Travis Bass Interview

January 24, 2015 3:59 PM

New York’s Greenwich Village is now home to a new and amazing club created by the ultimate party planner/Pop Up Club designer, Travis Bass, called ZAZOU. Bass was inspired by the old school NYC nightclub scene and promises an incredible set of DJ’s, live acts, themed nights, and spectacular dancing at ZAZOU.  

TWELV had the opportunity to pick Travis’s brain about his own life and experiences as well as his passion for nightlife and curating experiences.

 

“My favorite thing about nightlife is that it’s the one time we can be ourselves and hang out in a room with the people we want to be with.” 

“The people in the crowd are the ingredients that make the club special!”

“I love big cities, as they are an ecosystem with so many cultures coming together to create a very complex single culture.”

“To have a big club in Greenwich Village is so unique and soon won’t exist anymore, so it’s very exciting to be one of the last underground places in the area where underground was born.”

 

 

-----------------Travis Bass's INTERVIEW-----------------

 

1. What brought you to NYC?

Travis Bass: I moved to NYC in 1998 to work with Peter Gatien. I had a chance meeting with him and he hired me to help with the reopening of The Limelight and the Tunnel Nightclubs. I filled both clubs with 40-16mm film projectors that projected visuals onto nets and giant orbs. I had always wanted to move to NYC and am obsessed with the film After Hours and the 80's Soho scene. I immediately found a 3 thousand square foot loft inside an old bank in Chinatown, so I was living my dream life and my love affair with NYC has never stopped since.

 

2.  What is your favorite area of NYC?

T: I love Downtown for the people and I love Uptown for the culture and history. Downtown I like Chinatown for the quirkiness and the community and the West Village for its romantic charm. Uptown is my escape that can feel like taking a trip to Paris for the day. Lincoln Center is my favorite place in NYC and Carnegie Hall is right up there as well. I love Cafe Sabarsky, an escape to old Berlin, The Carlyle for the drinks and the Jazz and its old NYC charm. And of course there are the museums!

3. What aspect of NYC life do you like the best?

T: The diversity. This is what makes NYC so great and this is also what makes a club great. Everyone loves downtown so much because it is a recipe made up of all the flavors that this world has to offer.

 

4. What is the best part of your current job?

T: The best part of doing Pop Up Clubs and events is that my sole job is to entertain people and create environments for people to have fun in. I can't think of a more noble profession, especially in a city like New York where people work hard and need a place to let loose and hang with friends, new and old.

 

5. Tell us about your past working experience.

T: In LA in the 90's I threw parties that were much like the ones in Party Monster with tons of club kids mixed with the fashion/art crowd. We created these really crazy sets, costumes, and themes. I became so obsessed with the design of these that I eventually started designing everyone else's parties, raves, and clubs. I moved to NYC after a chance meeting with Peter Gatien in which he hired me to do visual installations at the Limelight and the Tunnel. I started designing clubs soon after and moved to Toronto to design Peter Gatiens 50,000 square foot mega club 'Circa'. The pop up clubs I do now are a culmination of all my experience in events, throwing parties, and designing clubs.

 

6. What is your favorite part about nightlife?

T: My favorite thing about nightlife is that it’s the one time we can be ourselves and hang out in a room with the people we want to be with. That is why it is important to make sure we curate the room and let the right people in and keep the bad ones out. Having a bad crowd at a club is the same as having a bad meal at a restaurant. The people in the crowd are the ingredients that make the club special!

 

7. Why did you start event planning and designing?

T: I love the design process and conceptualizing events. The process from the initial seed to the fruition of the event or club is so special! This is how I express myself much like a film-maker makes films or an architect builds buildings.

 

8. What have you learned from your job?

T: I’ve learned how to build environments under pressure of time and in the parameters of the space I am given. This helped me to start doing Pop Up Clubs as it enlists the same skill set.

 

9. Have you always been interested in the big city nightlife scene?

T: I love big cities, as they are an ecosystem with many cultures coming together to create a very complex single culture. The nightlife in big cities, when done right, taps into this by bringing together all these different types of people into one room. This is what I am always trying to achieve, this and making sure they all dance together!

 

10. Have you experienced any major turning points in your life?

T: I grew up in Beverly Hills, which is a very sheltered place. When I was 24 I dropped out of society and spent a year driving cars down to Costa Rica and buying classic motorbikes in Guatemala. I had a long beard and read the Holy Quran and the Bhagavad Gita, meditating 3 hours a day. This is the time during which I changed the most, and I still look back on it as the best and most rewarding experience in my life.

 

11. What were your dreams when you were a kid?

T: To be a filmmaker like Fellini or Godard and create fantasy worlds. I have done this with events but will eventually make a film as well.

 

12. How did you come up with the idea of the "Pop-Up party"?

T: I have done event design and production for 15 years; essentially creating pop up environments. I was in a very underground bar in Berlin that reminded me of 1980's NYC, and I realized that clubs of today are too expensive to open.  As a result they end up looking too done up and less fun than when they used to cost almost nothing. For this reason I decided to do pop up Clubs as they are exactly like the old clubs that people loved so much and still miss.

 

13. What do you enjoy doing on your days off?

T: Going uptown to Jazz at Carlyle, the ballet or opera at Lincoln Center, or going to museums. Dinner parties with friends. Washington Square Park or Central Park with the dogs. Watching old films at Film Forum. Walking around the city and exploring.

 

14. Do you have a favorite designer?

T: APC, Acne, Margiella, Rick Owens, and Vintage Helmut Lang.

 

15. What are you most proud of?

T: Being a vegetarian for 25 years and living a more healthy lifestyle for planet earth.

 

16. What are your lifelong ambitions?

T: To be happy every day, to make a great film, to write a good book, and to make a change in the world.

 

17. What five words would you use to describe yourself?

T: Loyal, intense, emotional, fun, and loving.

 

18. Who do you admire most? Why?

T: James Bond, because he had a great attitude towards life: make all the girls happy and have a great sense of humor.

 

19. What are some of your hobbies?

T: Chess, sports, music, movies, travel, and chilling with friends.

 

20. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

T: Strengths - Fun loving Weaknesses - Too much to handle at times...

 

21. Where do you see yourself in five years?

T: NYC.

 

22. We have heard that you just opened a new club! What is it called and where is it located?

T: ZAZOU, Greenwich Village

 

23. How did you come up with the name for the club?

T: I have always been obsessed with the Zazou movement in Paris during the German occupation. They risked so much to dance to American jazz and dress up in zoom suits in basements. Their logo was the name Zazou inside of a Jewish star. They were the biggest badass kids that lived to dance. It just happens to sound sexy and cool as well, so Voila!

 

24. What is the style/vibe of the club?

TOld School NYC nightclub. Dancing on a proper big dance floor with many rooms. Always changing. Live acts and big DJ’s, like the days of Peter Gatien.

 

25. What has been the most exciting part about this new adventure?

T:  To have a big club in Greenwich Village is so unique and soon won't exist anymore, so it's exciting to be one of the last underground places in the area where underground was born.

 

26. What fun things can we expect from this club?

T:  Big live acts, themed parties, big DJ’s, and losing yourself on the dance floor.

 

INTERVIEWED BY: RACHEL IIMURA

WRITTEN BY: SUSAN SCHELL

PHOTOGRAPHY BY : ELLI WU

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