Q&A With Orchard Lounge, Playing Tonight at the Vagabond


Miami prepares today for the Great Invasion of 2009, a.k.a. the Phish Comeback New Year's Eve Concert Run. Along with the four arena shows by these road warriors comes a string of  local afterparties. One of the best kickoffs tonight is Orchard Lounge's late night dance-a-thon at the Vagabond, curated by Miami newcomers, Def Owl. Expect a soundgasm extravaganza - think sexy space disco blended with heavy bass bombs, throwback funk sliced with futuristic tech-house... and free TRU vodka. New Times spoke with Orchard Lounge's Ben Silver about his OL family history with Spencer and Bethany Lokken and the trio's return to Miami. 

Orchard Lounge. Monday, December 28. The Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m., tickets cost $12. Ages 18+ for ladies, ages 21+ for men. 305-379-0508;

New Times: How did you and the Lokkens first cross paths? 

Ben Silver: It all started out in 2000 in Chicago, when I moved there after graduating from UW Madison, which is where I met Spencer. Bethany met Spencer and later married. We were all extreme music freaks and had a lot in common. Spencer was DJing weekly and I was very into electronic music and after spending time in Ibiza that same year, and I wanted to have at it. Bethany was also very eager, so we became the Luke Skywalkers to Spencer's Yoda and learned the basics.  Living one block from the legendary Gramaphone Records, digging and collecting became a hobby of ours, and before long we each had huge collections of records, and all was set in motion. 

Where does the name Orchard Lounge come from? 

I lived in a huge apartment on Orchard Street - that was the place to hang after going out. We would chill, stay up too late and just enjoy playing records. Eventually, we all lived on Orchard Street, and one night we were joking about how it felt like we lived in the ultimate "lounge," and the name Orchard Lounge was born. 

So lounging around, melting into the couch, listening to our favorite downtempo records, or spinning house and techno records before going out, that gave us our motto that is the basis behind OL: "From The Dancefloor, To The Couch."  We have always just been a few best friends who love listening to these producers, artists, and bands who we share a mutual love and respect for. 

The three of you tend to spin a wide variety of tunes, but somewhere there's a common glue. How does this work technically? 

This is what makes it so fun, adding more of a challenge for us. There have been DJ crews over the years that have used a variety of different methods to play together. We go about it with "tag team" sets. That's also how we would switch off when we started out playing records together at home, because we'd each want a turn. We would each play three or four records and then switch. Since there are three of us, this is still the basis of what we do - and not only does that mean knowing your own records, it means having to know everybody's records.  

Is there a specific tactic you use for the "tag-teaming" method? 

If we play a four-hour set together, we have to listen to what will complement and flow. We might start out with downtempo or midtempo tracks and then slowly increase the tempo and intensity as the set moves on, so every time we switch, we are matching what was played before. Then, together we work to speed it up so there is a flow to the set. One of us could be spinning something a bit on the funky side, and then the next go could take it darker and harder for a bit, which to us, keeps it interesting and pushes the sound into different directions. 

I can hear a record and know that it is something that Bethany would love, or Spencer would flip over and vice versa. Above all, we have similar ideas of how we want the set to sound, and to get there we each try to contribute something different that when combined, can grow into the sound we had in mind. No matter the combination of OL, if it is one, two, or all three of us, we try to make every show a party and expose people to new music and sounds that they may not have heard before. 

It's been nine months since OL rocked Miami's infamous Karu & Y, after the Ultra Music Festival. Are you excited to be back spinning before the infamous WMC? 

Absolutely! It's snowing and maybe 10 degrees outside [where we live], so we are very excited to get some sun. We also love coming to Miami and have been going to WMC on and off for many years. The night we played the Karu and Y post-Ultra party in 2009 sums up why we love going to Miami. Our booking agency, AM ONLY, threw that huge party and it was loaded with so many of the biggest DJs in the world. Only in Miami would our time slot be to play from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., alongside our idols like Steve Bug, Josh Wink, Luciano, Richie Hawtin, and START. Craziness. It was a huge honor to be included along with that roster of artists who we have respected for so many years.  

How late are you anticipating the December 28 afterhours will last? 
We will be playing late. Hopefully, epic, "Miami-style late," where we play until we pass out in the wee hours. We will be playing a long set so everyone can dance all night into the morning. It is the perfect place to go after the Phish show to get a fill of dark, funky, tech-house beats to move to and possibly lose a mind or two on the dancefloor. 
In the spirit of the run, are you planning on checking out the Phish show before the gig at The Vagabond?  

Definitely. We will be in Miami for three nights, so we're hoping to go to three nights of Phish -- just have to find some tickets. We do have a crazy week and we are extremely excited. There is nothing we'd rather be doing, nowhere we'd rather be and nobody we'd would rather be with during what is about to go down next week.

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Tracy Block