Kick Drum Therapy Is Denver's Newest Label Devoted To Techno

Kick Drum Therapy Is Denver's Newest Label Devoted To Techno
After an unpleasant experience with a techno music label, James Lenhart, who produces music under the name SWEEPR, decides to promote his own music. Lenhart is now co-owner of Kick Drum Therapy, a record label dedicated to promoting Denver house and techno music and nurturing a thriving artistic community.

Lenhart's journey to founding Kick Drum Therapy was a long one, beginning with a music-filled childhood in Florida. On weekends, her father constantly listened to funk and pop records from artists such as Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey. "When I pulled out the record player and opened the vinyl, I knew it was going to be a musical weekend," he recalled.

It is therefore not surprising that Lenhart began to show musical talents early on. At the age of six he learned to play the keyboard and at twelve he switched to drums. He remembers his first taste of techno with "Castles in the Sky" by Ian van Dahl around the same time.

Lenhart took his love of music to all levels, playing with high school bands and developing a unique taste for European techno. His roommate introduced him to the power of digital audio workstations (DAWs) and produced his first tracks. But music remains a passion project for him, while he focuses on design.

The pandemic changed that and shifted Lenhart's priorities for his musical endeavors. "My father died in 2021," he says. "It was a big boost for me. I felt like I could still connect with him through music."

Like much of the country, Lenhart was alone when he was locked up and remembers feeling very alone. As clubs and venues began to reopen, he threw himself into Denver's techno and house scene, seeking a therapeutic release from the music and like-minded community he loved.

Fortunately, Denver has a thriving house music scene, driven by techno artists and fans alike. House music is a genre of up-tempo electronic dance music that originated primarily in gay, Latino, and black clubs in Chicago during the 1980s, combining 1970s disco with synth-infused beats. The style began in Denver in the 90s when raves spread in and around the city, and more so when the Red Rocks Amphitheater began hosting electronic shows in the early 2000s. Beatport, The Ultimate Source online electronic music company, was founded in Colorado in 2004 and many electronic pioneers are based here, including Morton Subotnik.

In Denver's burgeoning EDM scene, Lenhart met a group of techno enthusiasts through mutual friends, and the group was found performing at everything from the Electric Forest Music Festival to Red Rocks. One Sunday morning, returning home after a weekend of hard entertainment, Lenhart and his friends encounter a street sweeper. "It had a bass sound," says Lenhart. "We increased it a bit."

The moment inspired the moniker SWEEPR, but it's not the only aspect of Lenhart's brand of music, born from memories with friends. His whole musical personality is based on communal love; The two antennae protruding from the "S" on the SWEEPR logo represent their group of friends, whose members affectionately refer to themselves as "Slugs".

In the year 2022, Lenhart was loudly mixing and making music. "I think you have to be a good DJ to be a good producer in this music scene," he says. "And to be a good DJ, you have to make music. I think they complement each other." So he does both, combining his work with live performances and a mix of DAW-generated electronic tracks, blending European techno with brilliant melodies and lyrics. He released his self-produced debut single, "Bad Dreams," last November and will release his debut EP, Night Shift , on Friday, May 12 via Kick Drum Therapy.

Lenhart founded the label after learning hard lessons during his first few months in the music industry. In January, he signs his first single, "Overtime", with Blue Soho Records. “It seems like a lot of labels are creating these portfolios of songs that they own the copyright to,” he says. "It's less about you, the artist, than putting yourself forward."

And what about the careers of people who won't own their music in five years? Lenhart always wanted to make sure he was in control of his career and believed labels did better with their artists, so he and his best friend started working on their own label and released Kick Drum Therapy on April Fool's Day. Regarding the label's name, Lenhart explained, "[Electronic music] is therapeutic because you're with the band, you're with your community, and the encouragement of a lot of electronic music is one of the main things in the song." "

The label prides itself on representing artists without taking away the rights to their music. While Kick Drum Therapy is starting small - so far SWEEPR has only released two singles, "Stay" and "Stop the Culture", which includes a collaboration with Lil' Cross - he has big dreams for the company. . He wants it to be an artistic community, or as he describes it, a tribe of other people that you can collaborate with. His mission is to promote the talented artists he discovers in the Denver underground and promote the city as one of the nation's musical cities.

Kick Drum Therapy is already growing and Lenhart is confident that his ability to plan, design and execute a vision will serve the label well. He's toying with the idea of ​​renting space for a local arts event, which could serve as a soft launch for Kick Drum Therapy. He envisions the Flute House on Larimer Street and plans to fill the space with DJs and other artists, inviting local club owners and promoters to attend and network.

Lenhart wants to focus his label on underserved communities and give other artists a chance to pursue their dream careers. "The cards were played against me. I grew up in bad circumstances and there weren't many opportunities for me in terms of money or family relationships," he says. "I had a few chances. Someone saw something in me... I dropped out of college, but I managed to pull through."

He wants to give this gift: Denver's house and techno scene is looking for talented talent and giving them a platform and an opportunity. "If you look at the [musical] landscape, there aren't a lot of [techno] talent agencies or promotion agencies or labels and publishers in Denver. Lenhart and his friend saw that void in service and have decided to fill it."

Within a year, Lenhart hopes Kick Drum Therapy will represent at least two other artists and be able to negotiate a musical contract to provide educational services to the community. “Sometimes we have to give back in a different way,” he says. "I think it's a good thing to show the world: to really change the way people think and change the dynamics of the music industry."

SWEEPR's debut EP, Night Shift , via Kick Drum Therapy, will be released on all major streaming services on Friday, May 12.

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