Pre-Party at Cervantes’ Ballroom in Denver

The road to the 2020 Gem and Jam Festival has provided multiple pre-parties along the western section of the United States. On Friday, January 17 the festival hosted a night of live music at Cervantes’ Ballroom & The Other Side in downtown Denver featuring The New Deal, Buku, Supertask, Autonomix, Since Juleye, Ben Silver (DJ from Orchard Lounge) and Tri Tip.

The Gem and Jam is less than two weeks away, and we here at Crescent Vale are hyped. It’s nearly time to start preparations for a weekend of music, art, camping and friends, so I decided to meet up with Crescent Vale founder Matt McGuire at the Gem and Jam pre-party in Denver, CO to get started early.

Much like the Gem and Jam, the Denver Pre-party featured a diverse lineup, art, and flow artists. The beauty of the Denver pre-party is that it was held at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, which has two distinct sides with a separate show going on at each side. This gives a mini-festival feel and made it the perfect venue to kick off the Gem and Jam Festival vibes.

The main ballroom hosted Buku, Supertask, Autonomix and Since JulEYE. The other side hosted The New Deal. We were lucky enough to meet up with Autonomix for an interview prior to the show. See below for full interview and photos from the night.

The New Deal performing live during the Gem and Jam pre-party at Cervantes' Ballroom on 01/17/20. Photo by: Samantha Harvey
The New Deal performing live during the Gem and Jam pre-party at Cervantes’ Ballroom on 01/17/20. Photo by: Samantha Harvey

Autonomix Interview

CV = Crescent Vale, Samantha Harvey

D=Danny Littler (bass)

Z=Zach Smith (guitar)

J=Josh Nermon (keyboard, synth)

CV: Ok, guys thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me at the Gem and Jam pre-party. First off, tell me a little bit about yourselves for those who have yet to discover Autonomix.

Z: So, we’re a four piece instrumental band. We try to keep it pretty eclectic, ya know, hit on some different genres while keeping it dancey and groovey.
J: Yeah, and touch on a lot of things that are progressing in the music world while still maintaining true to instrumental music. We don’t have any laptops on stage, but still try to take the ideas behind electronic music and integrate it into what you love about jamtronica.

CV: Ok!

J: It’s just a little bit something different.

CV: Building on that, could you tell me a little bit about the music that has influenced you and continues to inspire you to this day?

J: Definitely.
Z: I started out in metal, actually. I was in my first metal band when I was 17 years old. I played progressive metal though, so I was still writing 10 minute songs. That hasn’t changed. [laughs] But, yeah, played metal for a few years then got into Soundtribe and then Soundtribe became my biggest influence. That kinda spread into Lotus, got pretty into Pink Floyd as well, David Gilmore is someone I look up to a lot. Jazz as well. I did jazz school for a few years. I try to incorporate that. I like some of the aspects of metal that has some of those cool, faster, heavier lines that I think mesh well when we have some more electronic undertones like we get from Nerm (Josh). So you can kinda take bit and pieces from all these different genres, and use the parts you like to come up with something unique. 
J: Yeah, for me it was mainly STS9 that got me into this whole world an inspired me to become a musician. What we do on stage is heavily influenced, at least what I’m doing with my particular part, is heavily influenced by Soundtribe. Honestly a lot of the re:Search Wednesdays shows here in Denver, ya know, I get to hear everything that is going through the pipeline for the whole country, and these things slowly get integrated into some of the synthier parts of our songs. Between all of our influences we create a balance that is a little bit different from anything that we have heard in the past.

Z: Balance is Key.
J: Yeah. Dan do you want to speak to that?
D: I’d say my influences were essentially just mostly jam bands like The Disco Biscuits and Lotus, and I’ve always been a real sucker for really good house music, so I can see the influence of that. Just living in that pocket with that four on the floor kind of groove. That’s where I like to set myself. So, it’s nice playing with the guys, because as a bass player I can just kinda stay in that world while these guys have these eclectic compositional elements coming from a variety of genres and a variety of bands and we just weave that together.

CV: Nice. So, one thing that I love most about the Gem and Jam is that it does have a real sense of community. Most people that I have met there are not only there to enjoy the festival, but are also there helping make it happen and making it into this beautiful community that it is. So, tell me a little bit about why you guys are excited to play the festival and how you guys are involved with that community aspect.

