The Business of Spinning 

Turnstyle's Jesse Oremland on the club scene and the art of the turntable.

In April the pair joined forces with Mr. Bojangles to start "Therapy," a night of drum 'n' bass, house and break beats running into the wee hours every Friday. Oremland has attracted turntablists from the UK, New York and Los Angeles who are, he says, impressed by the potential of this city as an electronic music scene.

From Turnstyle serving as a central meeting place, to therapy night, to their Saturday night radio show, "Frequency," on WRIR 97.3- FM, Oremland hopes that their efforts, dubbed EvolveVA, will get more people thinking about "the art of spinning vinyl." "The fact that we have all three elements are really helping build a sense of community for techno."

Style Weekly talked with Oremland about the fate of the turntable in Richmond.

Style Weekly: Is Richmond a good city for this scene?

Oremland: It's a very artistic town. And I think that lends itself well to all sorts of musical acts, not just electronic. ... We're not a big city. We're not D.C.; we're not the major cities where we have these huge venues where all these A-list talent will come. We are an up-and-coming city.

But due to the fact that we have all this talent here, and we have the college and all that, it really lends itself well to this kind of forward thinking. I think this town can appreciate the artistry in what we're doing.

How has the rave scene changed in the last couple of years? It seemed like it had a renaissance in the '90s.

Yeah, it certainly did. The mid-'90s, it kind of peaked out, and that's when a lot of people got into it. … Anytime that you're peaking out on something and it's popular ... a lot of times, the original goals are kind of lost in the shuffle. ...

The rave scene itself, it's really kind of mutated into more of just the clubbing scene. You don't really have the big raves anymore. You have maybe one of two on the East Coast, but in terms of the original concept of raves, I haven't really seen that in this area for quite some time. It's evolved into much more a sophisticated crowd. ... A lot of the original people who started it in the mid-'90s are now older. ... It's turned into more about the music, more about socializing with people that enjoy the same music as you. ... In the mid-'90s, it was kind of trendy and the "in" thing to do, so we had a lot of people who were coming into the scene that maybe didn't have the overall scene's interest. …

We took a couple of hits here in Richmond, with Cafine's [being closed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission in 2001 for drug-related reasons]. That looks bad upon our scene, but that really has nothing to do with our scene in the music. ... Our music got associated with that kind of behavior and that hurt us, 'cause it turned off a lot of people.

Richmond sometimes has a weird relationship with live music. Did you have to jump through a lot of hoops?

Working with the venue itself, I didn't have to jump through a lot of hoops to start getting my stuff done. … One of the things we did to keep a lot of the ABC pressure off is [to make] our event 21 and up ... 'cause a lot of times when you have the 18 to 21 crowd, if they can't drink, a lot of problems arise from that. ...

One of the things that a lot of the bars in Richmond really hadn't done up until this point is stay open past 2 o'clock. ... At 1:45 is last call ... and everybody runs up to the bar and buys their last drink and has to guzzle it before last call is over, and then they kick everybody out into the street. Bojangles owners are real nice about that in the fact that they stay open [till 4 a.m.].

Any big plans for the future, changes?

That was the whole idea of EvolveVA, is constantly changing, constantly bringing new influence. ...We're going to start bringing in a lot more musical acts where people who actually make the music actually come and perform live. … It's not going to be a DJ-oriented thing, it will also be a live-act-oriented thing, and I really see the direction going that way. ... Not rely solely on DJs, but also kind of expand out from that and really show people how the music is made as well. S

Therapy takes place every Friday at Mr. Bojangles, 550 E. Marshall St., 10 p.m.-4 a.m. This week's event on July 22 features DJs Noel Sanger, Jeff McGrath and Ramiro. Admission is $7 before 11 and $9 after. "Frequency" airs on WRIR 97.3-FM Saturday nights from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. www.evolveva.com.

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