Music News

The Unlikely Return of Goth Promoter Joshywa Schrader

Concert promoter and DJ Joshywa Schrader was one of the mainstays of the Denver and Boulder goth scene in the 1990s and 2000s, though he hasn’t organized any shows for the past four years.

But when Schrader was given the opportunity recently to book a show with Australian band Angelspit and Chicago’s Gothsicles, he decided to get back into his old industry and organize a goth concert at Longmont’s Dickens Opera House, to take place this Sunday, September 13.

Schrader’s introduction to goth music came about when he was five years old and his older brother played the Cure’s classic 1979 debut, Three Imaginary Boys, for him. “We grew up the exact opposite kind of people,” says Schrader. “He was the all-state athlete, and I was the theater kid. We always had the same musical interests. [We were] opposite kinds of people into the same kind of music.”

Schrader moved to Denver in 1993 to attend Colorado Christian University. He soon started booking goth DJ nights at the Gallery coffee shop in Lakewood. The shows were a staple in the city from 1994 until 1997, when the shop shut down. To this day, Schrader still runs into people who got their start in the scene at those nights at the Gallery.

“The Gallery definitely had a niche,” he recalls. “My friend Joel Walker worked there as well, and it was on two levels, so we thought we should start a goth club upstairs. We started one night a month, and it got so popular that we did every Thursday. Then it was Fridays and Saturdays, too. ”

Over the years, Schrader deejayed at pretty much every club in Denver that had a goth night, including the Wreck Room, Rock Island, Club Onyx, Club Static, Millennium, the Church and Milk. He became familiar with many of the people in the city’s goth scene, as well as a number of the bands. In 2001, he established Pharoamoan Productions and put together various events, including shows with live bands. One of the earliest culminations of these efforts was Schrader’s involvement in the second Denver Dark Arts Festival in 2003.

Today’s scene has a different character, and the backdrop has changed a bit. “The thing I noticed about getting back into doing shows [now], I don’t have any of the venue connections I had anymore,” Schrader says. “A lot of the venues I used to work with are closed.”

The gradual creep of goth music and subculture toward mainstream acceptance has also meant a new audience and new blood in the scene. Still, many of those whose involvement dates back to the early days in Denver, including Tina “DJ Slaveone” Berger and DJ Ritual of Ominous Denver, as well as the Milk DJs and DJs Cozmos Mudwulf and Hepster Pat, are helping to keep the genre and the lifestyle alive.
A few years back, Schrader’s marriage fell apart, and he very recently developed a heart problem that has forced him to slow down and reassess his priorities. He chose to get back into doing the thing he loves most: deejaying and putting on shows — though not as many as he did at the peak of his activity.

With some of the old-school goths still kicking around, Schrader should be able to redevelop his business — and the recent cross-pollination among the goth, EDM and experimental-music scenes could mean that his shows will find a wider audience than ever before.     
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.