A Closer Look At Ohio Stand Up: A Talk With FreeWater

Well, I am back. The day job had to take precedent for a minute, but you know I would never disappear on you. I enjoy the conversations, music, and camaraderie too much. Today, I want to continue my interview series that delves into the lives and experiences of some of the individuals behind the web and promotional group Ohio Stand Up–that made a lot of waves over the last 1-2 years. FreeWater, aka Frankie S, was there with James Castrillo,  Scott Singerman, and others in the beginning and helped push the web-based concept that inspired me to start my project. This project also inspired many other people to go to the web and write about their experiences in our scene. My more sustained contemplation of Ohio Stand Up can be found in the lead up to James Castrillo’s eloquent interview on his experiences with the group HERE in my post “Kingpin Discusses His Craft & Ohio Stand Up History”

Instead of just asking Frankie about his experiences with the Ohio Stand Up project, I gave him the platform to delve deeply into why he is interested in dance music, putting on shows, and educating individuals about music. This obviously includes discussion of his experiences with Ohio Stand Up, but also provides a way of seeing his motivations and drive behind wanting to make an impact in the world and wanting to share his passion for music. I hope you enjoy his story.

LA: How did you get into dance music? Was there a track or event that changed it all for you?

F: Ultra Music Festival 2010 Spring Break 2010 – totally changed my entire existence. I have never been to a music festival before this one and it gave me a true appreciation for how dense the dance music scene is. Going to UMF as your first music festival ever… is somewhat of a mind-funk – I kept asking myself “How do they let this many people, take this many drugs… someone needs to study these people”. I quickly became one of those “people” and will love dance music until the day I die. Ultra music festival is a powerful experience not just an amphetamine infused dance party… it’s about the people, the music, the culture of one hundred and twenty something beats per minute. I think that going to ULTRA for my first music festival ever really laid down a foundation for the music and culture I will go on loving forever. Another important detail about attending UMF 2010 was that I had “visions” of myself becoming a DJ – when I had no clue about DJing at all then. Truly a life-altering experience… something that I will never forget, with friends and memories that I will never leave behind. In addition to UMF2010 seeing Major Lazer + Rusko in Columbus and experiencing “the lights” of Pretty Lights New Years Eve Chicago — really locked in my love and passion for dance music.

LA: What was it about the Ultra Music festival in 2010 that forever changed you and got you into electronic music?
F: The scale of things – the size of the buildings surrounding you in downtown Miami, the endless sea of ravers, hippies, party-peoples, fist pumpers and music lovers, the lights, the bass, the incredible production (especially if you’ve never been to a music festival before in your life), the way ULTRA makes their festival feel like one amazing ULTRA party event – because after all it’s one of the biggest parties to ever take place on the planet. The weirder “things” you see on South Beach really open your eyes to the culture behind dance music; furries, rave boots, go-go girls, creepy blueman suits, the list goes on and on.  Ohh – and seeing LMFAO live and Lil Jon jumped out on stage for a live collabo I turned to my psychedelic friends and said “Is that Lil Jon on stage..? what the fuck is going on…?” Unable to comprehend what was happening at the biggest party on the planet.

LA: How did you get your start DJ’in?
F: Well after having “visions” at Ultra Music Festival I decided to start mixing some tracks on my laptop with Virtual DJ until I strolled into Guitar center like many novice DJs and bought my first DJ controller, and god-damn did I think that was the coolest little musical tool ever. It was a Numark Stealth Pro or something like that (currently tagged in all sorts of CO-Way and Ohio Stand Up stickers) I used to sit in my room for hours on end jamming out to tunes and mixing basic house tracks thinking I was some revolutionary house DJ hitting sync and mashing up old Deadmau5 with old Tiёsto. Eventually I moved my laptop-numark setup upstairs into my (at the time abroad in Asia) roommates room so that I could use his 12” tops and really test out my house mixing abilities. I would invite Scott (from Ohio Stand Up) over and an entire entourage of people and we would sit up in my music den baking it out and messing around for countless hours; everyone would just jump on the “nummie” and try to mash up some tracks or spin some knobs/push some EQs… those were some very experimental, important times where I learned a lot since I was doing it so often and it really helped break the ice of playing music in front of people.

