/// How did you come up with your DJ name “Steofan”? ///
It is a derivative of my first name ‘Steven’ in Gaelic, the native language of Ireland. My old friend and DJ guru Evan Bailey suggested I create a list of names, google them, and choose one that had the least hits. Steofan had 63 search results so I ran with it. The word is pronounced ‘shtee fawn’. Gaelic is an older, guttural Druid language. It’s a bit awkward and funny when people pronounce it. I’ve heard many different pronunciations through years and always thought it sounded better on paper. After ten years I sunsetted it and have been going with my given name (Steven Dermody) since late last year, as It’s been less confusing for promotion and pronunciation.
/// Where were you born? grew up? and how did you arrive in Denver area? ///
I was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1980 and moved to Cleveland, Ohio area in 1983. The economy in Ireland was tanking at the time so my parents thought it would be easier for my sisters and I to grow up in America. I finished college back in Dublin and then eventually moved to Boulder in 2005. Denver was the next progression and a lot of my friends were moving to the city at the time in 2007. I keep in contact with my European family and friends, though it’s been awhile since the last visit and have been missing them. For a while I went over every other year in the summer for a month. I’m thankful to have a link back there, they are all such amazing people. We have family and friends spread out over Ireland, England, and Europe.
/// How did you get into this type of music? What was your musical progression? ///
Music was always around me growing up. We moved to America when I was 3 and lived with my Nana for 5 years, then built a house on her property. She always had classical, jazz, big band, etc, records playing and there was a player piano in the house that was in frequent use. There were many other instruments laying around and the adults sang quite a bit together. I remember going through my parent’s tapes and CD’s a lot; Genesis, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Enya and so on. Middle school was all about hip hop at the time; the classic West Coast vs East Coast artists, Bone, etc. High School saw a hippy / jammy phase with Phish, Grateful Dead, etc. The turning point with electronic music was hearing Chemical Brothers in my friend’s car and then Daft Punk in a friend’s dorm room that fall as a freshman at college. I never gravitated to Punk, Industrial or aggressive type sounds, which is a fair reflection of my current musical palette. By the end of my Freshman year at Kent State, we were traveling to raves in the region and this path evolved very quickly. We were hitting parties of all shapes and sizes in Cleveland, Kent, Akron, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Detroit, Toledo, Dayton, Toronto and so on in the Midwest. It was fucking wild. A complete counter culture of expression and community through music, dancing and adventure. Different genres of music had their own sub cultures of lifestyles; how you dressed, danced or even what drugs you took reflected whether you were into house or techno, drum and bass or trance and so on... and you had to know what you were talking about or you’d get roasted. I was fascinated by all of it from the start.
A moment that was a huge turning point for me was the second year of DEMF in 2001. Carl Craig had been ousted as lead organizer of the festival. I had not connected the dots of who Carl Craig was, and seeing a giant outdoor party with 150K+ people having the best time, and people were walking through the crowds with signs, banners, pins and homemade t shirts...protesting the removal of an organizer - of a party. It was bigger than all of it - the party, the music, the fun - that's when I realized I wanted to be a part of it and saw it as a lifestyle.
/// Were you into techno when you moved to this area? how has techno progressed (Denver specific) since you’ve been here? ///
"Yes for sure, see above :) Techno specifically has had an interesting path in Denver, which has been and remains a house and bass town in my opinion. Weather has strong influence over art / creativity and with all the glorious sunshine here, it reflects less of a darker context where techno can really make sense. The early closing hours in this city also come into play here. Repetitive machine music that connects with the mind and the feet does its magic in the afterhours. Denver has so much going on these days musically, it’s healthy which is fantastic. Though due to the ‘green rush’ we’ve been stripped of a lot of late night venue options. Warehouses are fewer and far between and most of the available venues have been in heavy use or are marked by law enforcement. So, most of the action at the moment takes place in the clubs and bars, which by default, inhibits the diy/rave ethos where techno as an experience can be really powerful. That said, there have been incredible techno acts here through the years...Rrose, Function, Cassegrain, Jeff Mills, Silent Servant, Mike Parker, Regis, Donato Dozzy to name a few. There are small pockets of people doing great things, hopefully that continues to be cultivated and supported. Techno on a whole unfortunately, is not widely embraced enough in the states.
