By ALEXANDRA SACCONE
Undergraduate English major
Published December 6, 2023
Editor’s note: It’s not always easy for students to find their place at a large, research university like UB. Thankfully, there are hundreds of clubs on campus — nearly 500, in fact — where students can take a break from their studies, make friends, pursue their passions or simply try something new. UB clubs build a sense of belonging and True Blue pride in the university. To help, UBNow has introduced Club Watch, an occasional feature highlighting one of UB’s many student clubs or organizations that you may not know about — but should.
Plastic beads of every color cover the tables in 104 O’Brian Hall while a video of an impossible motocross challenge plays on the screen. In front of the video is PITLORD, a local DJ and president and founder of UB’s EDM Club.
PITLORD, or Dominick Matarese as he’s known to his professors, is a senior communication major with a passion for music. For years, Matarese enjoyed Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and rave events on the weekends — between assignments, representing the College of Arts and Sciences as a student ambassador and helping the communication department with research — but he felt that UB was missing that trademark PLUR of the EDM community.
“PLUR — Peace, Love, Unity, Respect and Responsibility — is the set of principles that people who attend raves abide by,” Matarese explains. “People who attend raves are expected to live up to these principles by looking out for each other, being responsible for their actions, helping each other, being inclusive and respecting others.”
What started as an experiment to see if he could get the Student Association to subsidize his rave tickets has become a unifying force for UB students, alumni and community members who share a love for EDM music.
EDM Club, which is approaching its first anniversary, has hosted two major events on campus. The first, Bassfest, which was held during Welcome Weekend and featured a large stage and hour-long sets from two local artists, brought in close to 300 students.
“I felt really happy that I could give a platform to two deserving DJs because Dantrae Alonso and Alex Baytor are both super talented and I’m glad that I could give them the opportunity to perform for us,” Matarese says.
Recently, EDM Club hosted Fallhalla — originally dubbed Fallback Fest after the Student Association canceled Fall Fest — in the lobby of the Student Union. “We all put a lot of effort into planning our sets and visuals, and a bunch of our friends came out and I’m really proud of that one as well,” he says.
Fallhalla had a special significance to Matarese, as it marked his “world premiere” as an EDM DJ, a career he hopes to pursue after graduation.
With plans in the works for a Christmas-themed rave on campus this winter, Matarese wants to continue hosting events that unite the university community, not just those who enjoy EDM.
“Next semester will be my last, so I want to make special efforts to have more big shows before I go because I think those are something that everyone in the club can get behind and it’s fun for everyone,” Matarese says. “I want to make sure that I’m putting EDM Club in the hands of people who are going to put in the effort to keep it going because I know there will always be people interested in EDM at UB and producing and DJing. So if the club is there, there will always be people to show up and attend the events — and not only attend but collaborate with each other and like making music.”
Weekly meetings for EDM Club include sets from local DJs, an up-to-date calendar of EDM events in Western New York and making kandi, a type of beaded bracelet worn to raves. He credits the bonding during EDM Club meetings for nurturing friendships that keep alums coming back to campus to attend meetings and shows.
“I think the thing that I’m most proud of is the friendships that have come out of EDM Club,” Matarese says. “I think there’s a lot of people that were specifically looking for a community, and I’m happy that I could provide that.”
Not only does EDM Club provide students with a sense of community and knowledge about upcoming shows, but the club is a network to find safe rides to and from events, and for interested students to learn more about making their own music.
“We have producers in the club that are extremely talented, like mind-blowingly talented, and we’ve had seven or eight producer workshops where someone from the club teaches a workshop about how to make a house track from start to finish, or about synthesizers and sound design.” Matarese says. “I think it’s been really helpful so far; a lot of people have shown up. I’ve personally learned a lot attending and I enjoy seeing club members coming and asking questions, trying to learn music production.”
Matarese encourages even those who have never been to a rave to join UB’s EDM Club. “It might seem intimidating, but the community is extremely welcoming. If you’re interested in music production or you just want to talk about EDM, even if you’ve never listened to EDM in your life, come work with our producers, attend some workshops,” he says. “Come check it out and you'll probably find some aspect of the club that you’re interested in, or just come to the meetings to make some friends.”