014: Nicole Cacciavillano - Moving people through sound not hype

Are you a music fan?  What about dance music?  Do you know what “dubstep” is and where it came from?  Well, you’re about to learn.  In this episode, I sit down with  Nicole Cacciavillano, a former teacher-turned-promoter, artist agent, music venue owner, and now the owner of a studio that not only offers space for local and touring artists to utilize for producing and collaborating on music, but brings her full circle by also being a space where upcoming artists can learn the art of music production.  They discuss the path that took her from being a full-time teacher and fan of the electronic dance music (EDM) scene — specifically dubstep and bass music, to becoming one of its visionaries and leaders paving the way towards the future.  

Here’s a brief overview of Nicole’s journey (so far):

In 2007, Nicole founded Sub.mission: a dubstep crew in Denver, CO motivated by “the potential for moving people through sound, not hype.” As the CEO of the event company, she has been responsible for over a decade of iconic dubstep and bass music events, including Electronic Tuesdays - Colorado’s longest running electronic music weekly.

In 2012, Nicole created the Sub.mission Agency as a way to share Denver’s passion for the underground sound with the rest of the country. The independent agency paves an avenue for newcomers and niche artists to share their sounds with new and diverse audiences. At the head of the agency, Nicole can be credited for dubstep’s growing momentum across America.

Nicole achieved a long-term dream-turned-goal of operating her own venue when The Black Box opened in November 2016. The 500-capacity sound system club is a powerful manifestation of Nicole’s vision of moving people through sound, not hype. Her commitment to independent music and the community it fosters is at the heart of the venue’s day-to-day operations. Despite the sensibilities of the music industry, her honest approach is working: in the short time its been open, The Black Box has received multiple awards and international notoriety. 

Nicole’s approach to running The Black Box, Sub.mission, and the Sub.mission Agency is defined by authenticity - a rare quality in the hostile music industry. Her success with each endeavor sheds optimistic light on the future of the disrupted music industry. Through her relentless devotion to the sounds that move her personally, Nicole continues to prove the transformational power of genuine music to positively impact the world, and pave a path to relevance for independent artists. As we move deeper into the digital era, Nicole will be regarded as a pioneer of the “new music industry,” where recognition is rewarded based on sound - not hype.


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Nicole C: 00:00:00 I mean, I think ultimately the biggest piece of advice is that stay true to yourself. I think when you find that you have stay true to yourself and you can get to the point where you are genuinely happy with what you're putting out there, then it doesn't matter what anyone else says, you know, it doesn't matter what, what their opinion is or or or what, because when you put out that type of energy, it is going to be accepted by people who are ready to receive it and it is at those points in your life when things will start to happen.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:39 Welcome to The Vitalic Project podcast where you'll learn how to find your own voice in a world filled with noise. I'm Gabe Ratliff. I'll be your host as I sit down with fellow artists, creators and entrepreneurs to learn more about their work and how they serve others so that you can tap into your creative purpose and live a life that's drawn, not traced. All right, I'm stoked. Let's get to it.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:01:08 Hey guys, thanks so much for joining me on this episode of the vitalic projects. I have to ask, are you a music fan? I'm a music fan. Are you a music fan? What about dance music? Now I've mentioned before on the show I'm a drummer and a Dj and I definitely have an uh, uh, a strong passion and absolute love for electronic music, dance music. Um, but you know, it's got all kinds of styles to it, right? Do you know what Dubstep is and where it came from? I have a treat for you today because you're about to learn. It's one of those styles that you know, some people love it, some people hate it, but it has made an impact all over the world and in the music scene itself. And I'm really excited to share with you today one of the leaders and visionaries in this scene.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:02:05 So in this episode I sit down with Nicole Cacciavillano, she's a former teacher, turned promoter, turned artist, agent music venue owner, and now the owner of a studio that not only offer space for local and touring artists to utilize for producing and collaborating on music, but it also brings her full circle as a teacher. But also being a space where upcoming artists can learn the art of music production. During our conversation, we discuss the path that took her from being a full time teacher and a fan of the electronic dance music scene two becoming one of its visionaries and leaders paving the way towards its future. In 2007 she founded Sub.mission, a Dubstep crew in Denver, Colorado. Motivated by the potential for moving people through sound, not hype as the CEO of the event company. She has been for over a decade of iconic dubstep and bass music events, including Electronic Tuesdays, one of Colorado's longest running electronic music weeklies.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:03:09 Then in 2012 she recreated the Sub.mission Agency as a way to share Denver's passion for the underground sound with the rest of the country. The Independent Agency paves an avenue for newcomers and niche artists to share their sounds with new and diverse audiences. At the head of the agency, Nicole can be credited for dubsteps growing momentum across America. Then she achieved a long-term dream turned goal after opening her own venue called The Black Box, which she opened in November, 2016 the 500 capacity sound system club is a powerful manifestation of her vision towards moving people through sound, not hype. Her commitment to independent music and the community it fosters is at the heart of the venues day to day operations, especially in the short time it's been open. The Black Box has continued to receive multiple awards and international notoriety since it opened in 2016 and now she's taken it yet another step forward by opening black box studio where producers can come to work on music or they can even collaborate on music while they're traveling through to play shows at The Black Box.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:04:23 She also has opened up the ability for up and coming artists to learn music production and you know, this is just fantastic stuff. She's come full circle, like I said, as a teacher and is offering the ability to pay it forward for up and coming artists that want to learn their craft and to not only do that, but to also be supporting them through her agency. The one thing that rings true through all of them as that she's all about moving people through sound, not hype. And I love that mantra. It is a connective tissue across each of the businesses that she owns and operates and she just keeps going. She even said that there may be a record label coming based on the current trajectory of The Black Box studio and all the work that they're doing through that and the capacity that she has through her roster through Sub.mission agency.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:21 So it's some great stuff. I love her story. I love the work she's doing and the passion that she has for this industry, uh, in this scene that I have also been a part of for a long time. And it's so great to see and hear what she's doing and to unpack how she's been able to utilize the training she had. And the type of persona that she has as a teacher and the way she's filtered that through to these businesses, that she's using those same skills in this industry. So I'm very excited to introduce you to Nicole. Gotcha. Velano Nicole, thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the vitalic project as so much appreciate it.

Nicole C: 00:06:28 No problem. Thanks for having me.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:06:29 You Bet. So I thought, first of all, I just want to commend you on the work that you have done over the last many, many, many, many years. I thought that first of all, our first off that maybe you could take us back to 2007 when you started Sub.mission and tell us that story and you know why you started it.

Nicole C: 00:06:53 Yeah, definitely. Um, I mean, ultimately I had moved to Colorado from Philadelphia and when I got here I was already an avid bass music lover. I'm very much into drum and bass at that time and had, you know, already started hearing dubstep coming from across the pond. But when I had gotten here, I realized that there really was not a scene in Denver, let alone really America at that time. So we had gotten this opportunity, you know, like the Internet just brings people together. So had started talking to some of the producers and Djs from over there and um, kind of started making a plan and that's kind of how it happened. You know, there used to be this forum called quarter forums and myself and a couple other promoters want from San Francisco wants from New York, one from La. Uh, we just all started kind of talking about dubstep and what we wanted to see or who we wanted to bring out.

Nicole C: 00:08:05 And that process in and of itself, you know, took, took a while because it, that at that time there really wasn't, um, like an emphasis on work visas. No one really knew the sound. There was so much research and connecting with artists over there. So we really just spend some time kind of like developing a plan. And the second part of that was developing the cities we were in because some of those cities had already brought over a couple artists. Uh, but a huge part of dubstep is the sound system and making sure that you have proper amount of base weight and you know, old ultimately with, with Dubstep, you know, it's all about the vibrations and it's all about keeping it dark and, and trying to keep the same aesthetic and vibe of what was happening across, across the pond here in each city. And there wasn't very many venues at that point that we're really keen on, uh, allowing me to bring in a sound system. So luckily I had these friends who owned a sound system called the walk truck and I was able to really just go in, find venues and bring in their sound system and kind of get some show started. So I guess I would probably say what started as a hobby between a couple of friends, you know, turned into what Sub.mission is today.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:09:30 Wow, that's amazing. That's one thing I really love about this scene is that it was this space that was so organic and it was organically organic. It wasn't this, you know what I mean? Like you just took a passion for a sound. And I remember when this was happening, I was hearing this from, you know, from the record store and the the behind the turntables myself and just seeing this start to grow and it was still just this trying to figure itself out. But you had people like yourself that just took the initiative and we're like, let's take this the next level and didn't sit back and wait for somebody else to do it. Or for somebody to, you know that, you know, it's one of the things I also love about are seeing is that the music goes back and forth across the pond. You know, something will happen here and then it'll get taken an evolved over there and vice versa. And it's really, it's like this, it's like this wonderful ping pong effect that happens between the, the producers and the Djs and the, the fans and just how they speak to each other. Just like when you're out on the dance floor.

