I Could Never Have Predicted This (100th release on Loöq)

Sometimes life just pulls you into things, and you’re happy to go there.

In 1994, when I was just a 24-year-old fool, I was invited to join an electronic music collective operating under the alias Trip ‘n Spin.  The “initiation,” as I remember it, consisted of me playing a few self-produced dance tracks (recorded on cassette) to Sam Urton (alias Novabass), Greg Lindberg (alias The G), and Stephen Kay (alias DJ Special K or Spesh).

Trip ‘n Spin had already put out a few dance records, but the collective was in flux when I joined.  The guys had moved out of their SOMA bachelor loft, with Greg heading off to Japan, and Spesh (Stephen Kay) moving in with his fiance.  Spesh and I, recording as Jondi & Spesh, kept the momentum going for a few years with a series of vinyl 12″ singles (all with polka dots on them).

In ’97 Spesh and I wrote a sketch and shared it with a few friends.  Jim Cyr, who was at the time throwing the legendary Sweet! parties at CELLspace, encouraged us to take the track further.  That sketch eventually became the track “We Are Connected,” which we released on Trip ‘n Spin.  The release sold about a thousand copies, received a few decent reviews, and was forgotten promptly by the world (as most dance releases are).  On to the next project.

… or so we thought.  International superstar DJ John Digweed happened to be record shopping in Berkeley, California a couple years later, and found our record buried in some back stock bin.  Unbeknownst to us, he started playing the track regularly at his gigs.

Meanwhile, Spesh and I had started Loöq Records.  While the Trip ‘n Spin collective had been a fun ride, we wanted a real business entity through which we could exercise complete artistic and financial control.  Each release was a logistical and financial struggle, as we learned the ins and outs of mastering, jacket production, 4-color film, shipping and warehouse logistics, and getting paid from incommunicado distributors.

The support from Digweed gave us a real boost, both in terms of morale and also on the business side — we received licensing offers from Bedrock (John’s label) and a few other UK labels.

A raver offering up her boobies to John Digweed.

Also, we got a little famous, which was nice.  Previously, we hadn’t even been acknowledged in the insular San Francisco funky house scene.  Now we were big in the UK.  Take that, Haight Street!

Over the next few years, with the help of fresh-out-of-college Jackie von Treskow, and later our friend Megan James (when Jackie flew off to London for awhile) we continued to release records.  We put out the music of San Francisco producers who we considered to be innovative and ahead of the curve, including tracks from Kylen Campbell (The Activity), Brian Cox (Telemetry), Galen Butler (Shakatura), and Reza (Dirtyhertz).  Our first international artist was Jamie Stevens (of Infusion, from Australia), followed soon after by Matt Phillips (Piece Process, from Northern Ireland).

Spesh and Jackie discussing the finer points of BBQ in Oakland (a typical Loöq Records work day)

While we had often felt “outside” the music scene, San Francisco finally learned to love us.  Our weekly party Qoöl at 111 Minna (an “electronic music happy hour”) became ridiculously popular.  Lines started to curl around the block, and the fire department swung by on a regular basis to make sure we weren’t going to pack the place too tight and cause the next disco inferno.

It was as if we had invented sliced bread.

Good thing, too, because at the time, Loöq Records was hemorrhaging money like the U.S. Congress.  Our weekly event supported our music label habit.  Producing vinyl records was crazy expensive, and we rarely moved enough units to break even.  I think we lost one or two grand per release for ten years (fortunately, our release schedule was pretty slow).

Things turned around financially for the label with some high profile licensing deals.  Spesh and I wrote some tracks for Konami’s world-famous game Dance Dance Revolution (here’s one of the trance remixes we did for the game, if you think you can handle it).  Our friend Kevin Knapp (hey Kev — you need to update your site) introduced us to some Hollywood music supervisors, and soon some music from Loöq was showing up on shows like CSI.

We wisely invested our profits in things like bottled water from Miami, Love Parade floats, and large donations to The SETI Institute.

Somehow, despite our questionable business decisions, we’re still putting out music in 2011 (we let go of vinyl production and just release digitally now, which was emotionally difficult but good for the balance sheet).  The Loöq roster now includes top notch talent from all over the world, and we couldn’t be more proud of our artists.  Remarkably, we’ve reached a major milestone, our 100th release.  We’ve wrangled some high-end remix talent from around the world to lend some interpretations of our (now classic?) track We Are Connected.

Have a listen on Beatport, iTunes, Amazon, Juno, or your preferred outlet.  Let us know what you think.  And if you’ve been a part of our journey up to this point, THANK YOU.

Click to hear the remixes on iTunes.

15 responses to “I Could Never Have Predicted This (100th release on Loöq)

  1. Congrats guys! So glad you’ve made it this far!
    What a ride!
    Looking forward to checking out those remixes…

  2. Thanks Derek!

    (Derek was our Loöq Records intern … now look at him!)

  3. couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of it. love to you and the loöq/qoöl family!!!

  4. Congratulations guys! Zivjeli, as we say in Croatia.

  5. yay all of you!

  6. Pingback: Green Hit Shirts » Blog Archive » Looq Records 100th Release :: John Digweed & Spesh @ Ruby Skye

  7. Michelle Aguero

    Wow JD, what an awesome story! After all these years, I just now find out what you really do in the music world…AMAZING! I want to talk music with you because I have a coreography in mind and need a techno like track for part of it hehe. I will send you a message on fb with my number :)

  8. Hey Michelle! Sounds good — you can browse our catalog here if you want:

    http://www.looq.com/music/

    Let me know if you hear anything you like and I’ll send you the full version.

  9. Pingback: Are You Excluding Yourself From Top-Tier Success in Your Field? Why Exactly? | The Blog of J.D. Moyer

  10. I bought the Sex In The Universe 12″ in some semi-basement record shop in SF in 1995. It was one of the first records I ever bought, and I still love it to this day. I also bought “Who Keeps Changing Your Mind” by South Street Player on Fresh Fruit, and a few other tracks, all of which I love. Thanks for being a big part of my music and DJ past! Wish I could find those tracks online.

  11. Scott Calhoun

    JD it’s classic…Jeremy and I moved out west from OH just to get around what you guys were doing…I left the West coast glad I’d helped the two of you push a very unique and powerful thing in 98-99-00…

  12. Scott Calhoun

    Everything Trip n Spin I respectfully request digital copies of please…as I’ve posted in other sites, even my 9 yr old boy and 7 yr old girl in 2012 truly love the Trip N Spin tracks that are showcased on “Spesh Spins”…just amazing and timeless stuff…just like “We Are Connected”

  13. Scott Calhoun

    And yes the semi-basement record spot was Tweekin…right by the old soul food joint…even in 99 they were offering copies of TnS trax

    • Hey Scott! I will get around to remastering that good old stuff one of these days (some of it is only on vinyl and DAT). Check out the recent We Are Connected Remixes if you haven’t already. Hope all is well with you!

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