Music has always been important to David Voorhees. As a student at Summit High School, he took a job at the recycling center and saved his money in order to buy DJ equipment. Voorhees' dedication has taken him far and now he's readying himself for his biggest gig yet - the opening act for Icelantic's Winter on the Rocks at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre Friday.
Voorhees grew up in Summit County, attending Summit High School and perfecting his turntable skills. He often performed shows at Sherpa and Yeti's in Breckenridge, which is now three20south, and which Voorhees remembers as its previous incarnation, Alligator Lounge. He also performed at events around the county, including the X Games.
Voorhees can give what seems to be a never-ending list of bands and performers that he has opened for over the years, including DJ Vajra, Hieroglyphics, the Wu-Tang Clan, Rahzel, DJ Q-bert, KRS-ONE, A Tribe Called Quest, People Under the Stairs, Quest Love and many more. He has fond memories of hanging out and performing with friends and local musicians as well.
"People I'd like to give shout-outs and props to up there are my boys in Breck - DJs Jeff Cox, Mike Emrey, Phil Fee at Liquid, Rasta Rob, Dawid Szymd and Luke Kilgore - all for helping me get to where I am today and where I am going in the future," Voorhees said.
One of his favorite memories was opening for Rahzel at Sherpa and Yeti's in early 2000, a performance that landed him in the Summit Daily for the first time.
"That really lit a fire underneath me," he said. "I knew I really wanted to do this."
After graduating high school in 1998, Voorhees attended University of Colorado-Denver where he received a degree in audio engineering. This involved learning about music production, including work in the recording studio and live concerts, how to deal with sound equipment and other musical equipment aspects.
"I stayed within my whole passion of music and production," Voorhees said.
Moving to Denver afforded him the opportunity to meet important people within the music industry, as well as a variety of available venues and to interact with other musicians such as himself.
"Big things happen in the big city," he said. "You never know when you're going to get your break."
Voorhees worked hard to develop his style, which he describes at "heavily fortified in underground hip hop," and says that the technical parts of the music are what really interest him.
"I am such a technician, I pay attention to technique and skills," Voorhees explained. "You gotta be good at making noise."
Like all hip hop musicians, Voorhees has his own stage name - DJ Viking aka You And What Army. The origin of this moniker goes back to Voorhees' high school days.
"You And What Army was my first name. I just can't get away from it; it's part of my roots," Voorhees said. The Viking aspect was added later, as a nod to his dual Danish and Norwegian ancestry.
Three days before the concert at Red Rocks and you can still hear the incredulity mixing with the excitement in Voorhees' voice. He considers this his big break.
"Sold-out Red Rocks? I'm not U2, I'm not Metallica. This is the biggest break," he said. "I feel so blessed, thankful and privileged. I'm not sure if there are any words that can explain it."
Voorhees and his partner, Neelais, will be opening for big names Ryan Lewis and Macklemore, as well as performers Major Lazer and Grouch and Eligh. This is the second year for Winter on the Rocks, which was popular enough last year to merit a return and promptly sold out.
Voorhees credits his success to two main sources - personal dedication and the supportive people in his life.
"All the energy and the hours and dedication, all I've put into it, I'm not only coming full circle but it's the next level for me," Voorhees said. "Being a legitimate person, being good at your craft and just keeping it real, being good friends with people - it comes back to you tenfold."
He also makes sure not to forget those who have helped him along the way, many of whom hail from Summit County.
"There're a lot of people up here that are a part of my drive and my motivation, and will always be part of my drive and motivation," he said. "They opened doors for me and I couldn't be more thankful and grateful."