Portland resident Kristian Terison (better known to Bangorians as DJ KTF Terison) went to school at the University of Maine for a few years, but has been running all over the country for the last five years, finishing up his degree in sociology and honing his disc jockey skills. So what ended up reconnecting him with eastern Maine?
“I was randomly deejaying at this house party in Bangor, and John Gillis and Chas Bruns were there. I’d never met them before. Out of the blue, Chas asked me if I wanted to deejay at this festival they were having, the West Market Festival, last summer,” said Terison. “There was really a tremendous response to the first festival, and it’s just built from there.”
In the year since, Terison’s seemingly in Bangor every other week. He’s played deejay at both of Bruns and Gillis’ outdoor summer festivals. He’s deejayed the Hoops for Life Basketball Tournament, sponsored by Flophouse Records. He’s deejayed at Bangor Meltdown, organized by Myke Billings. Paddy Murphy’s. The now-defunct Red Martini. If Bangor has a superstar deejay, it’s him. And he doesn’t even live here.
Terison next will deejay Billings’ Bloom 207 event, set for Saturday evening at the Bangor Opera House. He’ll play alongside beloved Bangor band Feel It Robot, fellow Portland deejay Electro Van Gogh and local hip- hop crew Green Tank. A slew of local vendors also are set for the event, such as the Rock and Art Shop in Ellsworth, Happytown Farms in Orland, Riverside Jewelry from Bangor and local fashion from Sophronia Design.
He’s also deejaying from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at an open house for Main Street Studios, the brand-new Bangor recording studio at 49 Main St., run by Billings and producer Andrew Clifford.
What keeps him coming back? Well, a number of things, but the big reason is the Bangor crowd itself. Free of many of the social hang-ups of bigger cities, Bangor folks go to events to see one another and dig the music and scene. That’s it. And that’s awesome, according to Terison.
“The crowd response here is so warm. Gigs are much more well-attended,” said Terison. “I’m always surprised by what people react to. For instance, I have some old, instrumental funk songs that were never on the charts, and people really dig it. They’re grooving to these really obscure old tracks. It’s really interesting.”
While he’s a fan of literally all kinds of music — indie rock, jazz, metal, whatever — Terison naturally skews toward electronic music and hip-hop. He recently recorded a track with Bangor rapper Affiliate, an artist with Flophouse Records, which will be released in the coming months. He describes it as a true mash-up of hip-hop syncopation and slower, dense dance music, with Affiliate rhymes over it.
“I consciously try to straddle the line between hip-hop and dance music,” said Terison. “I really admire deejays and producers who try to blur those lines. The aesthetic and cultural differences between the two scenes make it challenging, but that’s the direction that it’s going in.”
Terison, who is marking his 10th year as a deejay, has watched virtually every aspect of not just deejay culture, but music culture as a whole, change utterly. Today, a couple thousand bucks and an Internet connection sets you up with all the tools you need to record an album and release it to the entire world. Five years ago, that was unthinkable. The vast wealth of resources available to any musician, anywhere, has changed the name of the game completely.
“That’s really the paradigm shift of the past five to 10 years,” said Terison. “It’s gone from analog to digital, and it’s gone from making money off record sales to making virtually no money off that, and all your money off touring and merchandise. I’ve never commercially released a record, but I’ve had all my success from doing gigs.”
Terison, like most of the forward-thinking musicians and promoters in the music world, sees mostly positive in the modern modes of making art.
“Yes, you have to get creative about how you make money. But, literally, the world is at your fingertips. It’s freeing. It’s exciting,” he said.
DJ KTF Terison will deejay from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Main Street Studios at 49 Main St. in Bangor, and at Bloom 207, from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Bangor Opera House. Admission is $10. For more information, visit www.ktfterison.com.