Milwaukee’s Electronic Community Remembers DJ Troutski
Like most pockets of the Milwaukee music scene, Milwaukee’s electronic music scene is a tight-knit community, shaped heavily by a relative handful of performers and promoters who dedicate their lives to it. Any loss in a community that close is going to hurt, and earlier this month the scene suffered a major one when Colin-Michel Demgé, known to audiences as DJ Troutski, died at age 33. The producer was shot on the porch of his Riverwest home.
Peers remember Troutski as an artist who was always trying to expand the boundaries of the city’s electronic music scene. With his weekly Dig Deeper residence at Studio 200, the scrappy Walker’s Point club that’s long served as a home base for many of the Milwaukee EDM scene’s self-starters, Troutski shined a spotlight on artists and genres that were typically shut out of the more visible corners of electronic music.
“That was one of the things that made it so special,” says David Frey, a friend of Troutski’s and fellow resident DJ at Studio 200 who performs as Dave UV. “He would pick out people that had really never gotten a chance before and get them to play out in front of people. A lot of people were very grateful for him giving them that chance.”
Anthony Dola, a DJ and promoter who performs under the moniker Dola, credits Troutski for introducing him to niche styles of EDM. “He didn’t play anything predictable,” Dola says. “I’m pretty confined by house music, but he was always interested in exploring these little subgenres, like skweee from Sweden and Norway, and dub and grime and filth. He wasn’t interested in playing your typical club-format music; he was always playing something darker or grimier. That’s why his night was called Dig Deeper. It wasn’t about booking house DJs or techno DJs; it was about booking people who explored these niche genres that he loved.”
It’ll take the local EDM scene some time to process such a sudden, shocking loss, but Frey believes that it’s already bringing the scene closer together. “From what I’ve been noticing already, it’s given the community a sense of even more community,” Frey says. “People are going to come together that wouldn’t normally come together. It’s going to make people think outside the box a little more. I think with the music community around here people need to look at the bigger picture beyond just their circle of friends. Otherwise the community dies if we don’t support each other.”
It’s in that spirit of bringing the scene together that Frey is organizing a marathon benefit concert for Troutski on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Studio 200 from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Its lineup hasn’t been finalized, but Frey says the show will feature somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-20 DJs spread across two stages, representing artists from across the EDM spectrum, with a particular emphasis on acts that have been featured at previous Dig Deeper installments. The cover is $5, with proceeds going to Troutski’s family for funeral costs. The family is also accepting donations at a GoFundMe page which Troutski and his wife had created last month to offset a pet’s medical costs.
In a touch that Troutski would have appreciated, the benefit show will feature free food.
“That was one of his things,” Frey says. “He’d bring waffle makers into the club and make waffles for everybody—it was a great promotional hook, and a lot of people came out for it. So we’re hoping to have waffles, and people can bring any dish they want to pass. There’s a grill at Studio 200, too, and during the summer when everybody was playing on the patio he’d always grill out. So no matter how cold it is that day, we’ll be firing up the grill, too.”