Nicole C: 00:10:50 Yeah. I mean it's totally just as synergy. It's amazing, you know? I mean that's, it kind of goes back to even the reasons why, right? It's like we would hear music from the Internet as that was the only way we were able to, and back then they'll play culture was a big thing. So only certain artists had certain tunes. So if you heard a tune in a mix, chances are if you ever wanted to hear that tune live, you had to book that artist. Right. And so that's kind of even what, you know, it started in generated the excitement, right? Because I had never been a part of something like that and it was like so groundbreaking at the time to be able to hear music, use the Internet, to reach out to talk with the artists and like get, you know, in a matter of a couple months, have them playing live and your city listening to tunes that you never thought you'd have the opportunity to hear on a proper sound system.

Nicole C: 00:11:55 Um, back then, you know, that sound very much generated from south London and from London in general. So there wasn't very many people in America making dubstep at the point, right at that point. So ultimately if we wanted to hear it in our options were either fly there or fly them out here. You know, it wasn't even about making money or being a promoter, it was honestly about having a love for a sound and just wanting to be a part of it so much that you brought it to your city and wanting to share it to the people that were in your city so much and just be able to stand in front of the speakers with anyone who is open minded enough to give it a shot and just have a different experience, you know, an experience that wasn't already happening or an experience that really meant something to yourself personally.

Nicole C: 00:12:48 So it's, there was a really special time. It still is a really special time, but needs to be said that back then it was, it was, uh, it was life changing, you know, and, and meeting the people firsthand. And at that point, you know, everybody wanted weekend shows, so they're coming out for two weeks and we got a chance to have artists stay at our house for like the week in between, you know, the really getting to know them. Yeah, it was great. It gave us an opportunity to really get to know them as people and that I think more than anything else is what really made me fall in love with just the culture and want to push it and want to, you know what, when you find someone or something that you love so much, why not share it? Why not scream it from the rooftops?

Nicole C: 00:13:38 You know, I wanted to ask about when you were speaking about that it was life changing. I was wondering if you could speak a little deeper about just the impact that it had beyond what you just shared. Yeah, totally. I mean for me personally, you know, I had, um, I, I dealt with some tragedies and traumas growing up and more specifically, uh, towards the end of my stint in Philadelphia, moving to Denver was kind of like, you know, it was this, it was this spur of the moment I moved here by myself. I packed up everything I owned and got on a plane and came out here and I didn't know anyone. I didn't want to know anyone. It was like life had presented me an opportunity to start over and I just wanted to take advantage of that. And it was during that time, still living in Philly, you know, making the transition.

Nicole C: 00:14:47 But it was during that time where I started hearing the music and it was just something that even listening to a radio show on the Internet was something that I could essentially just like really, really connect to. And it really got me out of some really sad moments and some really, you know, horrific experiences essentially. So that was one of the main motivators for me was that like, Jeez, if I could, um, if music could heal me and this sound is exactly what I would say exactly what dubstep was for me, it was hailing. If it could heal me over the internet, imagine what it could do in person, in front of the sound system, experiencing the vibrations of, you know, of the baselines, which, which is just this like metaphysical experience in and of itself. You know, and you know, like I was at that time a teacher and I taught kids with emotional and physical disabilities and uh, you know, you always learn in college about art therapies and music therapies, but really until you experience it yourself, you don't understand that impact.

Nicole C: 00:16:10 And it was then that I just realized that this is what I wanna do. You know, I want to focus on the music aspect. I want to open the doors to people to heal, no matter where they come from, who they are, what has happened to them, you know, to provide an experience to where they can come into a dark room and not have to worry about judgment or you know, their problems. Maybe for a couple of hours they can come in here and just let it all, let it all go, you know, and just, and just really heal and spend some time focusing on themselves and the connection between the vibrations and the music is, it's just a very powerful experience. And I think having gone through that personally is something that made me want to do that with everybody else, you know, to give that opportunity to everybody else.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:17:11 Oh Man, I am so familiar with that story and Kudos to you for your work as a teacher and for taking that into this new arena with music. I, I'm a personal story for me, I had a very similar experience where I found the scene was completely enamored with it. I have had issues with focus and concentration for years. And, um, one of the things I found when I was in school was the electronic music was my way to focus. It gave me this common thread that I could tap into. And being a drummer, I just connected obviously with similarly drum and bass break beats, trip hop, anything in that realm, dubstep, any of those genres I just totally connected with as, as a beachhead, you know, I just, I get it. But the thing, it was so much deeper for me, it was also being able to tap into that as a creative and be able to find this focus.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:18:21 And so I jumped in head first in our scene back east. Uh, I was down in the southeast and I mean we, I had Thursday nights, we had a residency at our house, which had some pluses and minuses. Uh, cleaning up the next morning was always just a pain in the ass. Um, you'd find CDs missing and all kinds of stuff that you'd be like, well, I didn't like that one that much. Anyway. Um, and, uh, you know, but we would invite local djs and regional djs over to play. Friday nights was a club residency. Saturday nights was usually another residency. And then I had a 12 to four spot at the college radio station. And wait, we'd also have djs come in and do guest spots on that and we just, it was just give, give, give, just, let's push this scene. And in that had my turntables stolen.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:19:24 We had records stolen, we had, you know, really important things in our lives that were, we, we were so giving. And it was a really tough lesson to learn. Uh, I don't want to go any deeper to the story, but it, it ended up working out relatively well. Um, but we, so we got some of this stuff back. Um, but it was just really, I mean it was when I had my first hit of really trying to understand for myself how I felt about this scene, that I was just so devout too and had that same, have that same passion for. And, and that was actually when I decided I really want to take a look at evolving myself and you know, what I need and how I want to give back. And, um, so that was when I made the move out here for the same reason.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:20:24 It had a great, I'd come out here with a buddy of mine, we both deejayed together and just fell in love with the scene and the progressive vibe of the city and the people and the music scene was growing here and has continued ever since. And um, and that was the same passion I had came out and continue to be a music buyer for record stores and all of those things and just continue to be devout to the scene. And it ended up being a great decision, uh, as it, obviously it was for you as well. But I just wanted to share that because that's the, I you said that and I was just starting to go back and you know, have, have some, have some moment there, have a moment just remembering, you know, why I came.

Nicole C: 00:21:11 Yes. And I think that's cool. You know, and I think that, um, as people talk more and more, you know, and, and, and, you know, maybe backing up from that, one of the things that music, you know, can provide people is this common ground. Like we may not know each other. I may not know who these people are on the dance floor, but I can look at their face and I can tell that they're having that moment, you know? And I think for me, everyone asks like, oh, what's your favorite part about being a promoter? And man, that's it. You know, that is it. Like I love to sit back and watch people experience that, that life changing evolution. Yeah. Now. And it's like the most beautiful thing you can be a part of without even knowing the person, you know, you don't even know words are needed, you know? Yeah. You can tell by the look on their face that, that that's what's happening, you know?

Gabe Ratliff: 00:22:16 Yeah, yeah. Here here. I mean, that's one of the things that's so beautiful about music. And that was one of the things that on this, on the next level with, with this particular music, is that it truly is universal. There's no, generally, there's not vocals, you know, the, what you're hearing is the vibrations, like you said, it's the baselines. It's the beats, it's the, the rhythms, it's the, you know, the harmonies and the melodies. And it's essentially this whole language. And each genre is its own language and they continue to evolve. And I think the sound's continue to evolve and the way that we communicate. I just had a beatboxer on a recently for an episode and he's actually beatbox champion and well, we, they're about to go. He and his partner, they're about to go to Poland for the grand beatbox battle. And yeah, it was just so much fun.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:23:20 And one of the things that they were talking about is that, that that's how they talk to each other. Yeah. You know, and, and it breaks down these barriers. And that's one of the things that I love about this scene. And it's really, it's, you know, and, and it's been hard over the years trying to explain that to people, especially older people. Like they don't get it. They don't understand, even though you can say, you can liken it to things like jazz or classical, you can say it's the same thing. It's just, it just sounds different and they don't get it, you know? And it's really hard to explain that. But it's, it's interesting because over the years, you know, I remember being at the record store and people coming in and saying, this is just a fad. It's just a trend. Yeah. And I would just be like, hmm, I would maybe think about that. Cause I don't know if that's true. And here we are years later and it's, and it's not a tree. It's not a fad. It's not a 10.

