Morgan Tepper has done a variety of jobs in the music biz: public relations; marketing; promotions; booking; if you can think of it, she's probably done it. But she's also incredibly well known for her work as a DJ giving her a perspective that blurs the dance music community into a very distinctive path. She, along with a group of her peers, eventually started a series of parties in the Washington, D.C. area called 'ROAM' which embraces warehouse culture in a way that's been helping breathe new life into the underground music community in the DMV area. Morgan is this week's focus for Music Monday.
Who are you? What's your connection to the music industry?
My name is Morgan Tepper, also known as DJ Lisa Frank. Fun-loving spiritual burner with dark techno undertones. Seems like an oxymoron, but as you'll see, I don't particularly live my life by the rules. Grew up in the greater Chicagoland area listening to people like DJ Sneak, Bad Boy Bill, and Julian "Jumpin" Perez on FM radio constantly. Dance music was everywhere I was growing up.
I've been in the music industry for about 8 years. Got my start hosting an electronic music show on American University's student-led radio station WVAU. From there, I was recruited to open U Street Music Hall in 2010 as the PR and Marketing manager. I managed marketing and promotions for all in-house shows as well as all events happening off site at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Union Market, and 9:30 Club. In 2014, I branched out from club life to start my own events called ROAM, where we highlight local talent in a variety of underground spaces. ROAM acknowledges the roots of club nights by hosting events in warehouses, garage spaces, and bath houses. We host about 4 or 5 ROAM events each year. I DJ nearly every weekend in D.C. (am a current resident at Flash nightclub), I've DJed around the country, and am hoping to land a few gigs over in Europe this summer. I've spoke at seminars at American University about PR, entertainment, and have recently served on a panel for FACT magazine in a discussion about the current - and future - state of underground music in America.
Can you tell us a little bit about ROAM? What made you interested in becoming a part of the "behind-the-scenes" side of things so to speak?
ROAM began in October of 2013 as a way of filling a void DC had at the time. Chris Nitti (U Street Music Hall), Sami Yenigun (1432R, NPR) and I had traveled the world and decided that there's no reason why D.C. can't have a down-to-earth, legit underground party culture like Berlin or Detroit. D.C. has a very rich rave and underground dance music culture behind it thanks to Nation and Club Red (now defunct), but we were going through a dry spell when it came to parties that were off the beaten path. There was no reason why D.C. couldn't have what other cities had and we were set out to to do it just as good, if not better!
Since Chris, Sami and I have all had experience running venues, Chris and I at U Street Music Hall and Sami at Subterranean A, behind the scenes work came naturally to us. Chris and I had a desire to start using the skills we learned working at the club to grow something of our own. How have you personally grown over the past year? How have you been stoking the fires of that growth? Where do you see yourself going in the months ahead? Where do you think ROAM is going?