Dancing queen
Bluegrass to Burning Man, the musical journey of DJ Omega

Dancing queen

Yes, you can get your blues and folk fill in Durango. But did you know there's also a robust DJ?scene for those who want to get down? DJ Omega, pictured here, talks to Between the Beat's Stephen Sellers all about it. /Courtesy photo

Stephen Sellers - 12/09/2021

Pound for pound, Durango offers an amazing acoustic musical punch. On any given night, you can see venues filled with acoustic guitars, upright basses and if you’re lucky (or unlucky to some), the Lord God King Daddy of Twang: the five-string resonator banjo, belting fringe and standard music sourced from “the hills.” Of Appalachia? Of East Gem Village? No one knows for certain.

What you might not know, is that Durango is also host to a diverse and eclectic underground dance music scene. Techno, house or bass music – chances are on any weekend you can find a public or private event to scoot your electric boot to after hanging out with your family at the bluegrass show.

Thanks in no small part to local promoter Eugene Salaaz, names like Posh Josh, nOOnz, Codestar, Mtn Menace, Ras Daws and Durango wunderkind, Omega, splash across the marquee of the Animas City Theatre regularly. I recently sat down with Del Marie, aka DJ Omega, to learn about her journey into dance music and her excitement for its future in Durango.

Where did you grow up? How did you become interested in art and music?

I grew up in Pagosa Springs. I came to Durango to pursue art and graphic design as a student at Fort Lewis College. I grew up in a very musical and artistically nurturing family. My mom plays ukulele, my dad plays mandolin and my sister plays several instruments. Everyone plays instruments except for me. I was doodling, drawing, and my parents were really supportive of that from a young age, paying for me to go to things like oil painting classes. 

Tell me a bit about some of your earliest musical experiences.

Well, my first CD was Sublime! [laughs] I grew up listening to a lot of alternative music and hip-hop: Tupac, Biggie, Deltron, Andre 3000. My parents were into a lot of different kinds of music. My friends and I were always going to the folk festivals in Pagosa, and we were always up there dancing with all of the adults. We just loved dancing so much and didn’t give a damn. My senior year is when I discovered Daft Punk and I was like, “This is it! This is what I love!” And I began to follow my passion for that, seeing all the dance music shows I could.

What was it about dance music that captured you?

There’s such a spirit of unity in the dance music community. You can find that in a lot of other musical genres, too, but it feels really special in the dance music community. Just total acceptance of people who are all vibing to the same energy and on a dance floor. It’s really special. There’s nothing like the feeling of being on a dance floor at 4 a.m. and just being in the middle of it all. 

When did you get more serious about pursuing dance music as both a participant and creator?

Really what changed everything for me was going to a bunch of shows, seeking this music out and finally going to Burning Man. You could be walking around there and see some famous DJ playing for like 50 people or find some anonymous DJ from a small town, like me, playing for hundreds of people. It just didn’t matter. I love that about dance music. The music is what’s important, not the names or personalities. After that trip, I knew I wanted to pursue DJing, so I talked with my dad about it. He was like, “I think you should totally do this.” I wasn’t sure because I was starting in my late 20s, kind of late, you know. For Christmas that year, he bought me my first mixer and I haven’t looked back. And, now I’m glad I didn’t start till later because if I had started in my early twenties, I would have been playing terrible music! It takes time to build a collection and I’m honestly still working on it.

How did you land on your DJ name?

Omega has always been special to me in this metaphysical way. It’s the name I’ve used for all my art. But, I also wanted to pick something gender neutral.

So, DJ Dodge Ram wasn’t a contender?

[laughs] Not even in the slightest.

What niche do you feel like you musically fit into?

I love house music. I love playing techno, but I also want to throw in some f****** Abba in the middle of my set because it’s so good!

I’ve been at one of your shows when you’ve done that – people went off!

That’s what it’s all about. I want to take people on a musical ride and still keep that element of surprise. I just want to play what I think is good music and stuff that I think is interesting. I’d like to start incorporating more hip-hop or things that people wouldn’t necessarily expect from a house or techno DJ.

I also think it’s important to have the feminine perspective on this music because most people who DJ around here are…

White dudes like me?

[laughs] Well, yeah. But, I mean that is kind of where we live so that’s fine. But I want to feature music that connects with that feminine energy as well as the masculine. Sometimes I think we’re missing that element out here, musically, so that’s why I love to do what I do.

I’ve been down to Meow Wolf in the past, back when it was just this kind of warehouse with a punk vibe. I personally think Durango can offer something like that, but even better and that’s exciting to me as an artist and as a DJ. For me, there’s no competition for DJing in town. I want to help create a collaborative space where people can feel free and confident to share the things they are passionate about. Durango needs that.

For the latest on Del’s performances and art, check out her Instagram @delmarie.

 

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