What are the origins of the Deep Club party & label?
The party started in 2013 at my house on Elizabeth Street in Denver, a stone’s throw from Colfax Ave and Twist n’ Shout record shop. Before the first party it was just friends coming over to jam and play records. We were all kind of growing tired and disillusioned with a lot of what we were hearing out at the local Denver parties. Eventually we got our hands on 4 Mackie SRM 450s and a couple of 18″ subs. We invited friends over and went for broke in my basement for a year. Then we realized we needed a larger space, so by 2014 we had rented a warehouse at the Denver Stockyard and were booking some out-of-town talent.
The label was born 2 years later in 2015. The parties had been going strong. We were very successful and having a blast. Almost all the Deep Club residents also were talented producers. Actually, I was one of the few that did not produce my own music. Jacob Wood, Esteban (Occidental), and Dean Inman really pushed the idea of starting the label on me. I didn’t want to do it. I had my plate full with the parties and being a full-time graduate student at CU Denver. But they were sitting on some good music, and of course no one else was ever going to release it. Eventually I came around and we got the tracks together for the first record, including one track from long time friend Justin Cudmore. Andrew Gordon (Stripped & Chewed) helped me get distribution through Crosstalk International. My girlfriend at the time, Lauren Mae, designed the record. Each record after the first release was less and less of a group effort and more just me doing the work, until I was running the label completely by myself by the time DC-04 came out. However, even today the ethos of the label has remained mostly the same: release quality music from our Deep Club crew and friends.
What was the scene like in Denver at the time?
Honestly I think similar to what it is now logistically speaking, which means the clubs are so bad they are not really tolerable, and they all close at 2 a.m. with staff throwing you out on the street at quarter ’til. I guess that part is largely a US problem, not isolated to Denver. It was all about the afterhours DIY stuff. Musically, Denver always felt 2-4 years behind NYC and Europe, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t awesome music. In terms of dance music, to me it always felt a little more west coast and progressive house-heavy; Midwest and East Coast dance music culture did not have a huge spill-over in Colorado. That’s what Deep Club was bringing into the mix. At least half of our crew came up in the Midwest.
However, in retrospect maybe I lived through Colorado’s golden age of electronic music with Communikey Festival, Great American Techno Festival, and Gemini all going full bore through 2015, and Lunar Lodge happening for a couple more years after that. We didn’t know how good we had it until it was all over. There was a massive shift after 2015—a shift in the music being presented and the community and energy of the entire scene. Unfortunately everything got worse after that, and many friends and key players left the state.
What were some of the highlights of the Deep Club parties you threw in Denver?
It’s difficult to narrow it down. Mike Huckaby all night at our four-year anniversary party would be #1. After that, Marcellus Pittman for year five was awesome. Will never forget the collab we did with Communikey for our second year, with The Black Madonna, before many people knew who she was. Gunnar Haslam throwing down at the Cow and somehow no one was injured in that fucked-up, falling-apart space. After those, the countless nights we did with local talent, often featuring live performances by some of Colorado’s best, like FOANS and Thug Entrancer. Many of those were at 1010 Workshop. Oh, and a fun party with Traxx and Always Human Tapes maybe a week after Prince died, and Traxx played like three hours of Prince records before going full bore Traxx mode.
What made you want to start DJing initially?
I was attending college in Illinois and my friend Justin Cudmore and his friends all started throwing college house parties at U of I in Urbana around 2009. I would drive over and party on some weekends, because my college was small and boring a f. After seeing them do some of those parties, I caught the bug and started digging ferociously for music. None of us were buying records. We were raiding the blogs everyday. This was peak bloghouse days. I guess I threw my first party at my college in the basement of someone’s house off campus in Rock Island, IL in probably 2009 or 2010. Like 10 people came.
How has your DJing evolved since moving to NY?
I really found my sound while living in Denver, but I suppose since moving to NYC in 2019 and spending time around some DJs who are older and much better than myself, and going to parties like The Loft, Joy, Cedar Room, and Musicland, I have leaned more into a “just play anything that’s good” ethos. I always abided by this principle, and I have been a student of David Mancuso’s principles for close to 10 years. However, since relocating to NYC my mind has opened up even more to the possibilities of what kinds of records can be played and when. I was building my jazz collection from day one of buying records, for example, but I never thought to DJ with some of those records. NYC changed that for me. I suppose my record-buying habits have slightly changed along those lines as well. And somewhat related to that, maybe less emphasis on mixing records together sometimes. I’m always trying to think more about the songs and trajectory and less about the mix. Sometimes easier said than done.
You got bit by the hifi bug at some point, and now you have a slammin’ 4-point Klipsch system in your party space in Brooklyn. What was it that got you moving in that direction, can you point to a particular moment?
I started reading a lot about David Mancuso and The Loft a few years after I started DJing. At first I didn’t care about hi-fi audio or even knew what that meant. I just wanted to know everything about dance music history, including how it all started, and of course David is at the center of that story. Once I read enough about the importance of using quality electronics and a well-designed loudspeaker, and after hearing enough bad off-the-shelf PA gear, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, at least just for myself at home. In 2017 I got a steal on a pair of vintage Klipsch Heresy loudspeakers, and my friend Duncan, who was working at The Music Room in Erie, CO at the time , set me up with a great Proceed power amplifier. The next year I swapped out my Xone mixer for a Condesa Carmen V. From there I kind of just went further down the rabbit hole, reading and learning as much as I could. This was all before moving to NYC or ever going to a Loft party. Soon after moving to NYC and upgrading from a small apartment, I went all the way in.
