October 16, 2023

Sky Terrace: Colorado’s Organic House Collective

Founded by Reed Black, AKA Cielo, Sky Terrace is a rapidly growing organic house collective based out of Denver, Colorado. Featuring residents like Cielo, Snowedin, Tasba, Pinkowitz and more; Sky Terrace has been making waves all over town at venues like Beacon, 1134 and more. Residents consistently climb the Beatport Organic House Charts and have had support from big-name artists like Enamour. We sat down with Cielo to learn more about his collective & where the team is headed. Scope the full interview below.

How did you get your start in music? What led you to Colorado and how does our scene compare to your roots?

I started with the guitar in 7th grade. Between that period and college there was just this explosion of interest in music. It started with punk rock - Blink 182 & Green Day. Then I became obsessed with Tom Morello and the crazy things he was doing for Rage Against the Machine. After that, late in high school, psychedelics came into the picture and I went deep into the jam-band scene. Early STS9, Umphree's McGee, a lot of Phish, that kind of thing.

I was always really introspective, musically. Being in a band was too much compromise for me, and electronic music and production wouldn't be on my radar until years later. I primarily was a loop performer. Laying down guitar licks, beatboxing and patterns, rapping and singing over the top. Looking back it was a lot like producing and it kind of set the stage for what I do now.

Taking up producing was a sudden thing. One month it wasn't on my radar, the next month I was obsessed. It was 2011, and I was bed-ridden with the flu. I had just gotten an iPad, and ended up using my excess mental energy for the better part of 3 days experimenting with GarageBand on it and assembling beats. After playing the results for friends who were in school for music, they demanded I pick up Ableton Live, and dedicate more time and effort towards producing.

After a few years of bedroom producing, my tracks caught the attention of Stonecutter Recording Studios in Chicago. There I was able to up my recording and audio engineering game, but primarily worked as an in-house producer. It was pretty great. I had opportunities to work with amazing artists across many genres, but really felt like I found my voice making beats for hip-hop and R & B artists. And can now say I've produced for Twista, so that's a fun bonus.

As life changed, I stepped away from production for a while to fulfill a years-long dream of moving to Colorado to be closer to the mountains. I. pulled off the move in 2017, and this place has a way of inspiring one to get back into a creative flow. In 2021 I launched Cielo, the organic house project, and released my debut EP, Sweet Rain on the Ibiza-based label Be Adult Music in August 2022. 

To be honest, I didn't really run with the scene in Chicago. I was working my restaurant job, and was heads down in the studio. I didn't get out into the clubs or parties back then. Obviously I was living in the birthplace of house music, but never truly took advantage of that. I was much more separated from the scene there than I am here. But I also think that just speaks to the sense of community there is in a place like this. It's so easy to just go out and get connected with amazing people who are doing the same thing in Denver. So glad I moved here.

Tell us about Sky Terrace - When was it formed, what inspired its creation and where do you see it going?

A group of us started talking around August/September of 2022. For me it was this sense that - ok, I've released my first EP, I watched it do pretty well on the beatport charts. Now what? I have some friends who are decently connected in the scene, but I haven't taken my first step towards being active within it. It felt like I was looking in from the outside, but I knew I had something to offer. And via discord and instagram, there was this other scattered, but loosely connected group of artists whom I identified with. We all were kind of in this similar place in our journey. Studio geeks who have recently begun the journey of signing and releasing music in this organic, deep, downtempo, melodic realm. Somewhere along the line, it became pretty apparent that to break into the scene, to do so collectively would probably be more easy, fun, connective, productive, and creatively fruitful than to try to do so strictly individually. So we formed Sky Terrace.

The initial purpose was to leverage all of our knowledge, resources, connections to help each other level up both in the studio and in the scene. As our visions coalesced into this entity a few other things became apparent. One was - hey we can actually use this new entity to land some of the artists around the world we really admire. Why not bring them out and play shows together? To me the really big and beautiful discovery was that we all share this tremendous passion for growth. That's not just our own growth, but to be able to witness and assist in the growth of others - our close friends and those in the community. A handful of us give lessons. We're always giving each other mix and production feedback, and working to create lanes and a framework to help all of the budding producers out there in this city have a community to grow within.

The home-base of that effort is our Discord channel, where we invite production challenges, give and ask for feedback, share inspiring music, and share the knowledge we've picked up over our combined decades in the studio. It's open to all of those in the CO scene looking to up their game in the studio, or just looking to connect and share their love for music. Please reach out to us on instagram if you'd like to hop in. The more the merrier!

What are your biggest priorities when it comes to selecting residents and building your overall team?

For future residents, who we are looking for, mainly, is someone who fits the core element of our identity - that they are a passionate and active producer of certain types of house music. It's important that their primary area of focus is some genre tangent of organic house - be it deep, melodic, afro, downtempo, etc., because after all, we want to play shows together, and that needs to work. Also, there is a common thread amongst our residents of a passion for the artistic process - we recognize that this journey isn't about the destination, it's about the process. And as such we're committed to our own growth, the growth of our fellow residents, and helping other members of the greater Colorado music community grow in their production game as well. 

Finally, it should be noted that we are not at a stage where we will be going around offering residencies. It's important to us to know that each Resident is passionate about being a part of this - so it's imperative that if they want a residency, they need to make that intention known to us. So yeah. If this sounds like you, let us know! A great first step is just joining our discord, or coming to one of our shows and saying hi to us!

Sky Terrace has a mix series called “Moonlight Mixtapes” – What is the theme behind this series and are you looking for more guests to appear on the show? If so, how can artists get in touch and/or apply for a slot?

This mix series started as a means to feature our residents, but as we have shifted our focus towards growth, we've managed to expand it into a globally-recognized organic house showcase. While it primarily revolves around organic house, we are happy to include genres that we feel are tangent to it - deep, afro, melodic techno, and downtempo are all welcome. Moonlight Mixtapes is all about world-class music, building relationships, and enhancing the global reputation of the Colorado house music scene. It's our opportunity to reach out to the world, grab people's attention, and direct them to what is happening here - both by featuring local artists and inviting international artists to release with us.

There is no application process; it's invite-only due to the interest we have been generating both here and abroad. As a baseline, we consider those in Colorado who we believe best represent some aspect of this scene. Usually, these are signed and charting producers, but we are open to anyone who's making a real impact on the scene in their own way.

What’s next for you and the Sky Terrace crew?

Next up for me is an autumn slated for what I believe to be version 2.0 of the Cielo sound. A season of funky remixes, capped with the October release of my second solo EP, Terroir, on one of my favorite labels, Plecta & George X's Athen's-based Keyfound. The big move lurking behind that is the launch of my own label, Terwa, which is going to be a celebration of the featured artist's most-authentic vision. Wheels are in motion, and I'm anticipating a launch late in the first quarter of 2024.

As for Sky Terrace, more artists see what we are doing and want to come throw down with us. And each time they come out, we connect with audiences a little more deeply. The next step would be ticketed events at interesting locations. We will never run out of brilliant, fun artists to throw down with, and we see this as the next step in our live world. We also intend to team up with other collectives and promotional entities to throw better and more-interesting, more-memorable parties. Our lines are open in this regard! Finally, the other next step will be the launch of a Sky Terrace record label. We feel it's only a natural evolution, given how the last 10 months have progressed. Finally, we're just stoked to continue to all grow together - celebrate each other as we continue to see our residents hit these amazing milestones with some of our favorite record labels.

Keep up with Cielo: Instagram // Spotify
Keep up with Sky Terrace: Instagram // Soundcloud