With the ever changing musical landscape in Denver, one thing remains a constant, if you are looking for the best patio party in the Mile High, Goodness hosted by DJ Low Key has become a staple of what a perfect Sunday afternoon should look like. We had a chance to sit down with what we consider one of our closest friends in the scene to discuss Goodness and the ever changing industry in our city.
Castro- First off tell us a little about your background?
DJ Low Key- I was born outside of Atlanta, but have been in Colorado more than half my life now. I bought turntables with money saved from a Summer job working at The Garden Of The God Trading Post the Summer after my freshman year. I initially wanted to buy all the cool independent 12"s and rare white label records coming out, which ultimately led to me realizing you could play music for people at parties for a living and a different side of DJing that became my career.
HUGE shouts to DJ Petey and DJ Chonz for being the two main local DJs that showed me the way. That led to DJing progressional at top 40 club and parties, which eventually led to me doing more of my own thing and starting my own parties like Goodness and The Solution after being inspired by the energy of what DJ K-Nee and DJ Big Styles had created So What! and seeing what was ultimately possible.
Castro- Is there a DJ on your bucket list you have never seen spin?
DJ Low Key- I've been super lucky and over the years have seen most of my favorite DJ before. I'd say the DJ that I'm the biggest fan of that I've never seen rock a live event would be DJ Spinbad, who's a mixtape legend that now DJs for Russell Peters. Sooner or later, I'm gonna get him out to Goodness though - watch.
Castro- Is there an emcee (besides Riff Raff) you would love to DJ for?
DJ Low Key- LMAO! I would say Chingo Bling, but I randomly DJed for him that same Summer as the infamous Riff Raff incident. I've probably peaked as a DJ, but the memories will live forever.
If I have to answer, I'm sure Jay-Z would be fascinating to work with. Kanye would too, but he's intense enough that it might be overwhelming. Then of course, being a part of a stage show for someone as important to music and culture right now as Kendrick would be insane. (For the sake of DJ Low Key's street-cred we decided not to publish his picture of him dj'ing for Riff Raff)
Castro- What is the state of hip hop in Denver currently?
DJ Low Key- In a word: great. I think the whole of the Denver scene is better than it's ever been. We're such an isolated major city that before the internet leveled the playing field, things were much harder for artists in Colorado trying to advance their careers and while it's taken a while for the knowledge to circulate, years later I think the scene in Denver is easily as vibrant as I've ever seen in in my 12+ years living in the city. The DIY attitude from being isolated is strong, but now we have more resources than ever in the city and that's beautiful thing to see.
The flip side of that is that a lot of cats think that because the city's been getting a lot more attention, it means they're gonna "blow up", but really there's not much of a correlation. Hopefully not too many Denver artists are getting gassed up, but somehow I doubt it - it's a natural thing that come with the city having a moment.
Castro- Tell us were the idea for Goodness (GDNSS) and The Solution came about?
DJ Low Key- The Solution came from a place of frustration and idealism that me and the party's co-founder DJ Sounds Supreme, were experiences in regards to the top 40-oriented gigs that we were mainly working at as professional DJs in the mid-2000s. The gigs we were doing were fun, but they weren't necessarily the kinds of parties where we could really play the music we liked best as much as we'd like. The Solution was and still is, our attempt to make "a solution" to the less fulfilling/eclectic/whatever type gigs that dominate most of the nightlife.
Goodness came about in a similar way. I'd loved The Meadowlark since walking in for the first time and their patio always captivated me. It took a little longer than expected, but eventually I started working with them and developed the relationship enough to where they trusted me to try the idea and since then, it's take on a life of its own that I don't think any of us expected.
At the core of both of them, it's just me and some friends trying to make the kind of parties we want to go to, as people who are a little pickier and more knowledgable than the average club-goer.
Castro- One of the things I have noticed about GDNSS as opposed to other “hip hop” nights/parties is the vibe that comes from it, was that the goal from its inception.
