We speak with Bill Hoffman, head of the Atlanta based drum & bass night Torch and take a look inside this successful night as they celebrate their 4 year anniversary with a massive show on June 12th.
Can you give us a brief history of the night?
In December 2010, Atlanta’s local DNB night, Tambor Y Bajo held its last show. Mayhem had kept Atlanta DNB going for so long, but the close of this night signaled that someone else was going to need to step up. Someone needed to “carry the Torch” for Atlanta Drum & Bass. In February of 2011, I decided that I was going to be that person. I started working on the project and contacted Kujo of 180 degrees to work out arrangements with the Masquerade, which is one of the longest running music venues in Atlanta. Derek (Kujo) had thrown a free monthly event there called Fuze. I decided to model our event after that, once a month, free and 100% Drum & Bass. One of my best friends, Thomas B, jumped on board and we launched our night in June of 2011. I decided to name the event “Torch” in reference to us working to preserve Drum & Bass in ATL. Mayhem (Anthony) did it for a long time and so did many other promoters with him and before him. I had been to so many great ATL Drum & Bass shows over the years that I feel this was my way to give back.
We started off slow and continued to build up a consistent following. “All DNB, All Night, and always free!” became our slogan and that model has worked well for us. I am proud to say we have had a healthy following for a number of years now.
How long has the night been officially going?
Torch will celebrate 4 years in June 2015. I have known most of the crew for many, many years now.
Who are your current resident DJ’s?
Myself (Thesis), Thomas B, Logam, DaddyDough, Subconscious, Chuck Skillz, Moneyman, MC Evade. Our former residents include my good friends Akrylic and Precise. We have 2 brand new residents, QuickTemper and Trench. One of my best friends (Johnny GoodTime) has started spinning over the last year and I expect him to be on track to officially join us soon!
In a world engulfed by “EDM” what do you contribute the nights longevity to?
Consistency is really the number one thing that has made our night successful. We have kept it 100% DNB, the show has (and always will be) FREE! We have been at the same venue (The Masquerade) the entire time. We have always been a monthly and on Fridays. I think changing any of these things or over extending ourselves would have been a mistake.
I think these factors also contribute:
- Diverse styles of Drum & Bass / Jungle. It makes the most sense to try to mix up the styles. One or 2 people on the harder, more anthem dnb, someone playing liquidfunk, another person playing jump up, a few people playing all dnb subgenres, etc
- Having people from different crews playing. In trying to draw a bigger crowd, in a general way we try to get people who rep different crews or production outfits. It is not a rule to live by, but if we book 4 of 5 of the same people from the same crew, you are really pulling from that same group of fans. It’s better to spread that crew out over several months.
- Themed Nights. We mix in few different themed nights per year and over our history:
- Torch DNB DJ Contest. This is a 4 month project that covered 3 rounds in 3 months and then a final.
- All Vinyl Night. The last 2 November shows we have done 100% vinyl shows. I chose November because it’s cold and less chance to worry about records heating up in a car, lol! This by default turns into an old school dnb / jungle night which is awesome!
- Royal Rumble / Video Game Contest. We have done this the last 2 September shows. We book 10 djs with 30 minute time slots. The idea is to bring the best set in the 30 minutes that you have. It also have styles changing up. We pair this up with a video game contest. We did this crazy version of Pacman in 2013 and Mario Kart 8 in 2014.
What are your Top 5 Favorite memories or milestones?
- June 2013: 3 Year Anniversary show. We ran 2 stages, had 11 hours of DNB, cooked BBQ and sold onsite. It was hard work but was a blast!
- Meeting a lot of new djs and friends during the 2013 & 2014 Torch DNB DJ contests.
- Mayhem playing @ Torch.
- Legion & Logam doing their first ever tag set in Nov 2012
- Hosting our first ever residents night in Jan 2015
If you could pick any 3 past or presen for a dream line up who would they be?
Since we only focus on local / regional djs, I’ll put together my ATL dream list, including some folks who have moved away or who have sadly passed way.
- Roger & Jeremy
- Gimpmode (R.I.P.)
Do you have any advice for new promoters?
I would say the best advice is to push through the tough times and enjoy the good ones. It is frustrating to pour effort into a show and have a low turnout. I try to analyze what could have been the factors and how to make it better. For example there was a point where we kept running up against another monthly and we ended up switching to a different Friday. That helped our attendance.
It is my personal nature to get wound up during the show and run around crazy checking and rechecking things. Thomas B told me to start getting setup and have a beer to relax, lol! It is funny because that helped me to start enjoying the actual show more! Being a promoter has certainly made me appreciate going to other shows, because I feel like I can relax there. Definitely make sure you have a strong team in place. There is no way I could do Torch without our crew!