By Katelyn Taylor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Gunner Hughes
With only minutes to spare, Gunner Hughes, Rob Schanz and Austin Weeks cannot even afford to sit down to speak, as all of them are loading trucks, assembling lights and remixing songs before heading out for the first ever Meltdown Tour.
The idea of Meltdown began around last February, when Weeks, a Flagler College alumnus, and Hughes, a Flagler College junior, saw the need to bring something different to St. Augustine, Fla.
Hughes met Weeks while taking pictures at previously popular nightclubs Papa Gallos and Two Hundred Lounge. They knew that the electronic community was growing and felt that St. Augustine needed to experience it.
“When [Two Hundred Lounge] was first created it was supposed be a Miami vibe, so they called me and I was supposed to play house electro. However, as the weeks and months progressed they fell into the Panama Hattie’s trap where I had to start playing Top 40. We were all going crazy,” Weeks said.
Finally putting all of the finishing touches together, Hughes and Weeks, along with DJ Schanz, also a Flagler College alumnus, had a success with the first Meltdown, hosted at Two Hundred Lounge. And while most other venues in St. Augustine were playing Top 40, the only items on this menu were “house, electric and dub step, with absolutely no Top 40,” Weeks said.
“And we decided if you don’t like it, leave,” Hughes said.
It was after the first Meltdown that Weeks decided to bring back SkyBox Studios, a project that he had begun while living in Miami Beach in 2006.
“I started [SkyBox Studios]… where it was an actual studio where we were recording mostly hip-hop,” Weeks said, “however, Miami got a little crazy, so I decided to bring it back here.”
After the success of the first Meltdown, Hughes and Schanz were willing to work with SkyBox full time. So Weeks decided to relaunch it.
“That is what I knew was the key — it’s not like one person can do it on their own. And once I knew that they were in it, and they were willing to do it full time, that’s when I said O.K., let’s do it,” Weeks said. “We are a promotion company, but at base we are just three artists — two DJs and a photographer.”
The fourth member of the team is Flagler alumnus Jayson Earl, who works behind the scenes creating all the graphics for Skybox Studios including posters, covers and t-shirts.
“This year one of the big things that we are going to be doing is apparel – pressing it all on own,” Weeks said.
Earl recently quit his job at a graphic design firm and began to freelance.
“He is amazing,” Hughs said.
So far, SkyBox Studios has been a success. Beginning with Meltdown, it has grown its brand to include several events. In the beginning of fall 2011, SkyBox put on its first boat party that was sold out six hours before the boat left the pier.
It has been a success for out-of-state venues as well.
“We did a charity event in South Carolina two months ago for the Mara Foundation. It was similar to Meltdown but under a different name called Tomorrow Tonight, and all the proceeds went to the foundation. We sold out well before the show,” Hughes said.
For the next two weeks, however, SkyBox will be focusing on the Meltdown tour. The idea for the tour came from Weeks, who wanted to try a different approach to the show, and Schanz, who wanted to get out of St. Augustine. Having already begun the tour, the six cities set for the Meltdown tour are Orlando, Wilmington, Columbia, Charleston, Jacksonville and Miami.
Christian Mochizuki, a DJ from Oahu, Hawaii, was contacted by Weeks to headline the entire tour.
“I’ve been in contact with Austin for over the past year. He found my music online and we got in contact that way,” Mochizuki said. Only having performed in Hawaii at big parties and festivals, Mochizuki looks forward to “spreading the music and spreading the love” on the east coast.
“Christian is an animal. Last weekend [at Meltdown in St. Augustine] the whole time Rob and Austin played, he was in the back office producing music,” Hughes said. “The kid does not stop.” Hughes went on to say that if Mochizuki had begun on the East coast, he has full confidence that he would be a huge success, and that one day he will.
But Mochizuki won’t be the only DJ performing during the Meltdown tour.
“Rob, Austin and Christian will be playing at every show. And then in certain cities, we have local kids that will also be DJing,” Hughes said.
“The goal is to do a Meltdown tour every season – winter, spring, summer and fall. We would also love to be able to expand into different areas, having the winter tour and the summer tour to be held in different places than in the fall and spring,” Weeks said.
And while each member of SkyBox Studios does have their own gigs when called upon, for the most part everything is done together.
“It’s about throwing good parties; it does not have to do with the money. It’s all about having a good time and to keep building and branding skybox and meltdown,” Hughes said.
While there are no more Meltdown events scheduled for now, every Monday at Sirens, a local bar located on A1A near Flagler College, SkyBox Studios will be performing “Dynamo.”
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