House and D&B dominate the Year 1 line-up but as iDJ found out, the organisers have big plans
The number of dance music conferences around the world grows every year: where once you had WMC, you now have WMC, ADE, SEEME, BPM, IMS, DMC and more. But that's not to say there's not room for another one - especially when, as New York industry veteran Oscar P spotted when relocating to San Diego in 2014, there's never been such an event on the west coast of America.
Enter the West Coast Weekender, a three-day event being staged for the first time in San Diego on May 13-15. WCW will see big names from the worlds of house and D&B, plus a host of up-and-coming talent, gracing two stages - one indoors, one out. Friction, Dara, Miguel Migs, Osunlade, Doc Martin, Gene Farris, Jose Marquez, Oscar P and Halo Varga are just some of the artists and DJs already confirmed, and there are more to come. The daytime, meanwhile, will see a wide range of panel discussions, seminars and networking sessions and more.
We got Oscar on the phone to get the inside story...
What made you decide to launch the West Coast Weekender?
"The original concept came up two years ago. I just spotted that there's never really been a conference out here. Not like this one - Californians go to Miami and other places but it's never been done here. There's tons of conventions when it comes to music gear and technology, and tons of festivals, but never one where there's a conference/business/educational aspect, and events as well. It's never been done.
"We picked San Diego because logistically it's a great hub – the other big cities on the west coast are all within a couple of hours' reach – and because there's so much going on here. The underground house scene is quite big, there's a lot of nightclubs, a lot of warehouse parties. And it's not just house, either: there's also a big D&B scene here, a big EDM scene. So it's just a matter of putting all these things together."
Will it be like Miami, where there's the main event but then all the clubs are doing their own thing as well?
"Not right now, because it's Year 1. For Year 1, it's all about what we're doing with our event, but down the line I hope – I know! – that people will start coming here and doing their own thing. And that's part of the plan, too. It builds the economy in the city for sure. We hope to be a part of that.
"Look at Miami: WMC started as a place for the industry on the east coast to go when it was cold. But it's gotten so big that now people go there just because it's the place to be. Most people are going to Miami during WMC, not going to the conference itself. I've spoken to people who go to Ultra, who don't even know what WMC is and vice versa! Well, here in San Diego, we've got the beaches, we've got a beautiful city, we've got temperatures in the 70s and 80s, and we've got great clubs. We've got everything Miami has, but what people are starving for is that industry aspect. For kids that want to be artists, producers, DJs, there's nothing here for them, to give them the knowledge of what it takes. They're going to events elsewhere for that, so it's the perfect time to do something like this."
Is that how you see WCW developing: more as a place youngsters come to learn, than somewhere that industry types go to do business?
"It'll be both: you'll get a load of 21- to 25-year-olds who want to be producers, DJs and artists, sure. But you'll also get the veterans who want to keep abreast of changes in the industry – because it has definitely changed. It's not 20 years ago. We're not at the centre of CDs or vinyl. It's a whole different climate. But the event- and concert-driven platform, that's still alive and well. All over California there's tons of festivals all year round. We're back to a live, show-driven platform, and we'll be looking at how our industry has adapted to that.
"Part of the reason we can even do this now, is our own journey via our marketing/promotions company, Media Services NYC. The company has morphed over the past few years into a destination travel company – sending people on vacation to festivals all over the world like WMC or Movement or Mi Casa Holiday. We've had to adapt to this new industry ourselves, and these are the kinds of ideas and issues we can discuss at WCW."
The line-up at the moment is very house and D&B-oriented, will that always be the case?
"Well, right now as I said it's two stages, and those will be mostly house on one stage and D&B on the other, and we will mix it up a little bit within that framework. The Year 1 line-up reflects what's popular in California at the moment, because obviously you need to showcase artists that people want to see. But yes, as the conference gets bigger I can see it broadening out a little more. We have loads of new artists and talent, and each year we will add more."
Who else is involved in staging West Coast Weekender?
"That's what's really great about it: we're partnered with some of the top promoters in the San Diego/Orange County/Los Angeles area.
"Siesta, Art Of Sound: those guys have been doing big warehouse parties in San Diego for years. Cris Herrera, DJ Paluka, they've been doing tons of stuff here. Then you've got The Deep End, who concentrate on a younger demographic of deep house, nu-disco, and techno. They've been putting on some big shows. And then you've got a crew like SD Union/United By Bass: those guys are some the biggest D&B promoters on the west coast. They book everybody.
"So when we get all these people who've been packing venues on their own, and you put them all together, it's gonna be an explosion! One of the things people in San Diego are saying is, 'Wow, you've got all these people together? This is gonna be sick!' People are excited, not just about the parties and the line-up, but about that collaborative aspect. There's already a lot of great stuff going on in San Diego, but if we can establish San Diego as a music business hub, or a go-to conduit for dance music, bigger things are going to happen."