Every urban music scene needs a figure like DJ Ryno (preferably many like him, but such is rarely the case). A skillful, versatile DJ and producer, Ryno (AKA Ryan Lengle) also co-owns the Downlow Records retail shop with Jon Lee and is about to start his own label, Ploff Music. The San Francisco transplant's energy and enthusiasm for dance music make him the Tony Robbins of the Technics (I mean that in the nicest way possible).

That said, Ryno isn't afraid to point out weaknesses/flaws in Seattle's club milieu. He posted a message to the Euphonic discussion list in September that upset the warm, fuzzy feelings such online communities strive to foster. Ryno noted that San Francisco's and Vancouver's house-music scenes make Seattle's seem dull, and feathers were duly ruffled.

Does Ryno think there are too many similar events happening every week, competing for the same crowds? Could people be getting burned out and feeling a sense of staleness due to this oversaturation?

"I think it's good and bad," he says. "Everyone deserves to be heard and people going out should have a selection of quality spots to choose from. On the other hand, it does saturate a bit, but in the end, a good vibe, good people, and good music always win out."

After his marriage ended, Ryno moved from S.F. to Seattle earlier this year. (He'd lived here about eight years ago and was involved with XLR8R magazine, the Lish House, THC Sound System, as well as the HABIT crew.) Once back in the Northwest, Ryno quickly scaled the house-music ladder, getting choice DJ gigs at events like Bamboo (Sonya's), Flammable (Re-bar), Afterhours (Contour and the Standard), Get Sake'd (Bonzai), and more. He's also spun on bills with out-of-town heavies like Dave Ralph and JT Donaldson. Ryno's obviously got what clubgoers want.

" My favorite styles are deep and varied," he says. "I really love twisted, dark disco and percussive house with spaced-out bass lines and a clean sound. I'm not really into tricks. I do mess with the EQ some, but I'm really into the art of mixing, the layering of sounds, telling a story--playing old with new [records], dropping some stuff that you wouldn't think to drop. In regards to my productions, I had one record I did on my former label, Plush Recordings, that was called Turkish Delight. [Lee Burridge included it on his Global Underground: NuBreed mix disc, which means thousands of people heard it.] Recently, I have been working with Jon Lee as well as J. Quest under the guise Audio Addiction." Some of those tracks will likely come out on Tilted and Ploff.

While his musical career thrives, Ryno's business ain't doing so hot. Located in a high-traffic area of Capitol Hill, stuffed with house, techno, jungle, hiphop, rare groove, and downtempo wax, and spaciously laid out compared to most vinyl-centric shops, Downlow should be a hub for the city's DJs and dancers.

"That was our mission when we got into this game," Ryno admits. "Jon and I pretty much breathe this stuff, and we invite everyone to come listen to the sounds that we have provided. There are some DJs that do come in often and [some who come in] every now and then. Hopefully, we can be considered a hub for all people as well as the DJs."

Ryno blames the poor economy for Downlow's slump, but he remains undaunted. "[The store has had] its ups and downs, [but] we are confident our mission of providing this city and beyond with quality music will be recognized." DAVE SEGAL

DJ Ryno plays Naked Sushi/Get Sake'd Sat Dec 20 at Bonzai Asian Pub & Bistro, 704 First Ave, 264-9570, and Bamboo every Friday night at Sonya's Bar & Grill, 1919 First Ave, 441-7996, free. Downlow is located at 422 E Denny Way, 322-3333.

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