Stepping Up The Scene - An Interview With Round Up Founder Bruno Curtis

We catch up with DJ/producer and party promoter Bruno Curtis, founder of Round UP Agency and project director at the RTS.FM Prague studio. Based in Prague, Bruno has become a key figure for raising the bar in the city's underground scene, both as a DJ and as a promoter with Round UP since 2016.

 

Into 2019 Round UP is stepping up its game with a series of special events happening both in Prague and around Europe -  in parallel, Bruno's DJ and producer activities took off as well, with a schedule getting busy with performances, from London top notch events to an Ibiza residency at Ibiza Underground one Wednesday per month this summer, from June to September. We had a chat with Bruno to get to know his  plans for the warmer seasons coming up.

 

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Hi Bruno! Thank you for your time, it’s a pleasure to have you on Meoko.

Thanks for having me.

 

First of all, can you give us a little bit of background regarding Round UP? How was it born and what are its objectives?

Round UP started as a birthday event for me and Agustin Alvarez - our birthdays land on the same week, so we decided to do an event together. As you may have heard Prague wasn’t too big on the type of sound we play or present at the time so finding a venue was pretty complicated. We finally managed to get our hands on a bar owned by our now very good friend Claudio. Basically he’s responsible for starting the scene as much as we are, because without him we wouldn’t have gotten this far, or anywhere for what matters. After the first event in which we managed to sell out the bar we were offered to continue, and we did. Starting with small events, we added the visual concept into the events, which at the time wasn’t really a big component for these type of parties. We had a guy working with us named Orkhan, he would create the craziest of visual presentations either from lights, objects, or both... A seriously talented guy.

From then on we started presenting Round UP as more of an art-orientated organisation (yes, music in itself is already art), but we did bring that edginess to the events by delivering quality music alongside these crazy visuals. For example, when we had tINI over we built a forest on the stage with real plants and bought fake flowers etc and had them drop from the ceiling to create a jungle effect while we had visuals projected on them this in a warehouse. This was a very DIY idea that we had just hours before the event started.

So in shorter words, Round UP is an audio-visual presentation as most promoters these days, but we put a lot of work on the visual side with objects and projections. That and the overwhelming good vibe. Every single person that works with us needs to have this sort of attitude: be nice to each other, respect each other. That's the recipe for a perfect event!

 

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On the 15th of March you are collaborating on an event with MU, a venue in the industrial district of Istanbul. How did this collaboration start? Is it the first event you host in Turkey?

This year we have made a lot of changes in our team, work method, events etc. With that changes came the partnerships with new bookers that assist Round UP outside Czech borders. One of these booker is Muge Tuzer, who happens to also be the booker at MU. She gave me the idea of doing something in Istanbul, and it's been a city I have wanted to visit for a very long time. We agreed on Barac to be the guest, I got in contact with Nicu and that was it. It has been very spontaneous as the whole thing unfolded in 10 minutes... I can’t wait for that one.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/2058668790866778/

 

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Then on the 29th of March you will be back in Prague with a Resolute collaboration. The line-up for this one is stunning, with Sonja Moonear, Francesco Del Garda and Shonky headlining the event. What guides your booking choices?

We always try to book artists that are either very close to us personally, or artists that completely embody the energy that all of us put into what we do. In this case specifically all of the guests are personal friends and have some of the best smiling faces present in the scene - always delivering that good energy that can light up a crowd. It's not all about standing there dropping the best tracks for 2/4 hours that get you to the next level of being a good performer. The aura, the energy that you yourself transmit into the crowd is very important, something as little as eye contact and a smile can make someone’s day.

It's important to be conscious of these kind of things, people rave because they want to escape and feel like they belong - we can help this with music, but these type of details can also be very helpful. A simple smile can literally change everything about a set. That's the type of artists that we want to book, the ones that are able to connect on a personal level and bring a lot more than just mixing tracks.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/247458025930554/

 

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You will also be hosting the first-ever Cocoon showcase in Prague on the 10th of May. What are you expectations and what information can you share for now about this massive event?

Well to be honest we’re still working out the details, but I’m very much impressed with the entire Cocoon team. They’re all super organised and it's all going smooth like butter. The visuals for this event will be massive... Like festival style massive. Super excited for this.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/375648483233274/

 

What’s the underground music scene in Prague like at the moment?

The scene in Prague is actually very vibrant at the moment, not internationally acknowledged but still vibrant. There's a lot happening all the time, promoters are booking more and more interesting and good names. The guys at Ankali club lead the way in this subject. The Komiks crew always throws massive warehouse parties once every 3 months that are somewhat part of the veins of the city itself. Then there's the Harmony crew, all young and super talented guys, and the XYZ guys also... I mean there’s a lot happening. I’m very confident that sooner rather than later the door will open. That’s always been our mission after all.

 

You are playing at the Half Baked x UP Festival Easter showcase in London. What are you expectations for that? What other upcoming events or releases are you looking forward to?

Yeah, thats sort of a gig that i’m still to digest, the whole past 2 years really. Always followed closely Half Baked and the entire team and having had the chance to befriend them and now play for them is as cool as it gets, all in all I’m thankful and focused on all of whats coming my way, really can’t wait. In terms of releases we have (on our ANBC project) 3 releases now on the pipeline, first already found its home the other two are still in the engine room, lets see prefer not to jinx it and just go with the flow on this. Have been playing a lot of my stuff in my sets recently and been surprised with the reaction so can say I’m excited for what 2019 will bring.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/622666794832952/

 

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Tell me more about ANBC, the collaborative project with Alex Neivel. How did this collaboration start and what are its objectives? 

ANBC was more of a logical step in terms of music production and progression. Alex basically pushed me into diving deeper in the studio and he’s been the one pushing me from day one. After a lot of after party jams or late night studio sessions we figured out that the compatibility was just there and joining forces made sense. Since then we’ve been making a lot of stuff - we built an additional studio in my house, so we pretty much live and breath music from Monday to Sunday. Our musical direction? We’re very classically orientated, jazz infusion as well, experimental, so we try to bring those components into micro-house and just try to approach it in a way that what doesn’t make sense then starts to make sense... a bit hard to explain. In the mix we gave now you can ear a lot of our own productions, won’t say which but you’ll find out soon enough.

 
 
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Could you tell us your highlight moment/story from 2018?

UP FESTIVAL!!!! (link here)

 

You are also working at the RTS.FM Prague studio. When did this start and what do you have upcoming on this side?

This was what got me more involved in music, it was roughly 2 years ago and it all started out of me being discontent with what was happening musically in Prague at that moment. I always felt that Prague could go further, so I’ve always been trying to find a way to get the music out of here in some form and RTS.FM came along and provided that gateway for me to start putting some Czech artist on camera, in a way pushing people to try and be better.

It's different when you’re playing for an audience much bigger than your normal bar crowd, you tend to put a little bit more effort. For me if I could just push people around me to that point then the scene all together would grow. I couldn't do it alone, either we all move or no one moves. Nowadays it's a little bit more stagnant due to the amount of projects I’m working on, which are all very time consuming.  

 

Thank you again for your time Bruno, we really hope to catch one of your sets soon!

 

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 Interview by Giovanni Bodrato