA calendar under EQ. Check them out there and befriend them on Facebook to see what they have coming up. There will be some links below the article.

EQ: oh Word. Word. Yeah … We’re consistently annoying you on facebook, you can’t deny our annoyingness!!

I think we right there with you on that…

Pictures contributed by Sherri Cregar and James Young.

Pretty Lights with Long Jawns will be at The National August 29th. And here is a preview … hype!!!

For more info on upcoming shows:

Dave Klemencic info:

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

RVA culture rag since 2005. #RVA

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