Well, now, this is something different. It's roughly the exact opposite of how things usually work. Generally you have musicians dipping their toes in the electronic world before eventually taking a full-on plunge into that side of things. Here, meanwhile, we have Ty Tekavec (you know him better as DJ Ty Tek) moving in exactly the other direction with Naked Tree, his brand-new band. An award-winning DJ from the Casa Del Soul crew (he earned a Best of Denver nod in 2002), Ty Tek has been manning the decks since the mid-'90s, and now he's trying his hand at making original music.
"I'm sort of taking the Nine Inch Nails approach and created all the music first myself and now I'm putting together the right guys to re-create it for the stage," Tekavec says. "The music is way off the grid from my past -- sort of indie-industrial new-age or...I'm not sure what to call it. I was going through a really dark time turning to a very good time in my life, and it always seems music and emotion go hand in hand. So I stayed in the studio for a year straight, and that's what I came up with."
For those familiar with Tekavec's story, this new music-making endeavor probably isn't too surprising. Long before he was wowing late-night crowds in Denver, the DJ had already played keyboards as a kid, inspired by an uncle who played in a late-'80s industrial band from Pueblo called Attack Decay. And until he started pursuing deejaying in earnest in the mid-'90s, around the time his father died, he was making music on his own. And he continued on throughout until losing his inspiration entirely sometime around 2002, when addiction got the better of him. So really, he's just coming full circle with Naked Tree. And he's not exaggerating when he says that he spent the last year in the studio.
"In the studio, I was kind of obsessive-compulsive," he confesses. "I wanted everything to sound perfect. So when I started the album, I literally didn't stop for an entire year. I was probably in the studio eight hours a day, every single day, going out to my car, tweaking the sounds in the EQ to make everything sound right. Going back in the studio and then going back in my car -- the car stereo is how you can tell if the song sounds right when you master things; you go to real basic speakers or whatnot. So I ended up kind of immersing myself in this project, where I didn't come out of my basement for a year."
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The fruits of his labor can be heard below. As noted by Tekavec, the songs are indeed dark and have tinges of industrial, but really, they're more languid and laconic than that descriptor might imply, particularly on the title track and tunes like "Dream Resonance," which -- fittingly enough, especially given Tekavec's above evocation -- recall certain elements of Reznor's work. Have a listen.
As dark as the music is, though, Tekavec is actually in a much better place these days. After struggling with various addictions for the better part of a decade, he's emerged reinvigorated, stronger and more focused than he has been in years. "I've always been an addict of something," he admits. "A long time ago, in the early rave years, it was GHB, and then after that I kind of tried to be sober for a while to kind of try to be normal for a while. But then I had a hernia operation and started painkillers and started going downhill again. That stuff's the devil. I totally lost interest in everything. I gained eighty pounds and stopped writing music and stopped doing everything, pretty much."
Summoning admirable inner strength, Tekavec joined a gym -- and not just any gym, the Anti-Gym -- where he subsequently shed 65 pounds, and started to rebuild his life. Along the way, the end of an ill-fated relationship and the unexpected beginning of another definitively set him on his course.
"I hadn't written for so long, because I got super-addicted to painkillers, and I was coming off of them," he recalls. "And so it was kind of reconstructing my life and learning how to do everything over again, like fresh. So I kind of started from scratch, and kind of had a blank slate. I had inspiration to feel again.
"I hadn't really felt for a while, because after you get on drugs like that, you're kind of numb to everything," he points out. "You know, your seratonin and dopamine levels are all shot to hell. So meeting this person and coming out of that dark place gave me inspiration to write this whole album. It was a moment where all of my inspiration came back," he goes on. "I had this whirlwind romance relationship with the girl that I ended up marrying. And that's kind of where the basis of writing most of the songs came from."
Tekavec is taking his time assembling members of his band, making sure that he finds just the right people -- not just musically, but people who will complement his reformed lifestyle, and he expects to be able to begin playing out within the next six months to a year. But just like his album, you can bet he'll be painstakingly constructing a live show into something that will not only do justice to the music, but will also incorporate a distinctive air of theatricality. With much stronger roots these days, focus shouldn't be a problem.
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