Check out how music executive Ericka J. Coulter and her team are using Dropbox to create one of the most buzzed-about scenes in Los Angeles—TheBasement.
Liz: What is TheBasement? How did it start?
Ericka: I realized in the Los Angeles area there was a gap for new artists and creatives to connect. There wasn’t a spot where you could come as you are. At TheBasement, it didn’t have to feel like something corporate. It’s a vibe. You never know who’s in the corner watching you. It could be the person to help you get signed, help you on management, or be an attorney. It could be the producer or the writer you been trying to get with.
My slogan is, “You come to network, vibe, and discover.” That’s really what TheBasement is—a showcase that creates opportunities. I just hope that if you get to perform at TheBasement, this is a chance for you to move forward in whatever you’re trying to pursue.“
Why did you choose the name “TheBasement”?
I remember rushing home to see who was performing on freestyle Friday at The Basement (on BET). Also, if you’re a writer and a producer, at one point you were too loud in your bedroom and your mom said “Get out and go to the basement!” I feel like everything started in that dungeon type of feel.
So I really wanted to find a venue that felt like a basement. Everyone would have to be in that one place and focus on that one thing. When you come to TheBasement, it’s an experience each time. The lighting changes from blue to red to orange. It really depends on what the vibe is. To make it all make sense, it has to be a vibe. We have everyone you will need in this one room. It’s all about the discovery.
Was there a particular artist or venue that inspired you to create this new scene?
I receive new music every day and sometimes it’s hard to give real feedback if it’s not right in front of you. I felt like I wasn’t really helping better artists with simple feedback. That’s what really triggered it for me. I was like, ‘What if there was a hub for an artist from Kansas City?’ That’s where I’m originally from. What if they were able to go to thebasementevent.com and say, “Hey, I’ve built up a fanbase in Kansas, I’m really trying to get to LA to perform. Can I perform at TheBasement?” Where are those opportunities? That’s what really triggered it.
"We built our website—thebasementevent.com—for all artist submissions to come in via Dropbox. It’s simple, easy, and a great way for us to hear new talent.”—TheBasement Team
What makes a great space for your events? How did you know when you found the right venue? Was it the location or the feel of the room?
We went venue shopping all over LA I found about seven different venues. Either it was downtown, so I knew no one would drive there, or there was no parking. I know that’s a problem in LA. I just had to find the right one. I ended up finding a photo gallery that doesn’t even do music events, but I turned it into one. I soundproofed it. I pitched this idea to one of the hottest DJs in LA.
The first time we went to see the venue together, he was like, “What is it you’re trying to do?” After the first one, he was like, “You really pulled this off! People are now talking about it.” LA Weekly picked this up and called us, “LA’s best-kept secret.” It’s becoming a good chatter. Now I’m getting hit up from artists in Canada and London and Miami who are saying, “Hey, can I send you something? Can I perform?”
Are you also the MC at the events? Do you get up on stage and introduce the artists?
So funny. At the first one, I was the MC and I was terrible. I was trying to make sure everyone got in. I was trying to make sure everyone was good. I was trying to make sure the artists were good, and I was still trying to talk on the mic. And I realized, this is not about me. This is supposed to be about helping people. Let me go find someone who also wants to be a host, who’s trying to get into that field. Let me give him his shot.
So this kid named Terrence Green. His IG is @RawSwagger. He’s from Philly. He’s a new, up-and-coming actor. He is hilarious. So I asked him to host it, and it’s to the point where people ask, “Terrence is going to be there, right?” Because he is so funny. He keeps the crowd going. That was something that was really important to me.
I used to watch Def Comedy Jam. Russell Simmons was always in the room and you knew he was the one who put it together, but he always let somebody else shine. It was always about everybody else. It was never about him. So I kind of wanted to follow that template.“I’ve been blessed to find a team of young creatives that I want to help groom to not only run a business, but be a part of something for the culture.”
“To make it all make sense, it has to be a vibe… It’s all about the discovery.”
I read that you have plans to expand and bring TheBasement to other cities.
Yeah, we’re talking about doing it in different states within the US, Canada, and possibly, the UK
You must get a lot of appreciation from the artists.
Yeah, just to see these kids light up and say, “Regardless of what happens, you’re giving me a little bit more hope.” That’s what makes me say, “This is definitely not for nothing.” Even just to be on the phone with Dropbox right now and just to be able to talk about it, that lets me know, it has to be something. We don’t know what it is yet, but it feels like something and it’s going into a positive direction. So let’s just keeping adding on top.
To check out the next event or submit your music as an artist, visit thebasementevent.com.