Bill Schimel isn't into the status quo. Best known as Mindelixir, the do-it-all DJ, promoter and manager has a blatant disregard for how things are normally done with electronic-music show structures — talented but disregarded local acts buried under a big-name headliner. What started out as his idea for a small local gathering has turned into a much larger event with international recognition.
Armed with the belief that a party should be a party from the second you walk in the door, Schimel, 29, started his own thing. Initially, it was supposed to be a night for acts on his label to play music in the side room of the Neighborhood Theatre. No big deal. Just a small gathering of people who love the music.
The day of the show, Schimel got word from the theater that he couldn't have his show in the smaller side room because too many people had called to ask about it. Schimel hadn't promoted it or planned on anyone attending, but, to his shock, 700 people showed up. Bass Church was born.
Putting the music above all things, Schimel — who has performed sold-out shows from New York to Colorado — has turned the absurd into routine and given local DJs an opportunity to build their own names. And to think, in years prior, he was ready to give up on Charlotte's electronic music scene. "There's always been a ton of amazing DJs in Charlotte," Schimel says. "There just hadn't always been a platform for them."
With creative minds behind it, Bass Church exposed a scene that was only known in select circles, and now others want in. But they'll have to wait. "It's not just Charlotte that's coming together for this. It's kind of the whole Southeast, which I love to see," Schimel says. "We can really get put on the map the same way the West Coast gets credit for being a music scene. Why not go for the whole Southeast and try to do this and bring up those surrounding markets as well and get us all on the map?"
One market that's experienced the movement is Knoxville, Tenn. Asheville will be up next in the early part of 2012. But Bass Church's notoriety has already spread internationally.
"We had a photographer from Holland or something like that come out to shoot one of our artists about three months ago," Schimel says. "He texted his boy in Croatia to ask him about Bass Church and his buddy knew about it."
Schimel turned down requests to hold Bass Church in major international cities such as Tokyo and Los Angeles and isn't swayed by investors looking to take the name and warp it, instead choosing to build and shape it in his own vision.
Charlotte DJs aren't the only artists who have played at Bass Church — Knoxville's Fast Nasty and, most recently, Brooklyn's Skerrit Bwoy have appeared — but the local acts are the ones Schimel is most proud of. "It's been really cool to kinda see the local cats and some of the cats we came up with go off and do bigger projects and getting radio play internationally," Schimel says. "It's awesome to see it."
With total control over the creative vision of the party, Schimel hasn't strayed from the original, organized absurdity. "Since the first one 16 [events] ago, we've gone bigger and badder every single one and that's the type of thing where people go, 'How can it get any crazier than this?' and somehow, every month, we make it bigger and badder," Schimel says. "I don't know exactly where it's going to, but I can guarantee you it'll be a good time, and it'll be crazy."