Nicole C: 00:24:14 It's actually the exact opposite. Right. I mean, in my opinion, dubstep change the electronic music scene in America. And that's, and that's, we've got plenty of facts to back that up, you know? So

Gabe Ratliff: 00:24:26 can you speak to that? I'd love, I'd love for you share some more about that.

Nicole C: 00:24:29 Yeah, totally. I mean, you know, I'm old, so when I grew up raves were still illegal and like, you know, even when I moved to Colorado race where, you know, with, with the rave law or rave act or whatnot, it was still pretty much frowned upon, you know, and like the stigma was drugs and trouble and you know, just, it just wasn't even a focus on music. And, uh, dubstep came about and obviously, you know, there's the evolution of Dubstep in and of itself went dubstep started just started in basements, you know, in, in bedrooms. And, um, as the deeper sound progressed and years of that God on, obviously it's, it, it, it made its way over to American. Then American started adding their sound and their flavor to it and the sound just the sound kind of changed and it got a little bit more aggressive with that.

Nicole C: 00:25:22 It kind of started filtering more into the mainstream to the point where it's on target commercials and you know, you watch TV pretty much every commercial is Dubstep, you know, uh, it's in video games, it's everywhere. And I think that, um, that the sound's really helped kind of push that, making it a little bit more recognizable and you know, a little bit more kosher for people, for lack of a better way to say it, you know, like it was an easier pill to swallow at that point. You know, like, um, you see it in, in not only in, in the media, but you see it in schools. You know, at the time when it really started changing was about 2011 12 for the big ears corporation started picking up the sounds, um, AGSM like live nation, you know, many, many corporations across the country. You know, we're strong throwing bigger, larger scale dubstep events.

Nicole C: 00:26:24 Now we see, we see red rocks focusing on purely dubstep events. You know, back then, you know, I would say at least in Colorado, you know, like by 2011 I had been consistently selling out Cervantes, you know, 1600 people come into a show and the corporations didn't even know about it, you know. And when they finally caught on, it was like, oh, hey Nicole, you know, do you want to come out to lunch with me, you know, every week and talk to me about ideas. And at that point I was very much like, yeah, hell, hell yeah. You know, does this mean I can help my friends, like evolve in their careers? Like 100%, I'm ready to do that. You know? And um, you know, from that and from that, from that level of acceptance comes the media accepted and comes the acceptance of parents, you know, and comes to term concert, which has nothing, you know, like for me, we're going to a show, it's a party, you know, for kids these days in high school, they're going to concerts on the weekend.

Nicole C: 00:27:27 For me, it concert was like, you know, a rock concert or free men, new kids on the block, you know what I mean? If for fogging, talking old school things when I did when I was young, you know, so just the whole culture itself changed. And I also think, um, you know, as it became more accessible for people, it also kind of took a stigma a little bit away from, uh, you know, the term rave per se, or you know, the drugs or, or, or whatnot. Right. Because it was people of all ages now who were knowing about it, it's playing on the radio and even my mom knew about Dubstep, you know, so, um, I don't think it just, it just kind of made it more accessible, which is great. You know, it's a great thing. And you know, like they say, the larger the mainstream, the stronger the underground, you know? So I've been on both sides of that, and I can say fully that the underground I think is stronger than ever, so I can't complain.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:28:30 Yeah. Oh hell yeah. I love it. I, that's a great quote. Um, I wonder, you were, you were just talking about that evolution of where we've come now as it's become more accepted. I, I would love for you to talk about those early days and the challenges that you faced when it wasn't like it is now. I mean, what was that like?

Nicole C: 00:28:57 Um, well it was very interesting. I must say. Uh, it was, I mean, just for the plain fact, I remember going and walking around Denver, Denver was much different 10 years ago, you know, so like walking around to every venue you could find like asking, uh, because, you know, at this point Beta wasn't open, vinyl was open. Um, but at that point I was kind of still looking for more, you know, not as much club setting, you know. So I remember going to so many different venues and sitting down with their managers or the owners and just like, just last thing, what my vision was, you know? And they'd always be like, well, why do you need a sound system? We have a sound system and it would be like to power JBLs and two monitors, you know, nothing that would actually get the point across to the people we know.

Nicole C: 00:29:55 And like I would explain it and half of them would be like, yes, so we're not willing to do that. The other half would be like, yeah, okay, we'll give it a try. Maybe after the first time when we actually had a sound system plugged in, they would be like, okay, so we're probably not going to have this happen because all the glass just rattled off of our, off of our bars, you know. Um, so I mean the struggle was real man, you know, like as just as far as finding event. Eventually that side of it really started easing up. You know, you find a couple home base, you know, back in the day, back when a suture was around, we did this really cool Thursday night weekly where a bunch of cool crews. So, you know, um, basically to a cruise just kind of rotated through.

Nicole C: 00:30:42 They allowed us to bring a sound systems and we just really, you know, that was just really something special. Um, we had started doing some stuff in the basement of vinyl, uh, every other week or so rotating with another drum and bass crew. Um, and that, that was really successful. And I mean, and, and at this point successful was like 70 people, you know, so like in and of it self like building, building a culture, um, it took some work, right? You can't just bring an act and expect everybody to know who they are. So we had to learn, you know, how to street team or how to market this because there was no reference that anyone really knew. They just had to trust you, you know? And I think that was like for us, one of the, one of the focuses, you know, for me, I remember the early shows, I'd walk around with a clipboard and have people sign up on a mailing list and like, you know, I was a special ed teacher, so data was my thing and I think it was by their third show, they were either hooked or they were like, get me the hell out of here.

Nicole C: 00:31:47 You know, like, I don't know what this music is. I can't relate and they're just gone in and out. But I think, you know, building a foundation is the most important part of building a movement, you know, and taking the time to really get to know everybody who had walked through the door. I really ended up paying off because then those people fell comfortable being there and then they bring their friends and then those people felt comfortable being there and then they bring their friends fast forward, you know, two, three years later we were having 500 people at a show, you know, so it was, it was good. I mean, the evolution for us was, you know, a lot of, a lot of footwork, a lot of promotion, a lot of befriending people and really, um, opening their eyes to what it was that we were trying to do and, you know, trying to find the locations that made the most sense. Because for me, I'd rather be in a small venue and pack it out and create this vibe then like move into this larger venue and have it be empty. Right. Because it just doesn't, it doesn't really translate. So it was a, it was a building process and

Nicole C: 00:33:12 every second was worth it, you know? I mean, just, just the growth in and of itself and, and building, building a family. I mean, that's, that is what it is for us. You know, Sub.mission is a family from the events to the agency to now The Black Box to the studio, all of it, you know, it's, it is people who were dedicated to the sounds into the culture as I am. And I think that is what has been able to keep us afloat, you know, and keep, keep us, keep us evolving.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:33:47 Speaking of that. That's a great segue because I wanted to ask about as you approach talent that you bring in, you know, as tastes and styles ebb and flow, how do you, how do you, how do you approach that and how do you sort of manage that and, and stay true to, you know, existing talent and you know, up and comers and Andy just that, like I said, the change in the tastes and the styles.

Nicole C: 00:34:16 Sure. Um, you know, I think it's crazy because when we first started, you know, obviously we're looking to people that we really liked and then we'd meet them and not only did we like their music, but we'd like liked them as people, you know, and for me it's such an emotional connection that if I don't click with the person, it makes, it makes me not want to spend my own money. You know, that that's the thing, this is all my own money. Like in the beginning I was a teacher and I was able to afford, afford it. And eventually, you know, probably like 2010, 2011, 2012 is when like things really started kicking off and the Bros step movement really started coming into play. And you know, at that point I still really liked those artists. They were still really true to themselves and it was just their version of what dubstep was, you know, um, they weren't tainted by the money yet, tainted by industry.

