Orchard Lounge's Spencer Lokken: "We are trying to age gracefully as DJs"

Orchard Lounge (due tonight at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom with Mark Farnia and Lindstrom) has been spinning around the country for more than a decade. The trio, made up of Ben Silver and Bethany and Spencer Lokken, stay true the meaning of being a DJ, but recently the three have taken a turn toward making some original music after a decade plus of touring. We spoke with Spencer about tonight's show and what is to come from the Chicago based DJs.

Westword: There has been some talk about you guys finally coming out with some original material. How has that been going for you?

Spencer Lokken: That is what we have been pushing lately. We have been working on this in the past number of months with a lot of big things coming up for the summer that we have been preparing for. We have been in the studio non-stop, and I think it has been coming along nicely. We have a couple tracks down, and we would like to have something concrete for the summertime.

What was your angle going into the studio when this idea first came to mind?

We didn't even want to have a plan of attack, since each of us have a different take on what we want to come out of this. We have been collaborating in the moment' and working off each others ideas. So, we kind of figured that coming up with an idea of what the end product will be is just as beneficial as going into the studio and collaborating ourselves.

Why so long to come out with some original material?

First and for most, we are DJs, and want to be known as DJs. I guess my answer is why not now. We are trying to age gracefully as DJs and we have always known that the production element was going to be the second phase of our careers. We are all in our thirties, and as we get a little bit older, we want our music to be able to get out there. Whether it is us spinning our own records or other DJs, it is alright with us.

I have played music my entire life, so I have always known I was going to get into production at some point. Everything came together in the last year where we knew we had the time and were on the same wavelength. All three of us are able to give this one hundred and ten percent, and that is what we needed to wait for. The main thing is...well, scratch that out I won't even go there.

You guys always have a crazy summer schedule. What is new with this summer?

In addition to some festival gigs and high profile shows around the country, we have been asked to play Lollapalooza -- which is basically in our backyard. That it is in August, and that is the focus for us because all of our family and local fans will be there to support us, so we want to put on the best show possible. Over the next three months, we want to come up with a solid hour of music. Some will be our originals in addition to a handful of others. We will have something unexpected for our fans to see visually. That is what we will be doing, there is nothing else too new.

How do you feel about playing with the house legend Mark Farina?

Don't forget about our friend Hans-Peter Lindstrom. Believe it or not, we have not been on a bill with Mark Farina. Obviously, he is huge talent that comes out of Chicago -- he doesn't live here anymore -- but I have seen him play dozens of times. This is really cool for us because we are not close with him, as you think we might be, but we are incredibly excited.

We listen to a wide variety of electronic music, from four-on-the-floor to down tempo -- which he covers all of that. We get a nice two hour opening set, so we can start around the ninety BPM stuff and kind of work into some records in the lines that Lindstorm will be playing. He have been on the bill with Lindstrom before, and we have been a big fan of his for a long time.

It was just announced that you will be playing at Look Out Below festival the same weekend as Phish, and buses will be running to and from Dick's. Think it's going to be pretty fun playing some late nights after those crazy shows?

You know, we are always up for some late night action. We love all the guys in Brothers Past, and I have heard some great things about Look Out Below. It's always a pleasure to play anywhere around Colorado, so we are certainly honored that we were asked to play. As far as the late night stuff, we will have to hurry up and wait to see what happens. We will be there all weekend, so we will be able to get into some kind of trouble.

What is your favorite part about playing here in Colorado?

During the winter time, it would be playing shows in addition to being able to go skiing. In the warmer months, it's the fact that the people out west are so open-minded. It's almost a home away from home because people are willing to listen or take in something new. We can try different kinds of records and we can take a little bit of a risk. I have loved your state since I was a little boy, and it's a fun to get there when we have a chance.

Aside from everything else going on in the next three months. What else are you guys looking forward to?

Not too many new things that we have been focusing on. We will be returning to Camp Bisco for the eighth year in a row. After that, we are going to Lollapalooza, then Look Out Below and, of course, some cool Smart Bar events around here in Chicago. The focus for us is honing our skills in the studio, and making sure what we put out is super solid.

How has the switch between environments been playing out in terms of working in the studio?

We have a studio in our house, and Ben has a nice set up, as well, at his place. It's fun to see where we are most comfortable, and we are such close friends, it is easy to sit down come up with different ideas because these studios are in our own homes. But it has been a learning process, and we are only at the beginning of this stage.

If we are not feeling it, then we will go off and do something else. Other times, we will sit down longer than we anticipated and come up with something that we enjoy. Again, we are all learning from each other. Today, we are going to meet up and I will be busting out my violin for the first time to see what we can do with that. It will be new and fresh, but I am sure it won't work out how I see it in my head. I guess we will find out.

Will Ben and Bethany be using their musical talent also?

We are not positive yet. As of right now, we have been working with Logic and Ableton. I am not sure Ben will use his talents on the guitar just yet. So far he haven't brought any live instruments into the mix, but that won't be too far off.

How was this past Coachella for you guys?

Coachella was, as you can imagine, unbelievable. Ben and I have been out there before, but Bethany has never gotten the chance. We stayed on-site and had a blast all three days. The weather was unseasonably cool, which was nice for Ben, Bethany and myself, because we all run on hot. The highlight of the weekend was the chance to play a private party for Burton Snowboards. They were launching their spring and summer line of clothing, so they had this event at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. We got to open up for a couple guys from Foster the People and label owner of Ed Banger, Busy P.

Do you think this push in EDM will benefit you three as a trio?

Dance culture and EDM is coming to the forefront of the mainstream. It's a good thing for electronic music, in general, but we don't know if it will benefit us just yet. We want want to keep our underground feel and we have been comfortable with what we have been doing in clubs so far. The fact that EDM has become more popular to the laymen, I think, will ultimately be good for anyone who wants to make dance music -- if it's in their bedroom, studio or whatever.

I am curious to see how this will change over the next couple of years now that there are artists like Calvin Harris that use to fly below the radar and is at the top of iTunes charts making music with Rihanna. Also, I would like to see if full-fledged pop stars will be making music with these producers. It is a great time for this kind of music, and no one knows where it's going, but we are happy to be part of it.

Will Orchard Lounge have the same set up this year at Camp Bisco?

There will definitely be multiple opportunities to see Orchard Lounge at Camp Bisco this year. Not only the time slots that we have been given, but different campsites around the festival as well. You know how we do.

Orchard Lounge, with Mark Farina, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street, $20, 303-297-1772.

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Nick Callaio