With dozens of aspiring DJs and electronic producers migrating to Denver to experience the bass capital’s inspiring creative culture for themselves, it’s become increasingly difficult to stand out amongst the massive talent that saturates Denver’s bass community. Thankfully, Josh Teed — a recent Denver transplant, violin connoisseur and bass music aficionado — makes a strong case for his creative identity on his new album Recurring Dreams. In an exclusive Q&A with 303 Magazine, Teed talks about the impact of live music in electronic albums, Denver’s massive bass scene, nature’s impact on the creative process and community through sound.
303 Magazine: You often incorporate the violin into your music, and it seems like that is part of a larger trend of incorporating live instruments into bass and electronic music. It’s certainly nothing new, but I think especially in the past five to 10 years, it’s become more mainstream. Have you noticed this trend as well?
Josh Teed: Yeah, for sure. I think that a lot of people before they got into bass music or electronic music as a whole, were probably listening mostly to music that incorporated a lot of instruments. So I think that when people see live instruments incorporated into bass music, that probably provokes some nostalgic feelings. Maybe it touches the emotions a little more on a certain point. I feel like there’s a certain level of emotion that you can reach through using live instruments that’s harder to touch with just the electronic side of things.
303: So where do you feel your particular blend of live music and bass music fits into the scene?
JT: I think that a lot of people have roots in classical music or grew up playing classical-style instruments like the violin and the guitar, etc. So for people who have roots in classical styles of music, it’s gonna hit home for them.
I see a lot of people in bass music who use their instrument to be a sort of the “cherry on top” for their music. But for me, the violin is more of a fundamental part of my music and is one of the strongest parts of my set for sure. It’s a very essential piece, as opposed to being an embellishment.
303: You just moved to Denver less than a year ago, right?
JT: Yeah! A year ago last month, actually.
303: That’s awesome! There are so many artists that are currently moving to Denver or have moved to Denver in the past couple of years. There are also Colorado artists who have paved the way for the scene in big ways like Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic and GRiZ. So I wanna know, when you were thinking about moving to Denver, was that something you did for your career specifically?
JT: It’s actually a funny story. Denver was never actually the plan. We were trying to move to Nashville for a good chunk of last year, but we couldn’t find anything, and winter was coming in New Hampshire, which we were trying to avoid. We wanted to get out of there. So we started throwing around other ideas. We were like, “Alright, Denver sounds really cool too. There’s a lot of stuff going on there.” We knew the music scene here is really great. All the nature stuff is really cool too, which is something I wanted to have around because, being from New Hampshire, we grew up with that all around us. Being out of nature would have been really strange.
But yeah, it was kind of a last minute decision but it worked out beautifully, because my manager, Jared, moved out here two weeks before I did. Like you said, people are coming here like crazy right now and there’s been a constant flow of people that I know, people that I’ve worked with before and also just good friends that are moving out here too, at the same time. So it was definitely for the best.
303: What was your perception of the city and the scene here before you moved? Has the electronic music community in Denver met your expectations or was there anything that you were surprised by after moving here?
JT: I had been to Denver a couple of times to play shows previously, and I kind of got a little look at it before I moved, and man, I knew I loved it. I thought there was an overwhelming amount of shows just all the time. It’s not just about the shows either. From the standpoint of being in a community of other creative people, there is an untouchable community here. It’s a hard comparison to make because it’s such a different setting, but in New Hampshire, there wasn’t really a community of people like that there… I’d have to drive a couple of hours to make music with other people. But in Denver, you can just link up with your creative-minded friends and do things together. That’s something that I was missing before. It’s really cool.
303: Are there any spots in town that you’ve become acquainted with since moving here? Or any places that you’d recommend to people that are just moving to the city?
JT: I love Chautauqua Park in Boulder. That’s one of my go-to’s for hiking and getting outside. I also really love this Cuban spot up the road here called Cuba Cuba, the sandwich shop. They have the best Cubano I’ve ever eaten. It’s so good. And there’s also a bookstore that I go to — Tattered Cover.
303: What has been your favorite spot to check out the local music scene? Is there a small venue that you like or have a particular connection to at this point?
303: We have to talk about your new project, Recurring Dreams. First of all, congratulations! Creating an album and putting it out into the world is a whole process. I’m sure your relationship with this body of work has evolved over time, especially considering this album took two years to write and produce.
So I wanna know, how has this project evolved since its genesis two years ago? Is the final product close to the initial vision you had for it? Or does this release look differently than how you originally imagined it?
JT: That’s a good one. When I began working on Recurring Dreams two years ago, I thought it was going to be more of an instrumentally driven project. Originally, it was actually supposed to be an acoustic album, but it definitely didn’t end up being that. It kind of took on its form slowly and it went from being an instrumentally inspired project to being more conventional bass music at points. But like you said, a lot’s happened during the last two years in the world and in my life personally. There’s been a lot of ups and downs for sure. Life just happens as it does, but you can pull a lot of inspiration in your creative process from the things that happen in your life, the settings that you’re in and the people you’re surrounded by.
All those things have changed for me during the last few years. There’s been a lot of different creative influences going into this project. I waited two years to finish it because I wanted to be as happy and satisfied with the project as I possibly could be. And I think that’s been the biggest thing in its evolution is that years ago when I started it, I wasn’t at the point that I wanted to be at production-wise. I realized that some of the songs I had started with on this album were songs that had great potential to be really cool tunes, but I just wasn’t at a point where I was capable of getting them to their fullest potential. It took a lot of learning over those two years to get to the point where I wanted to be and get those songs to where I wanted them to be.
303: I like that a lot. It seems like one of the biggest changes in your life throughout the last two years has been moving across the country to Denver, right? That’s a huge thing. So how do you think that moving to Denver affected your creative process and the sound of this album?
JT: I think that the move, in and of itself, caused me to take a little break from things and step back from producing for a second just so I could be here and get settled in. That was a really crucial point to me. I didn’t even realize that I needed that until it happened, because I had just wrapped up writing my last album, The Journey East, and doing the whole tour for that last year. That was all through summer and into winter. When winter came, I finished the tour, packed up all of my stuff and moved here. I was like, ‘oh, I need a breather, man.’ Yeah. I sat out of the studio for a month and got myself settled in, started getting life sorted out here. That gave me a chance to step away and come back refreshed with a new set of ideas. Having that fresh mindset did a lot for me. I had a lot of the ideas for the album in place before I came here but working on them for so long, it was kind of getting stale in my head.
303: Outside of your move to Denver, what was the single most impactful thing that’s happened to you in the last two years personally or creatively, and how has that one thing affected the sound of this project?
JT: Well, I was in this long-term relationship for a few years. When we split, I moved back in with my parents in New Hampshire. They live out in the middle of nowhere. It’s surrounded by woods and there’s a big mountain right behind the house. Going back there and getting out of the city got me into a very good creative space, which I previously had a really hard time tapping into. That’s when I really started getting all the main ideas for the project. That was probably the biggest one for me, that change of scenery. Being out in nature always puts me in a good creative mind space.