It doesn’t take long to realize that Joe Bryl is a seasoned veteran of the Chicago music scene. Having divvied up the last 25 years working with many of Chicago’s premier night spots, he now has a new home at Sonotheque, a Chicago lounge that boasts line-ups as diverse as Lady Sovereign, Marcus Intalex and DJ Spinna in the same weekend.
The brainchild of Bryl and partners Donnie Madia and Terry Alexander, the now three-year-old venue was born out of a desire to have more control over a club of their own. “We did the [construction of the space] according to our needs, which were to make it a great place for listening…[and to have something] that reflected our own aesthetics,” explains Bryl. “It’s a really great sounding room, and most DJs who come here are really amazed at how much thought and effort has gone into the process.”
Sonotheque’s formula is a fluid one, equal parts musical ingenuity and positive vibrations at a reasonable price. “It’s an ongoing project,” explains Bryl of the space and its programming. “Before it had more of a Straight No Chaser-magazine vibe, and there were only six or seven DJs or collaborators. It’s transformed from that into a space that has 25 different events a month.”
Sonotheque’s diverse amalgam of sound ranges from DJ Rik Shaw’s Jamaican music night Cool & Deadly Digital to Bombay Beat Box, an Asian and world music night sponsored by Six Degrees Records. Bass By The Pound drops drum & bass there, Chicago DJs Ron Trent and Anthony Nicholson throw down house vibrations and internationally-known names like Aesop Rock, Diplo, DJ Premier, Kyoto Jazz Massive and Quantic have all graced the stage. Bryl says the vibe of the venue has just as much to do with the artists who roll through as it does the lights, sound and décor.
“There are always those types of people who we work with locally and globally who give accent to what we’re doing here,” he declares.