Niki Zytion and EDM Cares
Running a non-profit organization is not a piece of cake. It is more like a pot of Brussel sprouts. But with a caring heart, you can surprise yourself. Niki Zytion is surprised every day. As the founder of EDM Cares, he puts endless amounts of heart and soul into the business.
EDM Cares is the not for profit organization created to provide opportunities for the electronic dance music community to become more involved in public outreach and community services. We had the pleasure to speak with Niki Zytion about the EDM Cares organization. Read the Niki Zytion interview, below, to learn more about his experience within the industry and the purpose of EDM Cares.
One EDM: Please tell us how EDM Cares began?
Niki Zytion: I have had several different positions throughout the dance industry for about 5 years and heard constant negativity from outside the industry about our demographic that did not match what I was seeing inside the community. I happened to hear about a local animal shelter that needed some funds, so I decided that I would pull my resources together and make an effort to change that Public Image of the dance community while helping out a great cause, I called it, The EDM Cares Project. This first little event was just a fun project until my best friend at the time, Leland, said “Look what we just did! Imagine if we keep doing things like this. We could change people’s lives”. Shortly after that, I began researching different projects and issues in local communities. We started by collecting personal items to donate to the homeless. We also held informational music events for veterans and their families, which are still our two biggest projects.
“Promoting change through dance music”: what change do you feel needs to begin in humanity that the EDM community can lead in or partake in? What change are you speaking of?
Our industry has taken off, and it brings in billions of dollars every year. We feel that those funds and high attendance could be used for the betterment of our community. After the last four years of promoting different ways that people can get involved in their community, our slogan and motto have changed to, “creating impact through dance music”. We no longer just encourage people to get involved, we are creating those opportunities.
How has the EDM community shown kindness to you?
I came to the industry shortly after leaving the military due to a DADT, as a gender queer individual not knowing where exactly I fit in the world. That didn’t matter in the dance community. I was met with so much love and acceptance. I felt what they call “PLUR” before I ever even heard the term. As I continue to work in this industry, I see new faces all the time and watch how the music changes people’s lives. This is what inspires us!
Tell us about your experience at last years IMF Imagine music festival?
We were blessed with a booth space from the Imagine team and were able to reach such a large group of people including one individual who has joined our board of directors, and several other volunteers that are helping our cause across the U.S.A.
There has been a significant increase in items donated each year. Is that due to the fact that people are realizing that they are causes out there that are important?
I feel that that is a huge part of it as well as bringing in more venues and events. As we do more donation drives and get the word of our cause out there, more people want to get involved. Like with anything, if you don’t know it exists, how are you supposed to get involved?
For a cause that grows daily, what has this taught you about the power of people and about how we treat each other?
It has shown me how compassionate our industry can be and what a huge difference one person can make with a little encouragement and effort.
Do you think the EDM community can lead all genres to use the power of the music to unite people under one fair and much-needed cause?
Absolutely! We are currently working towards a goal of having major dance music events throughout the U.S.A impacting local communities by the year 2025. Once we have attained that goal, we plan to expand every genre possible.
You started this all by yourself and are running so much on your own with part-time volunteers. That must come with much stress. What gets you passed the hard parts to keep on doing what you are doing?
Honestly, it is seeing how the amount of donations has grown over the years and the number of individuals we have been able to impact. It does get hard but knowing that I am making a difference is one hell of a motivation.
Who do you confide in when you need that much needed emotional support?
My VP. Not so much for the emotional support, but support in general. He keeps me realistic with our goals. Whether it is constructive criticism or just being a soundboard to bounce ideas off of, he keeps me focused on the goal of our organization as well as honoring the legacy of our past VP.
One important thing in living is the relationship we have with ourselves, has EDM Cares enhanced the person you are with yourself and even with others?
Definitely. The biggest thing I have noticed within myself is a boost in confidence. Directing a nonprofit has definitely pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone reaching out to major labels and festivals across the U.S.A. Over my time in the industry, I have been able to interact with people in every position throughout the industry, but it is different when you are doing promotion or being a talent liaison or even managing an artist. Talking to people about working on projects together, setting up clothing drives, or requesting donations is a whole different ballpark.
How can one person find a venue or homeless organization with EDM Cares that participates in donating?
We do our best to keep our social media and website up-to-date with information on the venue that hosts are donation bins as well as the several events throughout the year that people can attend, participate in, and bring donations to.
Do you think it is our responsibility as people to help one another?
The best way I can sum up my feelings on the subject is through a quote by Nelson Henderson- ” the true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit”. I truly feel that our purpose in this world is to leave the world in better shape than when we arrived.
Do you feel music can be a solution to a large number of things?
That is a loaded question. There are so many different ways that I could answer that, but I will make it brief by stating that music brings people from all backgrounds and beliefs together, it does not pass judgment, it comforts, it allows limitless expression, and impacts the world in so many ways that it would take forever for me to describe.
What else does EDM Cares offer to the community in need besides clothing?
We hold community volunteer projects, host informational music events for veterans with an all-veteran lineup, events for families who have lost relatives in the line of duty, consult with individuals in every aspect of the industry on how they can give back to the community, host blood drives, and are always finding new ways to make an impact on our local communities.
You have been in the music industry for 11 years. Any pivotal moments in your past that lends a hand to how you handle your business now?
When I threw our first event, I was met with such support that blew me away. When I first came up with the idea, I wasn’t sure that anybody was going to want to donate their time and space for a Cause. Out of nowhere, we had over 20 artists and individuals involved in the event. This further enforced what I had been told: “you’ll never know how people are willing to help if you don’t ask.”
Does EDM Cares have any plans on expanding to other cities in the near future?
We started in Denver but already have staff in New Jersey, Illinois, and Florida. Our goal is to have staff in every major city in the next two years.
If one wanted to join or be a volunteer to some degree in their city how can they go about doing that?
Our website in social media profiles always has up-to-date contact information for those who want to volunteer, donate, partner, sponsor, Etc.