[By Monica Harris, photo courtesy of Dale Takes Pictures]
For 10 years (this June 4) Focus at Tapas has been the hottest venue for house music in Newport Beach, and pretty much all of Orange County. The club celebrates house music every Tuesday night featuring such popular DJs as Kastle, Doc Martin, Kaskade, as well as local artists. Josh Billings, co-owner and the man who makes it all happen, talks to us about the club’s history and what he anticipates in the near future.
“Focus started as sort of a desire to have something a little different in Orange County,” he says. “I took my favorite parts from places I’ve been to in the past and kind of meshed them into my ideal spot. Luckily a lot of other people enjoy our vision and it’s grown into something we’re super proud of.” And why house music? “I’ve just always been a big fan of the music. It’s always connected to something on a deeper level for me. The deeper side of house music hooked me since the beginning of Blue Six, Lazy Dog & Miguel Migs’ CDs.”
One quality that contributes to Focus’ success is the passion for house music. “We all have a passion for what we do and the money comes much later down the priority list. We are there to make something we love happen and finances don’t motivate much of our decisions.” The place is often packed but never out of control. “We really don’t have any issues at Focus that other clubs seem to have. Our spot isn’t a meat market, so you don’t get guys fighting over girls and everyone that comes seems to have a sense of community. We don’t do a lot of broad promoting either, so most people find out about it through word of mouth.”
And how do up and coming DJs get booked? Come out to the club. “Bring me a CD at Focus and I’ll take a listen,” says Billings. “If we like it we’ll offer you a gig…that’s pretty much it. We don’t accept mixes online or by mail because we want to support the artists that support our spot.” House music is ever-evolving, but Focus sticks to its roots. “If you check out the oldest mix on LiveAtFocus.com it still sounds like the stuff we play today…just 7 years older… We do play at a bit of a slower pace lately (120 bpm or so vs 127 bpm). We do really love all the new deep house sounds coming out lately.”
And what can we expect for the remainder of 2013? “You can look forward to the same things that have got us this far the past 10 years. Quality music, quality artists on a quality sound system.”
Focus at Tapas is located at 4253 Martingale Way, Newport Beach, CA