From experimental bedroom DJing to a few random small house parties to my first gig ever at Circus Wednesdays via My Best Friend’s Party. I have tons of respect for Nick Reed and Chad Smith of MBFP – a lot of the DJs out in Columbus owe it to these guys, for giving them a place to start, or a first chance to play out, including myself. I will never forget how nervous I was the first time I played that first show up on a real stage on a semi-REAL sound system – my palms are sweating just thinking about it.  That’s how I got my start DJing – but from the very beginning I always wanted to be more than “just another DJ” I started the DJing to learn/discover new genres and styles of music – educating myself to be able to successfully produce quality music myself one day; which is where I am at now… music production.

LA:What was the first set you spun? How did you feel?
F: The first set I spun was really different (Pretty Lights to electro to dubstep)… me and Scott (of Ohio Stand Up) pre-made the entire set in ableton, sort of pre mixing everything and created some loops and a bunch of different styled tracks that we both picked out. It all sounded sweet when we pre-spun it and ran through it over and over again – I still play some of those tracks such as Coma Cat (TenSnake, Round Table Knights), KNAS and Tarantula (Pleasurekraft). I was nervous of course; like the first time you do something in front of a crowd of people, but I just tried to let loose and get into it. Sometimes I black/brown out on stage and can’t remember exactly how I feel about my sets – this was one of those instances. I think it sounded alright, I was just glad I didn’t train wreck the first time spinning at Circus.

LA:What does the act of DJ’in mean to you? Why do you do it?
F:The act of DJing to me means an opportunity to create a memory, touch people’s inner beat, expose people to new sounds/genres, make an entire room move to the same rhythm – Djing means a lot to me, most importantly I want people to walk away talking about their memory, talking about how great the music was and how exciting the night became solely because of the energy of the DJ & pounding beats.

Why do I do it… I do it for the love of the music, and the ability to share my musical knowledge & skill with those that will listen and dance along. I’m not in this for fame or tons of money – is that the end goal – sure at the end of the day I would love to have a million fans & play in front of tens of thousands… but to me DJing is about connecting everyone to the same beat on the dance floor and watching people turn to each other, glance up to the booth and just vibe to the same energy that your putting out through the speakers. That’s why I do what I do and love doing it… throwing events, DJing new parties out in the Vail Valley, CO… exposing people to the FreeWater vibes.

LA: How and when did you become a part of the Columbus dance music scene?
F: The summer after attending UMF2010 is when we (myself, Scott Singerman, James Castrillo, and a few others) really started to kick things off with then-titled CO-Way which is now know as Ohio Stand Up. We just started going to shows, posting new music, promoting shows, throwing parties, basically filling this gap that exist on the scene – someone needed to capture the growth and momentum behind the dance music movement in Columbus, Ohio. We forcefully inserted ourselves onto the scene – we started collaborating with My Best Friend’s Party and other promo groups to throw events, shows and even co-partnered in a festival at Miami University (in which we learned a lot).
We just started being apart of the scene… learning who was who, snapping photos at events, discovering who seemed to “control” much of the Columbus scene and also discovering who was willing to work with us, and who wasn’t willing to work with us. We always stressed something at Ohio Stand Up…[ Collaboration over Competition ] which is something Ill go into more detail about in another answer… we wanted to work with those who wanted to forward the advancement of dance music & we were passionate about making sure we helped evolve the culture of EDM in Columbus – somehow.

