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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Projekt Underground

Marketing, minimal house reinvent the EDM monthly

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The hushed hype surrounding the kickoff of Projekt, Milwaukee’s newest EDM monthly, has sparked discussion among the underground dance community for nearly a month. “We came to the market…with a very creative, mysterious (marketing) method, using the Web as our main focus for promotions,” said Brad Valerine, a co-organizer of the event. “One message board even called us ‘Cloverfield rip-offs.’”

Now the new night is ready to launch a barrage of what promoters call “avant” house music on the ears of the local dance scene beginning Friday, Feb. 29. Highlighting the clean, angular sounds of minimal and techno, Projekt aims to give audiences a regular mix of beats that may otherwise only get play in the occasional or one-off scenario.

“The music platform will be one that features a sound not caught up in the past,” Valerine said. “It is completely innovative and envelope-pushing.” The vision for Projekt came from Milwaukee EDM shakers Justin Grall (Screendoor), Nate York (Sir Fice), Jessica Fenner (Fortune) and Valerine, all of whom play a role in the Milwaukee Electronic Music Organization (MEMO). They developed the concept more than a year ago, when they say it became apparent that Milwaukee’s EDM community was asking for something different. The conventional, underground house nights were slowly losing luster, and the scene was ready for a fresh sound and vibe. Valerine said that part of the freshness would come from the team’s marketing approach. Six weeks ago, he and his team of promoters posted the event’s logo on local nightlife message boards along with the tag, “Milwaukee, You Have Been Waiting.” The team also included a link to Projekt’s MySpace page, which was filled with ambiguous references teasing the night. A new image or teaser was added each day leading up to the night’s formal announcement on Feb. 4, stirring confusion and curiosity among the community.

Some didn’t understand the motives behind their mission, Valerine said. “I’ll admit, the sneaky pre-promo gimmick we did in the beginning did ruffle a few feathers at first … but everyone turned around and found it to be in good fun,” he added.

Team Projekt hopes its innovative marketing and sound design will bring a recharged energy to the city’s underground dance scene. “We wanted to provide Milwaukee with complete freshness—new venue, new music, and a new way of promoting an event, from creative promo ideas to our design work,” Valerine said.

Projekt’s extended selling point is its venue, Six Degrees (518 N. Water Street), a slick, hybrid bar-lounge that has flourished in the former desert nightlife corridor that connects Downtown to the Third Ward. Since its May 2007 opening, Six Degrees has helped to revive an area of the city that looked as if it may never shake its social jinx.

“We wanted something that captured the newer, sexy technoesque atmosphere you see minimal captured in all over Europe, but also somewhere us dirty heads can still call home,” Valerine said. “The location was key … the biggest reason for choosing it yet was that it’s brand-spankin’ new to our underground dance scene.”

Projekt debuts on Friday, Feb. 29, at Six Degrees, 518 N. Water St. Minimal headliner Kyle Geiger (Drumcode), named DJ Mag’s “Breakthrough DJ of 2008,” brings a dark, techno pulse. Locals Screendoor and Obed Medina complement Geiger’s head-on sound. No cover charge. Music 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.