House music powerhouse Gary Richards, who goes by the name Destructo, is taking Los Angeles to church with one of his historic Sunrise Sermon sets — with a darker and more supernatural performance.
The acclaimed DJ, concert promoter and producer is kicking off Halloween with a special two-day event on Oct. 30 at Los Angeles’ Avalon Hollywood and on Oct. 31 at San Francisco’s Audio. Beginning at 6 a.m., Richards will guide fans along a “hair-raising” and Halloween-themed journey as he performs an explosive mixture of electro-house and rap, ranging from the classics to present day.
The show will go on past sunrise, much like previous sermons, and has no confirmed end time, according to Richards.
“The sermon is a journey of house music over the years,” Richards said. “I try to play classic records that maybe the newer crowd doesn’t know but records that mean a lot to me. I’ve been DJing since the early ’90s, so I get a chance to go back and pick out the records and be like, ‘Aw, I remember that.’
“To me, it’s like my history, career and music — I get to put it all into one set and then to see people really appreciating it,” he continued. “I love it.”
Richards’ Sunrise Sermons have quickly morphed into dance music fan favorites and provide a spiritual “experience for electronic music enthusiasts making dancing through sunrise a one-of-a-kind moment.”
The longtime industry professional has dominated the dance floor since 2011, from his acclaimed “Technology” EP (2012) and “Higher” EP (2013) to creating high-profile remixes for artists in the ranks of Depeche Mode, Giorgio Moroder, Major Lazer, Rob Zombie and Digitalism. In 2014, Richards evolved to fuse dance music with rap and trap with the “West Coast” EP, collaborating major emcees such as E-40, Too $hort and Busta Rhymes.
“I’m continually searching for tracks that I haven’t played in the sermon before,” Richards noted. “I have 100,000 pieces of vinyl. I feel like, for me, this is an area where I can shine and show my stuff and stand out from everyone else.”
Richards said the sermons initially took off when he was performing for a cruise ship back in the day. He recalled landing one of his first shows, which started at 6 a.m. The DJ said he played a lot of “old-school techno” to keep the crowd awake and lively, which later bled into an upcoming performance on the ship.
“Somebody remembered I did that event and said, ‘Why don’t you do that sermon on the ship?’ And it kind of became the thing on the ship,” Richards shared.
“It’s unique playing at sunrise. I like to start when it’s a little dark with maybe some weird, strange techno stuff, and then when the sun comes up and it gets bright, I hit people with the classics,” he added. “I have some records I can play for a long time.”
Richards quickly began to land festival bookings to play sunrise sets.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Richards tapped into live streaming as a way to connect with fans despite social distancing guidelines. He continued the Sermon virtually from his living room with some sets gathering over 200,000 views via Twitch, Facebook and YouTube.
“During lockdown, I did a bunch from my house. I livestreamed and I had a house with a lot of windows for the sunrise,” the musician said. “Or I would go out in the desert by myself, and it kept a lot of people together in the pandemic.”
Richards is also slated to play at the Halloween-themed bash his latest single “Shine On,” which is a return to his more familiar deep house roots.
The house production was inspired by Richards’ late brother, No Name Worldwide founder Steven Richards, and features vocals from Canadian artist Harm Franklin and Richards himself. The track was released on Oct. 15 via Richards’ All My Friends label.
The Los Angeles-based DJ expressed he is looking forward to the upcoming Sunrise Sermon and hopes to provide a venue for the community to reconnect, relax, release and enjoy.
“I’m looking forward to just bringing all these people together in LA and San Fran that are part of my extended family,” he said. “Seeing everybody dance and having a good time — just making people happy,” he said. “It’s a lot for me to play at that time and that long, but people love it and I feed off of the energy of that crowd.”
WHEN: 6 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 30
WHERE: Avalon Hollywood, 1735 Vine Street, Los Angeles
COST: Tickets start at $15