In 2008, designer/photographer Kevin Collier and writer Melanie Gapany founded Smile for Camera, a website that set out to document the club/concert/party scene in Orlando in photos, blogs and interviews with emerging DJs and artists. Since its founding, the site has become more than just a place to look at crazy party pictures – it's now a brand that promotes club nights and events, and it has correspondents covering nightlife in cities up and down the East Coast. Locally, Smile for Camera produces hyper-popular nights Takeovr at Roxy, Fuk'd at Vain and Ovrkill at the Social. Smile for Camera has even launched a record label. And yet, we've never interviewed Collier about his projects until now.
Drink: Why did you decide to transition from club photographer to club promoter?
Kevin Collier:I'm not sure it was that much of a conscious decision. A random opportunity came along to do a club night with some friends at a sushi restaurant over in Waterford Lakes. I still acted as the photographer, but as a graphic designer by trade, I also designed the artwork, ran the website and flyered. As things started taking off, and we started booking headliners and adding club nights here and there, my event-management role greatly increased. That behind-the-scenes stuff can be very time consuming and stressful. … Thankfully [Smile for Camera photographers] like Michael Khan, Robin Osgood and Andrew Jaime approached me to start shooting Takeovr and other events in town. They are great at what they do, and after imparting some of my club-photographer knowledge to them, I no longer had to worry about capturing the night. Every once in a while I'll revert back to my [photo] days and throw back a bunch of long islands and snap the night away.
Do you ever get tired or overwhelmed by all the parties?
I will answer this with a definitive yes [laughs]. There is a lot of work involved with each event that no one is really aware of … unless they've also thrown events themselves. Running multiple events at a time is four times worse. On top of that, alcohol is usually involved, making the day after pretty much null for getting much done!
I never miss an event though – well once! I've been at every Takeovr since our first one on Sept. 22, 2009. I've never missed a Fuk'd yet, either, since we started in December 2011. I have missed one Ovrkill, though.
Smile for Camera recently went live as a record label with the release of It's Sonic on Beatport. Are there any plans to offer recordings on iTunes or CD?
ITunes will probably come in the near future, but we are focused on getting our artists' material directly to the DJs. I don't think many DJs purchase music from iTunes. That's more for the music listener rather than the music producer.
We will probably press some sampler CDs to start, handing out at our events and especially at our Winter Music Conference showcase down in Miami [on March 24]. Our first WMC event, by the way! It's very exciting.
What is the wildest thing that you've personally witnessed at one of your events?
I'm not sure if I recall something specific from one of my events, but being in the nightlife scene I've seen a bunch of fights, a bunch of bouncers choking people out, a glass pane punched through, a bunch of nipples and vaginas (usually just in photos), lots of people actin' a fool, a bum masturbating in an alley, people having sex at an after-party to one of our events and someone dragging a stanchion with balloons attached to it about 50 feet down a street in Miami.
Excluding your residents DJs, who has been your favorite artist to work with?
We've been fortunate enough to book a lot of DJs who are really down to earth, fun and humble. Tittsworth was a fucking blast to chill with. He's the first DJ to come to Takeovr at the beginning and hang out at the bars and talk to people and take pics with people. Dillon Francis is one wild dude. I won't go into details, but that guy can definitely party. Dada Life were really cool, too. They actually hooked us up backstage to the Beatport parties last year in Miami. Justin Martin was super awesome, too. Stereoheroes are one of my faves.
It's surprising to me the amount of DJs that could have huge egos but don't.
Last year Smile for Camera ventured into the nu disco genre with a show with Shit Robot, Galactique and Adam Wright at Firestone. Are there any plans to explore the genre further?
Nu disco is my favorite genre. I just wish Orlando was ready for it. I would love to help push this genre in town like we're helping push the moombahton movement in Orlando, with the likes of Dr. Khan, Ma-less, Frandomeda and Bigmakk.
I want to get an event together with [DJs] Cliff Tangredi, Adam Wright and hopefully Pauly Crush to do some sort of nu-disco event. I drunkenly facebooked Pauly the other night about doing a festival. [laughs] That's a massive undertaking, but I would love to put together a regular event sometime down the line.
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