Promoter and DJ Bill Pile has it all figured out – almost

The DJ orders a salmon-and-bacon sandwich with fries.

“You know how people use their birthdays to promote events? Not concert promoters but nightclub promoters … they’ll say it’s someone’s birthday to try to make the night bigger? I tried to do that once. I brought in a DJ that I wanted to be successful and was like, ‘Hell, it’s my birthday. I’ll promote it as my birthday and see what happens.’ It didn’t do that well.”

Since then, Bill Pile, the 34-year-old Kansas City clubs and concerts promoter, has learned how it works. Over a three-hour lunch last week, I did, too.

DJ Bill Pile is only one side of the man in full. “The other one is promoter Bill Pile, which there’s a couple of different angles to. There’s the u:move Bill Pile, where I book and promote nightclubs, events, concerts, with a Web site component. I put the Web site [] together with a blog and mixes because it’s something I wanted to see locally. … It’s focusing on a music genre that the local media doesn’t cover enough.”

This town is awesome. “There’s so many opportunities. The things that aren’t happening are opportunities for people to do new things. You see something going on in another city that isn’t happening here — you can be the first person to do it.”

Public Enemy is the best, and if you don’t like it, you’re whack. “When I was young — like 19 or 21 — I was into hip-hop, and that was the fucking truth, and that was the only thing that was good, and if you’re not into it, you suck. That’s where my passion in music came from. I was so passionate about what I liked and I thought it was the best, the best. I knew the first Black Sheep album was the best album ever.”

Disco Risqué is November 27. “This week, my main focus is to put out a disco mixtape of old disco-funk records. Brent [Lippincott] from Tactic and I are starting it tonight. … It’s going to be used to promote a series of parties that Brent and I are gonna be doing called Disco Risqué. We’re doing one on November 27 at Czar Bar with this guy Cosmo Baker who plays funk records, disco records.”

Disco died in ’79 in the United States, but right now it’s 1980. “Dance music right now is heavily influenced by disco funk records from the late ’70s, early ’80s. It always has been, but now the sound is not as foreign to people. Disco is influencing rock records right now. Dance rock is basically disco rock.”

DJs can focus on newer ways of progressing the art form. “It used to be a mixer and a pair of Technics 1200s. Now, no one is playing records, or if they are, they’re using Serato or coded vinyl. A lot of kids are doing stuff on laptops — they don’t know how to beatmix. … Older guys are typically, ‘That’s bullshit; it’s ruining our art.’ Or you can look at it as now you don’t have to worry about the mixing. Now you can focus on other aspects of DJing, like track selection or incorporating live elements or doing more effects or manipulating or live remixing because you don’t have to beatmix.”

If you don’t like it here, you’re hanging out with the wrong people. “I’m not a huge traveler. I do travel. I just like Kansas City. I love the city.”

There’s a strong music community in this town, regardless of the genre of music you’re in. “People in the know know everyone, and there’s a lot of support at every angle. I’ve been promoting dance music in rock-and-roll rooms. That’s not normal for a lot of cites.”

Underground dance music is the scene’s homeless kid. “In stronger nightclub markets, you put house music in a house music club. Kabal, I think, was the last nightclub that was built and developed as a room that specifically wanted to be about underground dance music.”

Being a DJ isn’t like being a band. “When you’re DJing, you’re part of an entire environment of variables: There’s the room, the bar staff, the crowd, the ambience, the lighting, the DJ. You’re one part of all of that. All those things can make up a successful or fun evening. If the lighting is really bad, really bright, but you’re playing good music, people may not get into it because they’re uncomfortable. If the door guys are complete jerks, it sets a tone for the customer who comes in and who just got hassled at the door — it keeps that person from having a good night the rest of the night.” 

You have to figure out how to get control. “As a promoter, you don’t walk into a room and get control and access to everything. I gotta know the staff. I gotta be friends with the staff. I gotta know the ins and outs of the room and get along with everyone.”

Being a DJ is more than making music and playing records. “You’re being the promoter, being friends with people, getting along, being a good guy. Trying to be a good guy. I’m not the best at it, but you know.”

It has taken him years to learn all that shit. “That’s for sure.”


Categories: Music