Nicole C: 00:35:09 And so, you know, it was really easy at that time to, to keep, to keep going and growing with them and moving from smaller venue to a larger venue to larger the corporation that, that stuff was easy, you know? Um, as far as like keeping the locals involved, we had started an I caught electronic Tuesdays. Geez, we just started, we're in our ninth year of that now. So that light has been always focused on locals, locals first and where there was DJ battles. So many people would ask me like, hey, Nicole booked me for a show, booked me. And like, I am a, I am a DJ's Dj. You know, like I want to see you mix. I want to see it in person because I know anybody can make an able to mix, but can you stand in front of a crowd and actually mix and actually keep us interested, you know?

Nicole C: 00:35:57 So that was something that really helped us, like keep the local scene involved, um, and keep, you know, keep us, you know, keep an eye on new talent with that. With all those new kids, they're coming out to impress you. Right. So they're digging, they're digging in the crates just as much as you are and they're coming out with new tunes that maybe I hadn't heard, you know, so it was just a great way to really keep the scene alive and to keep it exciting, you know? Um, and those local kids, you know, some of those kids who played electronic Tuesdays are now touring nationally, you know, now have, are headlining red rocks on their own. You know, so it's, it's been a crazy ride when it comes to that. Like it just, it's, it's almost mind blowing, honestly, you know, to see, to see how, how things have changed and evolved for, for individuals.

Nicole C: 00:36:47 You know, music is such an individual journey for, you know, every person has their own experiences. They also have their own opportunities. And so, um, I think for me, when it came time to really start knack buckling down, you know, and, and there was a time for me where I just had to stop supporting the more corporate events and artists even because they changed who they were. You know, it was like they became performers rather than artists. And because of my emotional connection, it made it very difficult for me to want to support that, or at least with my own money, you know, like it was just, it was just different. And like I made sure I focused on the creators and the people who were in it for the right reasons, you know, number one, that right phrase in his music, right. And sharing what they've made with the masses essentially.

Nicole C: 00:37:46 So I think, um, you know, after booking artists for so long, based on the music that I liked, and meeting them in person and realizing I really like them as humans, you know, some of them started to approach me about starting an agency and they were like, Oh, you're a teacher. You really organized. You know, I think this would be really great. You know, we want someone who's connected with the scene, who knows what they're talking about and you know, clearly that turned into a job number two. This is number two. Um, with that said, you know, everyone who joins the agency, I have a nice little conversation with prior to make sure that we're all on the same page. Um, we've had artists who outgrew the agency, which is totally fine. Um, and that's kind of how the music industry works. You know, everything's a stepping stone so that it is what it is.

Nicole C: 00:38:46 And we have some people who's just stayed with us the whole time and are now reaping the benefits of what's happening in the scene. So, you know, I think it's important that everyone from the artist to your staff, to the people who come from, you know, come in the door and pay money, you know, they're expecting an experience, they're expecting, um, a good time, a positive, you know, positive outcome. And it's important that you surround yourself with people like that, that work for you, that are your artists. See now if I'm going to put this Sub.mission stamp on someone, it's because I know they're tried and true and they're just, you know, ultimately a really good person. So.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:39:33 Nice. That's awesome. I, my first question is based on that is, you know, what types of artists do you look for? You know, what is it that, you know, they're gone on a deeper level from what you just spoke to you. I mean, what are the things that you're looking for as you're, cause I'm, I'm a, I'm sure at this point you're also getting, you're getting hit up about, like you said earlier, people are sending you mixes and wanting to get your, uh, have you been an agent for them? But when you're looking for an artist or when they do contact you, what is it that you look for?

Nicole C: 00:40:13 I, I think first and foremost, you know, it is it from the outside, right? Like it is their ability to either produce music or mix, right? Like I hundred percent support up and commerce. Well we support those from the events side, you know, and we give them the opportunities to play in the lounge here or to join the battles so we can really watch them grow and giving them advice from the standpoint of an agent. You know, at this point a person has to be getting booked quite often and essentially the fact that them handling their bookings is impeding their ability to actually work on music. Right? So while the agency at this point has, has really expanded and I have multiple agents and I want to ensure that I'm not just assigning clients too, then they're also bringing something to the table, you know, so with, with their artists.

Nicole C: 00:41:11 And so when it, while it started as ability, um, and salability, it's now turning into more of more of a human connection. You know, like we have a motto called moving people through sound, not hype. And we live that motto in every single one of my businesses, like through and thrill. It's important that our artists also reflect that motto. And it's also important that they understand that bottle, you know? And again, like I said, you know, sometimes in your journey, you know, things are stepping stones to the next big thing and we understand that we, we really want people to be honest and just have some good conversation on, on what they want from their career and you know, have realistic expectations because there are a lot of people out there who think, oh, hey, I joined an agency, now I'm going to quit everything I have because I'm going to make it, you know, write the words, make it very, uh, very subjective.

Nicole C: 00:42:18 You know, it's a very subjective topic based on what it is that you're involved in. And, and I guess what your ultimate definition of make it is, right? For us, creating an experience that changes and opens the door to other people and, and to heal them is what it is. You know, um, that is what making it is making it is being successful with your friends and being able to go to sleep at night with a good conscience and not trying to rip people off and really working together with a community, whether it's your local community or not. As obviously as an agency, we work with people all over the world. So it's like being able to find that connection and be on the same wavelength to really be able to sync up and make something special happen.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:43:10 Wow. That's awesome.

Nicole C: 00:43:13 Yeah, there's a lot of really awesome humans out there.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:43:16 Well, you're one of them. Oh, thank you. That's awesome. And I love that you echo that, that mantra across each of your businesses and that it just, it's the, the nucleus of all of them and it's the core of, of what, You know, the belief system as well as the output. Yeah. For the businesses. I just think that's awesome that you know, the not only as, one of the things I think is so great about this and that's, that's why I wanted to go in this kind of a linear fashion with your story because it's so, it is tethered and they each grow from each other and it's just as organic as the way it started. Totally. And it, it's not this forced thing. It's not coming from this place of Seo and you know, branding and all this stuff. It comes from this place that's very, very pure and it is very easy to free for you to speak to people about it if they're potentially going to work with you and whether that's to play a show or you know, have you promote them or market them, uh, or book them or um, anything along the way. I just think that's awesome that that's, that that lives as this connective tissue across all of them because yeah, it's, it's, it's true and pure just like the way it started and it, and I think that's why it's lasted as long as it has and it's grown the way it has because it has that really great trajectory. I just wanted to call that out.

Nicole C: 00:45:05 Yeah. I mean, I think that's great. You know, I, I, I love to hear that, you know, because I am a firm believer of action speak louder than words. And uh, in today's music industry, on the Internet, everywhere, you know, everybody has word bad, they know everything. They want to treat people like crap, whatever. Everyone has words. I can sit here and paint a picture with, you know, telling you one story, but if my actions don't back that up, then really who am I as a person and who you know, and the, and that is 100% it, right? Like I think in this industry, no matter what happens, I have my reputation based off my actions, not off my words. And that's how Sub.mission is. And that's how the artists are and that's how The Black Box is and that's how the studio is, you know, it does 100%. It is 100% all connected in life. Everything is connected, you know? So I think it's important to kind of just model that ethos and um, and really just prove to people that like this isn't a joke. This is something we take really seriously. It's, it's not something that is a hobby anymore. It's something that we genuinely live day in and day out. You know, blood, sweat and tears goes into this. And uh, I think that stands stands alone. You know, it, it sets you apart from, you know, from the bullshit. Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:46:44 This episode is brought to you by Gfi. Laura, are you an artist, creator, entrepreneur that creates with purpose and wants to make the world a better place? If so, go thorugh is your media company. We tell the world about your brand through storytelling rather than sales pitches like most other companies through or has committed to getting to the heart of your brand and its mission. So you don't just have fans, but super fans that will support you for years to come. Let us tell your story today. Learn more at [inaudible] dot com no, I, I want to keep moving along, but there was one other thing that I was really interested that you brought up that I'm curious what this, what this would go like, but what would, what would that be like when you're talking to an artist and you were talking about how if they're going to potentially work with you, you sit down with him and have this conversation to make sure that you're on the same page. How would that go?