/// How did you get involved with Make Mistakes, Communikey and Black Box? ///
Communikey came first, when I discovered all those lovely people after I moved to Boulder in 2005. My roommate at the time took me to see a Ghostly artist named Solvent who I was into. I knew I’d found something I wanted to be a part of right away. After that show, I eventually just weaseled my way in with persistence. I knew what was up and they seemed to receptive to me. The first year of the festival in 2008 I volunteered in a utility type role and then each year got more involved. Artist management, curation, merch lead, and performed as a DJ multiple times throughout the years. Communikey was one the most rewarding / inspiring experiences ever and has brought some of the dearest friendships into my life and opened a lot of doors in the music world. I’m extremely thankful for it!
Make Mistakes was a direct byproduct of Communikey, a bunch of affiliates and friends had migrated from Boulder to Denver around 2008ish. Joshua Smith, Roy England and Tom Kamholz had concepted a brand / party I caught whiff of, and wanted in on it- big time. Mind you, I had met these kids years prior through the party scene, where I essentially got the “too cool for school - jaded raver vibe’ treatment. So naturally I befriended them. Those first few parties have a special place in most people's hearts who were there I’d like to think. We ran it as a monthly for about a year, when that died down we did a few crew showcases and now run it primarily as a label / website where we host mixes, etc. As for the aforementioned cool kids, they are some of my best friends ever to this day and I don’t see that changing moving forward.
The Blackbox was all John Templeton, a close homie who has done a lot for techno in this city. I’d worked with John for a while when he was throwing The Great American Techno Festival, his annual fall event that ran for 5 years in Denver. We were throwing frisbee in the park one day and he brought up Nicole Cacciavillano who bought the old Benders and was turning it into a bass music club. The discussion quickly developed into concepts which involved pulling in our pal Paul Fleetwood, a real legend in his own right. The three of us met Nicole the day they got the keys to the place - did a walk through, confirmed our Friday monthly, developed a ‘brand’ for the night and have been cruising from there. That club has been a refreshing addition to Denver's music landscape.
/// Can you give us an update on all projects/organizations? ///
Wish I could say I have X amount of banging Ep’s coming out on Y of the most underground labels but that's far from the case, maybe in another life. Just deejaying really, always in discovery mode for new music. We have our night “3” at the Blackbox, Make Mistakes is still chugging along and I still play a lot of yoga / fitness gigs which I really enjoy. Also a few friends weddings this summer.
/// Have you worked for any other influential companies that are music related? Can you tell us a little more about this experience? ///
I worked at Beatport here in Denver for almost 4 years, which came through a connection I made through Communikey, Jay Ahern. Beatport was such an amazing, inspiring, wild, learning experience. Got to wear many hats, meet and work with many incredible people and travel to many wonderful places - under the pretext of fun, the music industry. That chapter in my life will always be on the top shelf, extremely thankful for it. Not one day of it ever felt like ‘work’.
/// Do you travel (techno tourist) often? If so – what are some memorable places/events you have experienced? ///
Not enough lately !
I’ve done my share through the years and need to get back out there soon. Standout memories; any of the ten times in Detroit for Memorial Day weekend, multiple times to Mutek in Montreal and Decibel in Seattle, DAT in Missoula, Hot Mass in Pittsburgh...Panama City, Miami, El Paso, Chicago, NYC, Dublin, London, Belfast, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Prague. All those places had impactful experiences through the dance floor or people I’ve met there and of course the in between times. ADE 2015, which was about the pinnacle of my time with Beatport, was the most inspiring techno tourism / work I’ve done lately...overdue big time !
/// Where or what has been giving you inspiration over the last year? ///
The unconditional support of my family never ceases to amaze me. Very lucky to call a lot of industry players my peers and friends, plenty of them here in Denver and across the globe. Their passion, creativity and talents always keep things progressing forward in a positive way to me. Buying and mixing new music always gets me in the gizzard. Opening for Richie Hawtin a few weeks ago was great, place was packed and I had a ton of support. The mountains / nature always is a source of inspiration. I honestly look at all this with the same source that hooked me in the first place. I feel like it will be there in some shape as I grow older through life. Music and community is nothing new and that tribal component of it, will always have my participation in some form.