Autonomix performing live during the Gem and Jam pre-party at Cervantes' Ballroom in Denver on 01/17/20. Photo by: Samantha Harvey
Autonomix performing live during the Gem and Jam pre-party at Cervantes’ Ballroom in Denver on 01/17/20. Photo by: Samantha Harvey

J: Well, I mean we’re stoked to be part of it, because we have all been to Gem and Jam in the past, except for Zach. But Danny and I have. And Jeff (drums) has as well. Yeah, the whole community aspect of bringing people together, not only from Denver, but the whole west coast for one common goal of just enjoying music and nature and crystals, which we’re all really into that as well. It just makes it really exciting for us. And we’re going to be collaborating with other people at the festival as well, so we’re expanding our horizons and trying to make it more of a community show when you come to see us. It’s not just going to be Autonomix, it’s going to be like Autonomix and friends. We will have some things that we can’t really speak to, but some things to look forward to.
D: I’d say Gem and Jam is great because of the diversity in the lineup. You have Tipper, Billy Strings, and The Floozies. Like it’s a very diverse lineup and it always has been. I like it because it’s a good festival; you get to see your homies that are playing there. People that you’ve worked with, that you have really good friendships and relationships with, and then you get exposed to new, obviously major, different acts. I’m looking forward to seeing Billy Strings, because everybody raves about him.
Z: Me f*&^ing too!
[everyone laughs, agrees]

CV: Yeah, Me too.

D: And I keep hearing he’s really awesome. So, I just hope he’s not playing when I’m working at the festival at a different stage. 
Z: For me, I like the fact that we can bring the jam vibe and the dancey vibe too. It’s fun being able to bridge that gap. Like the lineup tonight is case and point. Ya know, what we’re playing before is pretty intense electronic. It makes me happy that we’ve been able to make enough different fan types happy, where people that like electronic but do not like jam music will have fun at our shows and vice vera. I feel like it’s fun for us to go to a festival like that. It has jam in the name, but then it gets so heavily on the electronic side. So, ya know, it’s cool to be able to bridge a bit of that gap. 

J: Also, Danny and I work in the industry and kinda help put the festival on.
D: Yep.
J: I do a lot of the marketing for Gem and Jam. I run the street team here in Denver. I know Danny’s going to be building the stages out there, so we’re very hands on. Anytime we can be involved in something like this we’re all for it.

CV: Yeah, the last Gem and Jam when I met Dan, he was working the festival, so I knew that you guys had that connection.

CV: So, don’t give anything away clearly, but if you guys could sit in with any of the artists at the Gem and Jam, who would it be?

J: The Party People is one for me.

CV: The Party People?

Autonomix crowd live during the Gem and Jam pre-party at Cervantes' Ballroom on 01/17/20. Photo by: Samantha Harvey
Autonomix crowd live during the Gem and Jam pre-party at Cervantes’ Ballroom on 01/17/20. Photo by: Samantha Harvey

J: Yeah, I love the vibe they put on and I love sitting in with those guys. That bass funk that they put down is something that I really like, and I’d love sitting in with them again. That’s definitely at the top of my list. I love those guys. 
Z: I don’t think I have an answer for that one. I’m not sure who I would fit in with there.
J: You would fit in with a lot of good people.
D: It’s hard as a bass player to sit in with other groups.
Z: Even like the homies playing tonight, playing with someone like Since Juleye, would be cool since they don’t have a guitar. When I have sat in with different electronic artists it’s been a good time, because usually they don’t have melodies written in the range that I’m usually thinking, so I can kinda have my own take on it.
J: Eminence Ensemble too.
Z: Eminence Ensemble would be fun. 
D: Three guitar players
Z: Luckily I’m not egotistical enough to be worried about getting shown up by two much better guitarists than myself. I’ve played with Taylor Frederick before in my old band Vine Street Vibes, and that was a lot of fun. 
J: Balkan Bump and Megan Hamilton would be sick too. Megan Hamilton throws down some really nice funk music.
D: Homies on homies
J: Balkan Bump is really kind of worldly. It’s like world bass music, which I’m a huge fan of, so to just throw anything down on that would be a lot of fun. 

CV: Alright, last thing, do you guys want to talk about any other shows you’re playing coming up that you’re excited about?

J: We have a few shows in the works that we can’t really talk about, but keep an eye out for our upcoming shows on all of our social media. We have some shows that we will be announcing in the near future, but we can’t really talk about them until they’re announced. 

CV: Fair enough!

Z: Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of new music in the next six months.
J: We have some festival announcements and out-of-Denver shows. That’s the most we can say.

CV: Very exciting stuff. Well, we will keep an eye out on social media and follow you. I look forward to seeing you next time, and at the Gem and Jam!

Z: Can’t wait to be there.
J: Thank you!
D: Thanks, Sam!

Check out Autonomix at the 2020 Gem and Jam Festival, and also listen in to their recent performance at The Summit in Denver on Soundcloud.