Sitting upstairs in what once was the projector room of the Roxy Theatre, Troll is in front of two desks piled with paperwork. With his feet up, relaxing and laughing on a phone call, Troll, born Travis Ragan, just finished booking a tour with Manchild of Swollen Members and Twiztid, a Juggalo heavyweight on one genre-blending bill. "Madchild is like hip-hop all the way," says Troll, who, in addition to being the Roxy's booking agent, heads up Strong Survive promotions and is the head MC of Slo Pain. "And Twiztid is one of the biggest Juggalo acts in the world."
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This is just business as usual for Troll, who's continually bucked trends over the years as he's built up one of the most loyal followings in Colorado with his music. Troll and his business partner Scum (aka Ivan Ovchinnikov of Lyrikal Snuff Productions) have become two of biggest horrorcore acts. Troll and Scum's fan base steadily kept getting bigger and bigger over the years until eventually it became evident that they need to find a venue of their own to call home.
Propelled by one of the most devoted sub-culture followings in the state, Slo Pain and LSP run the Roxy Theatre. Standing in the middle of the place during one of their gigs is like being at a show where everyone knows the words but you. When every voice in the building shouts "Slo Pain" in intimidating unison, it can be daunting. But it's also represents what's become a thriving underground scene.
"We literally started running the Roxy," he says, "because we needed to make a place that the underground could throw shows. Venues were charging up premium price or giving us the shittiest dates, and we would still make it work."
There's a reason for that. "Scum has over 100 thousand dollars in merchandise, CDs, tee-shirts, lanyards," Troll points out. "The only two horrorcore groups in the country that have more sales are Twizted and Anybody Killa."
Scum is so big, in fact, not only does he employ over twenty people and book his own national tours, but his label houses artists even bigger than him, including Insane Poetry, who put his first album out in 1988, and Esham's Natas group-mate Mastamind, whose music is distributed through LSP, as well.
Esham, the horrorcore favorite, has also been booking shows with Strong Survive Promotions, and through Troll, specifically, since 2008 for anything Colorado related. "He's a personal friend," says Troll. "We literally have drove to Wyoming camping and hanging out for a week at a time when he is in Colorado."
Keep reading for more on Troll and Scum and the thriving Denver scene
Running the Roxy has clearly paid off for the guys, as it's also allowed them to make other pivotal connections with some high profile people, folks like Travis O'Guin from Strange Music. Although the working relationship with him started over what could've been disastrous.
"I booked an MGK after party through a third party, and within an hour, Travis called me telling me Strange doesn't do after parties," Troll remembers. "He actually got our deposit back, so we didn't get screwed, and through that, I was able to build a business relationship with him."
Since then, Slo Pain has hosted the likes of Krizz Kaliko, Irv Da Phenom, Kutt Calhoun, Prozak and Brotha Lynch from the label, and it will also be a special guest at Tech N9ne's show next Saturday, September 14, at the Fillmore Auditorium. Slo Pain has opened for Tech multiple times in the last few years, impressive considering Strange Music is in complete control of all their shows.
"ICP tweeted us last year," says Troll. "And Prozak, one of the biggest guys on Strange Music, sent a special thanks out to both Scum and I in his CD credits."
At the Roxy, though, despite how it might seem, it's not all horrorcore, all the time. Troll books a diverse array of acts, from rock groups like Hed PE and Great White to country artists like Matt Stillwell and Lucas Hoge, and Troll and Scum have a shared mission of bringing the different genres of Denver together, regardless of any Juggalo stereotypes attached to their particular scene. Those stereotypes, it seems, are just that, particularly when you're talking about Troll's music, or trying to slap a label on all the fans in the scene. "I don't rap about painting my face, fantasy murder and try to appeal to the same type of music as ICP," Troll clarifies. "I'm underground, and I just make real music.
"There are just a couple young bad apples, and people wanna label the whole tree," he allows of the scene, but adds, "I have seen Juggalos pick up drunk people on the street in front of the venue and get them water, call them cabs and all that. It's just like any scene: There are always a few that ruin it for the bunch."
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