10 Questions with Jason Sikorsky on music, mentorship, and living as a Promoter during Covid-19
Written by Jason Euler | August 26, 2020
Q: What do you believe makes your company/brand unique compared to other promoters?
You know that’s a great question. In the beginning the all-seeing eye was used because Jacob my co-owner was really into conspiracy theories and elicit imagery. I think in a way our branding and logo lends itself to our sense of being underground and renegade. Like a lot of grass-roots promoters we started off with wildy party-focused events with alternative genres and artists. I think we still identify ourselves as such but with one foot in and one foot out. We’ve moved onto more club-orientated productions but we will always remember our roots. Aside from our branding I think it’s very unique that we operate in both Tucson and Honolulu. It’s been a blessing being able to produce shows in my two favorite states.
Q: How did you get connected with producing shows in Hawaii?
I went to high school on Oahu. My family still lives there so I find myself back pretty often which keeps me close to the island. Soon after graduating college in 2013 I started producing my own shows in Tucson and along the way I met a promoter from Phoenix who started producing bar crawls. I helped produce one in Tucson and next thing you know we were co-producing bar crawls all over the country. Eventually we were in Hawaii producing bar crawls which helped me further my networks with club owners and promoters. Since I was getting my feet wet with buying shows in Tucson I was able to start buying in Hawaii. I was honestly in the right place at the right time. At that time Hawaii only had a festival scene and no club scene. Between myself and good people I met out there we were able to fill that void.
Q: Connections can be the difference between life and death in the music industry. Would you mind sharing a story or a chance meeting that changed everything for you and your career?
When I was in college I took every opportunity to attend as many club shows and festivals as I could. One of my favorite things to do was strike up conversations with security guards, staff, and promoters to ask them questions about the event. I would ask about the venue, capacity, production, and anything else I could think of to mentally note. One person I used to always look to bother was Ronnie Spece of PHAT Entertainment. Ronnie has been producing shows in Tucson since the 90’s so I really respected his brand and work. Surprisingly enough he would let me ask him a million questions and answer just about every single one of them. I’m kind of surprised looking back at how patient he was with me. I was messaging him almost daily for a few years when I was getting started!
Aside from answering every question I had he also opened a lot of doors for me. I started producing my own shows and we also started to co-produce shows. I was simultaneously learning from my own mistakes and learning from a veteran.
Q: How often do you think connections can grow into something more than just business?
Have you ever had a business connection grow into something more like a mentorship?
Initially it was sort of the other way around. My mentorship with Ronnie grew into a business connection. But that business connection led me to further opportunities. Eventually Relentless Beats got involved and we were all co-producing shows together in Tucson. I can’t thank Daniel & Thomas enough for all their continued mentorship and opportunities. Huge shoutout to Ronnie with PHAT Entertainment and Daniel & Thomas with Relentless Beats.
Q: How important would you say mentors are in the music industry? Care to share something that a mentor has taught you in life?
Mentorship is almost a deal breaker in my opinion. This business almost takes a certain kind of personality and niche skill sets to navigate. If you’re going into it blind you’re either going to lose a lot of money or really get your feelings hurt. Maybe even both. I know that sounds harsh but that’s the reality of entertainment.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my mentorships and experiences in this business is that you need to learn how to take a hit and come back stronger. Oftentimes people are afraid to fail or are afraid of trying again. This business and life in general is all about failing and trying again if you want to succeed. Because with every failure take what you learned from your experience and you come back better and stronger. As Aliyah put it best in her song ‘Try Again’…’Cause if at first you don’t succeed, Dust yourself off, and try again…’.
Q: What is the first piece of advice you tell anyone who wants to be where you are at now?
One piece of advice I have for anyone who wants to be a music promoter is learn to persevere. I’ll say this right now. If you’re in it for the money, you’re in this business for the wrong reasons. Almost every successful promoter I know came into this business because they love the music and they love what they do. Persevering helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel because you will have a long bumpy road.
Q: The COVID virus has made these days quite stressful. What are you doing to cope and stay sane?
COVID has really given me the time to get back into video games and catch up on movies and TV shows I’ve been meaning to watch. I’ve also started to read more. But my new favorite thing to do is going on walks. I was so caught up with work all the time I didn’t realize I had this beautiful walking path behind my apartment that I use as often as I can! There is nothing like a nice stroll while the sun is setting listening to your favorite tunes.
Q: We hear often about all the negative things that have come from quarantine and the virus. Would you mind sharing a positive story or thing that has come out of quarantine in your life?
You know after COVID happened I took a good long break from listening to dance music. It was nice to step away for a bit and take a breather. It allowed me to explore and rediscover my love for rock music and other alternative artists and genres outside of dance music. It was really refreshing almost like an EDM detox. I’m back listening to dance music again and I can say it sounds and feels new again. It was almost like taking a short time apart from a loved one but coming back to them realizing how much they really mean to you.
Q: What can promoters and others in the industry do during these solitary months to really jumpstart their careers within the music industry?
This is a tough one for promoters. For music producers I could easily suggest exploring yourself and finding inspiration to produce music. But for us promoters we are not exactly able to creatively function with everything down.
Despite that I would say stay connected with your people. Whether it’s your team or business partners I think reaching out and seeing how they are doing is healthy. I think it’s important for your people to know that you care about them beyond business. These are tough times and it’s through solidarity we can preserve (see what I did there!). There’s a lit at the end of the tunnel and if we are all coming out of it together I think our business and community will be stronger than ever.