LA: How did Ohio Stand Up come about? Who was involved?
F: Scott Singerman and I worked together downtown at Park Street Patio outdoor grill and we used to bullshit about a ton of ideas. We discussed ideas of music all day, what we thought the Columbus scene was missing, what we thought we could do to change it and impact it. We joined forces with James Castrillo (Kingpin) and decided that starting a dance music blog was really important for the scene in Columbus. For a number of reasons: a place to discover whats happening in Columbus night life, a place to read reviews of music and shows, a resource to educate those less familiar with 128 beats per minute. So we started writing, tons and tons of content – pumping out music releases, show reviews/promotion, photo essays, artist interviews and exposing Columbus webravers to an assortment of new musical genres that they had never even heard of. We had some part to do with the dubstep / moombahton wave sweeping over the Columbus and Midwest scene – we helped push that shit and hard… we all knew that dance music was about to explode.
Shout-out to all these people involved in helping kick off Ohio Stand Up: Scott Singerman & James Castrillo (master minds behind the site), Dave Dixon (photographer), Roshni Hundel, Bobby Armstrong (art designer for Co-Way and OhioStandUp), Adam Singh (MC and swagger), Adam Ziggy (I cant spell ur last name dog), Paul Bono and the DaveRave guys, Allie Dorsky (most supportive girlfriend ever), Max Nelson, Vince (Magua), Cristina & Alisa, Nick and Chad of MBFP, … I know there are authors, DJs & other contributors I am forgetting so I apologize if I left you out – I appreciate everyone in Columbus’s help for kicking this off with US – we are all Ohio Stand Up… thank-you Columbus!

LA: Why was Ohio Stand Up Started? Was there something missing in the scene you wanted to highlight?
F: I started describing above what we thought was missing… basically quality media coverage. We took photos, wrote educated & researched articles, interviewed artists and much more – what was missing on the scene was a multi-media blog/website to expose and capture the amazing growth behind the culture of dance music in Columbus and the Midwest. I (and also the OhioStandUp crew) personally wanted to highlight the memories, energy and passion driving the people of Columbus rave scene. Columbus has been a rave-city for years before this explosion in dubstep & rise in popularity of dance music. There’s a lot of un-captured history here… such as Nick and Chad of MBFP bringing in Rusko to Bristol Bar (on 5th and summit) back in January of 2010… people of the Columbus didn’t really know who Rusko was at that point, I personally did not (now have seen Rusko 10 times live). Columbus used to host crazy underground rave parties in warehouses – techno, house and indie dance all have a deep rooted history in Columbus dance music scene, a history that many “new age Skrillex ravers” may not have a clue about. That’s something that was definitely missing and still kind of is missing but there’s a new author on the scene from Local Anatomy and he seems to know what’s going on with capturing the history and deep rooted culture of the Columbus scene – properly.
Like I said there’s some serious history of how dance music has evolved in this Midwestern cap-city – and it will be really exciting to see where it is headed in the next 10 years.

LA: Why was going to the web so important for you guys?
F: The web and dance music culture seem to go together like cookies and milk. Everyday we log on to Tweetbook or FacetaGram – to check statuses, check in with the world, post photos, look at stupid YouTubes, every single day. The internet is polluted with some serious garbage (ill stop myself before I go on a serious rant) but there is also some quality content on the web – worth spending your attention deficit disordered time on. We wanted OhioStandUp to be quality, entertaining content and being on the web was the most viral way to “spread the love” of dance music culture. So Scott bought us a website domain and the rest is history. I’ve always wanted to say that

LA:Ohio Stand Up’s dominant credo “Collaboration Not Competition” has been proliferating widely around our scene. Where did this ethos come from? What does it mean to you?
F: Wow what a great question. This ethos is credited to Scott mainly but definitely something that was felt throughout the blogs philosophy and ideals of the CO-Way & OhioStandUp. Electronic music is nothing without the passionate people who make that shit come together – the fans, promoters, event planners, producers, DJs, musicians, the photographers, videographers, dancers, VJs, etc – without working together we wouldn’t have a music scene at all. Collaboration is an essential piece of making this movement grow… we really stressed that and although competition exists every where we tried to keep a really open mind about just spreading the love. The biggest way we would promote involvement from the party peoples is by offering everyone the potential chance to volunteer/help at events. We wanted people to help with their talents; snapping photos, taking quality videos, spinning poi, go-go dancing, VJing, live art. We quickly learned that Columbus loved being involved – and it was really amazing to watch the talent just come forward, for dance music enthusiasts seem to be artsy, like-minded, creative individuals. It’s cool to still see a lot of involvement at events that people like MBFP are throwing — Columbus is talented.

