How do you take over an entire city? Dropclock Productions may have an answer. The entertainment production company may only be a year old, but during that year they have put together savvy staff, a shining relationship with the best Dallas venues, and a well-oiled promotions machine that has won the hearts of hundreds–if not thousands–of Dallas’ party goers. And at a time when clubs are considered to provide the pinnacle of entertainment and atmosphere, Dropclock intersects with the club scene — and intercepts it — to create a world of its own.
On a stuffy Saturday afternoon, I am a guest to five of Dropclock’s members: Tyler Martinez (also known as Slightly); Jacob Hausler, one half of the Dropclock subgroup Squiduo; Yaseen Benhalim (or Doob); Tyler Milner (T-Mil); and Colin Theall (Colly T). As we sit around Dropclock’s home base, surrounded by old party props, curious pets and iced tea, it feels less like an interview on what is essentially a business, and more like a light chat with old friends. I also get a sense of just how big Dropclock is. Five members are present, but we’re missing a lot more: Brian Wilson (the other half of Squiduo), Matt Wilkins (Milkinz), rapper Pierce Tuttle (Chewin Chreez) and founder Hunter Barron are just a few that make an appearance in the conversations.
But don’t let the casual, fun-loving atmosphere fool you. Dropclock operates like any company, equipped with departments, a budget, and a marketing scheme. It’s a stark contrast from the collective’s more improvised origins. Dropclock got it start throwing house parties on the college circuit. Milner and Martinez watched their apartment buckle under the mounting size of their parties, while Barron threw parties for a local fraternity. Eventually, it just seemed natural for the two to collaborate.
Their first show was hosted by a local tavern, and its theme of “Embrace the Bass” drew in about 80 people in a single night. (The team quips about its less-than-professional set-up, but in the pictures Hausler shows me, every guest has a smile.) Since then, Dropclock parties have been a monthly staple, complete with a central theme. One of the ingredients to their success has been the fact that none of its parties the team throws are exactly the same. One night you might find yourself dressed up like the dapper characters of “A Clockwork Orange,” and the next night, you might just be a jungle cat. That variety, which helps inject their choreographed evenings with novelty and surprise, is all part of the promotional plan.
“All of our promotions are centered on creativity and talent, instead of how many friends share it or who shares it the most,” Benhalim explains. “We do a lot of ground promotion [too.] Our general approach is to go out and talk to people normally, as opposed to spamming people.”
It’s here that you realize that aside from the its unique vision, Dropclock’s strength lies in its extensive network, one that manages to reach the brightest (and deepest) of Dallas’ scenes, tapping into college kids, artists, and the broader entertainment scene alike. And it is not only the atmospheres they create at their events which benefit such a mix of personalities, the company is a reflection of its audience. Solvent, an art collective and Dropclock’ sister organization, can sometimes be found providing live art installation at the center of the fun; local director/videographer, Dillon White, a friend of the crew, volunteers to chart Dropclock’s growth and scene with his “aftermovie” videos. The key seems to balancing the tightness of a network with the looseness and familiarity of a family. Not once does anyone refer to Dropclock’s extensive promotions are “networking,” but their thoughts on expansion are still pretty innovative. If you want bodies in the door, they assure me, the first step isn’t an email blast.
“Our core promotion is printing flyers for every event, but it’s not even a bulk flyer-ing thing,” Hauser explains. “[It’s] the atomosphere we create. When people approach us, the first thing we say is ‘Come dance with us!’ Come be party of this tiny family we’re creating for 45 minutes.’”
“The first step is having a good time,” Martinez chimes in.
Dropclock benefits from the fact that each member is both a DJ and an important part of the business side of the organization. Hausler spent his first few months with Dropclock fiddling with its numbers instead of equipment, but was eventually “sucked into” DJing by his friends. Benhalim’s transition to the turntables was natural, born of years of musicianship and a familiarity with Dallas’ hip-hop scene as a producer. Theall didn’t pick up a mixer until a fateful Valentine’s Day dance when they desperately needed a fill-in DJ.
Aside from being a DJ, each member contributes to the Dropclock machine. Hausler, a finance/accounting graduate, works with its business side and its budget; Milner maintains their website and pursues way to widen their online presence. Pretty much all of the group has some experience in audio visual tech work and find a way to keep things rolling throughout the night.
“The kind of unique thing with Dropclock is that I don’t just show up, plug my tracks in and sit around waiting for my set time,” Benhalim says. ” There’s a lot of overlapping with AV tech work.You’re stagehanding for Dropclock, essentially.”
The time in-between partying is dedicated to planning for future events, which can add on a collective eighty hours of extra work per week for the team. It’s not a burden so much as it is an obsession with quality.
“We’re passionate about it because it’s an extension of ourselves and it’s showing our work,” Hausler assures me. “It’s artists showing their art, musicians showing their music.”
That creative-first approach has helped warm the collective to venue promoters.
“First [venue owners] will hear ‘electronic dance music’ and they think of Lizard Lounge and ravers and candy kids who are rolling their balls off,” Hasuler laughs. “Then they come to our party and are pleasantly surprised that it’s not candy kids, that it’s just a bunch of regular ass people having a good time. Then we have club kids who come out sometimes and they’re pleasantly surprised too. I think everyone is surprised in some aspect.”
And it’s not just venues who are sometimes confused by Dropclock’s approach. Dallas nightlife can feel very segmented, and walking into the wrong party can make you feel like you don’t belong. It’s an idea that Dropclock rallies against.
“We’re like this thing that comes into town and we’re not tied to anyone,” Benhalim insists. “It’s not like, ‘If you’re a hip-hop kid you can’t come’ or ‘if you’re a candy kid, you can’t come.’ The reason why Dropclock’s grown is because every time somebody comes, they have a good time. I’ve never experienced anyone telling me they went to a party and left with a bad taste in their mouth. We’ve grown because people tell their friends that it’s fun.”
Whatever’s making the magic happen is working. Dropclock continues to grow and so does its needs for venues. It’s probably why the collective, despite its size and turnout, doesn’t have a weekly residence yet, although the possibility hasn’t been ruled out. With a new year on the horizon and so much to do, there’s nothing Dropclock isn’t equipped to try.
When prompted about their future plans, the answers are widely varied. Theall dreams of starting the next legendary party in Dallas, and sees a residency in his future. Benhalim’s excited for future projects, including an EP set to drop in December release date, and even bigger Dropclock parties. Martinez wants to balance more live performance and his search for future collaborators in Dallas. Milner just wants to keep throwing good parties. Hausler lists many goals, one of them being a possible Dropclock festival.
The immediate sights, however, are set on Deep Ellum. September will mark the collective’s first foray into the new territory, but no one, Theall assures me, is feeling the pressure.
“It’s a new scene, but we feel personally that we’ve busted our chops and proved ourselves enough,” he says. “We can win over Deep Ellum.”