The Cool Kids of DC

The crowd at the first Trillectro Music Festival

Members of the DC to BC crew are winding up a brief work meeting, having settled the to-do list for what will likely be an all-nighter. Their second annual Trillectro Music Festival, a hip-hop and electronic dance music (EDM) festival is three weeks away and there is much to do. The discussion goes something like this:

Modele “Modi” Oyewole, 26,  (“the connector”) wants to catch a show where he'd promised the honchos he'd make an appearance. As he explains, “it’s important to show face."

Marcel Marshall, 25, (“the workhorse”) disagrees. There’s too much to get done: buzz on the festival had reached new heights since announcing hometown hero "Wale" as the special guest and they need to work with the momentum.

Quinn Coleman, 24, (“the music prodigy”) fatigued from his five-hour to D.C. flight sides with Oyewole. He wants check out old music haunts that helped fine tune his “DJ Spicoli” ear.

Jason Mowatt, 27, (“the brain”) leans back and allows the others to debate, though he seems to side with with Marshall’s proposal to stay and get the work done.

The team is split. They need Erick McNair, 25, the fifth member—and, thus, "the decider" —to break the stalemate. Unfortunately, he's in the team's other homebase: Los Angeles.

In fact it’s rare to find even four members of the DC to BC team-- who have created the city's most buzzed about non-political event -- in the same room.

As an outsider, I deduce that this is a classic display of the dynamic between the team members -- a combination of brains, tastemakers, and innovators-- each with their connoisseur-specific role in the ever-evolving ecosystem that is DC to BC.

The members are all D.C. natives and you can hear the city's influence show up unconsciously in their speech.  Like how Mowatt, a former Capitol Hill aid, mentions that they look to the Obama campaign and their AB testing for marketing inspiration. When they have a split decision, there are accusations of "filibustering the vote."

“We’re the Democrats,” Oyewole, charismatic and armed with an enviable Roladex, says pointing to himself and Coleman.

"...And they’re Republicans," he motions towards Marshall and Mowatt.

"You're trying to force budget cuts," Coleman adds pointing to the fact that Marshall handles the team's purse-strings.

They volley politic-laced banter back and forth for a spell. Someone mentions Obamacare.

Eventually Oyewole and Coleman head out to make the show they wanted to see.  And yes, all the work gets done.

The DC to BC guys remind you of the 'cool kids' on campus. The scenesters able to nimbly bounce between Black Greeks, athletes, wealthy internationals and White frat boys with ease, without losing their own identities. The type of cats to start new magazines, host legendary parties and radio shows. For Oyewole and Coleman, that was the case when the duo started DC to BC at Boston College in 2008.

You'll find them surrounded by “junior Pharells and junior Vashtie Kolas,” D.C. tastemaker and founder of the The Fab Empire, Joi-Marie McKenzie explained, referring to the music legend and perennial NYC 'it' girl.

Eight years after the DC to BC brand came into existence, it has evolved from a popular college radio show (first radio show to interview Kid Cudi) into a music and lifestyle blog with 100,000 visits per month (one of XXLs "100 Favorite Hip-Hop Blogs"). Boomeranging back to D.C. post-graduation, the team became involved with the Rock Creek Social Club party series and became the first to bring Kendrick Lamar to D.C. in 2011. In that time, Marshall, Mowatt and McNair joined the team.

All in all, these accomplishments built towards creating Trillectro within three months of attending and being inspired by the Coachella Music Festival in 2012.

"We talked about it and we were ready to go," Marshall, the money man of the group said of the day they decided to make the leap with 98 percent of the funding coming from their own pockets. It was a first-time festival with the likes of School Boy Q and DJ duo Flostradamus taking the stage.

The festival has a two-pronged appeal: it has been lauded for catching up and coming musicians in the eve before they peak. For example, Travi$ Scott, who “DC to BC” signed on to perform at Trillectro in late March, has since entered the mainstream with his involvement in Kanye West's "Yeezus" and Jay Z's "Magna Carter.”

The festival is also a spectacle for an often conservative D.C. local space.

"A lot of people come for the experience," says Mowatt, a key player in strategizing the promotion of the festival. Using a "crowd-speaking" platform called Thunderclap, Trillectro's initial social media campaign reached 5.1 million people.

"They come to see people dressed up, from sneaker heads to fashionistas. When you live in D.C., you never see people like this."

You can't help but discuss the "cool" impact of