An active member of the Mile High City's diverse music community since relocating to Denver in the early '90s, Max Klaw currently performs as a genre-defying but ultimately bass-centric DJ, VJ and dance-music producer. We recently caught up with the pervasive bass junkie to get the scoop on his monthly Sex Panther dubstep/bassline/UK funky night at Beauty Bar and about the whomp-whomp awesomeness that is "bass music."
Westword: You were a founding member of Kingpin, the Denver hardcore punk band, back in the '90s. How did you get into dubstep?
Max Klaw: A group of friends started Kingpin when I moved here from the East Coast in the early '90s. We played a lot of shows with a lot of bands, and I hope we made our mark on the Denver punk-rock and hardcore scene. I was heavily into breakbeats, jungle and d-n-b in the mid '90s, and at the time, proto-dubstep was hard dub sub-bass garage.
These dubbed-out versions of tracks would turn up on the B-side of a two-step or garage record. There was some random early sub-bass/dub/breaks, stuff like Scorn and Altern-8's work I was aware of from the early '90s, but I did not start playing dubstep until these after-hours parties at the Divide and Conquer about four years ago.
What are some of your influences?
I am still compelled by my upbringing and generally non-conformist attitude gained by being raised by jazz musicians and punk-rockers. I don't really have heroes and am suspect of anybody in bad suits with laptops and no record collections.
Your DJ sets are culled from a wide variety of genres - from dubstep and other "bass music," to indie dance, to punk and other rock music. Where can we see you play, and what style(s) should we expect to hear at different venues?
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Sex Panther at Beauty Bar: dubstep, U.K. funky, bass line. The second Friday of every month. The Jump Off at Garfinkel's in Vail: Rock, punk, golden-age hip-hop, indie, electro, funk and house. Boob Tube at Beauty Bar: Video mixing -- pop culture, music and video from across genres. Last Tuesday every month. Friday, November 19, with Mustard Pimp and a solid lineup of local talent at the Other Side Cervantes'. Electro, dub, bass.
Tell us about the Sex Panther night at Beauty Bar.
Sex Panther was an idea I had for a one-off party for my birthday in August. I wanted to play all these genres I had been into for a while and bring some bass to Capitol Hill. The residents are myself, Jah Rocker and J-Grilla. We are on our fourth party now, and it just seems to be gaining momentum.
We play dubstep, U.K. funky, bass line, old jungle and dub. We MC live over the soundsystem. We have video of old drive-in/42nd Street porn, wild animals, baby panthers, panda sex, chicks making out, '50s street gangs, pop culture and weed. People are basically getting laid on the dance floor when we do this party; it's pretty out of hand.
Talk about the dubstep explosion. Why is the genre, which appeals to so many inside and outside dance-music circles, becoming so popular?
It's a crazy thing how popular this music is right now. I think here in Colorado, we have an insane bass-head/glitch scene and a general love of electronic music. I mean, Beatport is here, and Beta, and like one hundred amazing DJs and producers.
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Thank you to the Sub.Mission, DBS, Plastic Sound Supply crews. It's not like that in other spots in the country, but the kids are definitely feeling the bass. I dunno, you can read all kinds of things into why people like stuff. I am just glad they are dancing to dirty music.
What's going to be new and exciting in 2011?
Leather overalls, bird names for girls, grilled cheese where the bread is the cheese, continued ignorant bliss for the masses, growing a rooftop garden, fine herbal tea, launching a boutique T-shirt line, doing more fun parties, working on music, art, kicking with my people -- you know who you are -- and basically figuring out what's next.