Some closing thoughts about OhioStandUp:
Currently the state of OhioStandUp is strange and her future is unforeseen. We currently don’t have the website up and running and very rarely are blog posts coming out. I would hope that our dreams, ideals and mission at OhioStandUp dont just fade to black – if you’re a creative writer and avid dance music culture enthusiast that wants to blog, contribute and help reubilud / relaunch our powerful cause contact me and I will get you into touch with the right people. I would really like to still help and grow the movement in Columbus, now that I am settling in a new state it may be possible that I can help to rebuild the project a bit. It would be cool to launch a StandUp! in every state… Colorado Stand Up… Florida Stand Up… California Stand Up… you name it – the possibilities are endless with a media site like this! I am excited for the future. I hope to somehow guide OhioStandUp’s attention/following towards Local Autonomy because I feel strongly about what your doing with Local Aut!

LA: What drove you and Magua to build the ColumBASS parties?
F: Vince (Magua) approached me at the first water park party if I’m remembering correctly and we immediately began collaborating our ideas, DJ styles and musical tastes. Big shout-out to Vince (Magua) he’s a talented DJ and an ideas dude – we without delay sorted out details to throw our first ColumBASS New Year’s Eve banger. I can recall practicing a DJ set in Vince’s living room – we both had a passion for deep dub… he turned to me and goes “What if we call it Colum-BASS?!” half-smirking… I replied with a “Hell-yeah that’s really dope… we shall call it ColumBASS!” he was half-joking with the name but we decided to take it and run with it. Little did we know that ColumBASS would turn into 5 womp-stomping, bass-banging, dubstep slaying, energy-raging, champagne spraying underground parties. The first one went off on New Years Eve.. they handed Vince and I an envelope of money and we decided that throwing parties at Bernie’s could actually turn out to be somewhat (minimally) profitable… nonetheless we were excited by an envelope of hard earned, party-throwing cash. I mean seriously – if you can make money off of throwing parties… what’s not to like? We decided to go bigger and badder every time – we built the DJ cage, brought in lazers, lights and energy. During our New Year’s Eve rager we decided that my APC40 didn’t like champagne, and beer soaking it all night long – we needed a barrier from these party-animals. Cue: the DJ cage
Vince at the time lived in a frat house which had some chain linked fences behind it = solution to drink splashing animals.

Every ColumBASS that had fences — which were hand carried to the venue a few blocks away… but it was totally worth it. DJing behind a cage turned out to be one of the most creative production aspects of our ColumBASS parties — it added a really organic feel to the entire dubstep element… grimey Bernie’s basement, DJ cage, lights, lazers, strobes… with all these elements combined together those parties at Bernie’s turned out to be some of my favorite shows in Columbus. The photos, and videos we took away from these events turned out really well; the party was unique and different something we were definitely trying to give Columbus.

LA: Why did you think it is important to have underground parties like this one? In your opinion, Why is it important to throw your own parties?
F: It was important to the growth of the music and at the time the genre being pushed the hardest was dubstep — underground bass parties just gained a lot of quick attention… it was a new venue and we were going for “different” style party, it was fun and entertaining… we gave Columbus something new to do. We even made the lantern with the title “Dubstep invading club scene” the photo depicting a black lit, glowing ColumBASS party.

IMO it’s important to throw your own parties because I honestly felt like at the time certain promotional groups believed that they could essentially “run” every night of the weekend. I felt otherwise… I believed that there were enough bass-loving party animals for every show, every event in town. I got a lot of enjoyment out of throwing those parties with Vince — it was fun, met some amazing people, spun along side some really talented DJs. Most importantly we created memories… I can walk up to many of my friends and say “Remember that time at Bernie’s those ColumBASS shows” they will all smile and respond with a “Hell yeah, damn good time!”

