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With Coachella and Lollapalooza at the forefront of music festival culture, there’s one that stands out among the rest. Insert, HARDFEST. This festival, music cruise (Holy Ship!) and concert brand goes beyond the States, gaining international momentum with each year that comes.

“HARD is not a rave, it’s a music festival!” That’s why Destructo founded HARDFEST in 2007, while breaking down the barriers between EDM and Hip Hop. His ability to put 2 Live Crew next to Justice, one of EDM’s greatest acts to date, on a lineup does not go unnoticed.

On Monday (June 12), HipHopDX had the pleasure of attending a screening of HARD 10: A Decade Of Crashing Sound Barriers, followed by a live Q&A with DJ Destructo on his Facebook page. Entering the Live Nation office in Beverly Hills with only a select few media outlets in attendance, it was immediately evident that Gary Richards was the man of the hour.

Joining efforts with MTV, this documentary packs 10 years of HARDFEST into 24 minutes and 21 seconds. The short film showcases Gary as a DJ, promoter, curator, producer, businessman… the list goes on. Not only does he have the vision to bring together only the hottest EDM and Hip Hop acts, but also the power to do so. Beyond this, he puts a great deal of effort in discovering emerging talent, giving upcoming artists an opportunity such as the one he was given.

Sitting down for the Q&A with Australian DJ Anna Lunoe, Destructo speaks on the biggest risk he’s taken thus far, professional or personal.

“In the beginning, every time you do one of these shows, my entire life savings – my house, my family’s future –  everything’s on the line. These shows… the first one cost like 400 grand, and then millions and millions… it’s just the money. I always just wanted a partner to take the risk, so I didn’t have to take the risks.”

In 2012, Live Nation acquired Gary Richards’ HARD Event, which helped fill in the gaps. 

“And that’s what lead me to Live Nation, which has been amazing. I’ve been here for five years and that’s one part of the equation that I don’t have to… I still stress about every penny like it’s my money still. But if it doesn’t do exactly what it’s supposed to do, my kids can still go to school. So that’s a good thing. But it’s a pretty big risk. I knew it was special. I never thought it wasn’t going to work. That was never in my mind.”

The film showcases Destructo working with today’s top-tier rap artists, including Pusha T, YG, Ty Dolla $ign, Too Short, E-40, Problem, and even Freddie Gibbs. One thing he had to say about booking Hip Hop acts: “Rappers will do it for the money.” Luckily, Destructo has gained enough recognition and respect to establish relationships with these artists beyond work.

The “Hardfather” reports being a fan, first and foremost. In E-40’s case, he admits to chasing the Bay Area Ambassador for six months before actually getting a response. This resulted in the hit record “All Nite,” which also features Too Short. Now, he has a great texting relationship with E-40.

He reports, “Now, he’s down to play. I can text him. He fucks with me on text. He’s fucking with me.”

It was a little easier to collaborate with Ty Dolla $ign, who performed at HARD Summer last year.

“Ty Dolla $ign gets what we do. He just likes EDM and doing different stuff.”

The “Blasé” singer returns to the festival this year where HARD Summer will not only be celebrating its 10-year anniversary but will also feature the godfather of Hip Hop, Snoop Dogg, performing Doggystyle in full. He will be closing out the two-day festival with his classic 1993 album, which includes classics such as “Gin and Juice” and “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None).”

celebrating 10 years of @hardfest with #destructo ? @destructohard

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Reflecting on it all, Destructo’s advice to all those who one day aspire to get to his stature: “Be original and don’t give up. Be relentless. It took 20 years to get my break.”

Watch the “HARD 10” documentary above.