When COVID-19 shut the world down, it didn’t just leave music fans without a hobby. Many concert-goers were disconnected from the communities and spaces where they could truly be themselves. Live music is at the core of Los Angeles, and the city was deeply deprived of the community created by concerts. Hollywood is full of iconic music venues like The Palladium, The Roxy, and The Fonda, but nobody knew when or how live music would return amidst the pandemic. Unfortunately, we knew it would be one of the last things to return.
Located among Hollywood’s legendary live music venues is NeueHouse, a private work and social space for creators focusing on community, design, culture, and hospitality. NeueHouse’s Executive Director of Business Development, Casey Dolkas, turned a passion project into the safe return of live music in Los Angeles. Back in the summer of 2021, NeueHouse launched Sunset Sounds and hosted their first event with legendary artist Moby. Since then, the venue has hosted intimate shows exclusively for its members featuring BANKS, Arlo Parks, Polo & Pan, Bob Moses and Bobby Gonz featuring a Q&A moderated by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. In light of its success, Billboard spoke with Dolkas and CEO Josh Wyatt about the inception of the project, the return of live music, and the future of Sunset Sounds.
BILLBOARD: What inspired you to create Sunset Sounds?
WYATT: Music is a core part of our creative DNA as a brand and community. NeueHouse has always been a welcoming home to music industry and to established and emerging talent. With our plentiful outdoor event and performance spaces, and a strong desire to re-engage our members who had been locked up at home, Sunset Sounds was born in summer 2021. At the time, most of the iconic music venues surrounding us in Hollywood were shut. So, we wanted to support the industry, artists and our community. Casey and the team really delivered on that mission.
BILLBOARD: Tell us about the process of planning and executing your first show. Who was the act? How did it go?
DOLKAS: It was truly serendipitous. Moby was interested in hosting a documentary premiere and album release party, so we reached out and he wanted to host it at NeueHouse. That was our first official Sunset Sounds event and it was incredible. Moby played an unforgettable acoustic set and since then we’ve been able to highlight icons like Moby, but also partner with emerging names from our close label friends like Capitol Records and Atlantic Records.
BILLBOARD: What are some of your favorite Sunset Sounds moments since the project’s inception?
DOLKAS: We love to enable our community to discover new artists. When labels reach out looking to partner with NeueHouse, we’re always interested in checking out their rosters. A few favorites come to mind. First, Bob Moses because it was such a huge production. We hosted a rooftop show with their label Astrelwerks on the eve of the album release. There were 450 guests and Amazon Live streamed the performance. Next, I would say BANKS because she is so wildly talented. She’s a friend from college and we’ve been able to program events at NeueHouse for her album releases. Last, but not least, Arlo Parks. Seeing her growth in real- time right before receiving two Grammy nominations was so rewarding. As music fans, we love supporting emerging acts and bringing that moment of discovery to our members.
BILLBOARD: Tell us about the in-house content creation aspect of the brand.
WYATT: We’re developing content and an editorial platform through our regular programming, events and member stories, and amplifying that through NeueJournal and our social media channels. Our in-house programming and creative teams curate all the experiences and produce the most engaging content from artist interviews, behind the scenes content, photo-shoots, to short films. We are all about creativity and culture, and storytelling is central to that.
BILLBOARD: Why should people get involved with Sunset Sounds and NeueHouse?
DOLKAS: We’re big on community, collaboration, and creativity. NeueHouse brought live music back safely at a time when people needed it most. Fortunately, the project has taken off, and we can inspire our members while highlighting both icons emerging talent. We hope to take this to all NeueHouse locations for our members, including our new homes in Venice Beach, opening this fall and Miami, opening next year.
WYATT: What Casey and the team have managed to achieve here is reflective of the diversity of individual creators, brands, companies, industries, partners, and talent that form what we truly imagine as a creative ecosystem.
BILLBOARD: Where do you see Sunset Sounds in five years?
WYATT: We see the project continuing to become bigger and better in terms of talent and where else we can take it. In addition to our other NeueHouse locations, we eventually want to take this format into other global cities and to support and partner with other cultural platforms and venues given our creative network and growing global community.
Connect with NeueHouse here and stay tuned for more from Sunset Sounds.
This content was created in partnership with NeueHouse.