Hey, DJ! Q&A with Joshua Twentythree (aka Time for Trees)
Every Friday we spotlight the hottest cats (and kittens) behind the decks in the MHC, grilling them to gain some insight on what it takes, exactly, to get the party rocking, to find out about their most treasured crate digging experiences and what they really think when we stumble up to them half cocked and ask them to play that new song by such and such -- you know, the one that goes...
This week: Joshua Twentythree. Also known as Time for Trees and Stefan Courvoisier of Les Freres Courvoisier, this DJ/producer/promoter has been active in the scene since the late '90s as the co-founder and co-curator of the Make Mistakes monthly techno and house showcase and with the Communikey fest. He thinks Denver is the new Berlin, and once got so blitzed on free whiskey while deejaying that he threw up in the DJ booth, passed out and ended up getting tossed by security.
Name: Joshua Twentythree, Time for Trees, Stefan Courvoisier of Les Freres Courvoisier
Club night(s): I'm not really a dude that has much fun in clubs. I like parties in warehouses and lofts, fields in the woods. I am co-founder and co-curator of Make Mistakes a monthly event showcasing super awesome local, national and international talent specializing in forward thinking techno and house music. It's a sexy fun time. I am also an artist with Communikey, the fine purveyors of the Communikey Festival of Electronic Arts.
So what's your story, in 100 words or less? I've been a DJ, producer and promoter in Colorado since the late '90s. I've watched the techno scene here mature over the years from wild eyed and idyllic kids breaking the law in the woods and on the plains, to professional, driven individuals coming together to develop a unique culture that you can't find anywhere else. I'm just glad to be a part of that. I have/do run some record labels, been part of some crews and had some pretty awesome experiences. I have music out on labels like Archipel and Wolf + Lamb.
Name of a track you can't get out of your head: Balkan Beat Box - "BulgarianChicks"
Name of an artist you're currently championing in your DJ sets: Riva Starr
What's been your best crate digging experience in another country (if you've had a good one)? I haven't been record shopping in another country other than Montreal, but my favorite place to buy records, when I still did (after playing vinyl for nine years I switched to deejaying in Ableton, after a few other digital stops along the way -- there is more room for creativity there, I think.), was always Gramaphone records in Chicago. I dunno why, but that place always felt special to me.
Musical mantra: Whitsitt Goodson once told me that you play music for girls, not for guys; guys don't get the dance floor going. So it's probably that: "Play music for girls."
Favorite DJ experience: Playing in a warehouse outside of San Francisco that was filled with trampolines. It's like one of those places parent's take their kids to tire them out. There were tons of raver kids jumping around on the trampolines, and even a dodge ball tournament. Pretty awesome.
Worst request: Man, I dunno, there have been so many it's not even worth picking one out. I will say that I have become one of those DJs who is particularly rude about it (I'm not really proud of that, but it's the truth). I mean, seriously, it's 2010, it's not like what dance music DJs do now is some mystery ... if you don't like what we're playing, why the hell are you there? It even seems like most people realize you're going to tell them no when they request something, but they wanna do it just to provoke you.
Worst club faux pas you've committed: I once deejayed a Christmas party for a Colorado company, that I will not name, at the Jet Hotel. I got too drunk on free whiskey, blew several speakers and threw up under the DJ booth. Then I passed out, until I was brought to by security and escorted from the club. Now, I avoid that place like the plague in fear of being recognized by someone. This, I am told, is how you become a rock star.
Most treasured vinyl score: I have a ton of old rave breaks and acid house from the late '80s to the mid '90s, and it is awesome stuff. In fact, you can hear me play some of it at Grave Ravers in Boulder on March 19th. Scott Everett of Mother Earth Sound System gave me a copy of 808 State's Voodoo Ray for one of my birthdays years ago, and I will always hold onto that record, because it seemed like such a nice gesture. He's a good guy.
What other music-related projects are you currently working on? I am half of faux French techno outfit Les Freres Courvoisier; we have a lot of stuff going on in the studio, probably a new release on Archipel later this year. We just finished up a wicked remix of local techno act Oban for their Emote label.
Also been having fun making music with Jonathan Canupp, the other half of LFC., and our friend Roy England, former owner of Dope Recordings. Some good studio magic coming to a dance floor near you. Rope Swing Cities, my netlabel is releasing again, and you can go check it out if you are looking for some experimental listening music.
The Communikey Festival is coming up in April, and while I don't really have the time to take part in the planning of the festival anymore, I am always there helping out during the fest itself, and if nothing else, offer words of encouragement. Or sarcasm.
I am trying to work on some new Time for Trees material, but I am having a lot of false starts. I am exploring new avenues of production, and so while I'm getting inspiration about HOW to make music, I'm not really finishing much music.
Oh, I think that my single "Sad Livin' In The City" is going to be coming out on Black Bridge's new dance oriented sub-label; Satori-C's remix of that track is going on the Beta HomeGrown CD compilation. So that's pretty cool. Man ... that is probably already too much stuff ... do I like to talk about myself, or what, huh!?
What's something happening in the local music scene that should be getting more attention? Denver is the new Berlin. That's a joke my friends and I throw around a lot. But to us, it's true in some ways. I think that there is a real energy in the techno community here right now.
I see a lot of collaborations and a lot of people from seemingly disparate backgrounds coming together for the love of music, and that's very heartening. The European techno scene, as I understand it, has in some ways, become very stale and lackluster.
Americans have just been through eight years of stupidity -- which is continuing, though in new and disappointing ways -- and as a nation, we are trying to find our way back out of the murkiness, and that always breeds a lot of creativity and cooperation, I think. A people attempting to redefine themselves are a powerful force.
What elements would your fantasy club night entail? Umm. A dark warehouse with about 300 people, their heads down, just getting crazy, sweat dripping off of everything, with sexy beats and bass permeating the air. Just humans being for real.
Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Why do you bother to do this stuff? I dunno, it fulfills something essential inside of me, outside of that, I don't really have an answer. It's good to ask yourself that a lot, though, about everything, because if you don't you might find yourself wasting your life on things you hate.
Next time we can see you spin: This Saturday (03.13) at Make Mistakes 04, with David Last, Konque and Alka Rex from Brooklyn, New York, or next Friday at Grave Ravers 7 (03.19) playing an all vinyl set of classic rave tracks.