Feel Free NYC: Three Heads Are Better Than One
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
"Why not throw some parties together and see what the response would be?" This was the mentality of three guys who wanted to build something bigger than themselves. This is Feel Free NYC.
Feel Free is a DJ collective founded in the heart of Brooklyn. It was born out of a shared love for dance music — specifically soulful, deep, and lo-fi house. Events where people could come and leave their 1st world troubles behind was at the core of the concept. You go to dance and feel free, hence the name.
The trio first met in and out of grad school. Two of the three, Grand Atrium and Off Brand, were attending NYU together when a shared love of Ghostly International bonded their musical souls. Together, they began doing parties here and there where Grand Atrium would DJ and Off Brand would do killer visuals. However, they always knew they wanted to collaborate on a more ambitious project.
After grad school, Grand Atrium reconnected with Buskko, a colleague he met one summer while working at a design studio. "By then, we were both pretty serious about DJing and playing similar types of music." A few gigs later, Grand Atrium introduced Buskko to Off Brand and they hit it off. From that moment, they began to plan the first Feel Free party.
So far, they've hosted events at Jupiter Disco, Bossa Nova Civic Club, Trophy Bar, and Wonderville. "We’ve been really focused on building a community in Brooklyn." says Grand Atrium, "Since July, we’ve also been doing a weekly party called Tuesday Tropical at Kinfolk 94. It’s been a great space for us to bring in guest DJs and share new sounds."
The intention was to use that time to experiment with different event concepts like REFRESH RATE which takes place inside an indie arcade, and PERSONAL SPACE at Jupiter Disco with its exceptional sound system and custom mixer. Alongside these parties, the guys run a regular mix series which include mixes from all three founders as well as mixes from new DJ friends that they've been meeting around Brooklyn. Most recently, Feel Free has published some mixes from Brooklyn-based DJs Panooc (XOXA) and K.Mal.
The beauty of Feel Free NYC is that each artist brings something unique to the table. For example, Off Brand loves techno and brings some of those darker, heavier tones to his mixes. A big part of Grand Atrium's sound is heavily influenced by disco and funk. Buskko on the other hand, tends to gravitate towards the deeper/soulful end of the house spectrum, drawing influences from the NYC and Chicago house scenes. "I like to keep people on their toes by throwing in the occasional breakbeat, garage and even some drum and bass if I’m in the mood for it." he mentions. However, while they each have their own individual sounds, the genres that bring them together include funk, disco and house music.
Sometimes the natural progression for a DJ is music production or vice versa. So, when asked if Feel Free dabbled in this craft, a spectrum unearthed. On one end you have Grand Atrium who started to DJ only after he began producing. Right now, he's working on a new crop of original tracks specifically geared towards the vibes of what he likes to play at Feel Free parties. "I’ll be wrapping those up by the end of the year!" He also has a few other non-Grand Atrium, non-dance music projects in the pipeline, as well as some production work he does for other artists. In the middle of the spectrum you have Off Brand, who has produced in the past but doesn't really release much. He's sitting on some interesting lo fi house cuts that he worked on with his friend Gina Weston and that are revered by the lucky few who have heard them. Lastly, at the other end of the spectrum, you have Buskko who doesn't produce music yet and instead produces all of Feel Free's graphics and posters for their gigs.
Now that Feel Free's first anniversary is coming up, the guys are the process of booking a party to celebrate. The three of them will be playing, of course, and will be joined by some of talented DJ friends that they've met along in their journey. "It’s been a pretty amazing year for us and we’re looking forward to more great times and great music together."
Follow their journey here:
Feel Free NYC (DJ collective):
Buskko (Feel Free NYC co-founder/resident DJ):
Grand Atrium (Feel Free NYC co-founder/resident DJ):
Off Brand (Feel Free NYC co-founder/resident DJ):
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