I met Felix Ayodele (aka Fast4Ward) through a small DJ circle when he moved to Colorado twelve years ago. Every week, fellow musician Jacob Sanders and I visited Ayodele’s music shack behind his house, and the three of us would seize whatever instruments were close by, huddling over an eight-track recorder. Although that time in our lives has passed, Ayodele retains his energetic fondness for creating art. He is among the hardest-working musicians in Denver, lending his talents to artists working in a variety of genres across the city.
Ayodele was born in Evanston, Illinois, to Samuel and Grace Ayodele, who are both originally from Ibadan, Nigeria. “I speak a little Yoruba, but I’m not fluent,” says Ayodele. He grew up listening to his mother’s record collection. “She had hella groove music — Afrobeat, Fela [Kuti] to Sunny Ade, and some American records as well,” he recalls. From an early age, he was exposed to complicated time signatures and rhythms mixed within opposing rhythms — all of it blending seamlessly into a diverse sound collage.
At age nine he moved to Houston, close to some extended family members. He got into hip-hop in high school, starting out as a B-boy. “Beat Street was my main influence for getting into B-boying,” he says.
Four years into his hip-hop career, Ayodele decided that he wanted to control the music that made people move rather than move to it himself. He concentrated on sound, recording his favorite songs off the radio, constructing stop-pause tapes and purchasing mixtapes. By the time he was eighteen, he’d bought his first pair of turntables (Gemini PT2000s) and a Vestax PCM 03A mixer.
A neighborhood friend, Jeff Clump, was intrigued by deejaying as well, so together the two began listening to records and embracing the DJ culture.
Ayodele and Clump would take trips to Guitar Center for a little education, asking questions about how to blend and scratch. They watched videos of the DMC World DJ Championships and studied techniques.
Soon after picking up the craft, Ayodele signed up for a Guitar Center DJ battle, where he met Denver’s Chris Karns, aka DJ Vajra, who would later become one of his best friends. Ayodele won the regional competition, and his prize was a trip to L.A. to compete in the finals. He lost, but he was able to connect with a handful of greats from the worldwide DJ community, such as ToadStyle and Mr. B.
Deejaying became a daily routine for Ayodele. In fact, his life became one big turntablist session as he traveled the American landscape from competition to competition, always practicing in between.
While visiting a friend in Denver just over a decade ago, Ayodele missed his flight home and made the decision to stay in Colorado. “The mountains had this energy that called to me,” he says.
Since that time, he’s been making his way through the Denver music scene, developing his style and skill. He teaches music production to kids through the Youth on Record organization and consistently performs around town. As Fast4Ward, he has released four solo albums; his latest, called 4ward Movements, is out now via Denver-based Chops Records.
Live, Ayodele is a moving vessel of music, creating intricate compositions that seem like the work of a large band rather than one man. He scratches, samples and sings, and plays keys, bass, guitar and flute. With Fast4Ward, there’s never a dull moment.
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