Denver, Colorado is becoming a mecca for electronic music lovers around the country. Nightly shows (often more than one), dozens of venues, festivals, and an ever-expanding range of genres are on display for locals and tourists alike to come and enjoy.
If there’s one thing Denver EDM fans have in spades, it’s a passion for both music and community. The people holding these events aren’t just here for the money – they’re here because of their love for the scene.
This passion and love are reflected in the various up-and-coming projects hosted by small collectives all over the city and state. One of these collectives is KOJA Sound, an emerging sound production project dedicated to helping underground bass artists in Denver show off their talents.
Their events are authentic, genuine efforts at connecting fans and artists on a personal level, and they’re growing at a rapid pace despite only emerging within Denver a few months ago. Just this past NYE they went viral when Skrillex, Zeds Dead, and Justin Jay dropped in at one of their afterparties for a surprise B2B. These spontaneous moments make the Denver scene as magical as it is, and KOJA Sound is here to embrace it.
Recently, I was fortunate to attend a few KOJA shows and meet with founders Joe Orant and Jake Thornton to learn more about their new project.
Where Did KOJA Begin?
KOJA Sound was first born only a couple of years ago when Jake and Joe became friends at a Manic Focus show during the pandemic. As a sound engineer, Jake began to wonder what they could do if they built their own sound system, and they quickly found both collaboration and friendship in one another.
Coming from San Diego and Chicago, they felt a disconnect from their respective music scenes.
“The people who were throwing shows cared more about money than passion.”
- Jake Thornton
When they moved to Denver, they were chasing jobs and love, but also the pure love for music that exists within this city.
Over the course of a year, they went in 50/50 and slowly began building their sound system. They’re currently using a custom Paraflex and Danley Sound Labs hybrid system and have begun playing increasingly bigger shows, testing the range of what they’ve created together.
“Everything took off organically,” Jake told me excitedly. Their first show was Ashez in July 2023 at Steezy’s Glass Gallery in Denver, and the shows have only grown from there. They hope to continue hosting bass (and perhaps some house and techno sooner or later) artists, with dreams of eventually having their small stages at festivals.
I recently attended their first deployment for SHIFT Thursdays and can attest to the quality of their sound system. It was a phonk night featuring ESCPE, BACKWHEN, Ponsuda., and more on The Other Side.
The sound was crisp and heavy all night – admittedly, the bass went harder than I expected it to for such a small venue. Their setup consisted of 4 Paraflex subwoofers, 4 Paraflex mids, and 2 Danley Sound Labs tops. The sound levels were very well done and stayed balanced and consistent throughout the set changes, demonstrating the depth of knowledge shared by Joe and Jake.
It’s been a treat to watch the beginning of KOJA Sound’s tenure in Denver, and I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
To learn more about the project, check out the rest of our interview below:
River Beats: Where did the name ‘Koja Sound’ come from?
Jake: I kept thinking of words and phrases that just weren’t sticking when trying to come up with a name, so I started thinking of ways to put our names, Jake and Joe, together that sounded interesting. KOJA was kind of mysterious and fun, and it just sounded right
RB: Do you see yourself expanding members of the project beyond the two of you?
Jake: Yes! We are continually growing our relationships with artists and promoters in Denver and eventually would like to be able to run multiple events or a small festival stage on our own.
RB: What is it about the electronic scene that you love the most?
Jake: I love how the electronic scene has evolved into such a diverse and rich multi-genre landscape. It’s been so inspiring becoming more involved with the local scenes and seeing how everyone supports one another and plays their part in creating some incredible productions.
RB: Do you see yourselves eventually creating your own venue/home base in Denver?
Jake: At the moment we are looking for a home base where we can accommodate workshop space and do some small private events. I hope to grow in a way where we can operate an intimate space with an underground vibe and incredible production while still doing mobile deployments of the KOJA system.
RB: Who/where/what do you draw inspiration from?
Jake: My whole inspiration for building the KOJA sound system came from discovering the HOQS (High Order Quarterwave Society) group on Facebook. It’s an open-source community of speaker designers and builders that have created a unique box design called Paraflex. We utilize Paraflex designs for our lows and subs because of their extreme efficiency and powerful output. They have a huge sound!
RB: Are there any visual/musical artists in particular you’d like to work with?
Jake: I have some high hopes for particular artists I would love to eventually work with, but I almost can’t believe it when I see the list of people we’ve already had the opportunity to work with! I’m so excited for what’s to come.
RB: Can you tell us more about that Skrillex B2B Zeds Dead B2B Justin Jay set on NYE?
Joe: I really don’t even know where to start. That was hands down the craziest night of my life and something we could have never seen happening. I think Jake and I both cried a little. First, I want to shout out Spacewaves for putting that party together. It all started with Don Jamal getting in touch with Justin Jay to give him word of the party, then Justin Jay rallied Skrillex and Zeds Dead to come out and they all surprised the heck out of us. It was epic, to say the least. I’m sure most people have heard or seen the videos on Instagram at this point, but that’s something to be said about the kind of stuff that happens when we deploy our sound system!
RB: Is there anything else you want readers to know about KOJA Sound?
Jake: Founding KOJA Sound has and always will be about engineering unparalleled live sound and creating unforgettable and magical experiences!
You can see KOJA Sound’s work in action at their upcoming show with DRRTYWULVZ, Stryker Steele, RiCH Coa$t, Nyquist, and EOS at Aggie Theatre on February 23.