DJ Motion Potion, otherwise known as Robbie Kowal, performs with the mind of a chess player. "I'm always thinking about what's the next song or where does this go from here," Kowal said. "A certain song will have a horn part or a certain kind of vocal and I'll bring in another song with that element.
"I listen really carefully, and maybe I'll have a song with the word 'salvation' in it, and I'll follow it with something else about salvation. It's a deeper look at the music, not just the tempo."
Some of his gigs are played spontaneously, but others are preplanned, depending on their complexity. Last year, when he opened for Gov't Mule in New Orleans, he spun a 45-minute set made up of 30-second pieces of popular rock songs.
"I had to work out that set beforehand," he said.
Motion Potion, or MoPo, will play two gigs in Steamboat Springs at Mahogany Ridge. He played Thursday in a style he calls "funk hop," where he plays a song mixed with a hip-hop track that sampled it.
Saturday's gig will be a special Valentine's Day set.
"I'll lean on the soul greats -- Al Green, Marvin Gaye -- especially early in the night, then I imagine getting funkier," Kowal said.
MoPo bills himself as "the DJ who plays to the people who don't like DJs."
"I try to create a sound for people who like live music, for people who aren't beatheads," Kowal said. "It's for people who like complete music and not just vapid beats."
The role of the DJ is to be the "captain of the party," he said. "No matter what the vibe is, you have to be willing to put on the vibe that matches. That's the real art. It's a two-way street. You channel the environment into your choices of music. You lead them in a positive direction with one record or one idea."
Don't go to Saturday's show expecting to hear Top-40 hits. That's not the kind of music MoPo listens to and not the music he buys.
"People come in and ask for a Janet Jackson track. I don't have it. I don't listen to that stuff," he said. "I don't have to play The Neptunes' greatest hits, and I'm not going to play Reuben. Part of this is education."
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