A deep, throbbing sub-bass rattles the floor under a welcoming circle of dancers at Hollywood's Sound Nightclub. The largely college-age crowd is headbanging, jumping and fist-pumping to Y2K, who's going back to back with fellow bass producer Jackal. One guy waves a black flag emblazoned with the phrase “It's Lit.”
For most people, it's a crazy weeknight. For Space Yacht co-founders Henry Lu, Rami Perlman and Ollie Zhang, it's just another Tuesday.
For the past two years or so, the three friends have thrown dance-music parties on what is usually one of the deadest nights of the week. (Their motto is “Ruin your Wednesday.”) Yet at 9 p.m. on the dot, there's already a line outside Sound, where Space Yacht has had a residency since January.
Things have changed a lot since Space Yacht launched in 2015. “We started out with some rough nights,” Zhang admits. Their first party was sparsely attended, but the lineup included Ghastly and Ookay, both of whom have gone on to play the festival circuit and sell out larger venues such as Exchange L.A.
The club night's motto is “Ruin your Wednesday.”
Zhang, Lu and Perlman met in 2012 working for theAudience, an L.A.-based social media agency co-founded by Perlman in 2011. Perlman, a New York native, came out to L.A. in 2003 to play guitar and keys in indie bands. Over the years, his interests veered toward house music, and he started producing under the moniker LondonBridge. (His first EP, Sound of the Underground, just came out this week.) Meanwhile, Zhang and Lu, both SoCal natives, were old friends from UC San Diego. There, they worked together on the college's annual Sun God Festival — “It's like the Coachella for colleges,” Lu says — until they graduated in 2012.
All three currently maintain full-time gigs in the music business, where they focus on marketing and events, though Lu did take off last year to dedicate all his time to Space Yacht, until a job at EDC Las Vegas producer Insomniac lured him back to the 9-to-5 world.
The trio soon discovered that their musical chemistry was undeniable. “It was our tastes that brought us together,” Lu says. “Ollie's about breaks. I'm about bass music, and digging for the buzzy stuff. Rami loves house music.” Their complementary interests meshed well, and they bonded over the desire to get the artists they were listening to before an audience.
The first official Space Yacht party happened in January 2015 at Golden Box, and then continued there weekly, growing from a few dozen people to a couple hundred by the end of the year. Space Yacht became known for its surprise guests; early on, Steve Aoki showed up to play a back-to-back set with Autoerotique, and artists including Snails, Slushii and SNBRN have all hit the decks for an impromptu late-night spin.
“Space Yacht has become this testing platform for artists to play stuff they may not be comfortable playing at other venues,” Perlman says. “You'll hear a lot of them get on the mic and say, 'I just wrote this today at 5 o'clock.' There's a sense of trust with the audience.”
“I'm very emo about it,” Lu says. “We want to create culture, to create a community around this music.”
Bass producer Ookay, a regular on the Space Yacht lineup, agrees. “There's no judgment there,” he says, “which makes it a great stepping stone for getting into L.A. and meeting people, both as an artist and as a fan. I met my best friends there.”