by Leor Galil
Beltran started FeelTrip with Daniel Perzan and Adam Gil after their band, electro-pop outfit Yawn, had trouble finding a label for its full-length debut; the three pooled their funds and worked hard to get FeelTrip off the ground and release Yawn's Open Season in August 2011. (They released the album in conjunction with local imprint Englophile Records.) FeelTrip has since gone on to drop an array of material such as an EP by poppy shoegaze duo Sister Crystals, a slew of projects by Beltran, and an album of harsh, jittery electro ringtones by Telegraph Cables. Though FeelTrip started as a label, it has begun to function as a home for people who work outside of music, like videographers, visual artists, and performance artists.
FeelTrip's cavernous loft space in the South Loop has helped the collective grow. Beltran and his friends found the spot early last year, and he says that popular metal group Disturbed used to record there. "We found it for a good price because ravers had moved in before and destroyed the place," he says. The FeelTrip crew moved swiftly to transform the new home into, well, a home. Beltran and his friends used every hour of their free time to fix the place up, a massive space that includes a gigantic room they've used to showcase art and host the occasional performance, a smaller studio for recording bands, and rooms for FeelTrip residents and friends rolling through town to sleep in.
Beltran says FeelTrip hosted its first show in the space last March; it was a launch party meant to showcase the label's talent, and Beltran says the collective didn't intend to turn the space into a full-fledged DIY venue. "We never really wanted for it to become anything at the time," he says. Beltran and his roommates went on to host one show every couple months until July, when they put on an under-the-radar and unofficial Pitchfork Music Festival afterparty headlined by experimental, minimalist rockers Dirty Beaches, who also played the three-day event in Union Park.
After that show FeelTrip's popularity began to spike, and more and more musical acts got in touch with the collective to book a show. Beltran and company began putting on shows about once a month, but they were picky. "We turned down probably 80 percent of the bands that wanted to play our place," Beltran says. FeelTrip hosted shows by groups such as hyped-up suburban punks the Orwells, buzzy juke producer DJ Earl, and hot electronic acts Sepalcure and Machinedrum. The FeelTrip crew took precautions to keep the number of attendees manageable—including leaving certain headlining acts off of show fliers—but, as Beltran says, people seemed to find out and turn out in droves.
The crowds attracted the attention of Chicago police on New Year's Eve. Three of Beltran's roommates received tickets for operating without a license, and he says they're due in court sometime in February. For now FeelTrip has put a stop to shows, but Beltran is interested in finding a way to get a Public Place of Amusement License if that's an option. The collective also has a bigger issue to deal with as well: Beltran says his landlord is selling the building, which could mean FeelTrip would have to find a new home.
The folks behind FeelTrip are otherwise operating as usual, and they're still recording bands in the studio. Yawn is working on its new album, and Sister Crystals are also recording some new material. Local garage rockers Twin Peaks have been in the studio working on their second album, and Beltran is hoping to release it through FeelTrip. Beltran says Twin Peaks are "the future of Chicago Rock and Roll." Although the future of FeelTrip's headquarters remains uncertain, at least the members of its collective are keen on continuing to contribute to the culture of tomorrow.