Something many artists struggle with at some time or another is the ability to transition between work and play while staying true to their values. This is one of the feats that Dallas DJ Colton Carlyle, aka Carlyle, has had to overcome in his career as a millennial musician-turned-businessman.
A leading figure in the Dallas DJ scene, Carlyle has dipped his toes into just about every pool of electronic dance music our city has to offer. You’ve probably seen his handsome baby face dancing from behind DJ booths at notable Dallas nightclubs, including Theory, Bottled Blonde, Citizen and so on. (Or perhaps you saw his dwarf cat, Cleo, go viral on Twitter last week when he tried to return the love by giving her an unappreciated face lick.)
These days, Carlyle has new endeavors planned for his turntable, and he’ll be swapping his headphones for a proprietor’s business suit.
“If you asked me a couple years ago, I was all about producing and making music,” Carlyle says, reflecting on his transition from musician to entrepreneur. “But now, when I go up there to DJ, I’m going up there just to have fun and play and show people new music. I literally go up there with a playlist of a few songs and just freestyle. I really just love messing around and having a good time.”
Thankfully for his fans, his DJ headphones won’t be off the table. While Carlyle will continue to DJ as he did before, he’ll now be spending the earlier portion of his Saturday evenings running It’ll Do Club in Deep Ellum, which he and Lizard Lounge recently partnered to reopen.
One of Dallas’ hottest techno nightclubs, It’ll Do has faced a series of ownership trials over the last few months that nearly led to the club being shut down for good. However, after a successful grand reopening earlier this month, where they unveiled a new design and light display that maintains the same warehouse, dance-club feel, It’ll Do’s new owners have proved their worth as champions of the Dallas techno scene.
“I’ve been in the scene for over a decade now,” says Carlyle, and he credits his network and expertise to his experiences as a DJ. “I know about the culture, and I know the ins and outs of it in Dallas. It’s just kind of hard because I am part of two sides of the culture.”
Playing multiple roles isn't a new experience for Carlyle. He's an influential figure in various genres of electronic music in Dallas, which means he's played big-name clubs where socialites dance on couches, house music and clubs like It’ll Do, where techno enthusiasts get their weekly workouts shuffling on dance floors that have been leading the late-night rave scene for decades.
“It can be hard, like, people view me differently, because they do see me in the bottle service scene,” Carlyle says.“It’s a push and tug for me, because one side is like, ‘We hate the bottle service scene,’ and the other side is like, ‘Well, we don’t really fuck with those people.’”
There is one time of the year when Dallas EDM chasers join to bob their heads and dance incongruously together in one venue. It happens each year on New Year’s Eve at Dallas Market Hall at Lights All Night Festival, which is where Carlyle first began investing in a large-scale, kicking his entrepreneurial career into high gear. He’s also opening a pizza joint this month, Cutie Pies Pizza. But now, he’s a club owner, which comes with a new set of trials.
“I purchased It’ll Do because I love the culture, I love that style of music and everything about that scene,” Carlyle explains, assuring all who object that he has no plans to try to mesh together the two music styles and bodies of people that he works with.
“It’ll Do has this culture that they don’t want to change. So, when people started finding out I bought the club, they were kind of uneasy, because they thought I was going to bring this new crowd there and that I might ruin their scene just being involved with it. I understand that, and I won’t change the It’ll Do persona. I’m just facilitating that culture to continue.”