There is a video post on Gary Richards aka Destructo’s Instagram dated July 16. The video starts with a classic Los Angeles rave flyer for the original Magical Mickey’s Electric Daisy Carnival from 1991, an event thrown by Mr. Kool-Aid and “Gary from Sermon.” That is how Richards was known back then, in association with his Sunday sunrise after-hours party, Sermon.
There is a burning sound effect as that flyer bursts and disintegrates into the first Hard flyer from 2007, then into the 2012 flyer for the first Holy Ship!, then into the flyer for the inaugural All My Friends Festival taking place in DTLA on Aug. 18-19 and, finally, the flyer for Friendship, whose maiden voyage will happen Dec. 11-15. Richards’ caption is: “Often imitated never duplicated. Let’s get on that new new. @amfamfamf @thefriendshipofficial”
Richards is sitting in his offices of one year at LiveStyle, the event producers that snagged him away from Live Nation, to which he sold his Hard brand in 2012. He flips through a portfolio of many event flyers from his storied past as one of Los Angeles’ original underground promoters. Richards is proud of what he has accomplished, but other than a framed poster of his very first Hard with Peaches and Justice, there is no other physical evidence of his 10 years as the figurehead for the brand with which he is synonymous.
“It was time to go,” he says simply of his departure from Live Nation and, with it, Hard. “I wasn’t doing what I should have been doing. I was boxed into two events and I wanted to work on more things. I was never ready to give up Hard and Holy Ship! but to be able to get to a place where I had more control, I had to leave.”
At LiveStyle, Richards is the North America president of the many electronic music assets of the company. And, he is starting his own division, All My Friends, a nod to the lifelong friends he has made over nearly 30 years in the electronic music scene. All My Friends, besides being the promoter of the new Los Angeles–based festival and the Friendship cruise, also is doing a number of club shows in the city, as well as having special event nights partnering with some of Los Angeles’ other promoters, such as Richards’ much-lauded July appearance at Union for Doc Martin’s Sublevel night. There was also the Breakfast Club event at this year’s Miami Music Week in March, a reference to the long-standing tradition of the 4 a.m. convergence at the infamous Denny’s on Collins Avenue in South Beach, a conference institution.
“It takes time,” Richards says of establishing All My Friends while disassociating himself from Hard in audiences’ minds. “I’m a million steps ahead of where I was when I started Hard. I’ve got a lot of resources. I’ve got a team. I’ve got things around me to be able to get what we need done better.”
All My Friends takes place at The Row DTLA, a location Richards was adamant about, particularly as it is just a few blocks from where he first started raving. Doors open at 3 p.m. and music starts at 4 p.m. with a midnight ending for the 18-and-older event. Its three stages dominate the shopping area with enough shade provided by the buildings to avoid making it an overheated experience for attendees. The space can accommodate 10,000 to 15,000 attendees. Richards believes those who turn up will be the ones in the know, making the first All My Friends — from which EDM is noticeably absent — even better.
“Most promoters don’t do what I do,” Richards says. “They pick what sells tickets. I pick based on what I like. They think about how much money they’re going to make, I always think about how much money I’m going to lose. That’s my starting point, trying not to lose money. If I thought about how much we’re making, there would have been no Hard.
“For this lineup, my thought was, who do I want to see? Armand Van Helden. And I wanted to really give Los Angeles DJs, the local guys who have been holding up the tent — Mike B, Them Jeans, Goddollars, L.A. Leakers, Cut Chemist, Nu-Mark — I wanted to give them props. The flavor is house, rap and R&B. There is no EDM. I have Jamie xx, who is pretty cool, and RL Grime, but he’s from L.A. and I wanted the end of the night to be banging.”
“As a promoter [Richards] has always had an eclectic take on curation,” says Dirtybird’s Justin Martin, who has been a fixture at Richards’ events and is the special guest at All My Friends. “I’m excited to be part of such a lineup,” he adds.
“[Richards] has a deep love of music and an incredible knack for making you feel you are a part of his events, not just there for the work,” says Van Helden, who doesn't accept many of the offers he gets to DJ. “That energy resonates through everyone in attendance. His events are memorable They never feel ordinary.”
Richards isn’t relying on who and what he already knows to build up All My Friends. He never has. He tapped into Boyz Noise, Crookers, Bloody Beetroots, Odd Future and even deadmau5 and Calvin Harris very early on, booking them for some of their earliest gigs at Hard. He credits his A&R ear to his almost 10 years of running electronic music record labels. He also credits his nonstop DJing for constantly exposing him to more and more music, some of which can be experienced on his All My Friends Radio show on Diplo’s Sirius XM channel: Diplo’s Revolution.
“I have to do the same thing again,” Richards says, referring to discovering tomorrow’s superstars. “I have to find the new things for All My Friends. It’s going to take a minute, but we’ll get there.”
For more All my Friends info, go to amfamfamf.com.