Anyone interested in finding new music can do so in a matter of seconds with YouTube and Spotify, music blogs and podcasts, but the We The Beat music collective out of Santa Barbara would rather lure you into a venue and deliver undiscovered sounds direct from the stage.
“We want to be a source of music discovery. We pride ourselves on that,” says Kirk Reed, the booking and live-music half of the We the Beat whole.
We want to be a source of music discovery. We pride ourselves on that.—Kirk Reed, We The Beat
The other half, Blake Nania, manages the website and creates free, bi-weekly playlists as a simpler, more conventional way to share underground and up-and-coming artists. “Then we take [the playlists] to the next level—now let’s drag you to a show because we think the best way to discover new music is to see artists perform live,” Reed says.
We The Beat hosts their third show at Bunkhouse this Friday with headliner Norwegian pop singer and songwriter Mr Little Jeans, who is known for her covers of Beyonce and Arcade Fire.
Reed, originally from Las Vegas, started booking one show per month at the SOhO Music Club in Santa Barbara where he worked his way up the restaurant ranks while going to college at UCSB. “We were kind of just party promoters but our parties were really cool,” he says. “We were party promoters that got more and more legit.” Now they book shows regularly at The SOhO Music Club as well as regular monthly shows at Bunkhouse. (Sango is already scheduled for Feb. 2.)
Past shows with FKJ (pictured top) and Hayden James were both successful. Listen to the three artists they’ve brought to Vegas and you’ll get a sense of We The Beat’s sound and brand. “I think a good word we haven’t been afraid to use from the very beginning is new disco. We love the disco era,” Reed says. “We don’t know why it got hated on so much.”
Kids who are loving electronic music, appreciate artists who are making [music] themselves and have a live aspect to their artistry.
Reed says they book electronic artists who are singers, musicians and performers. “I have a ton of respect for good DJs and that whole scene, but I think it’s only a matter of time— and it’s happening now—where these kids who are loving electronic music, appreciate artists who are making [music] themselves and have a live aspect to their artistry.”
But there are obvious challenges that come with getting people to a show they don’t know anything about, but Reed says they manage by putting out a good product and with a little elbow grease. “The first couple shows you’re dragging friends, you’re calling favors, and then you work your ass off to put on a really fun, different show and then they want to come back next time hopefully,” he says.
Throwing shows in Vegas where the music culture is small adds to the challenge.
“In Santa Barbara, people go out to bars and check out live music. In Vegas it’s a bigger jump for people to go to a bar and check out a live band,” Reed says.” We are still competing with the club culture and the idea of the Strip and the [typical] idea of going out on a Friday night in Vegas.” He says they combat that by throwing shows for locals.
“I’m excited to bring cool music to a place that I love, the place that I grew up,” he says. “ I like to think that we’re adding to the Downtown area with something new and different.”
See Mr Little Jeans on Friday at Bunkhouse at 9:00 p.m. Tickets $17.