Interview: Justin Kleinfeld

By: J.S. of NewYorkRagers.com (@NYRAGERS)

In today’s world it can be extremely difficult to catch the attention of large groups of people. With heavily saturated music markets and more tech distractions on Earth than ever before, there are simply too many options for individuals. But in this age of ‘EDM’ turmoil amidst a changing music industry landscape, there are those few who keep grounded and prove to us that good people still exist.

One of those noble souls is Electronic Music veteran, Justin Kleinfeld. He is the President & Owner of NYC based Public Relations firm Rephlektor Inkorporated and has a massive list of clients. From artists, to record labels and events, he has had his hand in everything dance music related for over 10 years. Justin has represented the likes of: Swedish House Mafia, Tiësto, Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, Pretty Lights, Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed, Kevin Saunderson, DJ Hell, Dixon, Rusko, Alesso, W&W and many of the world’s top labels.

It’s abundantly clear that his experience speaks for itself. But how does someone get to be where he is? What’s it like to work with some of the brightest stars in the dance music galaxy? How would someone be able to juggle a workload such as his? These are all questions that you could very well be imagining.
As a pronounced fan of the ‘EDM Biz’ and someone who respects how Justin conducts himself, I wanted to know more – much more – and I got tired of speculating. So I sat down with Justin to get answers to some of the same questions you may be asking yourself. Check out our conversation after the jump to catch a small glimpse into a world that most of us can only dream of.

J.S. of NewYorkRagers.com (@NYRAGERS): You’re an ‘EDM’ & Music Label Press Agent. What’s a normal day like for you?

Justin Kleinfeld: Pretty much sitting behind the computer all day, sending emails, attending meetings, writing press releases.

J.S.: How did you get your start in this field? Did you go to school for Public Relations or was it more of ‘destiny’ that you fell into it?

Justin Kleinfeld: I’ve been a dance music fan since the early 90’s. However, I really didn’t know how to get into the business. There weren’t any blogs and I didn’t have “ins” with any labels. I went to college for Television Production and took a job as the assistant to the chairman of USA Films (ironically, my boss at the time is now the President of Sirius XM and a dance music fan). We put out movies like “Traffic” and “Being John Malkovich.” I always wanted to work in dance music so I left the film job for a gig as the assistant to the founder of CMJ. Over time I was able to become dance editor over there with a weekly column and made a lot of contacts in the dance music industry. I then took a part time job at a PR firm that specialized in dance music and learned that biz. A few of my manager contacts urged me to start my own firm and they gave me some clients as a start. The rest is history.

J.S.: You represent the likes of Tiësto, Steve Angello, W&W and countless others. What’s it like working with some of the best veterans and newcomers in the biz?

Justin Kleinfeld: It’s great. Apart from working with great artists I really appreciate their professionalism and dedication to the craft. The artists are really driven and work hard which is something I really enjoy.

J.S.: You’re the President and Founder of Rephlektor Inkorporated. Are your weekends full of events or do you ever get down time?

Justin Kleinfeld: I’m also a husband and a father, so I don’t really go out unless it’s necessary. I generally don’t travel unless there’s a really special gig for one of my artists. Other than that, I typically go out when my artists come to NYC. It’s all about balance. I couldn’t possibly function during the day if I was out partying all the time. As I indicated before, much of my day is spent at the computer. Can’t do that hung over.

J.S.: Is it more difficult to work on some of the well-known artists or do the up and coming guys take up most of your workload?

Justin Kleinfeld: I wouldn’t say more difficult – just different. Artists like Tiësto and Steve Angello are on my roster full time and both are always doing multiple things at once. Other artists come to me per project with a set start and end date.

J.S.: What has been the most fulfilling project you have worked on (and can openly speak about) in the past few years?

Justin Kleinfeld: Working with Swedish House Mafia from their first NYC show at M2, through Masquerade Motel and the first Madison Square Garden show was something else. It meant a lot to me as a fan to see how far we’ve come. As a big Rangers fan and having seen some amazing bands there like Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead and Beastie Boys, MSG is really special to me.

J.S.: What is your favorite genre of music to listen to? Is it rock, hip-hop, classical, dubstep?

Justin Kleinfeld: I really like a lot of ambient/chill out/trip hop music. Stuff like Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Burial, Sigur Ros and Massive Attack. I find it helps me concentrate.

J.S.: How do you feel about the recent mainstreaming and corporate takeover of the EDM genre/enterprise?

Justin Kleinfeld: Seems inevitable that whenever something gets hot – and appeals to a young demographic – that those with the deep pockets come in. I think that it’s important for those who originally built up their brands to retain creative control.

J.S.: Do you have any advice for young people who are working on following in you and your contemporary’s footsteps?

Justin Kleinfeld: Like I said, I didn’t go to school for PR and just wanted to work in the industry. That’s what happened and I found my job. There are so many opportunities out there these days, so people need to learn the business and figure out what they want to do. You may think you want to be a manager, but then realize it’s not for you. It’s important to find yourself. Also, this is not an easy job. There are only “x” amount of outlets and a ton of artists out there. It’s not as simple as thinking you can send music to a music website and all of a sudden you’re a publicist. It’s about knowing the market, the publications, the writers and identifying where your artist fits. Oh and dealing with lots of colorful personalities :)

J.S.: Where do you see the electronic music scene in America going in the next 5 years: Bigger and better or the opposite direction?

Justin Kleinfeld: I’m not going to be pessimistic. I feel that as long as the HS/college demographic is deep into the dance scene things will continue to grow. I think we’ll continue to see fans explore and learn about the scene. There’s so much great stuff out there. Back in “the day” I was introduced through artists like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy. Before long I was deep into techno, house, Aphex Twin and all sorts of weird stuff. Same thing happens today – people come in through the highest level and then explore all that dance music has to offer.

To keep up with Justin and his work, follow him on Twitter at: @Rephlektor

For any questions, inquires or follow ups, follow us on Twitter at: @NYRagers

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