Nicole C: 00:47:42 Yeah, I mean, first off, I think it's really important for, for us as a business to understand the needs and desires of the client, right? And so I always like to start off with finding out what their goals are, you know, short term and long term goals, um, to see if we would even be a fit, you know, like, is it even something that we can see ourselves helping, helping you accomplish? Because if it's not, why waste time for either of us? Right. So there's something to be said. You know, I know we just talked about the whole ag actions versus words, but when you hear an artist describe their goals, there's a way about that, right? There's a tone and there is a passion that if that needs to be present and if it's not there, I can tell that from the first conversation, you know, and you can just kind of tell that you're on two separate paths.

Nicole C: 00:48:40 Right. Why would you even be spending time doing something if you're not passionate about it, you know, or if you don't have any goals, then what do you expect to happen? If, you know, I am a goal setter. Like that is my thing. I, uh, I, I look for that. I look for, I look for ambition. I looked for people who are passionate. I want to hear the passion in those words. I don't want to be just talking to a shell, you know? I also want to hear their goals and I want us, I want it. I want to take a look at their past to see what they've accomplished and what they've personally done to get where they are that, you know, and I think a lot of the, a lot of times in the industry, you know, because of the Internet, the negative side is you can make one tune and become a superstar.

Nicole C: 00:49:31 You know, that's it, you know, to me that's, that's it. You know, anyone can do that, you know, that's, that's, that's a simple thing. Send me 20 tunes that are going to be breakout and then maybe we can talk, you know, so I do understand what hard work and what it takes to be successful in this industry and I want to see that. And you know, I want to see that pattern in the artist essentially in, you know, and that's the action side of that, right? I want to see what they have already done to get them to this point and what they plan to do to get to the next point. Um, what, you know, make sure that their goals are obtainable and that they are at least on the same wavelength as far as that goes, you know, because that's really important because, um, sometimes you can let yourself down and that really affects the creativity process.

Nicole C: 00:50:31 And in this industry you have to be able to kind of block all that out. All of the critics, all of the trolls on the Internet, you know, all of the haters because they see you becoming successful. That stuff is so very relevant. And I mean, like, like they say, right, if, you know, you know, you're doing it right when you have people saying negative stuff about you. So it's how you react to that and how they react to that also is something that's really important for me because I don't like to bend down to people's levels. I expect them to rise up and be a better person. And, uh, I think that for me it's just, just conversation and, and topics that are brought up in that conversation and what I hear come from them and how they respond and how they react to that really makes the difference for me. You could tell just by one conversation if a person loves what they're doing or not, you know, it's really easy to do. So I think for me mostly that that is what, what I'm looking for, whether that's a five minute conversation or an hour conversation, you know, um, that's the qualities I'm looking for in a person, you know.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:51:45 So I wonder was there a moment when you knew that things were clicking and that you had something and that there was this momentum behind it? Now, was there like a, you know, this, this, this like a pivot point or you know, this, this time in, you know, these last several years where you just finally were like, okay, this is really turning into something?

Nicole C: 00:52:13 Yeah, there were several actually, like I think in 2012 it was the first moment where I was like, Holy Shit, this is a job now look, look like, look at this, we're selling out events. You know, like this started as a 70 person thing and now it's turned into like a 1600 person thing and it's just getting bigger and bigger. And it was that moment when I realized that I needed to quit teaching and do music full time. Um, it was that music, when is that moment, excuse me. When I realized that it is my job to bring this sound to Colorado because I was the one who started it and it might not have to be music that I am emotionally connected because now there's thousands of kids who are requesting different artists and without me curating those events where, how would they get that chance?

Nicole C: 00:53:08 You know? And it was kind of like, that was a huge epiphany for me because it was like, holy smokes, this is this, this is a job. This isn't just about me, my friends and the sound that we like, you know, this is more than that I'd say with the agency. I had a moment when like I'm actually having these moments all the time, artists that I genuinely love are being, you know, coming to us and being like, Hey, can you represent us every single time that happens, I have one of those moments, you know, like, it's like the little fan girl inside of me was like, oh my God, this is not really happening. You know, like, it's just like an amazing feeling and it is more motivating than ever. Um, and I think with The Black Box it took a little bit longer and I'm still trying to swallow what this opportunity has created because, uh, when The Black Box opens, you know, I had wanted to open a venue for so long and uh, it was just, it was just interesting.

Nicole C: 00:54:22 You know, I don't, I don't know if I've said this or not yet, but in the process of, of talking to all these venues in the past and bringing in sound systems, there was a vendor, a venue called vendors, which is today the blackbox who let me bring in a sound system for the first time in 2010 and uh, or 2007 I'm sorry, and bring hatch in Banga and today I own this value, you know, and it's like, it's like completely full circle, you know, and it's like exactly the space I would watch. It is turning out. Everything was just winding up. We ran into some issues when we were getting ready to open and, um, I was also dealing with my mom who had cancer and she was progressively getting worse and worse. So I was bouncing back and forth every couple of weeks from Philly to Denver during the whole opening process.

Nicole C: 00:55:16 And unfortunately a couple of days after we opened, she passed away. And so that first year I, it was just crazy. It was very emotional. Um, this last second year, I've been kind of digging myself out of this wall. I put up just to protect myself and to be able to come in to work every single day and not break down, you know, like, um, so I, I think, you know, I have these Aha moments with The Black Box and with Sub.mission. Now when I go to big festivals, like just coming back from Mexico for Deja Vu room and as I'm there looking out upon the sea of 5,000 people, I'm seeing all these black box and Sub.mission shirts, you know, people across the country really supporting the movement and like, you know, just especially these days, that whole full circle business is like, wow, not only is the sound that I love, so in the city I live in that I was able to open a venue specifically focused on that.

Nicole C: 00:56:29 I'm now able to help curate events across the country. And even in other parts of the world, you know, like we're doing Sub.mission events in Europe. We just expanded our agency to Europe. You know, like we're a part of some of the biggest festivals, talking to some of the biggest artists in the game, all who want our artists, all who want the music that we love, you know, and it's just, I mean it's pretty, it's pretty unreal. It's pretty emotional to, to work so hard for so long to have things come together full circle like they have been, you know, like, uh, with or without my mom here and now that she is helping me along this, this journey and um,

Nicole C: 00:57:14 just, you know, just, it's just providing me these Aha moments, you know, it's really nice to, to work hard and to have a team of people who work just as hard and to just see things all come together. You know? It just creates the, creates feelings that just make you want to work so much harder. You know, like it's just, I dunno, I don't know how else to really say it besides besides what you put in, you do get back and when you get it back, it's your job to put it in that 10 times more, you know, and like just keep working together with those right people and surrounding yourself with the right moments in the right, you know, just to kind of keep it going, you know, and to keep it growing. It's like a snowball rolling down a hill. It just gets bigger and bigger. Right.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:58:09 Excuse me. No worries.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:58:15 I'm sorry about your loss and I know she's proud of you because oh my gosh, I mean to hear just what you just shared is so powerful. I mean to take starting Sub.mission and then turn that into an agency and then to finally own your own venue to do with as you want. I mean the sounds, the base couch sound system that you have in each room are just phenomenal and to, you know, to also be able to, to shape the sound in the space as you know, is that is what is your vision. And that, you know, is what's meant to be for this style, but then to also have been nurturing the community itself for years and then, and then have this space to be able to do it in. And then not only that, it's this award winning venue. I mean, I looked at, I looked at the awards that you guys have been winning over the last several years in it is, I mean, Kudos. Wow. Holy. It's crazy. Crazy. I know. It's crazy. And that was the, it's x actually great that you segwayed into that. That was my next question was around The Black Box and, and, and also just like what it feels like after, you know, what it feels like after these, these several years now of it being a reality and you continue winning awards, you're now branching out to Europe and doing shows like the one you just got back from Mexico. And I mean, holy cow.

Nicole C: 00:59:59 That's exactly how it feels like. Holy Cow. I, uh, it's insane. It is this intense rush of emotions. I don't think I've ever felt before even, you know, they just never, you know, it's like, it's so crazy to see what has happened and, and I don't even think I really fully understand yet. You know, like I don't think I can really process it yet because, you know, it's slowly coming back. You know, like I said, it's been, it's been a very emotionally difficult few years and, uh, just being able to take a second to step back from the grind, you know, and we get here at 11:00 AM, we leave at 4:00 AM count. So we put an hours here and a wow to be able to step, you know, Laurie Harding because that's what it is. The balancing act of being able to step away from the work to be able to experience what it is that you're correct, what it is that you've created is something that has been something I've been, I've worked, I've been working really hard on, you know, and um, man, I don't even have the words to explain what it feels like.

