MetaphOracle: British Columbian DJ Embodies West Coast Lifestyle and Sound
By Alex Kerr
Armed with his laptop, $200 in rented sound equipment, and a parentless house, DJ Josh Tjaden played his first party using Windows Media Player on New Years Eve 2004. “It was the best thirty minutes of my life until the cops came,” said Tjaden from his house in Armstrong, British Columbia. Despite not making any money back on the sound equipment and having to shut down early, Tjaden knew this DJing thing was for him. “I remembered my mom disapprovingly say, ‘you better not be doing that again’, and I replied, ‘are you kidding me? I want to do this forever.’”
Now known under MetaphOracle, Tjaden has been performing his hip-hop influenced style of electronic music to British Columbia party people for over a decade. Tjaden grew up in the small Okanagan town of Armstrong and was the only DJ in town, sometimes playing up to eight-hour sets. After graduating from Pleasant Valley Secondary in 2009 Tjaden moved to the musically rich city of Victoria to attend university.
His fellow first-years at the University of Victoria quickly began to notice the guy blasting music throughout residence. “My room was right by the cafeteria and I would hang a speaker out my window,” said Tjaden, “People still remember me as the window DJ.” First year university is beleaguered with partying, bad decisions, and failed classes. Despite being very active in UVic’s social scene, Tjaden still managed to achieve 96% in his music theory elective. “It was the most interesting course I took,” he said.
After his first year at UVic, Tjaden decided to focus solely on music and moved back to the Okanagan for a 26-month long audio engineering program at the Center for Arts and Technology Kelowna.
“I definitely miss Vic a lot,” said Tjaden.
His move back to the Okanagan proved not only to be a geographical change, but also a musical one. It was at this time DJ Tjaden transformed into MetaphOracle. “I spent my whole life with people mispronouncing my last name,” he said, “I didn’t want people doing it with my artist name as well.”
Like any good B.C. kid, Tjaden attended illegal bush parties from a young age where he derived musical inspiration and set future goals. “Eventually I decided I wanted to give back,” he said. Tjaden and a friend used Google maps to scout for remote clearings near the Kelowna area, found one, then headed out on the logging roads. “So I’m just smoking a doobie with my buddy, we come around the corner, and right in front of us is this flat, lush, green field,” said Tjaden. “I wanted to have a location associated with my ideas and this was perfect.”Tjaden gathered resources, assigned jobs, rented equipment, printed tickets, created a Facebook event and eventually saw his vision come into fruition. “The event went from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.”, said Tjaden, “there was around 300 people. It just blew up.”
In addition to throwing these events, Tjaden also began experimenting with his own sound by implementing live trumpet into his songs. Inspired by a 2012 Russ Liquid set at the infamous Shambhala Music Festival, Tjaden began practicing. “It’s more of a short and frequent practice schedule rather than a long and random one,” said Tjaden, “your mouth muscles need to be strong when playing brass instruments.”
Fellow Okanagan-based DJ/producer, Bryce DeRosier (artist name Subclaim), has taken note of Tjaden’s new sound. “That live trumpet element he throws into his music is truly epic,” said DeRosier. The two have inspired one another not through their musical styles, but rather through their motivation to make music an eventual career. “On stage Josh is a DJ’s DJ,” says DeRosier, “traversing genre to genre is second nature for him. He’s also very fun to dance to.” The two have been collaborating on a new song, which will be available on Soundcloud in early March 2015. “Josh is super talented in the studio,” said DeRosier, “he is creative and calculated in everything he does.”
Because of his hard work, community involvement, and dance floor-jamming tunes, Tjaden has received praise from throughout the West Coast electronic music community, and has graced the stage with some well-known acts. “The amount of talented musicians coming out of B.C. is insane,” said Tjaden.
Last November on a Friday night in Kelowna, MetaphOracle warmed up the decks for Shambhala veterans Stickybuds and Jpod the Beat Chef, before hitting the road with Jpod for a show at the renowned Spirit Bar in Nelson, B.C. “He thought it would be a good fit so he brought me down,” said Tjaden. “It was a pretty cool weekend.”
Tjaden has worked hard at his craft and will continue to over the next two months in the studio. “It’ll be good to have some chill time, make some money, and play a few local shows,” said Tjaden. During this time Tjaden will also be planning a bigger B.C. tour including stops in the Okanagan, Kootenays, Lower Mainland, and Vancouver Island. “In May I’m hooking a tent trailer up to my car and hitting the road,” said Tjaden, “and after the tour I’m going to go camping on Northern Vancouver Island before festival season starts in July.”
Festivalgoers should keep their eyes peeled for MetaphOracle and Sublclaim as B.C. festivals unveil their highly anticipated line-ups. Before then, Tjaden’s Victoria fans can catch him play in mid-May when the MetaphOracle tent trailer rolls through town. But if you can’t wait until then, check out his or Subclaim’s music online at their self-titled Soundcloud pages.