What is “trillectro”? Likely a soon-to-be-trending EDM subgenre, “trillectro” was coined by Modele “Modi” Oyewole, Quinn Coleman, and Marcel Marshall. The three, behind a Boston College radio show and, later, blog DCtoBC.com, have moved beyond, taking the term “trillectro” and escalating it into a full-on single day festival – the first of its kind in Washington, D.C., to be exact.
So, what is “trillectro” and the Trillectro Festival? Both merge hip-hop and electronica – a growing trend seen in but not exclusive to the Top 40. The Trillectro Festival, scheduled for August 11 at the Half Street Fairgrounds, brings together artists who combine these genres. 22 artists, known locally or nationally, are on the bill, with Flosstradamus, SchoolBoy Q, Casey Veggies, and Body Language being the major draws.
Crossfadr spoke with Modele “Modi” Oyewole about the origins and potential future for Trillectro.
Why did you decide to start the Trillectro Festival?
Modele “Modi” Oyewole: We always knew we wanted to throw something big eventually, but it was after Coachella that the concept of putting together our own festival really came to life. We just started talking about names in Quinn [Coleman]’s house for a festival, and I think our original idea was Trillfest, but I remember my partner Quinn (@spicoliDCtoBC) expressing the need to really showcase the emerging dance culture and how hip-hop is sort of evolving and incorporating dance music and vice versa. We were going back and forth and saying the word “trillectro.” It stuck, so I guess we just ran with it.
How did you put together the lineup?
Oyewole: It was a pretty short but arduous process. The first step was just brainstorming, then reaching out to people and seeing who was available. The thing about doing shows is that these bigger artists are represented by talent agents who may try and throw you package deals for their artists in order to help you out on price, and them out on getting their artists the visibility they need. We aren’t against that, but only if we truly think the talent matches our show. This happened a number of times but when we finally ended up with our line-up, we didn’t have any of those packaged deals involved. I remember sitting next to Oddisee, one of our larger acts at our show, on the bus to New York, and I was mentioning putting together this show that eventually came to be Trillectro. He told me that he books his own shows, and that it takes around 20 emails back and forth before the show is booked. He was like, “Trust me – I have it down to a science. NO LESS THAN 20 EMAILS!” I laughed at the time, but when I went back in Gmail and saw the threads of my convos with these agents, everything was at least 20 emails before we came to some kind of agreement. There’s a lot of back and forth, and that’s the part that sucks when putting together a line-up. We booked everything in the month of June, and I was actually traveling that entire time – Nigeria for my grandparents’ birthday party (grandpa turned 90, grandma 80), London to hang with my cousins and stuff, and then LA for the X Games and BET Awards. We still were able to handle everything through e-mails, Skype conferences, and phone calls. Technology is crazy!
Why did you decide on the headliners you did?
Oyewole: Originally, we had Diplo and Bun b as our ideal headliners. We actually had Diplo interested but while we were in negotiations, he signed a contract for a show in South Africa. We were initially upset, but I really like the way things shaped up, because we wouldn’t have ended up with such a progressive line-up. Flosstradamus actually had a D.C. show a month ago, but it was poorly attended because it was around the same time that crazy storm came to D.C. and f-cked everybody’s power up for a few days, so it was almost fate that it happened. Schoolboy Q was on our Kendrick Lamar show last year, and his energy was so nuts, so we had to bring him back. Body Language has been really incredible every time I’ve caught them live (shout out to All Things Go for bringing them here twice!), and we felt like they deserved a bigger audience to perform for. Casey Veggies has yet to headline his own show out here in D.C., and we’re big fans of his entire teams, Anwar and Josh, and even their web/graphic designers, so we thought it’d be a power move to get them on board.
Why did you pick the Half Street Fairgrounds?
Oyewole: The opportunity just presented itself. Once we heard the venue was available, we went to check it out, and I realized I had been there before for Nationals games, but I never looked at like a place I could throw an event at. Then it hit me: why not? Why can’t I do it? Why can’t my teammates and I set it up and make it happen? We did it last year with Kendrick, and we had executed a bunch of other awesome events, so what would be so hard about this one? I think it was just surprising to know that nobody else was really throwing shows here, so we just jumped on it and ran with it. And even though it’s easily the most difficult, taxing project I’ve ever worked on, I’ve learned so much about marketing that I look at it as super rewarding, and a taste of what running a big business is like. There are people who do this stuff for life! This is just an experiment, but if it goes well, then we’ll see what happens. I’m just grateful
You call your festival the “first music festival in the district of its kind.” What is your vision for bringing together hip-hop and electronic in one festival?
Oyewole: I just think the gap between the two genres is closing in. It was really Quinn that proved this to me; he’s been working at SiriusXM in D.C. since he graduated from BC a year ago, and working on the electronic dance music stations, we naturally just started listening to a lot more of it and realizing that dance music is changing. Usher has a chart-topping single produced by the same dude we originally wanted to headline the show! Chris brown and Nicki Minaj are sounding less like R&B and hip-hop artists and more like electronic superstars. And the underground of the electronic stuff is mind-blowing, as well. My cousin Yemi used to DJ a little bit in Atlanta while at school, and all his friends were DJs. They always used to combine the two genres on their hour long mixes, and that’s the stuff that I’d listen to in the dorm room or at the gym while at school. I say all that to say I knew they could co-exist, and we wanted to put this festival on as proof. The vision is really just to have the worlds collide. I envision a very diverse crowd, but on Saturday we’ll see.
EDM festival attendance over the last few years continues to grow. Where do you think Trillectro will go in the future?
Oyewole: I think we gotta see what happens with the first one! But I mean, I think there’s a lot of potential for this to be a franchise that we keep around for a while. It could stay here for a while and have smaller installments every month. It could tour just like the Smoker’s Club Tour. Anything could really happen with it, but I’d like to make sure my team and I keep it authentic and organic. I don’t want to corrupt it with hella sponsors that are more about a check than they are the actual experience. We’re providing an experience, we’re introducing people to some of the best emerging artists in the world, and we want to continue doing so even if Trillectro gets huge.
For any future festivals, who would you like to headline?
Oyewole: N*E*R*D is a dream headliner for me personally. That was my original goal, but I know they decided not to tour this year. I also rock with SBTRKT, Diplo, Little Dragon. I mean there’s so many awesome acts and so much music out there, I don’t even know to be honest.
If Trillectro goes well, do you think you’ll put together any more electronic music-related events?
Oyewole: I definitely think electronic music is something we’re gonna be involved in, but we aren’t gonna forget about the stuff that we grew up on. I think we’ll evolve naturally with this music stuff, kinda like DC to BC did.
In the current EDM trend, acts that mix electronic elements are less visible than those who mix it with pop. Do you think more attention should be given to this aspect of EDM collaborations?
Oyewole: It’s hard to say, really. I can’t be mad at pop music winning because that’s what the masses wanna hear. But pop music in a few years will be what we’re calling EDM, you know? Sh-t just evolves and changes so fast – the term “pop” comes from popular, right? EDM is super popular at the moment, so let’s just see what happens.
Why did you decide to start your blog, DCtoBC.com?
Oyewole: It actually started as a radio show, and Quinn was the person who forced me to jump on the show with him, but it evolved into a blog and now we’re throwing a festival. All in like four or five years. I’m still confused as to how it all happened, but I’m not mad. I think it’s awesome, and I’m really fortunate to have a lot of support from friends and readers. I appreciate that people respect our musical taste and it’s nuts to me that some of the people I used to look up to are now in my phone or are emailing me about stuff. But it all just started with an idea!