Underground electronic music on the rise in Denver

Photo courtesy of Fiat Luxx

Photo courtesy of Fiat Luxx


Denver has undergone many changes recently, especially regarding it local electronic music scene. People who live in this city tend to associate electronic dance music with large festivals in Las Vegas and in the deserts of Southern California, but the roots if some electronic music were planted in Denver. While other genres of music have floundered here in Colorado, underground electronic music has thrived.

With DIY electronic collectives popping up more frequently than prairie dogs, it’s not too hard to recognize the demand for it late-night dance parties and rooftop DJ sets. More and more millennia’s are moving to Denver due to an increase in job opportunities, and many of them are looking for ways to blow steam, spend some money, and meet other 20-somethings. Hitting the clubs is, for many, a mutually agreeable opportunity to get dressed and get lost to he groove music.

With overpowering stench of cologne and muffled, thumping, house music, one might think this was just another average Saturday night on Broadway’s ever-expanding sprawl of nightclubs and bars. However, this performance is Club Vinyl was no ordinary visit from the European D.J. Huxley, a long-time of London’s house scene. Huxley brought his freshest cuts to the dance floor on Sept. 16. at Club Vinyl.

Huxley has been active in London’s house music scene for nearly a decade, and his music often emulates the throwback English deep-house styles of other London producers such as Zed Bias and Matthew Herbert.

Huxley approaches house music with a refreshing yet subtle take on the minimal house music, a genre that has been a surprisingly tolerated rend in Denver’s club scenes, since minimal house is a ice genre almost exclusively popular in Europe. Until fairly recently, minimal house wasn’t even found in electronic hubs like Chicago and Lost Angeles, yet Denver clubs have been bumping minimal house for years.

House music initially streamed from Chicago in the mid-1980s with musicians combining funk and soul samples with the then-newly-released Roland TR-303 drum machine. This trend spread to Detroit, where musicians took on a more industrial-sounding approach which evolved into the early days of techno. By the early 1990’s, New York City had adopted this new type of club music and spread house music to European metropolises, such as London and Berlin. By 1992, the “acid house” craze had invaded England in an ecstasy and LSD-fueled haze of all-night warehouse parties in abandoned factories.

After acid house evolved into stranger forms of electronic music, more artists across the globe began experimenting and developing genres outside of house music. Regardless of the many incarnations and developing genres outside of house music. Regardless of the many incarnations of electronic music, the backbone has always been house, and house music itself has undergone quite a transformative journey over the past two decades.

“Before 2010, dubstep didn’t refer to distorting the wavelengths of audio samples of machinery in Ableton and slapping a few filters on track”

Beatport, a Denver based website that deals almost exclusively in electronic music, has gained notoriety for live-streaming global electronic events (inspiring the company Boiler Room) as well as releasing monthly charts of the hottest club tracks. Without Beatport’s early efforts in creating a platform for electronic musicians, the house music landscape of today would be unrecognizable.

Denver has been historically receptive of all types, both the good and the bad of electronic music. Before 2010, dubstep didn’t refer to distorting the wavelengths of audio samples of machinery in Ableton and slapping a few filters on track before calling it “done.” Dubstep draws its roots from sampling old dub and rocksteady records and combining it with a two-step and garage are both genres of experimental electronic music that started emerging in the London scene at the end of the 1990’s. This sampling method that dubstep artists such as Skream used similar to the methods that “old-skool” jungle artists who refer to themselves as junglists-used.

IntImal is one of many local electronic music collectives focusing on hosting DIY parties that give local DJs the opportunity to showcase their talents. The collective operates with an element of secrecy since their venue locations are often temporary and change frequently.

However, this gang of electronic musicians are committed to hosting events nearly every weekend and have organized their sound into a cohesive collective of techno enthusiasts.

Techno music has been slowly on the comeback in the past few years. Often, Denver does not respond to new trends in the underground music with attention or patience. But the spread of techno music globally is undeniable, and as the genre becomes more attractive and present in clubs all over, even smaller underground electronic music communities are not immune in reflecting the changes in demand.

As different trends and movements in underground electronic music take hold in much larger cities, those who eventually leave and relocate to Denver bring a new direction of influence that aims to work toward recreating those other scenes. While some genres struggle to thrive and find their own identity under the crush of this cultural influence, underground electronic music does well in Denver. There are enough enthusiasts for there to be a demand in late-night warehouse parties with more niche music.

The Walnut Room has routinely hosted pop-up events in their galleries. The galleries in North Denver have hosted all-night headlined with DJs like Daniel Avery, who has released numerous records on Erol Alkan’s label Phantasy Records. Nina Kraviz, who holds a residency with BBC Radio 1 as well as at the famed nightclub Bargain and has performed everywhere from the beaches of Ibiza to gritty warehouse parties in New York City, performed in Beta nightclub last year.

These artists have placed Denver on the map of underground electronic music hot spots, and as a city, Denver should not shy away from embracing this emerging identity. Rather than shutting down DIY artist spaces such as Rhinoceropolis, Denver as a city should be supporting and encouraging the creative and innovation its residents are pursuing.

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