When Shane Thomas—best known as the tall, skinny guy who is always behind the turntables at Dojo—started DJing on an iPad with a controller last June, he didn't think it would turn into a weekly gig. But when his day job, Bloom Well Medical Marijuana Dispensary, started talking about advertising with local, independent radio station 92.9 FM, Bloom Well owner Jeremy Kwit suggested an electronic radio hour that eventually snowballed into Beat Lab, Thomas' electronic "trippy music" show that he curates under the name Royal Louis. Now, Thomas is living his dream selling pot by day and playing a vigilante digital musician by night.
"The station kind of gave us the show," explained Thomas who aired the first Beat Lab on July 7. "We want to cover a broad spectrum of trippy music and broadcast it over the radio waves to f*** with peoples' brains. Ultimately, we want to build a more rich scene and vibrant community around electronic music."
Thomas mashes up all genres of electronic, hip-hop, trance, bass (standard, future and drum and...) R&B, house, EDM and trap. The throbbing, punchy mixes feel like they're being streamed from a satellite on a rocket ship somewhere in the outer dimensions of the psychoactive universe. A spaceship that defiantly has a dance floor in the champagne room.
The program, airing Thursday at 9:30 pm, is Bend's only locally produced electronic specific program. It streams online at 929online.com and all the broadcasts are available after the show on Beat Lab's Soundcloud page.
Thomas is no stranger to what he calls "trippy sounds" having been the guitarist for the forward thinking psychedelic rock band Empty Space Orchestra that dominated the Bend music scene until they broke up in 2012.
"After ESO was done I started making my own electronic trippy music at my leisure. I like dance music so I just started doing it," explained Thomas. "To call myself a DJ is weird. I have this weird indie guilt about it. I'm used to playing guitar and I come from a background where I would go to DJ shows and say, 'those guys aren't even playing anything!' Now I'm that guy, it's kinda cool."
The goal of Beat Lab, as Thomas sees it, is the overall experience of the show, not the individual mixes.
"When I do sets I'm not trying to do club sets, I'm just taking songs I like and making an experience, a progression, weaving them in and out," explained Thomas. "And that's what I was always doing with ESO, making the show a crazy long experience not a song, a song, a song. I still feel like I'm doing that and the tools involved in bringing that music out of space are not super important to me. As long as it's coming out. I don't care what it takes to get the mojo out of another dimension into this one. As long as it's happening."
Thomas and his team air weekly guest DJ/producer sets manufactured around the world—from Bend, all the way to Spain. This month, featured artists included SubDocta, a Reno DJ who dabbles across electronic styles; local DJ bPollen who makes soulful bass driven electronica, Paranome who mashes up diverse worldly dance music; DJ Professor Stone who makes housey robotic electronica; and Pussy Brunch a duo of lady DJs with a hip-hop swag spliced with intermittent cat meows. The variety of DJs and sample artists makes for a unique and unexpected listening experience each week.
"Listeners have asked for this type of music program since we started this radio station 8 years ago," said Mike Flanagan, programing director at 92.9 FM. "The genre of the music and the DJs producing sets for the show make it a 90-minute listening experience differing from the 'usual' format of the station. At the same time, all of our specialty shows—Simmer Down-Reggae, After Dark-Metal, Vintage Vault-80s, Jam In Your Ear-Jam, Highway 97-Local—provide that experience. It's a fun ride and I love the evolution of this station for the past eight years. Beat Lab is just one more step in that evolution."
"We're trying to play forward-thinking music that isn't represented very much here," said Thomas. "There is not a big urban music representation here, but there are people who like hip-hop and house and music made with gizmos and devices. We're trying to bring that presence here."
9:30 pm, every Thursday
92.9 FM, stream at 929online.com or listen to past mixes at