Written by Angel Park
Photos supplied by Fold Theory
Self-described as “a bunch of kids who love techno,” Fold Theory is an event production company that has become a staple of the Philadelphia techno event scene since first forming in 2010. Founder and CEO Carlos Salas and his team have hosted shows throughout Philadelphia and other notable cities such as Miami and New York, each carefully curated and dedicated to providing attendees with a unique live experience with up-and-coming techno producers from across the country. THATMAG had the chance to talk with Salas about the history behind Fold Theory, the challenges associated with forming their promotion company, and their team’s goals for the future in the city of brotherly love and nationally.
When coming up with the idea of Fold Theory, Salas credits two things: High School and Poetry.
“Fold Theory is something I first thought of way back in high school in Miami, with a poem I wrote called “The Fold,” Salas explained, “As a teenager, I had started writing poetry, and I did it to kind of get it out on paper and get in front of it. Along with poetry, I quickly started getting more into music, and it became one of the main things I became passionate about after I graduated.”
After he graduated, he quickly taught himself how to spin vinyl and then began showcasing his skills at shows for several years in Miami. That is where he met his partner, Ashley Powers, who helps run Fold Theory and produces music under the name DJ Miss Powers.
“At the time, I had a child coming into the world, and the mother of my child decided to move to South Jersey. I was lucky enough that I had an opportunity to work from home, so I decided to move to Philadelphia and with Ashley to create a whole new life for myself.”
From that point on, Salas hit the ground running with local shows, showcasing at small clubs and venues until he caught the attention of the city’s more prominent promoters. “I was just a DJ,” He explained, “and I got picked up from one of the bigger promoters, Rav. He and his team are great guys; they helped me a lot. And from there, it just took off. A lot of people started booking me and following me in the city. Then I got to play at The Barbary to run my party. Gina (DJ Wassup Gina) booked me there. She’s another promoter DJ that’s popular in the city. Everything just became a whirlwind from there, and now I have two collectives, Fold Theory and Philadeep.”
The process, however, did not come without its challenges. When Salas and his team started trying to host events in the city, their early efforts were met with resistance.
“The Philadelphia scene was, and still is, a very tight-knit community,” He stated. “The underground scene specifically. With the underground, you’re dealing with a lot of techno music, deep house, and minimal genre stuff in a niche area you don’t necessarily see too often.”
“That niche type of sound had some old-school people. I wouldn’t say they controlled the scene, but you know, they were a part of the groups that grew the scene from the ground up. There was a lot of loyalty to those already established brands. We were just the new kids on the block, and rightfully so, we had to pay our dues. That was tough. Finding venues that would host was difficult. Many people were like, “oh, you want to host a techno event? We’ll go to New York to listen to techno, but we’re not going to go to this local Philly bar and listen to techno; it’s just not going to happen. I think the biggest hurdle I had to overcome is people accepting us and accepting how we go about our business and accepting the type of sound that we’d bring, ’cause we approached it all differently than what they were used to.”
When cultivating solid local events, Fold Theory always emphasizes the importance of supporting your local artists first.
“We have local artists like Keenan, Colin, and DJ Miss Powers and others we cultivated with Philadeep. When talking about local scenes, you’re talking about local talent and residents. In Philadelphia, techno has treated us well, and I believe we have outstanding local residents holding it down. Like people are booking our techno residents in other places. My partner has played in other places, and they want techno on the line-up. Right. That’s how your scene stays healthy and grows: when your residents are getting booked. In my opinion, that’s important.”
Regarding favorite events, Salas and the Fold Theory team credit their collaboration with the North Philadelphia venue, Warehouse on Watts.
“During the COVID shutdown, Warehouse on Watts was having some difficulties, just like any other club at the time, and Ashley Powers took it upon herself to run an idea. We said, “Hey, we’re going to do a fundraiser online, and we’re going to set a goal of $5,000 to help keep the doors open, even though we’ve never raised more than a few hundred bucks before.” In addition, we would sell shirts, and the shirt profits we would also give to them. Despite all the risks, we decided to do it in the form of a 12-hour live stream hosted at WoW’s recording studio under WoWTV. We had crews who usually didn’t collaborate, both fresh and seasoned producers, come through for this live stream. We ended up raising enough money to cover expenses plus the $5,000. Ever since then, we do more fundraising stuff when we can. We just donated to a woman’s charity for planned parenthood. We also did something for the war with Russia and Ukraine. Being here in this city has changed Ashley and I in terms of being more a part of the political climate. We know that we can’t stay silent and need to be involved, especially now that we have more of a following. We want to use that amplified voice to give back to our community and support important causes.”
With their combined passion, talent, and kindness, Salas and the Fold Theory team plan to continue to break new ground in the city’s music community. Connect with them and stay in the loop for upcoming events.