Colorado native Camerin Graeff knew he didn't want a lifelong career in the U.S. military. So when he returned from service this past June, he decided to revisit an idea that he and his friend Mario Currie had dreamed up a few months earlier: create a marketing company that would help lesser-known musical artists pack the house at concerts.
Returning to the music industry was a natural progression for Graeff. "When I was in college, me and my buddy would produce and DJ music, and we got to host a couple shows," he says. "I really enjoyed walking around, handing out fliers and all that. So I was looking back on my life, and I decided that that's one of the things that made me happiest, that I could make money doing."
And so, Lazy Boy Productions was born.
Graeff and Currie, who met years ago while both were working as overnight stockers at King Soopers, noticed that when they would go see lesser-known artists' concerts, the shows were often under-attended, regardless of how talented the artist was or how awesome the venue was. They chalked it up to the venues' minimal and unspecified marketing for these smaller artists, and saw an opportunity to change that.
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"We were just going to fill that gap originally, but as we were getting into that and doing more research, we saw that it was a bigger issue than we originally thought," says Currie. "There are artists out there who are just as talented as the big names that are popular right now, but they're just not given the same opportunity to display their talents, so sometimes they get discouraged and give up on their dreams, and we as consumers are missing out on their talent. So I guess we decided to take a more humanitarian look at it, where we wanted to help these up-and-coming artists who might not have the resources available to them to do their own marketing and promote their own shows, and give them a platform."
Lazy Boy Productions takes on the bulk of the marketing duties for performers like musicians, DJs and comedians, and wants to expand its repertoire to include professional fighting.
"If somebody has an idea in their head and they just don't know how to go about it, we can coordinate the event. We can come up with the graphic design for the posters and fliers. We kind of do it all," says Graeff. "Anything with marketing and nightlife, we're there."
Their promoting is heavily social media-based, tapping Instagram influencers and artists with larger followings to post about Lazy Boy Productions events. They also do good old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground work, walking around Boulder chatting with people and handing out fliers, as well as doing video interviews with artists so that audiences can get to know them.
But Graeff and Currie immediately wanted to take Lazy Boy Productions to the next level and host their own shows.
"We both are pretty passionate about music and passionate about anything entertainment-related, really, and so we thought, instead of just trying to piggyback off an already established show, why don't we host our own and just rent out the venue and put some DJs up there so they can show their stuff?" explains Currie.
So on Saturday, September 7, Lazy Boy Productions will host its first show at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. The event, titled Study Break, will include DJ duo Hazardous Tofu opening for DJ Austin Ashtin. As luck would have it, Graeff lived across the hall from Austin Ashtin his freshman year at the University of Northern Colorado, and was the one who gave Austin Ashtin his first music-producing program. Now Austin Ashtin is blowing up in the DJ world and returning Graeff's favor by introducing him to a network of other local DJs, as well as headlining Lazy Boy Productions' first event.
Before Hazardous Tofu opens Study Break, there will be a special first opener, hand-picked earlier that day during a DJ competition held by Lazy Boy Productions. The company is currently accepting submissions for five to ten EDM DJs who would like to do a short, five-minute set during a competition judged by Currie, Graeff, Hazardous Tofu and Ashtin. The winner will get the instant gratification of becoming the show's first opener. Both the competition and the event are open to all ages because, as Currie says, "people start when they're in high school, like fourteen or fifteen, and it would be wrong to deny them that exposure."
Graeff and Currie are already full of ideas about how to expand Lazy Boy Productions, including living up to their humanitarian aspirations with the tentatively titled "Starving Artist Foundation," showcasing the talent of artists experiencing homelessness.
"It's just a baby of a thought, but something we might do in the future," Graeff explains. "Basically, we would get what you think of as a starving artist, someone who is down on their luck but really talented, and we want to have a show where the show is completely free to come, and it's basically donation-driven, and all the donations get split up between the people who played."
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Adds Currie, "If we give them an actual place where they're not outside when it's raining or risking heatstroke or something like that, people can come in, and they'll see that talent from those walks of life that we may walk past every day without a second thought."
Because the event would be aiming to feature the homeless community and street performers, Graeff and Currie are thinking about holding it in the winter, when it gets too cold for people to perform outside.
In the meantime, they're looking to continue promoting underrated artists and performers. When asked what they look for in prospective clients, Currie says, "Uniqueness is a big thing. You want people who aren't afraid of shaking things up and doing things differently from the mainstream. So innovation is a big thing, and also, that tenacity to not give up when things get rough. They have to believe in themselves as much as they want us to believe in them."
Study Break takes place at 9 p.m. Saturday, September 7, at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street in Boulder. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. EDM DJs who would like to participate in the DJ competition can sign up online.