The popular San Francisco techno party will end in June after a seven-year run.
After seven successful years and over 100 events in San Francisco, the [KONTROL] party—run by Greg Bird, Alland Byallo, Sammy Doyle (of PillowTalk), Craig Kuna, and Nikola Baytala—will retire. Past headliners have included Craig Richards, Roman Flügel and Seth Troxler among dozens of others. The series was started in 2005 by Greg Bird, who felt there was a dearth of good techno events in the Bay Area, and decided to put on a series featuring "weird minimal German shit." Much to his surprise the first event sold out and the series took off almost immediately. In 2006 [KONTROL] moved from its smaller home at RX Gallery to The EndUp, where it remains today.
We spoke with Bird over e-mail to talk more about [KONTROL]'s proud history and the reasons behind its retirement:
Why is [KONTROL] ending?
This is a tough one to answer because of course there are a multitude of reasons, but, in a nutshell, the time just felt right for us to close this chapter of the story and move on to new things. Alland's living in Berlin now, Sammy's been busy with PillowTalk, and after seven years of organizing, promoting, and executing a monthly event, we all have experienced a bit of burnout... especially me. Sometimes it feels as though we've booked most everyone we've wanted to see, and there's just not much left to cover, and, considering SF's thriving scene right now, us throwing a monthly may not be as "necessary" as it once was. Also, working with the same crew in a democratic format over the years, as rewarding as it's been, can definitely be frustrating at times when five hardheaded guys all have their own feelings and perspective about things. It's certainly been a labor of love, and sometimes I'm impressed we've lasted as long as we have. Ultimately, everything's got to end sometime, and we'd rather have it be while things are still fun than when they fizzle out. Seven years is a good run. I feel like we accomplished everything we set out to, and more. I'm satisfied.
How has the scene in SF changed since you started the party, and do you feel like Kontrol has played a part in changing it?
I've never been much into people boasting of their own importance, but I think a reasonably objective analysis would conclude that yes, we did likely play a role in the flourishing of minimal/techno (and perhaps 4/4 dance music in general) here in The Bay. Where once it seemed there just wasn't much going on, now nothing could be further from the truth. San Francisco's nightlife has been booming for several years now, with great talent rolling through almost nightly. It's hard to say exactly how much we influenced that, and how much might have happened anyway, but either way, I think we've all been very proud and pleased with the result.
Are you still going to be throwing events after [KONTROL] ends, and if so, what kind of events?
I guess that remains to be seen. For now, to be honest, I really am just looking forward to not having to think about anything party-related for several months. But I imagine, after a little break, the itch will return. Whether it materializes as a [KONTROL] event (quite likely), or maybe something new, only time will tell. If [KONTROL] does continue on, I'm pretty confident we'll focus more on one-offs, special events, festivals, etc., rather than hosting a monthly event. At the end of the day, we've all got music in our bones, so you've certainly not heard the last of us.
Will [KONTROL] still exist as a brand of sorts?
Sure. We're not stick-a-fork-in-it done, we're just ending our monthly at The EndUp and taking a break for a while. I hope people won't forget about us if we're not up in their faces every month. I think at this point people have a pretty good idea of what we're about, so we'll continue to keep the name out there, pushing the music we dig, and supporting the scene however we can. A podcast has been something I've definitely tossed around. We've got a lot of great recordings from memorable nights that I'm sure people would enjoy hearing. Maybe with some extra time on our hands we'll actually get around to doing something with them.
What are you most proud of about the party over its seven-year run?
I'm proudest that we always put the music first. It was never about pushing our own careers, making money, or booking whatever was "hot" at the moment; it was about a group of passionate music lovers exposing the artists that inspired us to the city that we love (and hopefully the rest of the world in the process.) I think we covered a lot of ground, and when I read over the somewhat stunning list of our past guests, it's hard not to beam just a little. I'm also really proud of Alland Byallo's outstanding visual identity he's developed for the event, which has only gotten better and better over the years.