Nicole C: 01:01:28 It is believable to, to me, you know, it is, I'm proud. I'm so proud of the people that have helped me. I'm so proud of this community for the support. You know, I'm so proud of like my boyfriend for dealing with me because I'm never home. And when I am home, I'm usually working from my phone and, or just like a Zombie because I can't look at a computer or anything anymore. Um, you know, it's just, it's, it's a really special thing to just be a part of something like this. And I'm just so grateful that I've been given this chance.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:15 Oh man, here, here. Well, and you've earned it for sure. And the, the fact that you take the time to celebrate the wins is fantastic because a lot of people don't, I mean, a lot of us out there, you know, don't step back and look at, cause you know, it's like you've got the next show, you've got the next whatever it is, event, excuse me, you've got the next show or you've got the next, um, you know, bookings for artists and you have a huge roster. So, I mean, you're juggling so many things. So to be able to do that, are there specific things that you have found are kind of what you guys have created in your culture that are your way to celebrate those wins as it is a team or is it a crew?

Nicole C: 01:03:11 Yeah, I mean definitely I think that, um, you know, we make sure that we take, uh, you know, as far as The Black Box goes, you know, we make sure that as, as a staff we step back at least once a month and get together. We have dinners and once a year we have, uh, you know, a big holiday celebration just, just to where we can all just be together and share each other, you know, like just sharing each other's company, right. Because a lot of times while we are all together, all the time, we're all doing our own jobs, you know, so we're all just like so involved in immersed into it. Um, when it comes to Sub.mission, the agency, I've been really, uh, I've been traveling more than ever, which has been great. And that is something that really helps me because like for me, because I was a teacher, I am still in full on teacher mode and I want to make sure promoters out there treating artists with respect, doing what they need, how can I help?

Nicole C: 01:04:11 I want to be a part of it. You know, like I want to be, it's so much more than just like, look, the artists give us money and then have a show, you know? It's like I want to be a part of those experiences and just, you know, see how much it's spread, you know? Yeah. Um, but yeah, I mean I think personally, personally it has been, um, just taking some time off to reflect and to really work on mindfulness and, uh, just meditation because my brain does not slow down. It does not stop it constantly. It's working. Yeah. And I get that. I hear that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Which I love. Don't get me wrong. You know, I am a workaholic 100% and I am proud of it, you know? And like, um, it's just really important to sit and meditate with what you've been doing and how you can, you know, treat someone better or resolve a conflict in a healthier way or create an experience so much more in depth than maybe just the surface level of what you were thinking.

Nicole C: 01:05:22 You know, just, just really for me, it's slowing down and living in the moments and, you know, enjoying the company of the people that I have with me because you know, they're here by choice and it's really important for me to make sure that they know how much I appreciate them because this is nothing I could do by myself. This is nothing I could do without people who are on the same, the same level. And, uh, without them, none of this would he be impossible. And I think it's really important that everyone knows that from the artists to the patrons who come to the venue, from the patrons who go to the events all over the country to the world, you know, all of it. It's, we're in this together, man. You know? So it's very important to me that we're all grounded and we have experiences and opportunities to really spend time together.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:06:19 Yeah. You're here. I wanted to ask you about, um, just you talked about, I love, I love that we talked about this a little bit earlier, but you spoke about the, um, that guide that you have around moving people through sound, not hype. And I, we, we, we talked about how that just permeates through all of your businesses. But one of the things I was wondering about is how do you keep that as your north star as you're in these day to day grinds and you talked about how you step away and are and are practicing mindfulness and things like that and just celebrating the wins and your team when you know, as we know there's such disruption in the industry and there's so many things that can go wrong on the tech side or with flights and so many things. How do you keep that as your north star when you're dealing with those more stressful times or when things aren't going smoothly?

Nicole C: 01:07:24 First and foremost, I think, you know, understanding the fact that everything is not going to always work out the way you want it is the most important. Um, after that comes the way you respond to those situations. Coming from Philly, I was very strung out. I used to just run my mouth, you know, and just like, oh my God, you know, and I still do. Don't get me wrong. I am a very honest person. I'd rather deal with problems like a nip in the bud and move on then to dwell on them. Um, but you know, I, I think that really making sure that people around me and myself are not overloaded is huge and that everyone is finding their balance. And I do a constant check in with my staff in every business to make sure that they're comfortable with their workload. So that attention to detail detail can be, you know, first and foremost, I think that it is those attentions to detail that make your artists and your clients are the people that you work with.

Nicole C: 01:08:33 Realize that you, that you do care and you do have time for them. And that you do want the best for whatever it is, you know, and I'll let the situation as far as the motto, you know, we music first man, you now we're in this for music. I'm not in this to be a millionaire. You know, I'm in this for music. People who come here, they're in it for the music. You know? And that's, that's what's, that's what's important. And I think trying to eliminate the people who don't kind of fit that vibe is what makes things roll a little bit smoother for us, you know, because ultimately we just want to be surrounded by people who are in it, in it for the music. Right.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:19 Speaking of which, as a music fan yourself, um, I'm really curious, what's your favorite show at The Black Box?

Nicole C: 01:09:27 Ooh, that's a tough one. That's what I thought is, that was a real tough one. I have, I would have to say that still to this day, the open and the show is my favorite. And I think it's just because that was like, you know, this is really happening. You know, like this is the start of a chapter of a book that I have wanted to write for so long and I am finally presented with this opportunity. And I constantly think about that show and the vibe and the excitement level and the people who came who maybe weren't even there for the music, they had just been friends or not even friends or strangers or whatever, you know, but it was just the support was there. And the wave that that first show created is just has a, it just resonates with me now.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:31 Yeah. Yeah. I can, I can visualize it myself. I mean, I've not had to that extent of an experience, but I've definitely had a couple of shows that we promoted and put on and we're just that level of intensity and excitement and so I can, I can definitely understand where you're coming from and good answer. Uh, so as we move forward now and we see the evolution of The Black Box into black box studio a, I'd love if you could speak to that project and how that came about, where that's going.

Nicole C: 01:11:14 Because that's, I mean, now we go in and another level and I love it. I love it. For those people who know me know that I get bored really easy if I think things are going to to smoothly. I always want to add another layer there. Same here. I think again, you know, coming from the teacher, you know, the teacher backgrounds, even prior to The Black Box, we have another motto called Hustle Knowledge. And we utilize that by, um, you know, I had spoken about electronic Tuesdays and the past and focusing on the local community. And so we used to have little hustle knowledge sessions with artists who are coming to perform. And so prior to the, uh, prior to the show that night for a couple of hours, we would invite a small group of kids to come and sit down with the headliner and they'd have like these little sessions, you know, and like one thing I noticed a long time ago in this industry is that the fans really want to connect to the artists.

Nicole C: 01:12:22 I wanted to connect to the artists. You know, that, that's what solidified the emotional connection. And solidified my involvement in wanting to ensure that their career was successful. Right. Um, and so I wanted to provide those opportunities to people to sit down until learn, you know, like especially as the DJ culture kind of exploded. What you realized was that these kids have no idea how to mix or they're literally taking a clip of a tune and putting it into their own song and thinking that they could do that legally. You know? So there's just a lot of misconception of what making music or playing music was. And so if I could have any type of role in ensuring that we are producing quality musicians, I wanted every chance and I want it to be a part of that. Any chance I could. So when we got the venue, there was this room upstairs that I guess at one point was used as an office.

Nicole C: 01:13:23 I'm not sure. It was pretty nasty. Um, but we, it was just like the first thing that came game to play. It's, you know, like once, obviously we had to focus on the venue first and foremost. But as we kind of gotten past most of the major construction projects, I'll, it's like, all right, maybe it's time we start doing this, you know. And so we turned that room upstairs into a studio. Um, I had written a grant for Denver Arts, the music in Denver, music and venues, and I got picked for that grant, which was amazing. It was like the only electronic music club and, or even vein of that. And, uh, my grant really focused on music, education and career opportunities when I was a teacher. That is what I did. I, I, I worked with kids who work, had effective needs and a lot of those kids just really couldn't connect with the current curriculum.

