Photography: Manny Dan
This is history, tradition, family, and perseverance, this is what drum and bass is in America in its purest form. This is our lifeblood, and I am glad we can continue the culture. – Spiralus
Drum & bass every Tuesday since November 1998: Seattle’s DNB Tuesdays is the longest-running consistent D&B weekly in the world. Maintaining the genre’s tradition set by weekly nights like Rage, Swerve, Blue Note and Movement in the UK – but outlasting all these events by many years – DNB Tuesdays have been flying the flag Stateside for 21 years and have been responsible for many of the biggest artists’ US debuts. In fact it goes deeper… As Quadrant and Iris explained in a recent interview on this site, its founders were some of the key people responsible for bringing drum & bass culture to Seattle full stop.
DNB Tuesdays was one of the first events I attended when I moved to Seattle back in 2000. It’s great to see Demo still carrying the torch two decades later. – Homemade Weapons
One particular founder of the night remains at its core to this day. Kelly Demo, one half of the duo Demo & Cease who gave us the seminal banger Ladies Night back in 2007. We last interviewed him in 2015 when Simon Bassline dropped the long-awaited VIP, he told us about a car crash he’d narrowly survived. Since then he’s also suffered an intense snowboarding accident in which he fell 1000 feet. But during both of these scary events, thanks to his team of residents Iris, Spiralus, Homemade Weapons, Keano, Illrok, Detcord, MBM, S-Doobie and 1kHz, DNB Tuesdays persevered. Every. Single. Week. In fact they’ve only ever taken a week off five times in 21 years.
There’s always a lot of talk of the ‘drum & bass community’ online, but Seattle has a legitimate one IRL and these guys are driving it. We called up Demo for a little history and asked all the night’s residents for comments.
Over the years of being a part of DNB Tuesdays, there is one reoccurring theme that spans it all – the heart, passion & dedication from the key players that ensure the night is prepared and ready for the community to enjoy. Most times doing it on top of work/family/etc. To see smiling faces and dancing bodies & amazing talent is the payoff, and a reminder why it must go on. – MBM
What have I interrupted?
I was just making a beat actually. A drum & bass thing which has been pretty rare for me lately…
You’ve been doing the Root For The Villain stuff, right?
Yeah I’ve been feeling the halftime thing a lot more. But, to be honest, the way I see it is it’s the same thing. You’re just flipping over the pillow so it’s all cool and nice and fresh.
That’s right. Keep it fresh, keep it going. I used to play at a fixed speed but now I play across the board a lot more. It makes things a bit more challenging, but I’ve been doing this a long time, it’s nice to come up with different ways to stay excited or push myself.
I guess that’s the same for DNB Tuesday? It’s the longest running D&B night in the US!
Yeah we take pride in that. We don’t have to come up with the challenges to push ourselves though. The nightlife and music industry do that quite nicely for us.
For me it’s particularly special to be a part of a night that has so much history behind it. Just about every big name in drum & bass has come through Tuesdays at one point or another. It’s amazing to get to be a part of that history and a really special night to have the privilege of playing and being involved in. On a personal level though this was the night that helped me fall in love with D&B, I met my husband Leigh (Quadrant) there. I spent weeks playing open decks before Tuesdays gave me my first club gig outside of a bedroom or house party. They’ve done the same for any number of other D&B DJs around the city as well. It’s launched and helped sustain careers, friendships, and relationships, and I wouldn’t be writing this today if it weren’t for DNB Tuesdays – Iris
Ha. So I interviewed Quadrant & Iris the other month and they tracked D&B in Seattle to you and Kyle Hops. Look what you’ve done!
Haha. Kinda. There were definitely other people involved in pushing D&B in the city first but me and Kyle are the only two still around, still doing it. I don’t think I was even at the first two DNB Tuesdays. My good friend Marcus started it. He doesn’t play or make the music. He set it up for us to play. Then I took it over five years later and it’s always been kept in our little crew.
So he set it up for you all because he could see the talent?
Yeah he just set it up as a social thing. For us to play, for everyone to hear the music, dance, meet girls, you know the type of thing.
Yeah absolutely. Just locals into the music.
I guess it was locals DJing for years too, before you had any international guests?
Oh yeah for a while and predominantly is now. But I can just about remember our first international booking. It was Q Project and Spinback. Pre-Total Science.
Sick. Take me back to that night…
I just remember it being a pretty wild night. It was so long ago, it’s hard to be precise. I’ve also had head injuries, which don’t help. But I remember it going off that’s for sure. It was a different vibe back then. It was just us going crazy, starting mosh pits and all that stupid stuff. We were little Seattle: we wanted to make the DJs think ‘wow what the fuck just happened?’ Instead of us saying that about the DJs. We’d be screaming at those motherfuckers. They probably thought we were crazy. And we were. That was a long time ago. I walk with a cane now, I just sit down and nod my head. The crowd still goes mad but maybe not quite as defiantly as we did. Like we had something to prove.
