Local event producers bring Brazil to Jackson to foster different sound

Jeff Stein and Ford Hebard discuss their love of exposing unique and talented artists like Brazilian DJ/Producer VHOOR to the Teton community.
Jeff Stein (left) of Nomadic Events and Ford Hebard (right) of Something Else are excited to bring talented Brazilian producer/DJ VHOOR to Handfire Pizza in Jackson on Friday, September 15. (Nick Futch)

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Music Interviews

Jeff Stein and Ford Hebard are DJs and event producers based here in Jackson who specialize in creating unique experiences. Stein helms his own company, Nomadic Events, and has spent years in Jackson wearing different hats. That includes the director of arts and entertainment for the Natural Selection Tour and co-creator of the Contour Music Festival, as well as throwing longstanding parties like Intergalactic Ball and The Equinox.  

Ford Hebard is co-founder of Something Else, who produce — as their slogan says — sound culture events with proceeds benefiting selected social warriors. Something Else events promote an inclusive and collaborative experience and are a safe place for all, according to Hebard. Both Nomadic and Something Else events have made a lasting mark in the community by bringing talented and progressive talent to Jackson Hole.

In advance of Brazilian DJ/Producer VHOOR’s North American debut at longtime Jackson party The Equinox on Sept. 15 at Handfire Pizza, put on by Nomadic and Something Else, Stein and Hebard joined us in the KHOL studios.


The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Sept. 7.

JACK CATLIN/KHOL: Each of you has made it a point to push the community into enjoying acts they wouldn’t normally expect to get the chance to see here in Jackson. Can you expand on where that initial inspiration came from and how important it is to push the boundaries here in our small mountain town?

FORD HEBARD: For me, it has come from a desire just to hear the music that I have a strong connection to and what inspires me to want to DJ and go out. For the most part, the music that is in town and the offerings are completely homogenous. It kind of fits into this Western motif that for a lot of us who live out here isn’t really what we identify with culturally and isn’t what a lot of the community really is either. Half of our town has Latin heritage, and I think showing people that you can have something cool and cutting edge that also identifies with their cultural roots and is something that is not always represented in this town is really important to me.  

JEFF STEIN: When I moved here, there were no real music venues so all the parties we would go to were house parties. And that’s where the DJ culture that I got to experience started. And after going to some festivals, I came back and was like, ‘Well, no one else is going to do these, so I should just start throwing my own parties.’ And that’s where it started. And honestly, that’s also part of the culture that I’ve sought to maintain. I give so much respect to people who either have run or are running full-time music venues here. It’s really hard. And for a lot of them, they can’t take risks like that. They can’t book an artist that nobody knows and then expect 400 people to show up. 

Over the years, I’ve continued to throw smaller, more intimate parties and have a commitment to the underground in that I feel like a lot of people come to these parties not knowing who the artists are. And that’s okay because the whole point is to be exposed to something. I’ve been super excited and inspired by what the Something Else crew has done. I still throw a number of events throughout the year here in Jackson, but now I work outside of Jackson as well, and I feel like Something Else is the flag bearers, the torch bearers right now for throwing more events like that. The whole series they did at The Virginian was amazing. And they’ve sought to find spaces. And it’s hard to find spaces in Jackson to throw parties. So I feel like that was a natural point of collaboration for us on this one, like, ‘let’s get together and get our audiences together to try to experience a fun, intimate party with really cutting-edge underground music.’

KHOL: For this upcoming event, VHOOR is one of today’s go-to producers working with some of Brazil’s brightest talent in the hip-hop, electronic and baile funk realms. Can you tell us more about VHOOR, what you love about him and how you went about getting him to make his North American debut right here in Jackson?

STEIN: I’ve had the amazing opportunity to go to Brazil twice. And on those trips, I made a point to go out to some clubs, and the first time I went, I didn’t know anything about Brazilian club music, if you will. I went out and it was insane. It was this indoor/outdoor space with this outdoor pavilion with probably 700 people, and the DJ was up on this very simple platform with huge speaker stacks and they started dropping these beats and it was like Carnival. People lost their minds! It went from 0 to 100 faster than anything I’ve ever seen. And it was at that time I was like, ‘What is this?!’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, this is booty favela beats’ (back then they weren’t even calling it necessarily baile funk). It was crazy. With the energy and the tempo and the amount of fun that was in it, it was unlike anything I’d ever heard. 

So I came back from that trip. I’m super inspired and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to find out more.’ I started digging a lot deeper into that world and got turned on to reggaeton and got turned on to all these subgenres in different genres. So that for me was my introduction and just that, ‘wow, there are all these artists that are huge in Brazil and you come to the U.S. and they’re like, ‘Who? What are you talking about?’ So that was my intro, and I’ll let Ford speak to VHOOR, he’s young, he’s 25, and is super up and coming. He’s riding this amazing wave of interest in Latin American music. I think that you’ve been playing his music for multiple years before people actually knew what it was.

HEBARD: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been playing his tunes for at least five years, and I was actually blown away when I found out he was only 25. I was like, ‘What were you like 15 when I first started playing your music?’ 

When you think of America, it’s this melting pot of cultures and Brazil is truly that for South America. The baile funk scene incorporates all these different styles that are very interesting to me. I mean, UK rave music, East African afro beats, amapiano, reggaeton, American hip hop. It’s all being diffused into this one style with syncopated African drums that’s undeniably amazing to dance to and appeals to so many different cultural backgrounds. And VHOOR’s able to fuse all of that into this one kind of style that just is so cool. 

STEIN: He’s one of those types of artists that if you just listen to one DJ mix, you’re not actually not going to get a sense of what he’s going to play because he does a whole mix series where he puts out one a month and then he has all these different albums and remixes and he’s playing everything from super sexy R&B trap remixes to crazy high energy Brazilian rave tracks. He’s really the type of artist you want to see in person because you don’t know what’s going to happen, which I always think is exciting.

This show is about the dance floor. The show is about getting down and about being able to express yourself and having a good time. Whereas certain other parties we do are a little bit more themed or a little bit more about crazy outfits and having a good time that way, this one’s just about the music and getting down and we really hope that we do get a good slice of the Latino community here that comes out because I think it’s important to have folks that are like, ‘Yo, this is my music and this is how you dance to it.’

Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Jeff Stein and Ford Hebard.

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About Jack Catlin

Jack is KHOL's music director. He says all music is in some way connected no matter the style and his mission is to provide listeners with a unique and memorable experience each time they tune in to KHOL or see him DJ live.

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