Minneapolis might not be a dance-music mecca like London or Berlin. But the dance-floor faithful here in flyover land long have known something their across-the-pond peers are just discovering: DVS1 is one heckuva DJ.
Since the mid-’90s, DVS1 has been a bastion of Twin Cities techno, testing the limits of local sound systems with brooding bass lines and soul-quaking galumphs. But over the past three-plus years, the real life Zak Khutoretsky has gone global. Deals with subterranean German sensation Ben Klock and Detroit legend Derrick May, each of whom released his music on their respective labels, helped earn the Minnesota mix maven international attention and steady club gigs across Europe. He says he’s booked through November, and 90 percent of his gigs are overseas.
“The flying, the traveling, all that is definitely starting to wear [me] down,” the turntable talent said. “But you get there, especially when it’s a good gig, you get up and you start to play and you forget about all the bad.”
After cracking respected online electronic-music magazine Resident Advisor’s top DJs of 2011 list (the underground answer to DJ Mag’s more mainstream ranking), Khutoretsky leaped 40 spots in last year’s fan poll, to No. 58.
His most infamous gigs have been grueling eight- to 12-hour sets at Berlin’s fabled Berghain club, where he says he’s an unofficial resident. While admitting those marathons can be physically challenging, Khutoretsky says eventually he stops thinking and his DJ chops take over.
“You’re connected with these people,” he said. “You’re watching the lights, the atmosphere, the surroundings. You’re not even conscious of it, but you’re guiding it.”
Khutoretsky, who was born in Russia and grew up in Hopkins, splits his time between Minneapolis and Berlin. A year and a half ago he snagged an apartment in Berlin to cut down on hotel hunting and hitting up friends for couch space.
They may love him in Europe, but Khutoretsky, 36, is less well known at home. His club dates here are infrequent, as the minimal maestro typically plays underground all-night parties for a devout, in-the-know audience. Khutoretsky laments America’s (and more specifically Minnesota’s) early-closing club culture, arguing it cultivates DJs who play mostly massive, flashy tracks with little mood differentiation.
“At a club, it’s like peak, peak, peak and more peak, and then it’s over,” he says. “And people don’t come out right at 10 [p.m.]. So, they come out at 12 [midnight], they spend an hour drinking and trying to find who they’re going to take home, and then they’ve maybe got 45 minutes to intently listen to the music, at tops.”
Khutoretsky co-owned the downtown Minneapolis club Foundation, but it folded in 2008, leaving him with a pile of debt. He sold his hallmark sound system to raise money. Freed from the responsibility of running a club and sound for other people’s parties, he finally had time to focus on his music. “In the end, it was the greatest thing that could’ve happened to me,” he said.
While his transatlantic, club-pumping profession sounds glamorous, back home he enjoys “just being Zak” — hanging out with his wife, driving a “beat-down truck” and tending to the north Minneapolis studio spaces he owns. Logistically, a full-on move to Europe would make sense, but Khutoretsky’s roots in the Midwest run deep and he says its soil helps his sound bloom. Communal pride aside, don’t expect the jet-setting DJ to drop anchor in Minneapolis anytime soon, either.
“Now that I’ve got a taste of doing what I love on this scale, I don’t think I would be OK with just settling in here,” he said. “But I’m happy that I have my feet on the ground here and still have my connection points and I get to come share what I do everywhere else here.”
There’s no sushi shortage in Uptown, but a raw-fish veteran is moving there anyway. The roll-wrappers behind Origami quietly completed the relocation of their Minnetonka location into the Mozaic building next to Bar Louie this month. (Origami retains its downtown Minneapolis location.) In addition to requisite sake selections, the Uptown site offers an assortment of shochu — a low-alcohol Japanese spirit (we like the sweet-potato variety on the rocks).
1354 Lagoon Av., Mpls., 612-223-8666, www.origamirestaurant.com
Hats off to three Minnesota breweries for hopping onto the national Brewers Association’s list of the top 50 American breweries last week. Measured by 2012 volume of sales, August Schell’s (No. 25), Summit (No. 32) and Cold Spring Brewing Co. (No. 39) made the cut on the list predictably topped by Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. Summit and Cold Spring also appeared on a separate ranking of craft breweries (at No. 23 and No. 28, respectively), though Schell’s did not. The Brewers Association does not classify the New Ulm beer-maker as a “craft” brewery.
Michael Rietmulder writes about bars and nightlife.