By Brian Turk
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HARD Events founder and twenty-year veteran DJ Gary Richards — also known as Destructo on festival bills — has been putting on electronic-music parties under the HARD moniker since 2007. Richards has developed a following by successfully curating programs that cater to a variety of tastes; there's always something for everyone, whether it's the heavy-bass aficionado or the chilled-out groovehound who salivates at the sound of downtempo melodies. We caught up with Richards in advance of HARD Red Rocks for a quick chat.
Westword: Are you finding that with EDM festival-style events, it's difficult to curate those that feed your taste in music as a DJ as well as please the ears of 10,000 potential attendees?
Gary Richards: I've been involved with electronic music for twenty years, and Denver is one of those markets like Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Seattle for the record companies, because there is such a strong scene there. It's just a little bit different scene; from what I understand, it's way more about the bass. Groups like Bassnectar and Pretty Lights do really well there before places like L.A. and New York, because each market has its own nuances. I can't say that I know what those are in their respective markets, so I take a guess at what I think works. It's never easy going into a new market, so we go with what we think works with the right artists, the right city, the right location, and having the right people helping you put it together.
18300 W. Alameda Parkway
Morrison, CO 80465
Category: Attractions and Amusement Parks
Region: West Denver Suburbs
It's not easy trying to pull 10,000 people in a new market; you can lose a lot of money. One of the things that I've learned is that people just love Red Rocks. My team is coming from L.A. just to be a part of Red Rocks — that's huge. The venue itself is huge. You don't get a place like Red Rocks in Ohio; I can't throw HARD in Ohio at a place like Red Rocks. I'd have to do it in a warehouse or a shed somewhere. In Colorado, you have a great venue and a scene that has been bubbling forever.
You talk about the "right artists," so how do you know what will be big when planning so far in advance?
I've been doing HARD since 2007, and we were the first to bring Justice to America, and deadmau5, Boyz Noise, Calvin Harris... [Steve Aoki] when he was $500. I'm a DJ, so I'm always listening to what's new. With Disclosure, I love their sound. For me, it's not a new sound, but it's new to the kids of their age. It's good house music with vocals and with that U.K. vibe. I love house music, and I love disco.
For HARD in L.A., we have four stages, and one stage is underground disco and house, and one is bass, and one is acts like Ed Banger. For this show, it's just one stage. I was contemplating doing another stage up top because they said I could do that, but I don't want the sound to bleed, and I didn't know if it would take away.
I tried to book five acts that were all different. I'll open with some deep, sexy house, because I know how to open. Then [Flosstradamus] can fuckin' go mental with their bass thing that they do, then Disclosure will groove it out, and Diplo is like [Flosstradamus] with his moombahton, and then Knife Party can do their thing. I think you'll get a little sampling of five different kinds of music in one night. I don't want to give everyone the same thing in one night.