On March 19th while many local music fans were in Austin at South by Southwest, or were wishing they were there at that mostly rock-centric gathering, others were getting ready to happily attend DC’s 2nd annual Forward Festival, a techno/electronic dance music and more event.  I recently e-mailed one of the event’s organizers, David Fogel of 88.   In addition to the festival, 88 has been bringing djs to the Muse Lounge, 717 6th St. NW, on Thursdays and to Loda at the Gallery, 1115 East-West Highway, in Silver Spring on Fridays.

 1.When did 88 start?  Who did you found it with?
+++ Myself and Albert Sohn officially started 88 in 2005.

2. Did you founders grow up in this area, or come here more recently or something else?
+++ Albert and I both grew up in the DC Met, and love this place.

3. Were you pleased with the way the 2nd Forward Fest worked out?
+++ Most definitely. That isn’t to say that there aren’t aspects to improve upon and ideas that we had that we’re looking forward to implementing next year. However, the fact that we brought artists from 3 different countries, the west-coast, east-coast and the mid-west to perform with some of our local favorites was great. Forward was another step in helping put DC on the electronic music and digital creatives map. We received nothing but positive feedback from the artists we worked with and most important, the people that came out. 

4. Favorite events in the fest?
+++ Wow…that’s hard. Each aspect of the event was programmed to showcase a different aspect of electronic music and digital culture so it’s hard to pick a favorite. I was really proud of the number of Live acts that performed: Berkson and What, Pheek, Jeremy Ellis, Mochipet, Aligning Minds, Candy Indians (Measax and Docindo), The Great Mundane and KiloWatts. The music was coupled with some great digital artists: The Graphic Design/Motion Graphics component at ‘X’ was sheer Fire ; David London’s IMAGINE device on Friday was fun for everyone and the projections and digital painting…it all came together well. I was also pleased with the turnout for each of the events, and the overall vibe. We pushed the envelope, asked a lot of people and for the most part they were incredibly responsive/thankful/appreciative and into it creating a thick atmosphere. The day time activities (workshop and meltdown) were also really special. The workshop was truly educational and inspiring, allowing people to get a behind the scene look at how production occurs. Concluding the fest with a Keg, local DJs, Live Graffiti and incredible BBQ courtesy of techno chef Christian Lincoln aka Clinc was also a big win as it gave us all an opportunity to hang-out and bond outside of the club.
5. About how many people attended the various events?
+++ All in all I’d say we had nearly 2,000 people attend the weekend’s festivities, which was perfect for the sizes of the venues we had. There were only a few times when a couple of the spaces felt overwhelmed and claustrophobic.

6.. How did you decide to use a private sex club?
+++ Hehehe…well a friend told me about the spot and myself and Docindo went to check it out. Prior to working out the details I was thrilled to find the place and thanked the owner for creating and sustaining such an incredible venue for alternative culture. They’ve put a lot of love into that spot and deserve serious recognition and thanks from any proponent of alternative lifestyles. Regardless, we worked out a deal. To be frank and honest though, we had to do a ton of extra work to make the space a reality for our needs; Sound, Lighting, Equipment. In the end though it was a truly special event.
7. Were you trying to bring back rave-era excitement by having “a secret location”?
+++ Yeah, a little bit. We felt that people we’re really yearning for some excitement and mystery. We also knew that a lot of people might not necessarily know the artists we were bringing and wanted to market beyond the music with a focus more on the experience – which is at the core of 88’s mission, creating an immersive-stimulating environment.
8. Is everything running smoothly with Loda at Gallery?  You started there then stopped and then came back, right?
+++ Yeah Loda is kicking. Damn, we’ve had some incredible talent come and flex there. Most recently we had CLP from Berlin do a Live audio video set. They used self-made video software that trigger music clips simultaneously based on the music samples chosen. There are over 100 midi-triggered video clips in their set. That type of artistry is what we’re all about. April’s going to be incredible kicking off with Daedelus, Neighbour and Jay West this Friday. Now that it’s spring time again, we’ll be able to activate the outdoor alley – which is one of Gallery’s best features.
9.   How about the Electric Cabaret Thursday shows at Muse?  How are they going?  Any faves so far?
+++ The Electric Cabaret is popping. It’s an incredible thursday night, that I think everyone can agree with. This month we’ve got our friend ELM starting to program the second floor, so that will bring another great element/dimension to the night. As far as favorites are concerned, each week I keep getting impressed. We’re literally bringing some of the best techno/house talent in the world and none of them have dissapointed me. The last two weeks with Damian Lazarus and Radioslave were phenomenal, monster sets. Damian got really deep and big room at times with great sound washes while Matt (Radioslave) brought some tribal funk, mixed with jazz and latin beats. I’d also be remiss not to mention residents Measax and Docindo who consistently get the crowd warmed up and moving. Once again, each of the artists has really been ‘surprised’ with DC. I think most of them come here expecting things to be a bit staid and so they’re pleasantly surprised to see so many people educated about and into their music. We’re really maturing as a community, while having a kick-ass time…and it shows 🙂
10. Who’s coming to Electric Cabaret?
+++ As far as out of town guests, this week we have Berlin based Dumb Unit label owner Jeremy Caulfield, followed by Mobilee Giant Dan Curtin and the rattle of legend Paco Osuna. We’ve also got Spirit Catcher coming through who’s live set everyone in Europe is talking about. The ELM guys are bringing QBurns Abstract Message this Thursday [last week], for a welcome return to DC and later this month Garth.

11.  Do you ever work with deep house djs or do you leave that to others? 
+++ I don’t know how you define deep house, but we’ve hosted non-local House DJs like: Freddy Sannon, Roy Davis Jr., Runaway, Sascha Dive and Stacy Kidd. To name a few and local acts: Sam “The Man” Burns, CBreeze and Chris Burns.
12. Do you feel any responsibility or have any desire  to cross over race/class/music genre boundaries in your dj selections?  Or do you support the efforts of others’ or feel comfortable just doing your own thing?   [This is not meant to sound accusatory.  I am just curious]
+++ Responsibility is a strong word and we do feel a sense of it in everything that we do, from where we print our flyers – to how we respectfully work with our artists and venues. We strive to consistently bring new, upcoming talent to the community as well as established artists that have never had the opportunity to play to a DC crowd. To that end, when you look at our different events and history, I’d say that we’re the most diverse production company in the city.