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An interview with Beat Lab's Shane Thomas

Shane Thomas mixes and matches in the Beat Lab. Photos by Brian Crippe, courtesy of Shane Thomas.

Shane Thomas mixes and matches in the Beat Lab. Photos by Brian Crippe, courtesy of Shane Thomas.

Beat Lab Radio is a show unlike any other in Central Oregon. Host Shane Thomas (DJ Royal Louis) and crew bring the best of electronic music to 92.9 FM every Thursday night from 9:30-11 p.m. Over the last couple of years, Beat Lab has branched out to promoting and spinning live sets, as well as bringing in acts from around the country. April 9 finds Beat Lab presenting Baht and Moniker (out of Knoxville) at The Capitol, bringing a unique style of bass music to Bend. The Source Weekly interviewed Shane Thomas about the future of Beat Lab and music in general.

Source Weekly: Tell me about the genesis of Beat Lab.

Shane Thomas: Beat Lab started in 2013 after the weed store I work for, Bloom Well, reached out to Bend Radio Group about doing radio advertising. Through those conversations they got on the topic of having what they call an EDM show. We more or less took the idea and ran with it, but we don't really play that. They wanted a little bit more mainstream kind of stuff, but we kind of just took the opportunity and did what we do.

SW: So how did the show properly start?

ST: It started out just me doing the radio show and my friends that were all DJs and creative types thought it was a cool idea and I eventually had them come in to help me out. It kind of turned into this collective of beat makers and DJs and artists that make Beat Lab Radio what it is.

SW: What inspired you into building it into a collective?

ST: It's inspired by a lot of independent collectives that are out there right now like STYLSS, Saturate Records, Hebinomichi and Daruma. There's tons of independent music collectives out there on the Internet and in the world doing really dope things and our goal is to bring that sound and that vibe to Central Oregon. We all live here and are going to be here for a minute and we want to bring music here that we like and enjoy.

SW: What is your background in Bend?

ST: I grew up here, went to high school and all that. I played a lot of rock music, a lot of heavy and experimental music, mostly guitar and bass, that sort of thing. I played in a band called Empty Space Orchestra for about eight years. We worked really hard, toured a bunch and made some albums. When that fell apart due to us, more or less, not getting along with each other anymore, I started going to more bass music festivals.

SW: And that was when electronic music gripped you?

ST: My friend Chris Lohrey took me to one of my first all electronic music festivals. I listened to a bunch of music and found a lot of belonging and found my scene, I suppose. Electronic music lets me be more self-reliant in my pursuits. I don't have to worry about scheduling band practice or working around people's schedules or girlfriends. I can just do what I want, on my time. I can book shows on my own and book my friends here, through Beat Lab.

SW: So what are you wanting to achieve through Beat Lab?

ST: We want to bring Future Music to Bend, Oregon, and cultivate a scene for that here and a following. Matt Wax, Jordan Welter, who goes by the name Welterweight, DJ Lonely Stacks, N. Spekktor - she does all of our art - we just want to bring forward thinking music to Bend, which hasn't been super prevalent.

SW: How has Beat Lab grown since you started?

ST: It's grown a lot. I think the biggest point of reference is that people have started coming out to our shows. Two years ago we started, mainly at Dojo, playing free shows and it was usually packed and everyone had a good time. Now we're in a place where we can charge a cover and afford pay guarantees for bigger acts to come in and spread the love around while bringing a more diverse sound to Bend. When we started we were just doing a lot of mixes, so on the Internet it looked like we were getting a ton of traffic, but the formula of putting out mixes from other people brings their independent followings from across the world and helped us grow.

SW: How much growth are we talking about?

ST: We're averaging 6,000 Sound Cloud plays a week which is pretty huge. I've never had anything be that popular on the Internet before. We're also getting hit up to play shows in other places, like Matt is playing What The Festival and we have some Portland shows. We're just trying to raise the bar a little bit.

Baht and Moniker

Saturday, April 9, 9 p.m.

The Capitol, 190 NW Oregon Ave., Bend

$8-$10

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