Ash Nowak and Jon Dones are Haute to Death, but it is so much more than just them. When asked to define what is the most important part of what they do they said it is “you”, the guests that come to their events. It’s a sensation when everyone comes together. What they do is “an art project that only works when everyone is participating” as Ash says. Jon adds that “Haute to Death is a feeling”. They have curated a crowd by living by the mantra that “the signal you send out is what you get back, it becomes like a feedback loop”. The photos, the flyers, and the message they broadcast draw a beautiful crowd that is not only defined by the music, but fashion, community, and diversity, a sense of belonging.
Their audience has expanded, starting at Temple Bar 15 years ago and now finding a home in a much bigger venue, Marble Bar, but the flavor of what they do has not changed. People are drawn to their visual lexicon, they communicate to people in a very unique way. Their flyers and promotions don’t always include essential information, they speak in a multimedia language. They welcome people that haven’t found a space that is safe to be who they are. “We invite people that don’t know if (this is where they fit in), discovering a place where they can be themselves”.
They see Detroit as a place where we all promote each other. “Your wins are our wins”. If they don’t have a party, they send people to someone else’s party that offers what that person is looking for. “There is room for everyone to do their own thing in Detroit”. They see our city as a place where anyone can feel the care and passion that is put into what we as promoters present. They express how thankful they are for the different kinds of moods and styles that circulate in our scene.
Ash and Jon understand that what is created in Detroit’s nightlife is not about drama, it’s not a competition. Our city is not a reality show, we are a place that celebrates individuality, and have the space to express who we are. “I love a night when I am starting at one party and then ending somewhere else, you have this journey you go on, it feels fun and robust. Everything feels different and I have just had so many evenings full of everything I wanted to see and everything I wanted to hear.”
As Detroit has grown and changed they see opportunities for the next generation to have venues and spaces to play at. “It’s not just that there are more people, but that the access to do what we do has widened. More people are empowered to try out their ideas, and that’s always a good thing.” They haven’t changed what they do since they started. “Detroit being a creative hotbed narrative has forced a lot of change to happen. I don’t think most people know who the (seminal) artists are, what places to go to, or who is making significant music. I feel the culture is thriving as much as it ever has been. Very little has changed.”
“I love when people find our party by accident and discover that what we do is closer to what they are trying to find in themselves”. Beyond that “if people come and we aren’t the vibe they want, we are like no, you should go someplace else instead, and send them to a party they would like. I don’t want anyone to have a bad time.”
They have recently expanded to live bands, different sounds, guest DJS and collaborations. They are mixing things up and evolving, touring other cities, experimenting, and finding new ways to share what they do.
In the future, they want to open a club of their own. They think Detroit needs more, but also have respect for how our club scene has evolved. There is only one Jon and Ash. They have a certain way of doing what they do. They want to build a house so big that everyone can love inside of it. Will it be different, knowing them I have no doubt. They want whatever they do to be “complimentary and what’s needed, inspires people to say shit man I can do that too.”
Promoting is an art. “If you get where you want to go, it’s your responsibility to help other people too”. They have a deep understanding of how the generations of Detroit artists build each other up, mentor, and be a part of creating the future.
As a couple, Jon and Ash see themselves as really different, but their goal is always the same. “In love and relationships, you hope to be good at the parts your partner is not”. They inspire each other but understand that there are some things they will never agree on. “When you live a creative life it doesn’t need to be a big thing”