Kelly: How do you think the publication has an effect on Denver as a community?
Castro: Our number one priority has always been supporting local music which, in turn, for a lot of these bands, they’re not used to getting a lot of press. For us to write about them and cover their shows is a pretty big deal. For one, because they know what kind of traffic we have. Two, they know that they’ll probably reach people that haven’t listened to them before. Again, our number one goal has been to support local music. We do that in a lot of ways: We cover local artists and go to the shows, conduct interviews. One of the biggest things we do is encourage artists to reach out to us if they have a new video, single or album out. We want to promote local musicians. Ultra has a pretty significant fan base that will get to hear new local music before anyone else. We get our most traffic when we write about a local band. It gets shared on social media and it’s like a domino effect.
Kelly: What’s been your favorite part about your job as founder and editor in chief?
Castro: For me it’s been the extension of the photography side of the company. I’ve photographed some amazing artists. We get approved for about 90% of the shows that we apply to, whether it’s a local show or a sold out concert at the Pepsi Center. I’ve photographed artists like Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Outkast, Radiohead, The Weekend, LCD Soundsystem. These are the awesome things that present itself when you run a publication. The most amazing experience I’ve had this far is an opportunity I got after shooting Alt-J a few summers ago. I was contacted by their team. They told me they wanted to put out an LP vinyl set based on their Red Rocks performance and asked if I could send a few of my pictures to potentially be included in the set. I sent them about 10-15 photos. They ended up choosing five of them. They paid me for my photos and sent me a free box set. That’s probably been my biggest highlight of my live concert photography.
Kelly: How have you seen the community grow in your time with the publication?
Castro: When I moved to Denver over 10 years ago, I wasn’t really that familiar with the local scene but if I could compare the Denver scene then to what it’s developed into now, it’s grown drastically. People would ask me where I’m from after I told them they would say things like “Oh, Denver! I know The Fray and Flobots." Now it’s amazing there’s so much more hidden talent that doesn’t at all get the same kind of press that the bigger bands do even though they’re just as talented. Nathaniel Rateliff is a good example of growth. He’s been playing music in Denver for 10 years. The first time I saw him perform was in a backyard at the UMS. Now he’s headlining major festivals. It’s interesting to see where that scene is kind of shifting. One of the cool things about Denver compared to other cities is that there’s not a lot of competitiveness in the scene. Everyone supports each other. I just wish they had more means to promote their music outside of Denver. The ones that are doing it are touring and doing it right. Take a band like In The Whale that’s been touring non-stop for the last five years, they just announced their European tour. This is a band that never stops. I’ll use those two guys as an example. They spend more time on the road then they do at home. If you wanna get to where you want to be as a musician, you gotta put in the work.
Kelly: Would you ever consider moving to print? Do you think there’s a market in Denver for print?
Castro: Yeah it’s something we’ve talked about. There is a cliche that print is dead which I can believe. You always hear about these news papers that are closing down. The thing with print is that it’s a huge start up cost, it’s a huge cost to maintain. Everyone’s online now. You can check everything from a mobile source. I’m not gonna walk a few blocks to get a paper if I have access to it on my phone. We’ve talked about doing print kind of quarterly. It would be a recap of everything we have on our website, very eye catching and appealing. I would like to think of it as a coffee table book. It’s still on our agenda down the road. We also have to figure cost, advertising, etc. I don’t want it just to be full of ads, I want it to be content heavy focused on Denver. I’ve been messing around with that idea the last 6 months. We’ll see where it goes.
Kelly: Where do you see the publication going in the next 5 years? What are you overall goals? How do you see the company growing?
Castro: I want to continue what we’re doing now. I don’t anticipate changing a whole lot because it’s working. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But at the same time, how do we get more readers? Like I said, adding lifestyle was huge for us. It doubled our traffic. What else can we cover aside from music and lifestyle? I think there’s a lot of untapped resources out there. I would love to focus more on restaurants, theatre, art, fashion, and definitely one that’s on our website that we really don’t touch, film. I think that’s where we can get more readers. Our staff is always growing. Right now we add about 2-3 people every year which is awesome because we get to cover more events.