To Kush Fernando and Jose Guzman, co-founders of L.A. events group Brownies and Lemonade, the goal has always been the same: to throw a kick-ass party. That was the goal when they lived in Westwood and wanted an alternative to UCLA frat parties and the college neighborhood's lame bars, and it hasn’t changed much, though the setting sure has. Back then, the party was as big as the number of people they could fit into their Strathmore Avenue apartment. For their first Brownies and Lemonade–branded show of 2017, Fernando and Guzman filled Union Nightclub’s main room with more than 1,200 people.

That night, they hosted DJ/producers Minnesota, Luca Lush, Vanic, Joe Mason, Synchronice and Padillion. As usual, the majority of the names on the lineup weren’t well-known. Two of the acts, brother duo Synchronice and solo artist Padillion, played their L.A. debuts. And Joe Mason, an 18-year-old future house producer from Australia, played his first show in the States. B&L is best-known for booking electronic dance music producers and DJs but has also hosted artists in a variety of genres, from hip-hop legend DJ Quik to singer-songwriter Mark Johns.

This is also not unusual. Brownies and Lemonade can claim a laundry list of L.A. and U.S. debuts that includes Jai Wolf, Louis the Child, Manila Killa, Ekali and Medasin. Fernando and Guzman decided early on that they would focus their attention on glorifying SoundCloud artists with small followings but huge talent.

“We did that partially because we didn’t have any money,” Fernando explains. “We didn’t have investors. We just couldn’t book shows like a lot of these larger event producers.” They’ve kept doing things that way because of a core value they both believe in: If the music is dope, it deserves to be heard.

Lido, Louis the Child, Crnkn and Promnite play back to back at a Brownies and Lemonade party.; Credit: Quasar Media

Lido, Louis the Child, Crnkn and Promnite play back to back at a Brownies and Lemonade party.; Credit: Quasar Media

While their demeanors are different (Guzman is soft-spoken, Fernando more immediate), it’s clear how the two bonded: music, a mutual love of everything L.A., and their shared quality of open-mindedness, whether it pertains to music, people or experiences.

Well, and their knack for throwing events.

Back in the Westwood days, when they and three other guys were roommates, the group would plan Friday night as if it was their jobs, including preparty meetings to discuss how much money each would have to throw down for the kegs they wanted to buy.

When Fernando and Guzman left the college party scene, though, they didn’t stop throwing parties. Themed gatherings were their M.O., and when lack of space became an issue (“This is L.A. — no one has backyards to throw big parties,” Guzman says), they started renting out bigger spaces. Inspired by hip-hop day party the Do Over, the duo started their own summer series, Camp Trill. Meanwhile, they hosted other one-off nighttime events that became the early stages of B&L.

Team Brownies and Lemonade; Credit: Quasar Media

Team Brownies and Lemonade; Credit: Quasar Media

Things really picked up at the end of 2013 with a show at the Lash, featuring Hoodboi. If you wanted to pick a single day to mark the beginning of Brownies and Lemonade, the guys agree, this would be it. In the few years since, they've grown from a team of two to six. They've thrown regular gigs at places like the Lash, and moved away from doing warehouse parties in favor of more legit venues. Through it all, they’ve managed to maintain that DIY house-party feel — just with better sound equipment and cooler lights.

“The biggest challenge as we were growing was legitimizing ourselves to these larger artists and larger people in the music industry,” Fernando says. “We haven't changed. But at first, I think it was hard for people to understand what we’re doing. The concept of glorifying these artists that don’t have much presence and bringing people together because of the experience we provide, not the names on the lineup, was pretty foreign.”

Last year, Brownies and Lemonade turned their skeptics into believers, in large part by sticking to their roots and trusting their good taste. When many of the artists you debuted are suddenly making festival lineups and selling out 1,000-plus venues for solo shows, the bigwigs tend to get interested. (Tomorrow night, for example, they're co-presenting a show at the Roxy with Goldenvoice, the promoters behind Coachella, featuring Hotel Garuda, the duo of Manila Killa and Candleweather. The show is sold out.)

The artists, in turn, give back to Brownies and Lemonade, both by repping their events on social media and in more direct ways. Fernando and Guzman got their first gig in Union Nightclub’s main space thanks to Lido, who showed up to a 300-person capacity B&L event in one of the club’s smaller rooms. Lido had worked with the guys before and they’d become friends — plus, he liked the B&L vibe.

“He just came to hang out,” says Guzman, “but he decided to play a surprise set.” Cell towers across L.A. lit up with the news, and the line outside Union snaked down the block. “The owners decided to move us up to the main room mid-party. They actually kicked out the band that was supposed to play up there.” These days, Brownies and Lemonade is a regular at Union; they’re always booked in the main room.

Slushii, Datsik, Baauer, Skrillex, Valentino Khan, What So Not and Jas take the stage for OWSLA's five-year anniversary party in September, which Brownies and Lemonade co-hosted with the label.; Credit: Quasar Media

Slushii, Datsik, Baauer, Skrillex, Valentino Khan, What So Not and Jas take the stage for OWSLA's five-year anniversary party in September, which Brownies and Lemonade co-hosted with the label.; Credit: Quasar Media

Now, the guys are facing a different sort of problem: too many VIPs. “We’ve had venue managers see our guest list and say things like, ‘You can’t have this many people on the guest list — you’re not going to make any money!’” Guzman says. “But if Skrillex says he’s coming with a bunch of his friends, are we really going to say no?”

But it’s less about whether they can turn down a name like Skrillex and more about the fact that Fernando and Guzman aren’t your typical L.A. promoters. (In fact, they hate being called that — they prefer the term “event producers.”) “No one wants to spend six hours of their weekend every weekend at a club when they have other priorities,” Guzman says. “You have to actually love doing it. To me, being a promoter is a job. This doesn’t feel like a job.”

No matter how big B&L gets, Fernando and Guzman will always be looking to do the thing they're best at. “I still see us as some weird group of people throwing events with music no one's heard. I’ll see us like that forever,” Fernando says.

So how exactly would they describe Brownies and Lemonade now? Says Fernando: “It’s just a great place to discover new music with other avid listeners who enjoy dancing their asses off.” Simple as that.

Brownies and Lemonade co-presents Hotel Garuda, Matt DiMona and Wingtip at the Roxy on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Follow them on Twitter  at @TeamBandL for weekly party updates.

LA Weekly