If you had to define Atlanta’s music scene by one genre, which would you pick? If you said rap, you probably wouldn’t be wrong. A lot of Atlanta’s music flows from and through its illustrious hip-hop traditions. But it’s not the alpha and the omega of the scene.
In fact, Atlanta has a thriving electronic scene as well. And one of the stars of that constellation is Rush Lounge aka The IRIS. Long-time Atlanta residents probably already know this destination, but for anyone who’s new to the city or just visiting, know that if you’re looking for a great night out in Atlanta, this has got to be one of the stops. The one little secret that insiders know about the venue though is that you have to stop by for Saturday events. That’s the day Iris Presents puts on events with unrivaled music, production quality, and sound.
I got the chance to speak to Chris Lyda about the venue, the events the Iris team puts on, how he got into the electronic scene, working in Atlanta, and more.
Rush Lounge aka The IRIS is known as one of Atlanta’s premier electronic music destinations. How did you first get into the electronic scene?
I first got into the electronic scene only a few years ago, in 2012. I had a friend who asked me to come out to an electronic music show and I fell in love with the sounds and the vibe that the music creates. At the time I had started learning photography, so I thought it would be great to be able to take pictures at the shows. When Iris ESP 101 (Learn to Believe) started throwing events again I asked if it was okay for me to come in and take pictures.
Starting there, I grew into where I am at now with the business side, but my wife and I, who I actually met at an Iris event, still enjoy going to many electronic music shows and festivals through the year.
What is one of the defining features about Rush Lounge aka The IRIS that really sets it apart from other Atlanta venues?
I feel the customer service and vibe that we create sets it apart from every other venue I have been to. We take pride in creating an experience as opposed to just getting people in the door with big name DJs. We are very proud of the repeat customers we get that come to our shows every week regardless of if it is a bigger name DJ or a lineup of the local Atlanta DJs. We also are very focused on sound and production quality. You will not find better lighting production in the city, and the sound is A1 quality.
Are there any secrets about the building that most people don’t know about?
We have four different atmospheres of sound every week. We book 12-15 DJs every week that play many different genres. One of the atmospheres we call “The Lounge.” It is a very intimate area and we cater the music styles to something that fits the space; makes for a really cool vibe through the night.
What’s been the craziest thing you’ve experienced in your time with Rush Lounge aka The IRIS?
That would have to be getting engaged to my current wife on stage. We had met there and the people there had become family, so to me, it made sense to share that moment with all our friends and family.
At the time, I was still taking pictures for the photo booth and I asked the owner of the company, Glenn Goodhand, if it would be okay for me to do that on Halloween, which happens to be my wife’s birthday. He thought it was a great idea and went all out with the plans, including setting it up so we “won” the costume contest and had center stage for me to pop the question. She said yes, and the rest is history!
How do you personally discover new music? What influences your decision to see a new band?
Digital media is key for me on discovering new music, Spotify, SoundCloud, some of the EDM blogs, etc. I also am lucky enough to work closely with a lot of DJs here in Atlanta. They send me new music often and help me stay informed on changing trends.
Who are some dream artists or lineups you’d like to see at Rush Lounge aka The IRIS?
We book so many DJs through the year, and have had some amazing artists come through. The way we cater our lineups to the customer base and venue work so well, nobody specific comes to mind that we have not already booked. But I feel very lucky to have seen so many amazing artists come through over the years.
What are your thoughts on the Atlanta music scene? Where do you see it moving in the future?
The Atlanta electronic music scene is pretty bass and trap heavy, but I think it is shifting some. There is some amazing local talent here, and because of the customers’ tastes we are blessed to have huge tours and artists come through all the time.
I personally am a house and techno lover, and that is a scene here in Atlanta that I am happy to see growing. It is good to see that when we book those different styles of music at Iris to see the crowd growing larger every time and really enjoying it. We are very lucky that Atlanta has a diverse music scene with many genres being successful and growing.
Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do in Atlanta?
Atlanta is a great city. So many options on restaurants, beautiful outside areas and parks, cultural experiences. There is never a shortage of things to do. My wife and I are immersed and very passionate about electronic music, so we spend most of our free time at concerts, other events, and festivals in Atlanta. We are, of course, very excited for Imagine Music Festival coming up at the end of September here in Atlanta.
See what upcoming events are going on at Rush Lounge aka The IRIS here.
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