5 Questions With An Industry Professional: DJ & Event Promoter Martha Reyna
We continue our 5 Questions With An Industry Professional interview series with Martha Reyna, DJ and event promoter for this weekend's Tighten-Up Texas Soul Weekender, a multi-day dance party and record swap in Houston at the Continental Club and Pink Elephant Room, with classic and underground soul grooves fueled by some of Texas' best vinyl DJ (as well as DJs from around the world)...and feauturing a performance from Houston soul music living legend Archie Bell.
The Tighten-Up Texas Soul Weekender is a longtime vision of Reyna's finally come to fruition, who has worked on producing the event in between her bouncing between Oakland and Austin, where she works also works as a freelance web/graphic designer. Many Texans will recongize Reyna (aka Queen Martha) from the soul music DJ collective known as Bat City Soul Club, who put on dance parties all throughout Central Texas.
TMO: How long have you been planning this Tighten Up Weekender? How did the idea first come about?
Reyna: "Tighten Up has been in the works for about a year now. A few years ago, it didn’t feel like the right time to create the weekender. Everything just felt right to make it happen this year. Earlier in the year, last year, one day I told myself, 'enough talk and let’s make this happen.' I called up a friend, fellow DJ and record collector, Hector Gallegos from San Antonio and asked if he wanted to team up and make this happen. Since then, we’ve been working with fellow Texans who are also DJs/collectors to get everything sorted. It’s been a huge community effort to make this happen and we couldn’t be any more grateful."
TMO: Why did you decide to do it in Houston? What is your connection to Texas? Are you originally from Texas? Can you tell us a little about your background?
Reyna: "I was born and raised in Texas! I was born in the Rio Grande Valley, in McAllen and spent my time growing up going back and forth from McAllen and Reynosa, Mexico. When I was a teenager, a family member moved to Austin and that introduced me to a whole new world. I moved to Austin in 2009 and started DJing in 2014. Since then I’ve had many monthly DJ nights including Soul Satisfaction and Bat City Soul Club. The decision to make it in Houston landed with the name, Tighten Up. It’s the first year throwing it so why not throw it in the city of the home of the record, Tighten Up. It’s very common for us to go to different cities in Texas just to go to a soul night, so when it came to having it in Houston, we knew we could depend on our friends and crowd to support...no matter where we are. That’s the beauty of Texas, doesn’t matter what city you’re in, we all support each other."
TMO: Which came first – the name “Tighten-Up Weekender” or booking Archie Bell (and then deciding to call it the Tighten Up Weekender)? Was it difficult to book Archie Bell?
Reyna: "The name 'Tighten-Up Weekender' came first. We asked ourselves, 'What song do people know that they can relate to Texas but also sounds cool?' Tighten Up was the perfect name. One day Hector sent me a photo of Archie Bell holding our teaser flyer saying that he totally supports the event and name, and that he spoke to him about attending the event, and it just sprouted into Archie Bell performing! It was kind of perfect actually."
TMO: Tell us about how you curated the DJs. Looks like you’ve secured both men and women DJs that spin multiple genres. Who are all of the Texas-based/Texan DJs that will be featured?
Reyna: "DJs from Texas were the main focus but also wanted to invite friends from around the world so finding a balance was tough. I think the selection of DJs bring so much to the table that a lot of people don’t expect to hear and I’m excited and grateful that is being showcased at Tighten Up.
"DJs playing disco, boogie, funk, latin, sweet soul and 60s soul…it’s just an overall killer mix and something for everyone.
"Texas DJs include: Fallon Savoie, Flash Gordon Parks, Jason Chronis, Darenda Weaver, Brian Powell, Alex Aye, Ben Mena, Marcos Prado, Lee Ochoa, Jorge Rubio, Hector Gallegos, Stewart Anderson, Joshua Larue, Gabe Vaughn, Arlini Martini, Jeff Blaggard, Alan Torres and myself."
TMO: Have you been to a UK weekender? What fun element about those events did you want to bring to your Houston Tighten Up Weekender?
Reyna: "I have not been to a UK Weekender but it’s on my list and I’m sure I’ll go one day. Next year, I am going to Deep Cliffs Soul Weekender in Portugal and planning to make it to Soul’d Up Weekender in Berlin. I’ve only attended Weekenders in the Bay Area, Seattle and Los Angeles.
"What’s great about these weekenders, even the ones you haven’t gone to, is that friends who have attended them and who run their own weekender are so open to sharing thoughts and ideas. So even though I’ve only attended a few here in the USA, having a background in running a Soul Club and years of DJ nights gave me some insight on how to be prepared.
"The main thing I want to bring from weekenders to Tighten Up is the community it has created. I want people to look forward to a weekend that guarantees new friends, new music and good times. How awesome would it be to plan to meet up with your friends every year and expect a killer time filled with good music and good people! There’s already a great community around music and this event already itself, I’m just excited and hoping it grows into something people look forward to every year just like all the other weekenders people talk about."
TMO: What has proved the hardest part about producing the Tighten Up Weekender? What do you expect to be the most fun part about experiencing it?
Reyna: "The hardest part was trying to fit in all the DJs! Making sure that everyone has a decent slot, a decent amount of time to play and trying to get everyone’s sound to flow with one another as the night continues. I think the variety of sounds being played is going to be really fun to experience. It’s not just going to be a weekend of 60s soul which is normally what people think of when they think of weekenders. It’s going to be different sounds for people to enjoy. I’m hoping people come with an open mind and an open ear."
TMO: Anything about event production/show promotion you wish you had known when you started that you know now?
Reyna: "Eventbrite is a great tool to use when promoting, even if the event is free. Other than that, tackling on a multi-day event is a lot more work and requires more than one person to put together. The main thing I’ve learned is to allow a team to help you out. Communication is key."
TMO: Anything you’d like for people to know that we haven’t asked.
Reyna: "Our focus is to show that one of the things that we all have in common and that brings us together is music. Music is to be shared and enjoyed...and we choose community over competition."
The Tighten-Up Texas Soul Weekender takes place Friday, August 9 thru Sunday, August 11, 2019...beginning at 9:30 pm on Friday and Saturday at The Continental Club; and 5 pm on Sunday at The Pink Elephant Room.
Admission is FREE. More info: tightenupweekender.com
Interview conducted by TMO Marketing & Communications Specialist Marc Fort, edited and condensed for clarity.