Digging into deep house can sometimes be a challenge—that’s why DJOYbeat has done the research for you! Meet Cranky Owls, a duo formed by two scene veterans Keith Evan and Evan Landes. Now as their alter-egos Ras and Sonny, respectively, they’ve already earned support from Osunlade, Frankie Knuckles and Miguel Migs, among other respected DJ/producers in the deep house scene. Even more impressive? Their 8-minute “Times Up” debut offering nabbed a top 10 spot on Traxsource.com’s top 100 deep house chart.
“Our sound is not supposed to be party music,” Keith Evan explains. “The challenges that we’ve faced over the years—and we still do in Las Vegas as far as the large clubs go—is they want to hear a certain type of music. It’s a bottle service-driven community and money speaks. So the commercial music is what the masses know and the masses are filling those clubs.
“What we do is a smaller community, so it’s harder for us to satisfy the club managers and the club hosts having to get the requests and complaints about the music if they want to hear something that’s faster or on the radio. Deep house isn’t on the commercial level,” Keith says.
But playing the big clubs isn’t the goal for Cranky Owls, a name chosen as a play on wise nocturnal creatures who never get enough shut-eye. “I’ve been a long-time deep house affiliate ambassador, so to speak,” says Keith. “My career really kicked off in Vegas more than anything, as a pioneer in the deep-house movement there.” Keith gets a lot of respect for his role cultivating the scene; from the long-running Soundbar series with the House Society crew (going on 14 years) to Godspeed, the former Utopia and Empire Ballroom, Moon, N9Ne, Marquee, Ghostbar, the Mi Casa Su Casa event in Mexico, and the Ambassadors party in Miami during Winter Music Conference, Evan has shown dedication and consistency to his craft. He’s also been a big proponent of pairing food and tunes with his Taste series of events. Plus, keep an ear out for the Cranky Owl sounds, including a remix titled “Physically” for Colette’s new album up next in February.
“[Deep house has] a more soulful approach to electronic music, in my opinion. It’s a more community-driven genre, the events are really about vibe—you measure the success of a party in vibe, not necessarily the turnout,” says Keith. “It’s a deeper-rooted experience in music. It’s more culture as far as the community, camaraderie and the people … the listener will evolve and they’ll understand that this is good music, but you won’t hear it on the radio 10 times a day.”