It was after dancing on a speaker at Mythos, while resident DJ Tober spun breaks, that Laura Nealy knew she wanted to have her own promotion and production group. In 1998, Nealy earned her spot in the "all boys club" of Charlotte's predominately male nightlife industry and launched Top Down Productions, a promotion and booking agency that hosts electronic dance 18+ events. Nealy has hosted parties for top names such as De La Soul, The Crystal Method and Boy George. On June 24, she will bring BASS with Exzakt (electro) and Total Recall (dubstep) as well as a lineup of local talent to Marigny (1440 S. Tryon St., Suite 110) for a hell of a time.
Creative Loafing: How has Top Down Productions progressed since it opened in 1998?
Laura Nealy: Top Down was known for promoting mainly one genre of music in Charlotte: breaks. While that continues to be my personal favorite, I have worked with some amazing "crews" of local DJs since I started doing this. With the rise of dubstep into the club scene, I am so lucky to still have the support of those crews today. I work very closely with FYI, a local DJ crew, to help integrate some amazing dubstep and DnB locals from their crew and other crews into the Top Down parties while continuing to work with breaks DJs and producers like Aaron Sigmon. While Top Down has certainly progressed with genres of music, the core of Top Down has stayed the same: supporting locals at every level and getting the very important support of them.
Since you first started Top Down Productions, has Charlotte changed?
The Charlotte scene has definitely changed. People grow up, start families, stop going to EDM events and enter into the group of people that only go out on New Year's Eve. Then a new group comes in. We are at the cusp of a new cycle, in my opinion, and I love what I see with the new 18- to 20-year-olds coming out: lots of energy, no drama, fun clothes and glowgear. I love the glowgear. If I walk into a club that doesn't have kids spinning around sticks, it just doesn't feel right.
Do you feel that, being a Charlotte-based company, you are limited in terms of clientele as a promoter and booking agency?
As far as booking artists, it doesn't matter where I am. This is the age of Skype and Facebook; time zones and location don't matter anymore.
As a promoter, absolutely. You can't bring certain artists unless you can really negotiate their fees down or do off days, which I don't do. The support factor for EDM in Charlotte just isn't what it is in other parts of the country. It's hard for you to risk $4,000+ on an event in Charlotte unless it's a sure thing and sure things in this industry a few and far between.