Peter Black on community-building in Denver
From his early days as a young DJ at the iconic So What! club nights to his current role as an elder statesman of sorts among live electronic artists and underground bands in Denver, Peter Black (aka Peter Gurule) has been bringing his passion for music to clubs around Denver for twenty years. His Afterdark festival and Analog Space parties and compilations have showcased and promoted some of the most innovative music to happen here in recent years. Black recently announced his retirement from the scene, which for him means stepping away from being as fully involved as he once was. We spoke with him recently about his emphasis on the community aspect of music.
Westword: It seems as though with every event you've curated, a sense of community and building community has been central to your thinking behind it.
Peter Black: Everything about it is related to community. From my mentors bringing me up and this overwhelming spirit of community — they were the nicest guys I've ever met, and had a real genuine concern.
We don't see much of that anymore. We don't see many people that want to help other people, that want to show people the ropes. There's so much of how to make it as opposed to showing people how to make it by providing stepping stones and community.
You say that some of the things I've done have a curatorial aspect to it. That's exactly what it is. I try to very much think about, not only whether it's a DJ night or anything, but also who's involved. There are elements about them that fit together, but there are differences. Would they get along well with people, or should they be interesting to me? So there's this symbiosis of, "You haven't met him before?" I'm the king of that when I go out. Lauren Zwicky [aka DJ Narky Stares] is one of my right arms right now, and I've made a conscious effort to really bring her up, because I've seen this really good thing in her soul of who she is. Almost like Kenny [Hamblin], my mentor, did with me. I've given her everything. If there's any questions, I go out of my way to answer every question, and anybody else wanting to know that.
But a lot of people don't want to take advice because they're too cool for it or "You're old-school" and this and that. But it's like, "Maybe you have a lot to learn – because I had a lot to learn from some of the oldest people ever." To this day, some of the coolest things I've done I never would have thought of from that aspect, because they put a different spin on it and opened my mind. We have too many people that want to know it all but aren't as committed to the community.
(Stop by backbeatblog.com for a full Q&A with Peter Black.)
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