In Brooklyn, the underground music scene is always buzzing. From hip-hop, to electric punk, to bluegrass Christian house music (never heard it but I know it exists somewhere in Williamsburg), newborn talent is breeding through Brooklyn neighborhoods every day of the week. Music industry entrepeneurs Elle Marshall and Donnie Garner took note of that and decided it was time to create their own delivery room of stars in the making. The duo are founders of A Love 4 Music, a talent development agency for signed and unsigned artists to give them a platform to share their talents to virgin ears of their sound. AL4M came up with the name for their monthly Thursday night showcase to be called “DeKalb Live.” Wonder why? Because it takes place on DeKalb Avenue at Two Steps Down Restaurant in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn.
With a Brooklyn themed event you would think, these were die-hard Brooklyn natives. They’re not. Both were born and raised in central Florida and met while college students in Tallahassee. Donald is from Ocala, FL and attended Florida State University and partner Elle is from Orlando and was a student across the railroad tracks at Florida A&M University. Upon graduation, both moved to New York City to pursue their professional careers. They wear suits and dresses to work couped up in an office every day, Elle works in real estate, Donnie’s in education, but once they leave that 9-to-5 up on the shelf after work they get into their second career mode at live showcases, studio rehearsals and meetings with artists for upcoming events. Inside the Mine caught up with these two busybodies to ask about where they find new talent and how Brooklyn stole their heart once they left the Sunshine State.
As a non-native New Yorker, what were the deciding factors about Brooklyn that drew you to residing here instead of another borough?
Elle: I have family in Queens and I’ve spent time in all five boroughs, but the culture of Brooklyn just seemed like the best fit for me. Brooklyn has often been recognized as a budding cultural mecca for New Yorkers, native and transplants. Each neighborhood is different, with unique offerings from architecture to dinning. It was the only borough that supplied all my needs outside of the hustle and bustle of the city, and so the love affair began. Manhattan is where I work, but Brooklyn is where I live. I can shop, eat and party…sometimes all on the same street!
Why did you and your partner Elle choose to hold your monthly showcase, Dekalb Live, in Brooklyn in comparison to the city?
Donnie: From our experiences in attending live music events (mostly in the city) we felt that very little opportunities existed for a borough filled with such diverse talent. Therefore, we decided to first establish our initial foundation in Brooklyn to accommodate the growing need and demand for more after-work, cultural events, especially relating to music to be in our Borough.
You both have a deep interest to dig for new talent. What is it about the underground music scene that you love to hear?
Donnie: Elle and I have indeed found impeccable new talent in many ways: subways heading home or to a particular destination and attending a host of open mic nights and talent showcases throughout NYC. What we love the most is that we are able to identify exceptional talent coupled with character in its development stage; almost a creating “history in the making” feel. The fact that we are able to then provide them with a platform to further express themselves to diverse music audiences is in itself both magical and humbling.
Elle: Honestly, what good is your music on your computer at home? Most people have never heard their music played live before. In this highly digital age, everything created and shared is via the internet. Sure that reaches a large amount of people, but that sound a live band gives to their creation is still like nothing else. Artists love seeing and getting honest reactions and opinions of their work and we love to give them the platform to do so. I agree it’s very humbling.
The next installment of the DeKalb Live series takes place on Thursday, July 26 at Two Steps Down Restaurant at 240 Dekalb Avenie. Doors open at 7pm. $10 cover for great food, drink specials and LIVE music!!