Nicole C: 01:14:23 So I would find them jobs in the community that where they'd get to leave school for half a day and go work and get real life experience. And so I just really wanted to kind of tie what I did there into the venue and be able to, um, create a space where we're not just open during the night. You know, for shows were open during the day where we provide, uh, you know, the way that it kind of all ended up beings that we were providing eight week sessions, um, in classes such as production, deejaying, live visuals, how to run sound, how to be a stage manager, you know, all of these things that after the eight week session you'll have a really good in depth knowledge and ability to kind of like realize, okay, I want to explore this career a little bit more. And maybe I wanted them sign up for one on one lessons or maybe I want to sign up for one on one lessons first, then decide if I want to dive into an eight week session.

Nicole C: 01:15:22 So ultimately for me it was just being able to provide opportunity. Um, I think the greatest gift that you can give to, you know, to, to a city is skilled people who aren't, can be active members of society. Right. And so that, that was kind of the big picture goal. Then also, we have so many musicians coming in and out all the time, being able to have a place where they can go upstairs and master that or their album or collaborate with other musicians that without that space may never even happen. Um, you know, from, from those types of things that have already been happening. We're already talking about having a record label, you know, I fox studios to air. Any music that's produced up there has to stay on the hard drive and then that hard drive we put out, you know, we'll put out releases, you know, so it's, it's, um, it's ultimately just about evolving the music industry and providing opportunity for people to, uh, to learn, you know, and, and to move forward in their careers.

Nicole C: 01:16:25 Providing opportunities for artists who may be stay in Denver for a week to, you know, use that depth, downtime time productively by working one on one with students and uh, you know, and, and teaching them what they need to know. And again, like I had mentioned, connecting with, with, you know, connecting with people, um, is really, I think the underground meaning there, right? It's the underground focus of, of what we want the studio to be. Wow. That's awesome. As you were talking, I was like, I wonder if a record label, but maybe, I mean, but that's how it's been. Like everything has been like this. I think when you surround yourself with creative people, you have no choice but to allow, you have no choice but to think about all of this. And I am so lucky that I get to be in the position that I am and that like I get the output right. I get to focus on the output of, of all of these people who are around and they're so talented and so amazing and they're just some of the best humans I know. Like, why would I, what? And I want to do things that are going to help them give them the opportunity to, to just to just keep on keeping on.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:17:48 Yeah. Here, here. I mean, that's, that's why I do this show exactly the same reason to tell these stories and unpack these lives like yourself, you know, that have these amazing people out there doing this great work and helping other creatives to thrive and, you know, reach their potential. And it's, I'm just this, I'm so impressed.

Nicole C: 01:18:20 It's comes from, from every level of what you know of, of where, you know, no matter what it is that you're doing, it's coming from a place inside your heart, you know, and it's, uh, how can he get wrong? Right,

Gabe Ratliff: 01:18:38 Exactly. Exactly. You keep, you keep dropping all these really great quotes that have to keep writing it down. So I was wondering about, this seems like a really great time as we've, if we've now kind of got up to current state, um, with, with all of the things that you're doing. I was actually thinking it would be great to speak to the change that you've seen in the scene because it's gone through quite a bit over the last, you know, at least 10 years, uh, just with digital and you know, and then vinyl actually making its way back. I just saw John Bishop is coming. Um, my wife was telling me John Bishop is coming to do all vinyl set and I've actually been just going back through mine and find out all these really great drum and bass and breakbeat Dubstep, all these awesome tracks that I had just totally forgotten about because I just had been playing digital for so long. And I usually just listen to my vinyl at home and just had been in this sort of Cathartic space going back through and, and just having these really great memories come up from these songs that have either played out or just got, cause they're amazing and, and, uh, you know, just where people, I'd really love to support, but I was, I was wondering if you could talk about, you know, the current state of the industry and how it's changed and

Nicole C: 01:20:08 where you see it going.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:20:10 Okay.

Nicole C: 01:20:11 Yeah. Well, I mean the state is healthier than I can imagine. Um, I, I do think I might look at things in a very idealistic way. Maybe. I, uh, I look at music as the music industry and I look at the music scene and I very much affiliate myself with the music scene. Um, as far as like the industry side of it, you know, of course they jumped on the bandwagon with all of the more aggressive sounds. Uh, but, but I think because it was more like, uh, you know, they just put, hit the repeat button and just kept bringing the same old same old. The people got tired and when people get tired, they start to look elsewhere, which has in and of itself totally put the music scene and the underground on this Ford trajectory. It has, the music scene is like so healthy right now. Um, people all over the world are communicating and connecting and doing things together. Uh, people are really excited about the sounds again, you know, it's like, um, it's just this wave that, you know, I mean, obviously everything comes in waves, right? So we're past, we're past the fact that people just want to go out and party and now we're back to, people really want to

Nicole C: 01:21:45 participate in something. And that I think is where change comes from. So I've, for one really looking forward to what, where we're at right now. And you know, I'm really enjoying where we're at right now and like, just the things that I know that will be happening by 20, 20, 20, you know, it's just so exciting. I cannot wait. You know, I wish I could share more, but unfortunately I would probably get a lot of trouble. But I will just say, you know that that's great. You know, as far as technology goes, you know, you were speaking of vinyl, vinyl is definitely making a comeback. Um, it is something that I see, you know, see, see on the rise, people are wanting to release is pressed on vinyl. Again, I've recently just heard of a, of a pressing plant opening in Denver, which is amazing.

Nicole C: 01:22:35 Oh my gosh. I know, right? I can't wait. Um, so you know, that's just going to change, change the game, right? Like things are going to be, it's just, you know, it's, it's definitely a listener's movement at this point. You know, it's definitely a collector's market and um, I think that if we can just keep going on this, you know, cause I've been through this now for 15 years almost. So I've been at a point before around like, oh yeah, is the wave man, this is the one, you know, but every time that happens, it is so much more intense. And it is so much, so much of a bigger impact, right? So ultimately I feel that the scene is healthier than it's ever been. And I feel that the people are more committed to and passionate than they ever have been. And I cannot wait to see what continues to happen for this

Gabe Ratliff: 01:23:33 here. Here. That's a lot of good. Yes. Good News. You know, the other thing I think is it's a very double, it's part of the double edge sword that comes from this, but is the adversity that we've seen over the last couple of years, especially here on our soil and how, you know, this is the music of the like, you know, this is the underground, this is the music of the people, you know, and I'm a big, uh, I actually, the next episode coming out, add this fantastic interview with a friend of mine who's a 30 year veteran street artists and graffiti artists, graffiti writer, actually, excuse me. And um, he comes from Connecticut via New York and he lives here and just this amazing human. But that's one of the things that we talked about on his episode is just that the sound of the people and the and the art of the people, it really speaks to the current state of affairs in life.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:24:41 And I think for me that's one of the things I think is so beautiful about this state that we're in with the music scene is that that people, it doesn't matter how long people had been making music, I think that's one of the things is so great about this, this scene is that it has the potential to, and the ability to keep evolving in such a way. And like you were talking about people are there, they're wanting to hear these, you know, new, they're wanting to make and hear these new sounds and they're getting back to this place of that connection. And you know, it's so great that you're offering the support to the artists, but then also having this space where people can come together and commune and hear this evolution occur that people are doing back in their studios, in their bedrooms and be able to like participate that w parties participate in that in a, in a, in a live setting, you know, and to be able to feel those vibrations and feel the energy that comes from this, um, this space where you can actually have that universal connection. And I just think that's, that's the, that's amazing.

