Q Nightclub has been a home away from home in Seattle for anyone looking for amazing music off the beaten path of pop EDM. Nowhere has that been more evident than Studio 4/4, Q’s weekly devoted to the best house music fans could possibly ask for. After three-plus years of incredible Thursday nights, we take a moment to reflect back on just how things started, where they went, and the legacy that Studio 4/4 will leave in the Seattle music scene.
Enter Sean Horton, Decibel Festival founder, and one of the original talent buyers and creative forces behind Studio 4/4. Working alongside Sean Majors, the man who would later become Q Nightclub’s Creative Director, Horton and Co. managed to launch a night that quickly became a weekly phenomenon.
Of course, the first few weeks of the night weren’t without their own struggles. “There was pushback,” Horton admits.
“There was a great deal of resistance in terms of booking some of those larger artists that, when you’re spending upwards of five, even $10,000 for a headliner on a Thursday night, you don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
Obviously, spending big money to book talent for a Thursday night was never going to guarantee success, especially with Friday and Saturday operating as the prototypical money-making evenings. Against the odds, that placement didn’t stop Studio 4/4 from immediately taking off.
“I think the central theme of Studio 4/4 success was that we really took a chance on booking some of the biggest artists in the world, and it paid off,” Horton recalls. Just months into the night’s run, Horton and Majors managed to bring in Green Velvet, Claude VonStroke, the Martinez Brothers, and tons more.
It wasn’t long before Studio 4/4 began to pick up steam as the premier locale for house music in Seattle. “From that point on,” says Horton, “people just sort of associated Thursday nights with Q, with quality house music, regardless of who was playing.”
So how exactly did a weekly house night on a Thursday pull in A-list talent on the regular? Thanks in large part to the hard work of the people working behind the scenes, including Horton, Majors, Wesley Holmes, and Brian Lyons among many others. Thursday placement, combined with an early brain trust of around 20 key people hand-picking artists as they were local, came to define the evening.
“Seattle became sort of the Thursday stop for a lot of artists that were touring down the West Coast. So they’d come to Seattle, and then go to San Francisco on Friday, and then LA on Saturday.”
Essentially, Studio 4/4 would snag high-profile headliners on their one free night, before those artists would head to California’s two biggest nightlife markets for the weekend. Before long, the world’s top talent was knocking down Q’s doors to play at what had become “the most coveted Thursday night house and techno night in the United States.”
Studio 4/4 packed Q every Thursday night for a reason. Much of that stemmed from the passion of the people working the night, as well as the fans, both new and old, who came out every week to support the night. It acted as “the gateway” to people looking for more from their musical experience.
“I firmly believe that what Studio 4/4 represented was post-EDM, for a lack of better term, a culture that was stepping away from big festivals, and mainstream trance, and showing people that there is this underground layer of electronic music connected to house, and techno, this long history of music going back 35 years.”
“It was nice to see young audiences embrace that,” Horton opines, “and hopefully take it forward, as they move into their next phase of development with electronic music.” The teaching element of Studio 4/4 is real and effective, introducing club-goers to entirely new avenues of electronic music.
Now that Studio 4/4 is winding down, where does that leave Horton? To start, we can finally expect brand new Decibel-hosted events, in Horton’s home base of L.A. and in Seattle. Even living in California, Sean hasn’t forgotten us up here in the Northwest. “Seattle is dear to my heart,” he assures us, “and I’m still booking shows there on a monthly basis, and performing there as well.”
Ultimately the legacy of Studio 4/4, Horton’s work, and the impact of everyone involved can be judged positively by how many minds were opened to new music. “It shows the generational success of underground dance music. I think that, to me, is a quintessential part of Studio 4/4, and of house and techno. It’s been around since the early ’80s, and I don’t think a lot of people realize the history of it – but hopefully, they dig in a little deeper.”
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