“Low End Theory always felt like home to me,” says Jamaal Long, one of the three founders of Las Vegas beatmaking collective The Rabbit Hole. “A decade ago, that kind of music wasn’t really represented here in Vegas. But I knew there were a lot of fans of the scene out here.”
Low End Theory, the weekly showcase of electronic, instrumental production in Los Angeles, has not only added mainstream appeal to the beat-driven style of music, but has also ushered artists like Daedelus and Flying Lotus into the limelight.
It was in that spirit that Long (aka Mute) and his friends Lucas Ybarra (lwkylky) and Ty Bolden (Mayneframe) created the local cooperative.
Ybarra lived in L.A. for a couple years but continued to attend Low End Theory when he moved to the Valley. Long regularly made the commute as well, while Bolden was wildly inspired by it. The emphasis and celebration of experimental production and the community that rallied around it was so accepting and exciting to the trio that they wanted to bring it home to the desert.
“Something was missing in Vegas and I knew I couldn’t be the only person that felt that way,” Ybarra recalls. “Then I met these guys.”
It wasn’t only the style of music and likeminded community that was lacking on the home turf, it was also the acceptance of creating atypical, unusual production that they were yearning for. The success of Low End Theory gave universal permission to experiment.
“I think that’s what just boomed it for me, just like, ‘Oh, I don’t really have to be scared about what I’m making.’ Because I always felt like what I was making was weird,” Ybarra says. “We don’t have to hide that anymore.”
Since its inception in 2015, The Rabbit Hole has grown to more than 13 members deep thanks to, as Bolden says, “The power of social media.” When the trio was ready to expand, they wanted to ensure that the new team members would each bring their own eclectic style into the mix.
“Coming into this, [the three of us] had our very own distinctive styles. So, when we were bringing in other people, it was almost like a superhero thing. It’s like, ‘Okay, well what do you do? Do you shoot fire?’ You know?” Ybarra says with a smile.
Although these connections were fused online, it was essential that they gelled in real time with the whole crew. “In any band, sometimes you bring in someone that doesn’t really mesh well and just breaks up the whole band. That’s the exact thing we were trying to avoid,” Bolden says.
So far, it’s working.
In their three years they’ve built a solid following in venues all over Downtown. The expansion of that part of the city was a wave that they rode on their come up.
“Without Downtown becoming a big scene, I don’t think we could do what we do,” Ybarra says.
Their events started humbly in the beloved (and now defunct) coffee shop The Beat and grew to take over more fitting locales such as Bunkhouse, Oddfellows, Velveteen Rabbit and Beauty Bar.
What they’ve created is much like the renaissance that’s occurring Downtown. They wanted to create a space that is welcoming and inclusive, and that’s the exact gap that DTLV is filling for the local community in a city that has a reputation that precedes it.
“There’s so many times that people are like, ‘Man, we had no idea Vegas was like this,’” Bolden says.
Although The Rabbit Hole has made quick strides for the budding community over the last three years, they’re nowhere near finished. Their immediate goals for 2018 include building the collective into a label so they can create and release more original music. They’d also like to get some of their roster onto a festival (namely, Life Is Beautiful), and schedule a national tour. Beyond that, they envision the collective turning into a multimedia platform with the potential to teach the youth of Las Vegas.
“We definitely want to impact the community or the city in a bigger way,” Bolden says.
Not far from where they got their start, The Rabbit Hole will celebrate their third anniversary on Saturday, January 27 at clothing boutique Institution (918 S. Main St.), located in the Arts District. The warehouse-styled space will be cleared out to cater to The Rabbit Hole’s following, allowing for booming sound and curated visuals. Ten members of the collective will perform for the 18-and-up event, which also features a special set from L.A.’s MadBliss and an accompanying light show by oft-collaborator Brett Bolton.
As for their affect so far on the Las Vegas community, it seems that people are all the more willing to take a little trip underground.
“They’ve become so much more accepting to this type of music,” Ybarra says. “I think that’s huge.”
The Rabbit Hole
Jan. 27, 9:30 p.m., $10, Institution, 918 S. Main St., therabbitholelv.com