Since 1992 Stompy has been synonymous with the deep, chunky front-edge house music that has come to be known as the San Francisco sound. Artist and promoter Preston Lytton brought Stompy to life with the idea of creating a production company that would focus on the music in a way no one else had done before.
Under the direction of Preston and Madeline Lytton, Stompy has constantly evolved, while remaining true to its musical roots and breaking new talent. Stompy introduced San Francisco to such top tier artists as Lance DeSardi, J.T. Donaldson, and Mark Grant, and helped launch hometown talents Tasho, Jonene, and Mark Farina.
With their newest venture, Stompy.com, they are taking a leading role in the evolution of house music. The brainchild of Preston and another long-time noise maker in the San Francisco house scene, Jonny Phelps (Jonene), Stompy.com brings the Stompy sound to all corners of the globe, with a select catalog of downloadable digital music.
Words and thoughts by Preston Lytton and Jonny Phelps, co-owners of Stompy
Q: 12 years is a long time to be going! What is the secret to this constant success? Do you have to pander to the audience- water down the music- or force them around to your way of thinking?
I wouldn't say there is a secret. It's more of an approach and relationship to this crazy thing we call HOUSE and the HOUSE Party that has kept us successful for that much time. I have always taken the approach that what makes a party successful is the quality of the experience. The amount of people shouldn't be the main focus which in turn gives me a lot more freedom in implementing a more unique and creative music program at the Stompy parties. It's the artistic approach to music and parties that people get in to and get down to. We have always started from the ground up and the events have grown with us, which is only natural because they are an extension of us. The music is in front and center of what we do.
Q: What, if any, is the music policy for the Stompy parties?
Our Policy is MUSIC. People that come to our events take part in many different aspects of the party but the MUSIC is front and center. When one comes to one of our events the first thing you will notice is that the DJ set up is right there. Not on stage like a Super Star but right on the edge of the dance floor like a co-conspirator. We put a lot of energy into making sure the sound system is up to the task and dialed in and last but not least we host DJ/Producers to come and play at our parties that we "FEEL" and "HEAR" are doing something creative and would House our bodies. Of course we have to satisfy our own musical aesthetic, chunky front edge deep underground house!!! but if you look at these terms they are only a direction not a specific map. In selecting DJ/Producers to play at our parties Music Comes First and Namesake is only a bonus if that comes into play. Actually people get more Jacked at our parties if they haven't heard of the DJ and they get Housed.
Q: Any particular highlights from over the years?
Two Highlights that come to mind immediately are Boogie Buffet & Stompy Dig-In!!! I can't attempt to even begin explaining why I just know the people that know, KNOW why!
Q: I understand that Mark Farina started out in San Francisco with a Stompy residency. Did he always create such a stir behind the turntables?
Mark Farina has always worked his magic behind the decks. He is someone that I definitely recognized as an artist. One thing I get out of his music that has been consistent over the years is that with Mark the music is also front and center. He will play obscure cuts that he feels and work them in a way that gets you into them. I don't know how many times I have heard him play music that I hear later on a record and man that track sounded different when he laid it down. That is the art of DJing to me, taking music that you feel and working it!
Q: Why the move into digital downloads? Are you not shooting yourself in the foot re: killing off smaller labels and vinyl in general, or should people embrace the new technology and get with the program?!
First of all I would like to say that as a DJ I play MUSIC not vinyl. We are dedicated the art of DJ'ing and Producing whatever medium the music is on, is cool with us. I too have a dj history and relationship with vinyl but after looking into the potential of distributing music online digitally we gave up our exclusive dedication to the format. I am more excited to hear music that has been geographically cut off to us. There is so much House Music out there that stays close to home in terms of distribution. This new model allows for people to get exposure and be exposed to more market. Another important thing this distribution model allows for is the music to be less expensive for the DJ, which in turns give the creative freedom to experiment with different music with out breaking the bank and at the same time the artist or label still receives the same or more than they did with vinyl. What we hope is that the product is so inexpensive that they won't mind forking out the dough and supporting the artists they enjoy. I know this can't be relied on totally but this is the idea - make it quality and easy to get + cheap = thriving music community.
Q: What has been 'flying out the shop', or flying across the web to be exact?
The DJ Singles in WAVE format on the Download are doing the best. DJ's prefer having a WAVE File for its superior sound quality and currently we are the only site providing WAVE files as a Download. Something on the rise in terms of sales is our DJ Mixes. We offer these mixes as one continuous MP3 to work around the current problem of MP3 players not playing files with out a pause or skip. This creates another problem though which is that it is not possible to track mark one continuous mp3 so we have created artwork with each mix that is downloadable from the purchasers account. This artwork has track times that let the listener know what track is playing at what time in the mix so they are able to identify a specific track they’re interested in.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone looking to start their own night?
Develop your vision (musically) and figure out the most effective way to enhance and express it (environmentally). Stay focused on that, and enjoy whoever comes to your event. It's not about how many people show up but the quality of your vision and sharing that with one or one thousand.