Your party in Brooklyn is called Jewel, and is my favorite dance floor to be on in the city. It is heavily inspired by the legendary Cedar Room party. Can you talk a little about Cedar Room and how that led to the framework for Jewel?
I never envisioned that a party like Cedar Room could exist in a city as big and bustling as NYC. The Loft, sure, but that was actually a huge party in its heyday, and even today it’s very large compared to most parties. Every weekend in NYC the list of parties happening and incredible DJs playing is endless and borderline nauseating. So my thinking was: why would anyone want to go party at a dude’s house when so much other stuff is happening? We did house parties in Denver in 2013 and it was awesome, but that was out of necessity because most other nightlife options sucked. I heard about Cedar Room after just a couple of months living in NYC and I had to see it. After finagling an invite for myself, I went to my first one and I was floored. I knew immediately that Cedar Room was my spot. The sound, the music, the vibe, the quality of the people, all of it. I went to almost every Cedar Room party in 2019 and early 2020. Unfortunately COVID came fast and Cedar Room was suddenly over, and Toshi and Yuki moved to Japan. It was a huge bummer. As it was for a lot of people, Cedar Room was one of my favorite things about living in NYC.
In 2020 I moved out of my tiny Ridgewood apartment into a townhouse in Bed-Stuy. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the house before I signed the papers. So, with my knowledge of hi-fi audio, my experience of throwing parties in Denver, having seen what was possible in NYC, and with tons of time on my hands due to COVID, I gradually built my own little clubhouse. I started researching audio even more, scouring Craigslist and eBay for gear, and even emailing Toshi for some pointers. I took what I liked about Cedar Room, which was of course most of it, and my girlfriend Amanda and I tweaked some other things to make Jewel what it is. The biggest difference, at least as far as the sound goes, is probably my use of subwoofers, which Cedar Room did not have and David Mancuso was in opposition to for much of his life. I love Klipschorns, but for me you still need more, even in a small space. That influence probably comes from Colorado, which in general takes sound reproduction at parties to a much deeper level than what I have observed in NYC.
What can we expect from Deep Club the label in 2023?
We have plans for a 10-year anniversary CD compilation featuring familiar faces on the label and friends. I’m not sure if it will land in 2023 or 2024. I have two 12-inch releases in the works; one from an old friend under a new alias, and one from a Brooklyn-based up-and-coming guy that is making very high-quality house music and is about to unleash a lot of heat on various labels. I already completed a fresh label redesign and I hope I can get one of the 12-inches out this year.
What is your favorite new 12” record that you bought last year and why?
It’s a nearly impossible task to pick just one 12″ from 2022. Maybe the VA 12″ “Deeper States Vol 1” on Interweaved, not because the music is better than a lot of other twelves I bought last year, but because of the lengths and bounds I went to find a copy. This was somewhat of a crowd-sourced record that Brawther put together during the pandemic on his private Discord community called Interweaved. It has three tracks from new artists that no one has heard of, and one from the man himself. It’s all deep, bumping house that you would expect from Brawther, who is probably my favorite dance music artist from the last decade. Every track is awesome. I missed the record when it dropped, and there were none for sale on any shops, and none on Discogs, even a couple of months after release. I also think it had very little distribution since it was conceived on Discord and really made for the community members. I posted on Discogs asking if anyone had a copy to sell. Someone in Canada DMed me saying he had a spare. He had one of the tracks on the record. He also said he had the digital of my Deep Club 06 split 12-inch with Snad and Jackson Lee, but he also missed that record. I think I had one or two test pressings left, so we traded records and I was able to get the Interweaved 12-inch. It’s amazing when things like that work out. That has probably only happened to me one or two times before.
What was the inspiration for this mix and how did you approach it?
I was not planning on making a mix. After a long and fun night out in Brooklyn with friends, I woke up late on a Sunday and saw the new Brainwave Research Center “Figure 1” album on my wall. I put that on and was immediately struck with a bout of energy and inspiration. It’s a very pretty album, one that Kels pulled for me at Superior Elevation, because she knew I would like it. A no-brainer if you will. “Sea Moss” from the album is the final song in the mix, but the entire mix was built around that song. I wanted to start the mix in a similar fashion: ambient, low energy. However this is AYLI after all, and I wanted to include a handful of my favorite dance tunes bookended by two kind-of deep listening moods. After the Brainwave Research album, I pulled some records out of my Jewel crate and carried the records into my basement and fired up my system to record. Of all the records I took downstairs, I only played a fraction of them in this mix. The mix was recorded in the Jewel DJ booth using 2 Technics turntables and a Condesa Carmen V mixer. This mix might not be a go-to for off-and-on listening. It probably works better when played through from start to finish.
Condesa Carmen V, Technics 1210 M5G, Shure WHLB
Photay feat. Carlos Niño – Change [International Anthem]
Benjamin Brunn – Comfort Somewhere Different [Kimochi]
EX-T – Blue Smoke [Temple]
Jonsson/Alter – Acapellan [Kontra-Musik]
Kyle Hall – J.J. Dreams Of Nippon [Forget The Clock]
Seafoam – Jabo [Deep Club]
Laid – Punch Up (Wozsonik Vokz) [Symple Sound]
Mike Huckaby – Baseline 89 [S Y N T H]
DKMA – Spin Hands [Utopia / Guidance]
DJ Sprinkles + Mark Fell – Insights [Comatonse]
DJ Assassin – Face In The Crowd (Intellidread Mix) [Cross Section]
Garrett David – Loop Soup [Mate]
Isabelle Antena – Laying On The Sofa (Mark Kamins Remix) [Discomatin]
Weather Report – The Pursuit Of The Woman With The Feathered Hat [Columbia]
Brainwave Research Center – Sea Moss [Brainwave Research Center]