‘Tropical house’ takes Belly Up Aspen | AspenTimes.com

‘Tropical house’ takes Belly Up Aspen

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Thomas Jack, the DJ who coined the term "tropical house," will perform Saturday at Belly Up.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

Who: Thomas Jack

Where: Belly Up Aspen

When: Saturday, Dec. 26, 10 p.m.

How much: $42/GA; $65 reserved

Tickets: Belly Up box office; http://www.bellyupaspen.com

Two of the more prominent dates on Aspen’s live music calendar this winter have been slotted with the leaders in an exceedingly popular, recently minted form of electronic music dubbed “tropical house.”

All eyes are on the entertainment schedule in Aspen between Christmas and New Year’s Eve — and this Saturday, the 22-year-old DJ who dubbed the sub-genre, Thomas Jack, will play Belly Up Aspen.

The DJ credited with first pioneering the sound is Kygo. The 24-year-old Norwegian’s show at Belly Up scheduled on the Friday night of X Games weekend (Jan. 29) sold out shortly after tickets went on sale this fall. Tickets are still available for his big outdoor concert at Buttermilk, closing out the X Games music festival on Jan. 31.

So, WTF is “tropical house?”

It’s basically a more organic-sounding spin-off of house music and a sunnier, friendlier sibling of deep house. Where deep house goes big and synthetic — and dubstep goes for high drama with sounds reminiscent of alien monster communications (memorably spoofed by Key and Peele) — tropical house brings in acoustic instrumentation, horns and marimbas. And the beats tend to be a little slower than on a deep house track.

Jack, a native of Bemboka, Australia, has quickly become an electronic dance music tastemaker, producing laid-back songs that meld the club-ready sounds of house music with the sounds of classical guitar and steel drums, with touches of saxophones, flutes and pianos. After he dubbed the sub-genre, half-jokingly, as “tropical house,” the name stuck and took hold in the past two years, elevating him and DJs like Kygo and Klingande to festival headlining spots and onto the globe-trotting DJ circuit.

Jack has said he remains blissfully unaware of the quicksilver trends of electronic music and that the sound he helped pioneer wasn’t necessarily a reaction to whatever else is happening on DJ stands around the world.

“I don’t really have anyone in mind when I am making a track,” he told Interview magazine last year. “It is more on the lines of the environment in which the track would fit best. For example, near a pool or beach, on a nice sunny day, having a few beers, that’s what I have in mind. I am really trying to push the happy summer tropical vibe into my music at the moment.”

Jack first found listeners online with remixes of songs by bands like Of Monsters and Men and Denver’s One Republic. His original works include sunny singles like “Symphony” and “The Final Speech,” with samples of speeches by JFK and Charlie Chaplin’s “Great Dictator,” and more recently, “Rivers,” featuring vocals by Nico and Vinz.

“I love speeches in tracks,” he said. “I feel like they tell a story, and the aim is to fit the emotion of the track to that speech, so they just blend. It makes the track more emotional, I think.”

Jack’s day-after-Christmas show is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m.