High on the Vibe

By making electronic music for big kids, Mile High House elevates Denver's dance world.

"One of our big motivations for getting Mile High House going was not wanting to have to move to San Francisco or Los Angeles or New York in order to make a name for ourselves," he says. "The idea from the beginning has been to remain based in Denver but travel as much as possible and try to establish a national presence."

Hoch launched Mile High House with Denver electronic-music producers Seafoam, Ilk, Hydrophonic, Annex of Soul and the Missing Link, along with a number of Denver DJs including Ivy, Mike Day, Ejay (the Friday-night resident at Club Soma in Boulder), Miss Audry and the Coffin Brothers. The collective took its name from a misprint on a flier that promoted a record-release party for Seafoam's 1999 debut on the Chicago underground-dance-music powerhouse label Guidance Recordings.

"The name of the record is Mile High e.p.," says Hoch. "[The flier] came out Mile High House e.p. But we thought, 'Hey, sounds cool.' I got bios from everybody, got samples of music from everybody and got about twenty sets of Mile High House business cards made up, handed them out and told everybody, 'For this to work, we all have to talk up the rest of the crew. If we get selfish or greedy, we will fail.'"

Tom Hoch (left) and the Mile High House crew mix live instruments with DJs for a wide-open sound.
John Johnston
Tom Hoch (left) and the Mile High House crew mix live instruments with DJs for a wide-open sound.


10 p.m. Mondays, free
1515 Market, 1515 Market Street

Around that same time -- late 1999 -- Hoch was diagnosed with polymyositis, a rare disease that misleads the body's immune system into attacking muscle tissue.

"I felt like Superman on a big hit of Kryptonite," says Hoch. "I went from shooting video at the extreme-skiing championships in Valdez, Alaska, to not being able to raise my arms above my head." He virtually stayed home for months, working relentlessly on the computer, getting the Mile High House Web site up and networking via e-mail. "I don't know if I'd call it a blessing in disguise, but it did enable or force me to get critical mass behind the project." Though he still suffers from the condition, Hoch has largely recovered, regaining much of his weight and strength.

In March 2000, Mile High House Productions made its presence known at the Winter Music Conference in Miami, the electronic-music industry's annual gathering of the tribes. Hoch coordinated a massive party at the Clevelander Hotel on Miami Beach that featured Mile High alongside DJs and producers from Denver's more prominent dance-music group, Casa Del Soul.

"We're as proud of them as they are of us," says Hoch of the Casa crew. "We're not about competing; we're about promoting Denver. We're not elitists. We're just a bunch of regular Joes from Aurora. There's no secret handshake we learned from Paul Oakenfold."

One of the key strategies in Mile High House's success has been chasing down high-profile, high-paying commercial and corporate gigs to underwrite its more purist, less-profitable endeavors.

"When we play the Red Bull tent at the 311/Pennywise show, there are those who would call us sellouts, but to us it's exposure and money," says Hoch. "We're not about to play trance at the Church for 200 bucks a night when we can play a wedding for a lot more money that we can then turn around and pour right back into this thing."

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