Local DJ Berkel Beats headlining Belly Up Aspen | AspenTimes.com
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Local DJ Berkel Beats headlining Belly Up Aspen

Nate Berkel is at home in Aspen and on stage at Belly Up, where the DJ known as Berkel Beats will headline Saturday night.

He's gotten invites from managers to take his shows on the road around the U.S. over the years, but he'd rather keep it, in his words, "local and low-key."

"The production people and the artists are amazing, but the fans and everybody else can really take you over," Berkel told The Aspen Times two years ago. "Just way too many hot girls and way too many drugs that you have to avoid, especially if you have a girl that you want to be with forever."

Playing less also means your tracks stay fresh; when he plays Belly Up, the crowd can expect to hear mostly new material. He no longer plays venues where people can approach him requesting Britney Spears songs. And he doesn't play clubs where promoters ask him to play top 40.

"Why don't you just turn on the stereo if you want to hear top 40?" he said.

Berkel arrived in Aspen in 2004. Growing up in South Bend, Indiana, he learned to ski on 240 feet of vertical at Swiss Valley in Michigan. After graduating from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, he headed west for a winter in Mammoth Lakes, California, but he never made it. Instead, he stopped in Aspen for the X Games and decided to stay, landing a job at the Ritz-Carlton and a room at the Pokolodi Lodge in Snowmass. The space he lived in was called "the dungeon," and rent was around $300 a month.

But after a few years, Snowmass was getting too small, so Berkel left for Denver, only to return a year later.

"Every time you come back here — it doesn't matter if you go to Hawaii, it doesn't matter where you go — you come back and you're excited to be home," he said.

Berkel got into electronic music in high school with ACID Pro software for PCs. It wasn't until he was 27 that he was introduced to Ableton Live, which is time-coded software suited for Macintosh. He still has every Mac he's ever owned, each one kept alive in case he needs a long-lost sample for a track he's working on today.

"You totally forget about samples you spent countless hours on, and you find it and you're like, 'Yes, I can definitely bring this back,'" he said.

Berkel landed his first paying gig at the now-defunct Club Chelsea around 2009. From there he linked up with John Hunt, a manager at Grimey Gatsby

If You Go …

Who: Berkel Beats

Where: Belly Up Aspen

When: Saturday, Jan. 7, 10 p.m.

How much: Free until 10:30 p.m. and $5 thereafter

More info: http://www.bellyupaspen.com