As trap music continues on a meteoric rise in popularity, Trap City has grown into one of the best monthly parties San Francisco has to offer in the year since it was created.
An organization of like-minded musicians and DJs infatuated with the thumping 808 kicks and hip-hop style associated with trap music, Trap City celebrates its anniversary at Temple on July 19 with Herobust and Trap City resident DJs Ultraviolet, Napsty, Thizz Markie, Lé Swndle, Wolfbitch and Teleport. The Trap City Twerk Squad is also joining the party, along with Ritual DJs in the club’s Catacombs room. We spoke with DJ Ultraviolet about the party, the explosion of trap and the ever-changing SF clubs scene.
How did you get started throwing Trap City?
I had been playing trap music in my sets and we had just come off this festival where I played right before E-40. People were really responsive and San Francisco didn’t really have a focused trap party. The dubstep shows we had been throwing hadn’t really been inspiring me as much because it had become so brostep oriented, so we decided to try something new and see how trap music would go here in San Francisco. That’s pretty much how we got started, sort of as an experiment.
With the explosion of trap musc in the past year, I’m sure you get a ton of people looking to play. How do you choose artists?
We get a huge amount of people requesting to play, sometimes I’ll get anywhere from 20-80 requests/demos a week. Generally how we’ve been finding people is that I’ll go through the demos, but also pay attention to who’s making waves in the trap music scene. We’re trying to bring the best and brightest—the people that are pushing themselves the hardest with their music. We’re looking for people with a good press kit, people that have been working with rappers and working with other electronic dance music acts that aren’t necessarily involved in trap that are sort of crossing over—that’s been a huge part of how we’ve booked the headliners.
One of the big things about this party is the live stream. That’s something a lot of promoters don’t do in San Francisco. How did you get started doing that and how is it working out?
It’s different at every show because we use different venues and some artists do not want themselves streamed. You’d be surprised how many people don’t want their sets recorded. We had different people who weren’t involved with the show suggesting it to us and saying that live streaming was something they really wanted to see done, so as we progress we’ve been trying to offer it as frequently as we can. When I DJ out at other events it’s always something I try to convince them of doing. There are people at home or in the Midwest or all over the place that don’t really get to see this kind of show anywhere else, but they have the Internet. That’s something that was not available in the club scene 10-15 years ago.
With such a large reach, have you noticed your fan base change much over the past year?
Yes, I would definitely say our fan base has expanded. Originally it was sort of just the music nerds and the dubstep people. Over the last year, it’s really become sort of a crossover where we get the backpack hip-hop heads, hippies, bottle service crowd, some of the queer scene coming over and the fashion crowd. It’s been really cool watching all different kinds of people come together to create the scene we have now.
Its interesting you mention the hip-hop kids. That seems like something new as hip-hop and electronic music have mashed together into this entirely new thing.
It has gotten a little bit weird and a little bit edgy, too. It has added a bit of edginess to the hip-hop scene that hasn’t been there since like the 80s. Its been really cool having rappers at our shows alongside big EDM DJs.
Is there anything special going on with the one-year anniversary party?
The one-year anniversary party is going to be very special, just because we’re having all the residents play and teaming up with the dubstep crew Ritual. It is something we haven’t done before, our whole twerk team is coming—they’ve been blowing up. We just formed this twerk team in the past couple months and they’re blowing up faster than our DJs. They’re working on some choreographed dances.
We’re trying to add something more than just going to a club and watching the DJ stand there. We’re trying to add a bit more interaction by having dancers and celebrating dance culture. For a long time in San Francisco people danced by themselves and just kind of wobbled around in the corner. It’s been cool seeing people incorporate dance moves and bringing that part of the dance culture alive. Breakdancing is coming back a bit too in our crowd. That’s something I didn’t really get to experience as a DJ in the past 15 years in the bass music scene.
Any goals coming up for next year, for the two-year anniversary?
We want to focus on bringing quality events, trying to listen to our fans and bring out who they want to see, and create even higher production values. We want people to be immersed in the Trap City world. We’re hoping to get involved in some festivals and hopefully a street fair, as well as franchising parties out to a couple different states. People have been contacting us interested in doing Trap City in their town. We’re also hoping to do a big Trap City tour with all our DJs and dancers and a big headlining act.
How do you approach constructing a set for this party?
When I’m making a set, I try to go a bit deeper than just going on Beatport or the basic blogs. I reach out to artists that represent our party musically and gather tunes from them. Justin Napsty and I both make music, so Justin puts a lot of his music in his sets. I’m not quite as talented a producer as him, but I try to a little as well. I’m definitely more of a DJ than he is (laughs). We really just try and find tunes that are going to hype up the crowd instead of playing the same stuff over and over. We run our own SoundCloud where people are constantly sending us hundreds of tunes every week.
Anyone in specific catching your eye recently?
Somebody we’re bringing out in September who’s been catching our eye recently is Valentino Khan, he’s with Trap & Bass and the co-producer for that big Major Lazer song Bubble Butt. We’re residents for Trap & Bass and we’re hosting the trap room for Afterburn at 1015, so we plan on bringing him out. He’s one of the artists that really stood out to us that hasn’t come out to the bay before that will probably become one of the shining stars in the trap music scene.