Spencer Roehre is a senior studying Strategic Communications in the School of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is one half of the DJ duo, Affair.
Affair is a DJ/producer duo based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Influenced by the electronic scene, Roehre and his partner Karsten Sladky combine their diverse musical backgrounds to create eclectic remixes, which you can find on Soundcloud.
Roehre started DJing when he was 16-years-old. When Roehre isn’t mixing Avicii or Coldplay, you can find him mountaineering or whitewater rafting.
We sat down with Spencer Roehre to learn more about Affair and what it’s like to DJ in college.
How did you get into DJing?
I got started in high school. Some friends of mine who were a year older than me were doing it at house parties whenever people’s parents would be out of town. I started playing with them, and then when they graduated I took over as the DJ at parties. One of my other friends was in a rock band and had a whole PA system, speakers, lights and everything. I would borrow that to DJ.
What’s the best part about being a DJ?
I think it’s fun when you can shape the mood of the room. You have this sort of control, it’s just a lot of fun.
Who is Affair?
Affair is my buddy Karsten and I. Karsten went to school near Seattle his freshman year of college and met this other guy coincidentally also named Spencer. They started DJing under the name “Affair”. Karsten came back to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his sophomore year, but we didn’t really get together as a DJing duo until last year.
What do you and your partner each bring to the table?
As far as the producing goes, Karsten is classically musically trained. He has been playing piano since he was five. He is really good with melodies and chord progressions when working on remixes. I have zero formal music training and really can’t play any instruments. I just have an ear for how I want the music to sound, so he’ll come to me with either a melody or chord progression and then I’ll help him build the drums, do the chopping. As far as DJing goes, I’ve been doing it for a really long time so I have the eye for what the mood is and what we need to tailor our settings towards, and he has really nice DJ equipment. I also do all of our branding, run our social media, graphics and any artwork.
How would you describe Affair’s music?
It’s pretty eclectic. We like doing remixes a lot. “Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay was our first remix together. We promoted it as progressive trap, which I would describe as really hard hitting drums with a driving synth. The most recent song we came out with can be described as tropical house. It’s more summery and tropical sounding, slower, more relaxed. The ones we have coming out shortly will be more hard-hitting. We like experimenting with everything.
How do you decide what music to play?
It all depends. Sometimes we’ll be booked for a fraternity formal, so we know what they will want to hear: more recent stuff, what’s playing on the radio. So we tailor it towards that. If we’re opening for someone who we know plays a lot more intense music, then we can play our more intense music. Whereas if the headliner is more relaxed, then we have to be in line with that. At our own shows, though, we like to go pretty hard and play stuff that’s really high energy, whatever gets people jumping and moving.
About how long does each song take?
It usually takes a while. We’ll find an acapella of a song, which is just the vocal part, and then we’ll build on it from there. Karsten comes up with a melody and then I come in and we work on drums together. I would say from start to finish, from hearing the acapella and wanting to remix it to he finished product, takes an average of three to five months. Since we both have super busy schedules it can be hard to find time to get together. Usually what we’ll do is carve out six hours and get together on a Saturday to get a chunk of it out. It’s a lot of slow progress. Once we think it’s done we send it to an audio engineer to get the song mixed and mastered. They make all of the levels even, so if it plays really loud at shows it won’t clip. It’s just like dusting it off, making it sound pretty, without changing the structure of the song.
What exposure have your songs reached thus far?
We have all of our music on Soundcloud. Our friends in the United States obviously have the most listens right now. But we actually have lot of plays from Spain and England. As far as shows goes, we’ve played St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis.
What are you excited about for Affair?
A lot of stuff right now! We’re finishing up a few more remixes that we’re hoping to release in the next couple of months. We’re working with some blogs right now to do some exclusive premiers. And then just upcoming shows and branching out more in the Midwest.
Is this something you want to do long-term?
It’s kind of in limbo right now. We’ve been releasing a lot of music and doing a lot of shows and getting some interest from booking agencies, but we’re both finishing school right now and neither of us know where we’re going to be next year. We’re just seeing where it goes in the next couple of months.
How do you balance pursuing Affair, schoolwork, and everything else?
It’s a little bit tough. My mom is always like, ‘oh, you’re DJing this weekend?’ She’s kind of worried. But whenever I’m DJing is not time that I would be spending on homework, anyways. Like, the shows are on a Friday at 11pm or midnight. That’s kind of how I justify it. But it’s definitely a lot of time to devote. And it’s not so much the shows as it is the preparation. Working on remixes or getting ready for shows takes a lot of preparation.
So what are your plans for after graduation?
It’s really up in the air right now. I’m not opposed to sticking around or moving somewhere where we can progress Affair, if things are taking off at that point. But we’re not banking on that. I’m applying to advertising agencies on the West coast right now, and then looking to New Zealand or Australia because I think they might be cool places to live.
Lastly, how would you define the word ‘success’?
I think success means being happy with where you’re at in whatever your craft or self is.