The Man Behind
Chase Bjornson is a University of Montana student who has started his own production company, Royale. Chase started from humble beginnings to now throwing on his 129th show at the Wilma. I interviewed Chase before throwing his largest concert to date (Socotra). We discussed how his career started, where the future lies for him and Royale, and how he utilized the University of Montana Entertainment Management program to get where he is now.
Q: What was your initial interest in live productions?
A: I used to play in bands in high school, lots of punk rock cover bands, Blink-182 wannabes, that kind of thing. That’s what first got me into productions, since I was booking our bands back then. That was really the spark of it. Then I started college and didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do. I wasted my whole first year. I eventually ended up in an Entertainment Business class that seemed relevant. I loved it. That’s what inspired me to start Royale. Five years later, we’re about to throw our 129th show. Meanwhile, I’d also been doing the whole UM Productions thing for four years. Honestly, it really hit the road when I took that first University of Montana Entertainment Management class.
Q: What’s the main style or genre of music that Royale brings to Missoula?
A: We’ve gravitated pretty heavily towards the EDM realm. Most of the bigger artists we bring through are some of the bigger electronic artists now, but we’ve also brought a lot of Hip Hop through here, too. If I had to order Royale’s history of “significance,” it would be electronic and then Hip Hop. In the past year we’ve started to dabble with bands, which I really like because that’s my roots. A great deal of our shows are EDM, but I would never want to “classify” Royale, or limit ourselves to one genre.
(Photo:Stephan Ferry. More click here)
Q: What was the first concert you organized?
A: The Knowmads. Well I guess there were a couple small Hip Hop ones before that, but that was the first serious, bring them to Missoula, show with a group that wasn’t already coming through here. (Listen to Knowmads here)
Q: When did you think of the name ‘Royale’, and start a production company?
A: Spring of 2011. It officially became a business on May 3rd, 2011.
Q: When did you start to see growth after the first show?
A: Well the first couple of years we were just figuring shit out. We didn’t have apparel or anything. It was all Hip Hop to start, all Rap music. Once we shifted gears and started doing electronic shows and producing apparel, that’s when it really started to take off. That was in 2013, the same year we had with our first electronic show.
Q: When did you feel like people started to take you seriously?
A: Plenty of my homies at the time would just be mumbling like “oh yeah, whatever fuckin’ concert he’s trying to put on” or “whatever band he’s trying to bring through.” The artists did from the get go, I’m really tight with The Knowmads, I’m actually about to fly them out for my graduation. They’re going to play at my graduation party, so it’s really come full circle.
Q: Did you always feel like artists took you seriously?
A: From the artists’ production it’s a little different, I guess. You’re buying them, so they’re pretty much going to take you seriously. Or at least they try to, until they show up and they see that I’m just this 18 year old kid and then they’re just like “what the fuck is this?!” I guess I need to not have “x’s” on my hands to be taken seriously at the show.
Q: What’s your biggest concert to date?
A: Socotra, for sure.
Q: When was the first year of Socotra?
A: So first it was a total business plan, just a hypothetical project for a UMEM class that I took. We decided to actually make it happen in 2013, got all these plans in order for this huge warehouse party, all these cool logistics that didn’t really have a structure to them, just a lot of ideas really. So we had all these plans and we advertised the event, even sold some tickets, we had all these plans for a big white party in this epic warehouse space. But of course there’s no epic warehouse space in this town. One by one everything just started to crumble, there was no way we were going to pull it off. That was 2013. So we went back to the drawing board, realized what was possible, eventually The Wilma became the target place and 2014 is when that happened.
Q: So, what exactly is Socotra?
A: Socotra is actually an island off an African coast that was cut off evolutionary from the rest of the world millions of years ago, so it’s basically the most alien looking place on the planet; which is why I originally chose the name four years ago. There are 700,000 species that exist nowhere else on Earth, including trees that look like huge mushrooms that bleed red. I probably found that on Stumble Upon when I was way younger, and it just snowballed into this. In this context Socotra in this sense is a white-themed, EDM show.
Q: What can people expect this year, compared to previous years?
A: Well for one thing there are much bigger artists. The cost of Zeds Dead alone is 3x the total artist budget for either of the previous Socotras.
Q: Zeds Dead has been featured at many festivals, what are some of the more recent ones?
A: They played at Lollapalooza down in Argentina a couple weeks ago, and they were in Vegas last weekend. They headline at festivals all over the world, like EDC, Tomorrowworld, Ultra, they’re definitely a leading Bass artist. (Check-out Zeds Dead at TomorrowWorld 2014 below)
Q: Who will be supporting this year?
A: Unlike Pluto is a newer artist from the same agency, he even has a couple tracks on some Hulu commercials. Definitely a unique artist, it’d be difficult to classify him, but I’m very excited about him being there.
( Check out Unlike Pluto here Unlike Pluto Soundcloud )
Q: So when exactly is Socotra happening?
A: Saturday, April 23, 2016. (Get Tickets Here)
Q: Will there be an after party this year?
A: Yes, it will be at Stage 112, . We’re going to plan so everyone is at the mainstage at first, and when the bar closes at 2AM we’ll just have everyone funnel downstairs for the late night after party. We expect it to go until 4, maybe 5.
Q: Throughout your career, what would you say is the most challenging?
A: Just being in a market where there’s 100,000 people, and it’s all college kids, it’s just hard to market. And being a promoter, you don’t own the bar, which is where a lot of the money is; but we’ve managed to make it work.
Q: What has been your biggest learning experience?
A: Socotra I, don’t jump the gun! Definitely not fun to cancel an event.
Q: What is the future for Royale and yourself?
A: For a long time I’ve been under the impression that I need to get a “real job,” so I’ve considered trying to get a job at an agency or something. But as of late, I’ve been feeling that I have five years of momentum, and to just throw Royale down the shitter to become some agency minion is not what I want to do. My goal right now is to move to a larger market place, like Seattle or Denver; find some serious capital to keep buying artists of Zeds Dead caliber, and often. I really just want to keep expanding the business.