Nicole C: 01:25:54 Well, one of the things and that's what it's all about. Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:25:59 Yes. I mean exactly, but I, I, yeah, I just wanted to say that, you know, I think that's such a powerful thing that you've come at it from those angles and are continuing to evolve that. Um,

Nicole C: 01:26:13 I appreciate that for sure.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:26:14 For sure. And I, I, I kind of wanted to build all that up to, to ask, you know, what, looking back on all of the years, in all of the things that you've accomplished, a, what's next? I mean you do, you dropped a couple of things, but I mean, what, what's next for you to, and I don't, I, I'm not trying to pull anything out. No, totally. You already stated that you're going to keep stuff under wraps and I love that. I'm all about surprise, but I just like, when I think about all the things you've shared and that you've obviously type a personality and you're always churning and do you get bored easily? I'm very, very similar. I just wonder what, where do you look when you are doing so many things and are already setting up this, you know, this trajectory for things that are aligned with what you've been doing. I just wonder, you know, what's next for you

Nicole C: 01:27:15 man? I think that, I mean, a big plot of land in the mountains where I can move on, my friends live there and grow our own food and, and just a drive four wheelers and snow, mold snowmobiles and just experience life. I don't know. I mean I, I, I, that is definitely one of my next goals, honestly, outside, you know, personally at least. Um, as far as what's next for us, you know, like, and what's next for Sub.mission and The Black Box. I just think it's crazy. It's who knows, you know, that's, that's the exciting part of where we're at right now. As Paul said, the opportunities are endless and it's ultimately just what you want to make on it. You know, how you want to, to proceed and what you want to do with your clients and how motivated people are around you to just keep going. You know. Um, I've already been asked to open black boxes and other in other states. Um, wow. I'm not thinking about that yet because I still think there's a lot that we need to do here. Um, but, you know, Gosh, I just think the opportunities are endless ultimately, you know, I think right now our main goal is just to make what we have better. And, um, from there, see, see what happens.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:28:47 I wonder what advice you would give to when we're about to start getting to the wrap up questions here. But one of my last questions to you, um, in this space is w what advice would you have for, you know, up and coming artists Kizzar in their bedrooms and you know, or kids or adults, I mean, whichever, but just, you know, up and comers that are, you know, they're, they're, they're interested but they're, you know, they're curious but they don't know and you know, they're there or maybe they've been starting to write and they're self conscious and filled with, you know, as all of us creatives, we have self doubt issues and many of us have perfectionism issues. I have both. Um, what, what advice would you give? Okay.

Nicole C: 01:29:36 I mean I think ultimately the biggest piece of advice is that stay true to yourself. I think when you find that you have stay true to yourself and you can get to the point where you are genuinely happy with what you're putting out there, then it doesn't matter what anyone else says, you know, it doesn't matter what, what their opinion is or or, or what, because when you put out that type of energy is going to be accepted by people who are ready to receive it. And it is at those points in your life when things will start to happen. I think with that said as a, as a bridge to that, don't rush things, sit back and take your time and make sure that things you know, get your stamp of approval and that, you know, it is very much the work that you put into it that you will end up reaping in the future, you know? And so I think it's just important to set goals and just stay true to yourself and everything will just fall into place.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:30:50 Mike drop. Okay. So thank you so much. I've got just a few more kind of quick, sometimes they're quick wrap up questions that I like to just do at the end just to have some fun. Um, one that's a little bit more on the serious note, but, uh, I wonder what is, what would you say is the best or most worthwhile investment that you've made? Could be money, time, energy, any other resource, but you know, what would you say that is and, and how did you decide to make that

Nicole C: 01:31:25 personally or professionally?

Gabe Ratliff: 01:31:28 Um, either, whichever you think is relevant.

Nicole C: 01:31:31 I think it kind of, I guess for me it's just investing my time and energy and passion into people that are able to invest. There's back into you.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:31:45 Hmm. Good answer. That's so true. It's like the, you know, the five people that quote about the five people that you spend the most time with. Yeah. It's totally true.

Nicole C: 01:31:57 That's the ultimate motivator, you know?

Gabe Ratliff: 01:31:59 It is, it really is. And yeah, I, and I'm a giver, so I've, I've been taken advantage of in that way from people who, you know, the energy vampires, things like that. Is there. Yeah. So I've definitely been in that, in that place. Yeah. Um, is there anything that you've changed your mind about in the last few years and why?

Nicole C: 01:32:26 Oh, that's a good question. There is a lot of things. I think the biggest thing professionally would be there. You know, like I had mentioned before, there was a time where I realized that this was my job and it was my duty to bring all the sounds of bass music and if it fell under dubstep that I needed to be the curator or or whatnot. And then there came a time where I was like, you know what? Screw that. I just really want to invest into the people who are going to invest back. And since I've made that decision, it has been amazing. I have eliminated so much drama from my life. I have been surrounding myself with people who are just positive influences on me and helped me learn and grow and evolve and hopefully I'm doing the same thing for them.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:33:20 Nice. Okay. Two quick fun questions. Has a piece of music or an album ever directly influenced your life?

Nicole C: 01:33:30 Oh my God. I missed everything I hear honestly. You know, so that's like, that is a very difficult question to answer. I surround myself with some proof.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:33:43 Be Amazing producers. Yeah, I imagine that would be a tough one. Um, okay. Here's an uneven, probably tougher one, top three favorite songs. Ah, cause you are a refined listener and you said this is the era of the listener. So let's, let's give some, give some recommendations to some listeners out there.

Nicole C: 01:34:08 I mean, I ultimately, I think when I, when I, when I get asked my favorite songs, I always just, it's not as much the song as it is the, the moment that I corresponded with, you know, like I remember hearing a Luke envoy song called honor kill, which was one of the first dubstep tunes that I was just like, Holy Shit, what is this? You know, like what is this music? Um, and you know, I think that moment was a quintessential mammoth for my life. Um, I remember being at

Nicole C: 01:34:51 a show in San Francisco before I started Sub.mission events. So, you know, I had, like I had said in the past or in the beginning of this email, how it took about a year of planning. So like all of 2006, you know, is spent planning and traveling. And I traveled to San Fran for a show and I remember seeing Mala live for the first time and he plays vinyl and just listening to the vinyl on the sound system, which is just so much heavier and so much more of an impact. You know, I just remember hearing, hearing his, his set, you know, it's not even as much the song as being there and being present in that moment and being like so connected to the people in that room that it was like, okay, I'll bring in this to Denver. That like hands down was the moment. I was like, no, turning back now, you know? Um, and then I would say probably,

Nicole C: 01:35:46 gosh, I don't even know the third one, you know? I mean, the third one is just, it's, it happens almost every, every show, you know, it's the, it's the songs from the young kids or the unknown producers that you hear and you're just like, Holy Shit, what is this? You know? And it's just, who is this kid? You know? And then you have to dig in and, and it's, you know, back in the day when you have to dig through the crepes and you had to find the tunes, you know, now your Facebook stalking a kid and trying to find them on Soundcloud, you know? So I think, you know, it's just those, it's, it's so hard to just pick a tune like that, you know? Because I hear so many and I see so many, you know, that's just, I think it's, like I said before, it's the moments that I, that I attached to them, those tunes. And so those, those times that really meet are the most meaningful for me.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:36:39 Yeah. Yeah. I, I totally connect with that. So is there anything else that you'd like to say or any last parting words that you'd like to share or anything that we didn't cover?

Nicole C: 01:36:52 I mean, I don't think so. I, you know, thanks for the opportunity. I really appreciate this. Um, I think it's cool we got a chance to be so in depth in and cover so many topics and hit so many emotional notes, I guess, you know, I think that's, you know, April, just as long as promoters out there realize that there's, there's so many creative people out there and if we just work together, we can create something so much stronger that will last so much longer and means so much more to so many people and just keep focusing on that. You know, it is, it is, it is a tribe thing, you know, it's definitely something that, um, we'll leave such a bigger lasting impact if we can just all do it together, you know,

Gabe Ratliff: 01:37:47 Hear! Hear! Well, Nicole, thank you so much. This has been amazing. I, I've loved going through this journey of yours that you've been on for these many, many years and hearing all this exciting stuff that's coming for you and with the scene is there, where can people find you on the interwebs and, and be able to follow what you're doing.

Nicole C: 01:38:08 Cool. Yeah. So, um, our website is www.subdotmission.com. If you're interested in events or agency news, that's the place to go. As far as The Black Box, you can find us at www.blackboxdenver.co, and yeah, those would be the main, the main places.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:38:35 Fantastic. Well, thanks again Nicole. I know you have another meeting to head to. I appreciate your time and I really appreciate all the work you're doing. Keep it up and much love.

Nicole C: 01:38:46 Yeah, thanks man. Thanks for the opportunity to get it out there and share, uh, share my experiences and I appreciate it.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:38:54 You Bet.

Nicole C: 01:38:55 Thanks so much.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:38:59 Well, that's it for this episode. If this is your first time listening, thank you so much for being here. I really hope you enjoy the show. The Vitalic Project podcast comes out bi-weekly and is available every other Thursday for your enjoyment and all links and show notes for this episode can be found at vitalicproject.com. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to the show and leave a rating or review on iTunes. If you'd like to be a guest or know someone that would be a great fit, please go to vitalicproject.com/guest. If you want to follow us, you can find us online by searching @vitalicproject, and thanks again for listening. Until next time, keep being vitalitic!