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The Sound and Fury

DJ Steve Blakley is king of Denver's jungle.

Still snowboarding for money, Blakley adopted the name DJ Fury and submerged himself in the hardcore techno scene. While in Los Angeles for a trade show, he bought an almost entirely full crate of records at once. "I didn't even know what the hell I was buying," he says. "I have a stack of shitty old house records because I didn't know what they were. All I wanted was the hard techno stuff, breakbeat techno, and I picked up anything that looked cool." The first rave he played was held in a little space on Santa Fe; it was also one of the first times that then-L.A.-based Derrick Daisey, aka local DJ Vitamin D, played in Denver. The two formed a casual partnership and later released one of the very first locally produced DJ mix CDs, Vitamin D vs. Fury, and a string of mix tapes.

As hardcore techno gradually evolved into jungle (with faster breakbeats and deeper, harder bass), Blakley became the first real jungle DJ in Denver. He founded his own production company, LowerWorld Productions, and eventually teamed with Jason Bills and Come Together Productions ("Two's Company," January 6), with whom he's had a string of successes -- the "Skylab" series, in particular -- and some devastating failures (most notably, the 1994 event "Sands of Time," which ended prematurely at the, um, request of the Denver Police Department). "'Sands of Time' knocked about three years of financial stability out of my life," says Blakley. "I had just gotten my board royalties, a check from Division-23 for $9,000, and I lost it all that night. It took me years to recover from that night." The debacle didn't end the pair's collaboration, however, and the "Skylab" events have consistently been some of the largest raves in Denver each year.

Yet as Blakley's profile as a DJ went up, his interest in snowboarding declined like so many snowcapped mountains. He eventually left Division-23 for Ignition Snowboards, a maneuver he describes as "my sellout move. It was a bad move. I was starting to get washed up, and I wanted to move to a company that was going to pay me a lot of money. Ignition just needed someone with a halfway decent name."

Spinning under control: Steve Blakley takes a break.
Jonathan Castner
Spinning under control: Steve Blakley takes a break.

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When all of his contracts eventually ran out, Blakley didn't bother pursuing others; his focus had completely shifted to deejaying and being a rave promoter. He had resident DJ slots with Together and LowerWorld, gigs around the country and, most important, a name. But the nature of a DJ's work can lend itself to rather dry stretches of downtime. So Blakley -- not adept at the art of simply lounging -- embarked on yet another venture. After his dad bought him a Macintosh computer for Christmas in 1997, Blakley began teaching himself graphic design, and with partner Brandon Kindred, aka DJ Beekay, he began publishing a rave-oriented zine called Static. Though the zine survived only three issues, it led Blakley to a gig designing all of Together's rave fliers. On average, Together produces 20,000 full-color, glossy fliers for each rave it promotes; as a result, Blakley's work quickly made its way around Denver. Soon he was designing for more and more rave promoters, as well as local hip-hop artists Dez and B-Rock. Faced with eighteen-hour work days, he named his new business The Firm, acquired an office space in LoDo and took on two employees: Daisey and Chuck Crouse. The Firm has since designed fliers for raves in various parts of the U.S. and Toronto, as well as tape and CD covers for DJs. The Snake Pit, La Rumba and nobody in particular presents are among some of its steady local clients. Daisey and Crouse have been instrumental in expanding the company's scope to include Web-site design for Together (www.togetherproductions.com), the Snake Pit (www.snakepitdenver.com) and Natural Records (www.naturalrecords.com), among others.

Blakley's DJ and design work keep him almost completely away from the slopes nowadays, a fact that he's not lamenting. Because as the rave scene in Denver grows and grows, and Blakley continues to pump jungle beats into the hearts of rave-going kids in baggy jeans and club-hopping scenesters, he knows that much of it is by his design.

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