For Jonathan Cats, founder of Noise Complaint, it really is. Right from the start, it was a favor to a friend and DJ who was coming through Seattle. From there, it was building a little family with their hosts over at Kremwerk, where Noise Complaint does its monthly events, and eventually to building a whole community of people who loved what they did, and appreciated the heart and soul Cats (and that DJ friend and now business partner Mark Martinez) put into it.
If you’re in Seattle and you’re looking for a great time, with great people who could become family, then come through Kremwerk sometime for Noise Complaint.
And for those who aren’t in Seattle, who knows? They could be coming to you soon.
We got a chance to speak with Cats a bit about Noise Complaint, some of his favorite experiences, and life in the Seattle music scene.
How did Noise Complaint get started?
Back in early 2016, my good friend Mark Martinez (who is now my business partner in Noise Complaint) was living in New York and doing a national tour under his DJ name Subset. I wanted to bring him to Seattle, but no promoters or venues wanted the booking, so I ended up booking and throwing the party myself at Kremwerk to huge success. Mark loved Seattle so much he decided to move here, and Kremwerk liked the party so much they asked me to come on as a monthly, and the rest is history, as they say.
What do you like about hosting it at Kremwerk?
A lot of things. It is a great basement club that really lends to those underground vibes. It is warm and intimate and does away with the glitz and glamour of bigger clubs which feels way more in line with pop-EDM than underground house and techno artists.
Not only that, but Kremwerk is rapidly growing in popularity and changing and it has been cool to be an integral part of that and see it from the front lines. They are constantly trying to improve the club and experience for their patrons and we give them feedback on what those improvements could be and many times we see the changes next time we are in the club. For example, they recently upgraded their sound system after we brought up the need.
How do you select featured artists? What kinds of things do you look for?
That is a hard question to answer, but it is somewhere in a mix of artists that we personally enjoy as DJs/producers, artists that have a proven track record but maybe haven’t been in Seattle for a while, and new and emerging artists that we really believe our fans will connect with. It also helps that we have become close friends with many DJs across the country so often we are just bringing our friends in who happen to also be incredible DJs and/or producers.
Who’s been your favorite artist so far?
Almost impossible to answer… but I would have to say one of the favorites that always sticks out to me is Golf Clap. They were only our third act ever booked and it was their first time playing in Seattle and the party just went off!
We’ve since become good homies with them and it has been fun watching their career explode over the last year. We might even have to bring them back out one of these days… 😉
Any up-and-comers you’re interested in now? How about dream bookings?
Well, I can’t reveal who we have our eyes on as that would give away the surprise… but we are always keeping our ear to the ground and trying to bring in a mix of emerging artists and staples in the scene. It is a hard but important balance to strike.
Dream bookings are too many to list, but then again, we’ve already booked some “dream” artists of mine such as Louisahhh and J.Phlip, so nothing is impossible in my eyes.
What’s been your craziest experience with Noise Complaint so far?
Back in July we had Sharam Jey (an absolute legend and incredible guy) out and he’s so used to playing these big festivals that right when the beat drops he hits what he thinks is a CO2 machine button but is actually the power strip for the CDJs and mixer, so the sound completely cuts out. He turns it back on, but CDJs take a few moments to fire up and I thought to myself, “Quick — hop on the mic and do something.” So I jump up and start singing “Happy Birthday.”
I knew not only did everyone know that song, but it HAD to be someone’s birthday in the crowd. Well, the whole crowd sings along and by time we are done the CDJs are up and ready to go and he continues his set. Definitely nerve-wracking, funny, and memorable all in one.
What do you think of the Seattle music scene at present? Where do you see it going in the future?
Ask ten people this question and you will get ten answers. Seattle has rich music history and especially with up-and-coming/emerging artists. There are so many venues all around the city each night hosting incredible artists.
I think the big big artists (electronic or otherwise) will always have their place, but I think you are seeing a return to the underground in Seattle where people want a more intimate experience with the events they attend. I think you will continue to see the local scene supported very well as it is and that middle tier talent that can fill clubs and venues continue to dominate the scene here in Seattle.
My hope with the music scene is that patrons always continue to push promoters to do better—to pay attention to the details, keep ticket prices fair, and care about their experience above all else.
Do you see the rapid expansion (particularly the Amazon driven expansion) of Seattle as a good thing for the city’s music industry or not?
Hard to say… I think you run the risk of some of the core values of the Seattle music scene being lost in the shuffle, but then again, that is where it falls on people like me to create and push a community of open minded, respectful fans to teach newcomers what we are all about.
If you walk into a Noise Complaint party, you immediately know it is something different. The warm, family vibes… the underground venue… the cool thing with that is people pick up on those vibes, and if they are about it, they carry themselves accordingly.
Any plans to expand Noise Complaint soon?
We have plans to take Noise Complaint to other cities for one-off shows. We did one in San Francisco in July with Gina Turner and it was a great success and a lot of fun. So we’ll be doing that again for sure. NYC, Denver, Dallas, and others are all on our radar.
We’ll also be doing several one-off parties a year. We just did a rooftop day party, we have a Halloween party coming up, stuff like that. Anything beyond that remains to be seen.
Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do in Seattle?
Well, I like to attend other music events (go figure), and I like boating with my wife and friends in the summer and skiing and spending time with family in the winter. I also am an avid fan of both the Huskies and Seahawks with season tickets to both, so you can usually catch me at one of those games in the fall and winter.
One last thing I’ll touch on is to us Noise Complaint is more than just a party. We’ve always sought to “build a community first and a fan base second,” as Mark likes to say. We have really build a family around our party and it shows with the support we’ve received. People put their trust in us to deliver a good time, but also something they can rally around and be proud to be a part of. Mark and I take this trust very seriously and it is why we pay attention to and fret over every last detail to make each party as best as it could possibly be.
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