Music

Meet Do Not, the Costa Rican Duo Behind San José’s Secret Techno Parties

Lead Photo: Photo by Avi Rothman
Photo by Avi Rothman

Do Not’s dark, atmospheric music demands introspection – a need to repeat mantras and analyze what’s going on around you. And their videos – where the protagonists are usually alone looking for some solace – are an extension of that introspection. Their work ethic extends that concept to the secret parties they have held in different parts of San José and the experience they want their audience to have while listening to their music.

At live performances, Do Not is Ernesto Bolaños and Huba Watson, but the crew seems to get bigger everyday. There’s a team in Germany that works on their videos, there are publicists and friends in San José in charge of setting up the parties, and there’s the music production branch of the project, in which other voices, engineers, and labels are involved. This is the global venture they envisioned when they started Do Not.

Their experience with promoting parties and musical production goes back seven years. They worked under the name Huba & Silica from 2008 until 2013, when they announced an end to the project. Huba & Silica stayed alive through many residencies over the years at El Steinvorth, one of San José most well-known indie venues.

Photo by Pablo Murillo

After announcing this project’s end, they did some soul searching. “We became convinced that we didn’t have to work harder, we just needed to work better,” says Bolaños. In this case, “better” meant not having money problems at the end of parties or video releases, as well as having enough money to finance future hardware and their next video.

This changed, Bolaños says, when they decided to hit the eject button and set out to make the music and curate the parties they wanted to see in San José. Since their reunion as Do Not, they have arranged secret parties under the name Crib. These shows are becoming an underground hit, a safe space for those looking for a special night. Their motto: “No flyers, no hashtags, no Facebook events, just us.” Their sets are calm and introspective, and they build to the point where you can see people dancing with their eyes closed and smiling. It’s not the space per se that counts, it’s the way Do Not deliver.

Photo by Pablo Murillo

They choose a home or a place with a nice view of the Costa Rican Central Valley as their venue, and no one knows the address until the day before the party. They hire security; they hire people to keep the place clean; they hire bartenders. It’s a private party that doesn’t bother to find a crowd because their approach – one that is more open and welcoming than all the secrecy might suggest – is just what the deep house/underground techno scene in Costa Rica needed.

Any San José venue will never offer that kind of safe experience, and the kids know it. And it’s the kind of safe space where a community is created. Bolaños explains this with an anecdote: “After one party, a scratch was found on a car. We offered to pay the owner for it and after searching for a place to do the job, it just so happened that one of the partygoers had a car workshop and offered to do the job at a cheaper price. He said that he didn’t want the parties to be jeopardized and that he loves what we did. It was awesome.”

Since Do Not works on singles, the last two Cribs have featured the release of videos (“Down” and “Scarecrow”). For their fourth installment, they’ll be releasing “Amnesia.” After that party, Do Not will be in LA in October and November working on their first release for 2016. It’s time for Do Not to burst out into the world. And it seems like they are well on their way.