Dirty Eye Booking is a burgeoning business that is quickly revolutionizing the definition of the term “booking” in the music industry, and the most impressive part is that the brains and bones of the organization recently graduated or are still here at Belmont.
Two years ago, Edwin O’Brien, Erica Robinet, Leslie Guimaraes, Bo Brannen and Matt Johanson were just a bunch of Belmont kids with some really extraordinary ideas. They came together over time, funneled their respective schemes and inspiration, and decided collectively on a singular albeit indistinct plan.
“What occurred to us is that there was so much talent around, but it was kind of like everybody was doing their own thing,” Brannen said. “We kind of thought if we brought that together, it would give everybody a lot more strength to make it.”
With this lofty objective set before them, the future engineers and chiefs of operations of Dirty Eye Booking brainstormed logistical ways to accomplish their ultimate goal.
“Initially we wanted to start a record label,” Brannen said, “but we didn’t have any money, so (we thought) maybe we should just book a show and make 15 percent or whatever, start building a bank account.”
In August 2007, with this resolution determined, Dirty Eye Booking was born.
Today, Dirty Eye defines itself as “a promotions and event management company dedicated to the betterment of Nashville and its creative talent.” However, the company traversed many barriers in order to arrive where they are now.
Johanson established himself as the CFO, keeping financial records and continuously evaluating their financial circumstances. He says his responsibility has been “constantly learning from what (the company) spends, and how we can do it bigger and better next time, and for less money.”
The company is putting its greatest efforts toward being a qualified business; however, Brannen admits that their motto has been “fake it ’til you make it. Seriously, you act like a professional and pretend you’re running your own business and then all of a sudden, you are.”
Being a legitimate and well-respected name, though, isn’t enough for the folks at Dirty Eye. They have ambitious intentions for the future.
“We’ve built our reputation and our name based on being part of this underbelly buzz kind of thing that doesn’t really promote in traditional ways, but we’re trying to step out of that,” Brannen explains. “We’d like to become bigger, we’d love to have some record label stuff going on, more of us individually managing, and eventually becoming a kind of entertainment source.”
With each new chapter of their existence, they’ve discovered a company must fight to uphold its fundamental convictions.
“As we’re becoming bigger,” Brannen said, “it becomes more important and harder every step of the way to kind of hold on and redefine our passion for music, going back to that and making that our priority, maintaining the balance of the creative nature of what we do.”
Nevertheless, Dirty Eye has flourished with the help of key successes in its warehouse shows.
“Those warehouse events are very rewarding because we take a blank canvas of an empty warehouse and bring in sounds and lights and art, curtains and stages, and just make it like a one night festival,” Brannen said.
“In that respect we are already successful,” O’Brien chimes in. “The point when we originally started was to get artists’ names out there and bring Nashville together for something that we believed was worthwhile.”
Currently, Dirty Eye Booking is preparing for the next release from its sister company, The (rabbit) Press. O’Brien says The (rabbit) does “for art and artists what Dirty Eye does with music.” To celebrate, Dirty Eye is hosting an evening of art and music at its infamous warehouse May 1.