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loom Weaves Omaha

An interview with DJ Brent Crampton
loom Weaves Omaha
Published on August 25, 2010

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When most of America hears the word loom, they probably picture medieval spinsters hunched over ancient wooden machines or Dickensian children in Victorian sweatshops.

OK. Maybe the New York hipsters start salivating over selvage denim.

Either way, it’s different in Omaha.

When people here hear the word loom, they know you are probably talking about the frequent parties hosted by Brent Crampton and Jay Kline. This recognition is a testament to the hard work they’ve put into creating loom—the pair has taken the word out of the past and thrust it into the future of Omaha’s dance scene. Literally. 

loom DJ Brent Crampton at the 2010 annual White Partyloom DJ Brent Crampton at the 2010 annual White PartyThat future is especially bright this time of year as loom gears up for two of its biggest events: the annual White Party, recently held for the first time at The Waiting Room, and loom Weaves the Joslyn Sculpture Garden, a unique gathering of art and music.

A while back, we interviewed Brent, loom’s resident DJ, about his evolution from coffee house turntablist to one of the most respected music brands in the city. Our interview touches on everything from his humble house party beginnings to his reasons for staying in Omaha, an unlikely home base for a music maker with transcontinental leanings.

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What is loom?

loom is an internationally-themed dance party...loom is an internationally-themed dance party…Loom is an internationally-themed dance party, mixing the hard driving 4/4 thump of house music with the progressive, poly-rhythmic sounds of world beat—not to mention the occasional live percussion section.

With an ear tuned more toward Putumayo than pop rap’s flavor of the month, a loom event is a multiracial meeting place for the city. It’s the eclectic mix, to use the proper DJ parlance, of diverse people and where’d-he-pull-that-from? samples that makes loom unique in the Omaha dance landscape.

And after years of sharing its multifarious tastes with the Midwest, loom has established itself as a gathering that transcends the traditional fist-pumping confines of club culture. But even with its place in the city secure, loom is constantly striving to be something more. Fund-raisers like February’s Haiti benefit at Love’s Jazz and Art Center reveal loom’s true mission: it’s a party with philosophical underpinnings, traditional dance pillars—sweaty, sexyfun—supporting a more important message—smart, soulfulphilanthropic

With a monthly gig at España, frequent nights at Sake Bombers Lounge, and special one-off engagements like the upcoming loom Weaves the Joslyn Sculpture Garden, it’s not hard to find Brent and creative muse Jay "rythmSOULdier" Kline around town. And after celebrating their four year anniversary in March, loom shows no signs of slowing down, with a full season of upcoming parties.

How to Be A DJ: Step 1, Work Hard

Like Jay-Z once rapped on the Blueprint², being Omaha born and bred truly is the Gift and the Curse for a DJ. The city’s small town feel has helped many a small business get established, and, much like a DJ looking for a gig, stifled other ventures to a degree by the inherent limitations of a merely mid-sized metropolis.

For better and worse, and mostly better, Brent is indeed Omaha born and bred. Inspired by the burgeoning 90s rave culture, he began DJ’ing in high school and arrived on the DJ scene in earnest by organizing his first tour, dubbed the Deep Coffee House Revolution Tour. Ever ambitious, Brent booked this "tour" by playing at the only places that would have him, coffee houses.

A residency of sorts at Stage Right Coffee & Tea followed, and from this, a gig at Bar 415, performed on his 19 birthday, the first day he was legally allowed to work in a bar. By many twists and turns, this eventually led to loom. But…why?

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Weaving the Social Fabric 

Loom’s oft-used tagline, Mixing life. Bringing people together. Connecting through music. Releasing in dance, is more than a marketing ploy; it’s a lifestyle. At it’s heart, loom is really an extension of the way Brent and Jay have lived their lives. As Brent said during our interview, "one of my life passions is bringing people together."

As such, loom "weaves the social fabric" is both a description and a goal: bring people in Omaha, a city that has traditionally been powered by jazz and indie rock, together to enjoy dance and cross pollinate culturally. 

Brent recalled a rock show from years back that perhaps best sums up the kind of "fabric" that loom is working with. The Faint played the venerable Sokol Auditorium with Tilly and the Wall opening. Though Brent admits that (tap) dance indie rock isn’t really his scene, he dug on the crowd, the energy they received from the performers and the joy the crowd gave back to them. This interplay between the audience and the DJ, the giving and receiving that makes music communal, is why he got into DJ’ing in the first place.

Come full circle, and Brent is invited to DJ at GOO’s New Year’s Eve Party at the Slowdown, the same GOO that features members of both of the bands he was digging on before. Such is the city we live in.

Omaha may not immediately register with a DJ culture weened on Amsterdam, Berlin, and New York, but the constantly evolving state of electronic music knows no geography. For a musical genre created out of the dying embers of disco, could a Midwest crescendo really be that unlikely?

[Omaha] is a city with a lot of potential, a lot of growth…I love it because I don’t feel creatively stifled. If I come up with an idea, and I have the drive to make it happen, it WILL happen. The resources are here, the tools are here, the people who are open to making it happen are here.

As with the city itself, it’s best not to try to predict what loom will do next. Mix caffeinated beginnings with equal parts Larry Levan/Paradise Garage, a dash of Chicago house, and a healthy dose of Omaha optimism, and you have a product that will continue to strive for sonic excellence, social awareness, and that special something more that makes a party into memorable event.

As Brent says, "I’m in my mid 20s, so I’m just riding this out as long as I can and enjoying life to a great extent." How’s that for tagline?

Brent Crampton of loomBrent Crampton of loom

jordyAn writer since 2008, Jordy freely admits he's waiting for his golden parachute "anxiously." He microblogs @jordyclements + macroblogs