There are many different versions of DJ Babyshoe running around Denver, depending on who you ask and when they last saw him. On any given weekend, Babyshoe (aka Eric Talledo) is crisscrossing the city spinning forgotten hits at the Lost Lake, playing a party hosted by TheHundred or unleashing late night grooves for Dance-Pile.
While he says he enjoys the variety ("it can be whatever you want it to be," he explains), Babyshoe has been devoting more time to the beat scene lately, including curating evenings of chilled out, futuristic sounds for Fresh Produce, his bi-monthly live showcase at the Meadowlark.
See also: - Meet Real Cosby, a local producer making dynamic, retro-futuristic, experimental house - Black Amex sounds as opulent as its name - Nathaniel Rateliff reinvents himself with the Night Sweats
In spite of his busy schedule -- there's also a day job and dad duties -- he's adding label co-founder to the list as well when Shoeboxx Recordings drops local producer Real Cosby's new album next week on May 28. That will be followed by a string of albums from Shoeboxx's newly signed roster of artists from Denver, Colorado Springs, Chicago and the U.K. over the next several months. We caught up with him recently to talk about the importance of freshness, taking momentum from online to the real world and the origin of his DJ name.
Westword: What was the impetus behind Fresh Produce?
Babyshoe: Fresh produce was something my brother and I used to say to each other. He'd always talk about I've got some fresh produce for you to listen to: This is fresh -- he'd throw "fresh" around like crazy. I was trying to get him on Turntable.fm [an online music community]. I created a room called Fresh Produce, and I was like, "you've gotta come now." Then the room took off. Producers were coming in there; people were interested.
The room took off, and it was the idea for me to bring it live. If I have this much success with a digital room with artists sharing their music and people getting really excited about it, it's a culture. I've just been rolling with it, and it's a lot of fun. I've just been excited about the amount of artists I've been finding because of it. It's almost like a magnet. It's working for me. Before I was out there digging and looking, and now it's coming to me.
You DJ a lot of different nights. Stylistically, is there a genre that's your base, or is it all good?
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I tune in to a lot of different genres. I think every genre has its cream of the crop. Every genre has its fresh produce. I'm in the deep parts of the ocean when it comes to my taste in genres. I'm going to the darkest corners to find what's shining.
Lately the beat scene has been my forte, but I don't like to pigeon-hole myself to one thing. I try to be all over the place. It's like my name; it can be whatever you want it to be. Babyshoe is just a name that was given to me under funny circumstances one evening. It's not like something I tried to come up with. I like music and I like sharing it with people.
What is the origin of the Babyshoe name?
I'd just finished deejaying a friend's engagement party, and we went to City O' City for last call. Afterward, their entire entourage were all hanging around outside to see what we were going to do because everyone still wanted to party. It was about two or three in the morning. I had my laptop with me, and I just wanted to keep the vibe going. I pulled it out and put it on my shoulder, and we started dancing in the street, about 25 of us.
All of the sudden, a car drives down 13th, so we pulled back to the sidewalk to let it pass, but instead it pulls up and stops -- this old beaten up Cadillac. The guy rolls down his window, and this car is full of trash, up and down. This guy sees a bunch of girls dancing, and he just wanted an excuse to come over and talk. We're all hovering around the driver's side window seeing what he wanted to ask, and out of nowhere, he pulls out a baby shoe by its shoelace. Then he asks this girl, "Is this your baby shoe?"
My friend Tyler grabs it and says, "Yeah, that's our baby shoe." He hung it on me, and everyone started saying, "He's DJ Babyshoe." Everyone started cracking up, the guy took off and we went back to dancing in the street. Everyone who'd been there, or who heard the story, starting calling me "baby shoe."
I just ran with it because it was something I didn't have to make up. Now it's become DJ Babyshoe, Babyshoe presents, Babyshoe who likes to write on blogs every once in a while. It's whatever. People should know that when they see the name, it's going to be fresh. You're not going to hear stuff you hear everywhere else.
Conventional wisdom says the record industry is struggling and no one younger than fifty wants to pay for music. Why start a label?
I had found Real Cosby through his brother, who was a DJ at City O' City. His brother hit me up and said, "Hey, my brother needs a DJ for his wedding. Are you down?" Yeah. So I met up with Paul [Real Cosby] and didn't know anything about him. We started talking music and were rapping songs back and forth to get an idea of what he wanted to hear at the wedding.
He played me some of the Real Cosby... It was just a hobby. He didn't have any intention of playing it live. I felt like it needed to be heard and that there were people out there who'd love it. I invited him to Fresh Produce, and by his fourth show, he was opening for XXYYXX ... and then Shigeto...
He was getting some attention, and we talked about it. I had the name Shoeboxx tucked away, just as an idea. We were just like, "Why don't we start our own label?" It just made sense to offer what we had to artists who were in the same situation that Paul was. They have amazing music they're producing in their bedroom or at their house, but they don't have an avenue for it.
With the beat scene being as crowded as it is, what are the criteria for selecting artists?
It's more geared toward the chill, electronic beatmaker/producer. Nothing too dangerous. We stay away from the wubs and the dubs. The heavier bass stuff has opened doors for a more chill wave of music to come out. It creates contrast. It's like being in a Jacuzzi. If it's getting hot, then you need to get out and chill, maybe get in the pool. We're just trying to be another voice.
On the label you've got artists who are in-state, out-of-state, international -- how does it work with everyone being so spread out?
I've always felt like the Internet is as big as you want it to be, so long as you put in the effort. There are heavy rocks you can turn over with the help of the Internet, to build an artist up online, so they have a following before they go live.
So many people are online. It's like a world away from a world. You'll be at work, but still be online. You'll be eating dinner with someone and checking Facebook. There's a fast paced world online. That's our biggest tool right now. Using online resources to push that music. The internet is competition for the record industry. These smaller labels and blogs act as another voice.
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