We interviewed you about your accident before. There must have been a time when you didn’t run the night and you were recovering?
Yeah somebody took it over for a while but it all still went through me. I was like this godfather dude making decisions from my bed! I have a great team now. I need it. I had another accident pretty recently. Snowboarding. I broke my arm and leg and fell 1000 feet.
Yeah unfortunately. So I was in bed for two months during that too. I’m lucky to have such a great team. Everyone pulls in and we all do it for free. The night is completely free now even when we have headliners. I have a regular job so this is just an expensive hobby.
What’s your regular job?
I’m a bar tender in a swanky hotel.
Are you a proper cocktail slinger?
That’s an artform. So your hobby and job are both 100% nightlife…
Pretty much. My job is very different though – almost everyone is sitting down, no loud music. It’s a different world to DNB Tuesdays.
The flipside to it.
Yeah man. The venue we’re in now is a pretty historic place in Seattle nightlife, though. It’s been around 30 years and is where Nirvana did the CD release party for Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Oh okay! Seattle sounds made a huge impression on me as a kid, what was it like growing up around all that?
I lived out of the city and was in high school then. I was into that type of music, but I wasn’t like involved in the scene. Pearl Jam would show up at random skate parks and The Accused lived near me, they’d drive around in a hearse. So yeah you could definitely feel something was going on.
Would you say there’s a spirit to Seattle that’s inspired people or brought people together musically that’s run through the city’s musical history?
Totally. I’ve never been to London, but I suspect it’s the same. It’s a bit cold, grey, dreary. People like dark music here. That’s why you have guys like Homemade Weapons here. Dark dark.
Even Quadrant & Iris’s music isn’t particularly euphoric.
Totally. I mean it’s upbeat, but it’s got that darkness and tension for sure.
Big up other local legends…
Well there’s Darrin Spiralus, he’s super talented and DJs and makes beats and does all our video work. I have Robert Detcord who helps a lot and is an amazing DJ. Then there’s S-Doobie, Stu, who’s been on this for almost as long as me. He helps out a lot. And of course Karen Iris. She does all our online stuff. There’s also Homemade Weapons, Keano, Illrok, MBM, 1kHz. Everyone who’s resident has their own things they do to make it happen.
Passion for the music is what we thrive one. This night is so very special to me and so many others. The dedication of the crew every Tuesday for 21 years is un matched. To be apart of such an amazing family of like minded individuals is a true blessing. We continue to push the music we love so much every week to the community and the USA. Not only by bringing in the biggest names in D&B. But also giving new DJs and producers a platform to shine as well. If you ever find yourself in Seattle you know where to go for the drum & bass. Hold tight… we just getting warmed up! – Stu Dunn (S-Doobie)
Tell me your favourite nights or line-ups over the years…
My favourites were always Usual Suspects, Ink, Loxy. Good friends of ours. My most memorable show was Doc Scott, Goldie and MC Rage, though. They opened with Smells Like Teen Spirit and had long blonde wigs on. That was funny. It was very long time ago…
What’s been the most challenging element of running a night for 21 years?
Just going all the time. That can be the hardest part sometimes. It’s fun. But it’s a trek; I’m 45 miles away from the city now. Being there from 8pm to 2 or 3 in the morning every single week is a commitment. But I do it for the love. We all do. And if we don’t do it then someone might do it but won’t do it properly.
There’s a responsibility!
Oh totally. And we’ve been doing this way too long to let that slip.
Tell us all about the 21st…
We got MC Dre up from LA to host it. He holds things down for Respect who have been doing this for as long as us and then we’ve just got all the best people around. Everyone who makes the night happen and who’s working hard to keep this thing going. So shouts to Homemade Weapons, Iris, RFTV, MBM, S-Doobie, Detcord, Steve G, 1khz, Keano and Ilrok. It’s going to be a special night.
Awesome. You’re at Re-Bar now but you’ve had to change locations a lot over the years haven’t you?
Yeah many times. The owner of this building has just sold it and there are high rises all around us so who knows what the future holds? I’m sure we’ll move again. They also have a Sunday night here which has been doing for 25 years. I believe it’s the longest running weekly in the US full stop.
Yeah they make us look young, right? That’s a Sunday night thing, a house night, and it’s still always packed. So if things happen we’ll work together and find something out… We always do. We have to. It’s what we do, right?
There are so many great things to be said about DNB Tuesdays. The people, the music, the dedication, the love, You name it! I love that we’ve come together to keep building this wonderful community & spreading this culture to others in the process. To be a part of a night with so much history it honestly makes me want to push myself to be even better. Whether it be in DJing, producing, or even setting the night up. – Detcord
“It’s been incredibly amazing to know this small city that I grew up in has been such a pinnacle pit stop for many legendary dnb artists across the globe. I have learned so much from both icons and locals alike every Tuesday night, and the vibe and community here creates an invaluable experience..” – 1kHz