/// Have you always lived here in Colorado? ///
Bit of a tricky question. Hope you don’t mind a tricky (and somewhat meandering) answer. I was born and raised in Hawai’i. I first moved to Boulder in 1995. But in the 13 years that followed I was on the road so much that Colorado was more like a vacation home. From 1995-2008, places I called home included Boston, New York, England, Newcastle, Bruges, Miami, and Las Vegas. In 2008, I received two great offers that convinced me to move to Denver: a day-job opportunity with a downtown software startup, and a residency at Beta. Neither the Beta residency or the software startup lasted as long as I would have liked, but I’ve been a proud Coloradan ever since. Currently live in Boulder, and it’s hard for me to imagine ever leaving the Boulder/Denver area.
/// What age did you get interested electronic music and when did you make a techno direction? ///
My mom raised me in a musical household. I was schooled in classical music, but she also was a disco fan, and had me bouncing to synth-laden dance grooves for longer than I can remember. I’d guess around age 8 or 9, when I truly began to discover music on my own, I found myself drawn to the likes of Kraftwerk, Laurie Anderson, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. Simultaneously I was falling in love with the harder, darker, driving sounds of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin and Rush. From that moment on, I began to seek out darker and harder options within electronic music. I also had an affinity to rhythm and groove, particularly when composed over albums and mix tapes.
/// What “crews” have you worked with/associated with over the years? Are you with one now or freelance? ///
For the bulk of my life, I was a bit of a rōnin in this regard. I started out in nightclubs during a time when DJs were typically “heard and not seen” — the venue and night you played was your street cred, not so much your name or your crew. My studio work was focused on personal remixes and ghost production; aside from a few white labels I never really cut anything for release, so I never had a label affiliation. I also liked flying solo, as I felt it gave me more freedom to play any party I wanted, with any crew, any attitude, and more importantly, any sound I wanted. It wasn’t until 2014 that being part of a crew became an attractive idea to me. The dance music scene in Denver was exploding, with nearly every style of “underground” music experiencing massive growth or resurgence. But amidst all the headliner and local shows I felt something was missing: the art of a DJ telling a story, and a party that took you on a journey. I wasn’t hearing too many sets that took the crowd through peaks and valleys of energy, emotion, and discovery. I wasn’t finding events where the lineup was structured in a complementary fashion, where DJs would apply their individual styles towards a collaborative goal. So, I started to seek out other DJs who felt the same way, and longed to play in the same fashion. In 2015, this led to the formation of The Elements: myself, Josh Wetherington, Rollin and Teragram. They’ve been my musical family ever since. Over the last two years, The Elements has had the pleasure of providing direct support for 21 international headliners in Denver, including a New Years’ Day set opening for Henry Saiz and his live band at Beta; Henry was so pleased with The Elements’ performance that he featured an hour of the set on his global radio broadcast. But what I’m most proud and excited about is the 100% local parties we’ve done as a family — no headliners, just The Elements, start to finish. Telling a story, going on a journey. Our afterhours warehouse concept, We Had Plans (a Valentine’s Affair), has sold out two years running and is one of my proudest achievements over the past 25+ years in music. Most recently, we launched our new monthly at Beta, every first Friday in the LOUNGE, as part of the extended P.U.N.C.H.I.S. family.
/// The electronic and especially techno scene in Denver is thriving right now, with all its success aside, what do think is missing or can be improved upon? ///
I’d like to see the fans demand more and raise the bar for the scene. Demand better sets from the DJs, both touring headliners and locals. Demand better curation from promoters. Demand events that are great from start to finish, not just the prime time for the headliner. Demand better sound systems. And demand more from each other. There’s more to the scene than headliner parties: friends don’t let friends ignore locals.
/// How do you describe your journey through this music? ///
I can’t begin to count the amount of wonderful and positive people that it’s brought into my life, nor the number of amazing experiences that we’ve shared together. All the result of my techno pursuits. In 2012, the best thing in my life happened during my 21st trip to Miami for Winter Music Conference: I met my wife.
This family, old and new, and the ones I haven’t met yet, along with experiences we share, that’s drives and motivates me as a DJ, and keeps a smile on my face.
/// Any memorable moments from the early years of our scene? ///
Ha ha ha do you have a few hours?
I don’t even know where to start. There are many things I’ve I experienced throughout the 90s that will definitely never be seen again. It would probably easier to list out some highlights of the 90s that are still going on today. I think it might make for a pretty short list.
But that’s not a bad thing. Currently, it’s a different time, a different scene, and one that is equally enjoyable to me today as it was 20 years ago. And for all the amazing memories I have from 90s, there are plenty of things thankfully left behind.
There is thing from the 90s that I would love to see return to our scene: attending events for the whole experience they provided from start to finish. Often without giving a shit who the headliners were. Not bothering to figure out what sub-alternate-genre-styles of music would be featured. Not planning around set times. Trusting in those who invited you to an event, and immersing yourself in the journey.
/// What DJ has been impressing you lately? ///
Third Son is out of this world. As both a producer and a DJ, I just can’t get enough of his music. His individual tracks are brilliant, and his sets are intricately constructed symphonies, cinematic journeys, full of peaks and valleys, and varying in pace and style.
/// Have you travelled to any other famous clubs around the world? Any enlightening experiences from them? ///
I’ve traveled to quite a few legendary spots over the years, sure. The common denominator I’ve found is that the best clubs don’t compromise on the overall experience. It all starts with a killer sound system and properly curated DJ lineup. But what really sets a club apart for me is when they’ve made an effort to provide a positive, cultivated environment. One that evolves throughout your time there. It doesn’t have to be fancy, over the top, or even original; just a bit of effort that is clearly motivated by passion and love for the scene, and is open to and accepting of everyone. When venues and promoters combine in this fashion, everybody — the DJs, the crowd, the staff — recognizes, embraces, and contributes to the vibe. This results in the kind of party that you never want to leave.
/// For the local techno scene - any words of advice ye ol' sage? ///
DJs: Know your music. Love your music. Feel your music. Only play your best music.
2. Fans: Support local techno.
3. Everyone: At least once a year, be a Techno Tourist. Hit up a major festival, visit a techno hotbed, make a pilgrimage to a legendary venue or party. And get lost in the experience.