DJ Low Key- Part of that comes from the fact that it's a Sunday day party, but most of it is just because the people that come out to the party are so great. They're good people with good taste in music who come out to have a good time and as simple as that sounds, it's really a rarity when most people just go to whatever bar is close to them or club that their friends talked about during the workweek or something a little less specific. I always describe it as the parties being for everybody, but not for just anybody.
Castro- GDNSS currently resides in the biggest growing area of Denver (RiNo) right now, what are the pros and cons of where you guys reside right now?
DJ Low Key- The pros are that the amount of good food options in neighborhood have improved tremendously and it's incredibly quick and easy to get an Uber/Lyft/etc.
The cons are that the more intangible things that initially attracted myself, a lot of the crowd that comes to my parties and similar-minded people to the neighborhood are rapidly disappearing. The rawer energy, the fact that RiNo was an alternative to the downtown scene as opposed to what's becoming an extension of it, the freedom that comes from less people coming to an area with any sort of pre-existing expectations because they read it "was a hot part of town"; that's disappearing fast and probably completely.
With that said, there's still not a part of town I'd rather be in. There's no "new RiNo" to be had in Denver right now and I love the neighborhood and the energy that remains here like none other. The energy of the last few years plus in the area will never be replicated, that's a very special moment in the city's life that I'm thankful to have been a part of, in my own little way.
Castro- The new season starts this Sunday what can we expect this year from previous years?
DJ Low Key- The goal of Goodness, The Solution and everything else is always to try to find a balance between growing organically and still keeping the core of the parties intact. With that said, expect more world class DJs from all over the country, some cool live performances here and there, some art features and I'm sure a lot of cool things that I don't even know that will come together through the magic of the party. And definitely expect more pop-ups and unconventional party experiments, we've done a few to great results and it's got me encouraged to see what other kind of interesting ideas we can bring to life.
Castro- What is your fondest memory of Goodness?
DJ Low Key- Playing Kendrick Lamar "Alright" at the Goodness Season 4 Opener. It wasn't even a single yet, but you could feel people loving the song and that it was an exceptional record, even by exceptional record standards. The energy was already feeling amazing at that point midway through the first day of the season - the place was packed, the crowd was super open and when I dropped "Alright" after playing the Twin Sister joint sampled on Kendrick's "The Recipe", the crowd went INSANE like nothing I've ever felt before.
It was easily one of the craziest moments of my DJ career. Skillz, who used to MC/host parties for DJ Jazzy Jeff recorded video of the moment and people on his Instagram were mistaking the party for [world renowned LA-based party] The Do-Over, which was quite a compliment. I do things a lot different than them with Goodness, but that party is definitely an inspiration for what's possible in terms of taking something that's really good and turning into a worldwide party/brand/etc and if there's any patio party to get mistaken for, it's them...LOL.
There's been a ton though, having the crowd rock through crazy storms with people holding a tarp over the DJ booth once things started leaking, just to keep the party moving. Going back and forth with DJ Revolution, one of my all-time favorite DJs and easily one of the best DJs to ever touch turntables. Putting out Goodness Hot Sauce and making that crazy random idea a reality. The party's been really good for making memories, I'm thankful for that.
Castro- Finally where do you see yourself and Goodness in ten years?
DJ Low Key- Hopefully just taking the energy and everything we all love about Goodness and expanding it in more unconventional, exciting ways while still maintaining everything about it that's the core. My whole DJ career has been built off of trusting my instincts, doing what I believe in and giving the public credit for having better taste in music than most DJs assume they have. If I stay focused on those things, who knows how far as this could go - I've already exceeded any and all expectations I had when I bought first turntables at age 15 with Summer job money and if I've learned one thing, it's never to underestimate where life can take you.
Season 6 of Goodness begins this Sunday at Meadowlark. Make sure to get on their e-mail list for free cover and exclusive invites: Info at djlowkey.com
This weeks lineup includes a couple Ultra5280 Party Alums: DJ E-Trane and Sur Ellz who have both rocked with us a few times.