LA: Why were you driven to be so involved building the scene in town? Why do you do it?
F: That’s a damn good question… I can’t exactly answer Why — I can try with this…
We all have a need to “belong” to something… to feel apart of a group or culture… Dance music is my culture, is my passion, it’s my love. I felt that I could really impact people’s lives by helping to forward the music scene in Columbus and I think me and my co-contributors at OhioStandUp really made an impact on the scene. I really felt apart of the electronic music scene before I peace-ed out of Columbus — it was a really unique “thing” to feel apart of. Many of the people I worked / partied alongside of are often looked at as more of my “music family” than just friends. I’m involved in building the scene because I am passionate about exposing those uneducated to my expansive knowledge of musical culture.

LA: What are you currently up too? Tell us a little bit about whiteraverrafting.com
F: Currently I am writing music, taking tons of photos, working hard with a new entertainment/production company called Pink Monkey, blogging for WRR.com, planning tons of upcoming events with my new entertainment event called SnowDance and enjoying my new life in Colorado. White Raver Rafting is a project I joined maybe 10 months ago… and it’s amazing. Our crew of bloggers, music enthusiast, media, party people are spread around the nation covering all things EDM. The creator is a marketing genius, which is why I am loyal to this blog/website I have a feeling we are really going to take off into something big! From newest music releases, to show reviews, show promotions, artist interviews, etc. it’s basically a bigger, more main stream version of OhioStandUp — we cover some of the biggest news to pop off in the dance music realm. It’s gained me a lot of media credentials in Colorado — I am now apart of a media contact list… basically means promoters reach out to me to blog/shoot photos at their shows, providing me with the new music being released and upcoming events in return I get to attend shows and festivals for free as a media personnel. It’s very exciting for me to be able to meet my favorite DJs, and producers and also photography is my new found love — as I have begun shooting photos for our blog’s photo essays. It feels as though I am already apart of the music scene in Colorado because of my involvement at WRR.com.
I get exclusive access to pre-released music and also artist interviews as well… keep an eye out for a Boombox interview from my blog in the near future. Check us out here
The growth of this project has been outstanding and exponentially fast — keep an eye out for festivals collaborations from our blog as well as shows, tons of fresh music releases and much much more coming in the future!

LA:Plans for the future? Tell us a little bit about SnowDance and moving to Colorado’s Vail Valley.
F: I am working on releasing my first group of tracks… I would start telling you about the tracks and project name but it’s still coming together and I want it to be released when it’s finished instead of just being talked about. It’s very experimental and different using both Ableton and Reason… I create all my own synth patches, and love synths. It’s somewhere in between Moombahton / dubstep / and Pretty Lights — I am very excited to get these tracks finished and release them soon… music production takes so much time and energy. Also, I am working on a fresh moombahton / electro house Doctor P remix which I hope to have finished by the end of next month for a remix competition!  Photography is my new creative outlet — keep an eye out for photos from Colorado’s scenery and the music scene as well! Since I have moved to the Vail Valley the opportunities out here have been endless… from Djing in an entirely new region of the country, attending SnowBall music festival and Levitate with a media pass, snowboarding endless waves of powdery snow — this move has been a dream come true.

SnowDance is my new entertainment, event throwing company + event that I am trying to launch out in Colorado (I love start ups) — I have spun and organized about 12 different events/parties since moving here 6 months ago including a massive after party to SnowBall music festival in sponsorship with 3 seperate companies. This Spring, Summer, Fall will be huge for SnowDance as we are planning pool parties, outdoor pavilion jam-band parties, BBQ get downs, kick ball and much more. I will also be organizing and developing concepts to hopefully throw my own music festival soon — in addition to partnering with SnowBall music festival for their next event.

There’s so much going on I can’t even describe it all… so get at me in person for more details about the future! And keep in touch with me… DJs / producers that want shows in Colorado or anyone that wants opportunities out west — my connections have grown faster than I could have ever imagined.

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