Dylan Valley, aka Enzymes, grew up on his parents' Pink Floyd and Peter Tosh records, but his first sonic crush was on electronic music. In high school he discovered electronic artists like the Orb and Aphex Twin, and in 2000, a few years after he graduated, he bought some turntables and began experimenting with mixing records.
"I listened to them over and over and tried to figure out what would go together, what the puzzle pieces were to create the best picture," he says. "Knowing your records was important."
In the 1990s, Missoula was an electronic music desert. The Badlander—not yet a bar, but a private house in the Lower Rattlesnake—was one venue among just a few hosting shows featuring local electronic DJs, along with an occasional touring DJ. For most local electronic music fans, like Valley, it paid off to drive to Seattle or to the Shambhala music festival in British Columbia to catch big acts and participate in raves. By the turn of the millennium, more Missoula venues began catering to the genre. Valley had his first show on New Year's Eve 2001 in a space called the Red Light Green Room, located in the basement of the Wilma (where Scotty's Table is now).
"I knew what songs were good, but I didn't know how to blend them," he says now. "But, whatever. The crowd seemed to enjoy it. I pretended I knew what I was doing. It was awesome—the feeling of rocking this crowd. That was good inspiration for me to keep doing it, even though I didn't know anything at the time."
During the years Valley first started making music, dubstep and trap were just emerging in the underground scene, and not even a blip on the mainstream's radar. Hip-hop had a relatively wider audience and for five years, Valley made beats for a hip-hop group called the Inhumans, which he started with his brother, Austin, and another emcee, Kyle McAfee. They gained in-town traction (and up to 10 members), often serving as the sole hip-hop group at shows with punk and rock lineups. In 2009, four months after the group moved to Portland to find a larger audience, it disbanded. In the meantime, Valley says, dubstep had finally arrived in Missoula and electronic music was higher profile than ever, which gave him a reason to move back—now with a laptop and turntables—and start his solo project, Enzymes.
In the years since, Valley has established himself as a DJ and producer who can pack a dance floor in a music scene now dominated by electronic music. His new record, Mind's Eye, showcases three electronic music dance subgenres: glitch hop, dubstep and drum-and-bass. It samples less obvious clips from popular and classic songs, like Tag Team's "Whoomp (There It Is)," and lines like "I'm your huckleberry," from the movie Tombstone. It features local emcee Dar and beat collaborations with Bozeman producer Twiggy Smalls.
EDM has become so commercialized that producers like Enzymes have to differentiate themselves from the soulless cookie-cutter approach of McDonald's commercials. During live sets, Valley often blends or remixes oldies like Otis Day and the Knights, Smokey Robinson, Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke. Mind's Eye pulls in pop-culture threads but also original sounds. It straddles the line between experimentation and something you can break a sweat to. Dancing is always the goal, Valley says.
"I don't like doing downtempo stuff," he says. "I'm not an early sunrise DJ. I've thought about creating some more mellow sunrise sets, but from the heart, what I really want to create—what I'm feeling—is the late-night heavy bass."
Enzymes plays an album release show at the Palace Fri., March 3, at 9 PM, along with PNUT BUTR. No cover.