In the Beginning… There Were Cowboys, Space Cowboys

In the Beginning… There Were Cowboys, Space Cowboys

By on Aug 22, 2011 in Burn Stories, Music, Rock Star Librarian, Serendipity, Space Cowboys | 3 comments

We all love them and that damnable UNIMOG of a music machine, but how did all that begin? I caught up with PK of Space Cowboys for the story.

(RSL)When and how’d Space Cowboys come into being? What was the initial vision and how has it changed and grown over the years?

(PK)The Space Cowboys started wrangling the cosmos around 1997. I don’t remember exactly. It was a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away.

The Space Cowboys were one of the first large-scale sound camps at Burning Man. It started of as a group of friends who wanted to go to the desert, build and run essentially a free night-club in the true wild west. Initially the Cowboys had a large camp on one of the “corners” of Black Rock City, and ran a sound system and barter bar everynight. Big changes happened in 2000 when after meeting the fine lads of SpaceLounge, the crew’s focus shifted. As the two camps merged SpaceLounge continued to build the physical public camp that rocked every night and the Cowboys began work on a novel & radical idea at the time: a mobile sound-system. In 2001 the UNIMOG debutted on the playa, and well the playa has never really been the same since.

Ever since it’s founding the Space Cowboys have focused their on playa efforts into one evening, the Black Rock Hoedown, one of the finest events BRC has ever seen (we are a bit biased). Held every year on the Friday before the burn, with the advent of the UNIMOG the location has changed each year to a different amazing artwork on the open playa.

(RSL)Do you have sound camp veterans in your camp and what camps did they come from?

<PK)The Space Cowboys ARE the veterans (funny, sad & true). [RSL interjection: I believe it’s funny, RAD & true!] The majority of us have been doing this for a decade.
The old-timers amongst us are either original Cowboys or SpaceLoungers.

(RSL)What music stylins’ should people expect to hear from your boom bass?

(PK)Peeps should expect nothing but the finest in Breaks & House from the Cowboys. Our roster of residents is as deep as it is talented, and the individual leanings of our selectors vary. While we definitely have a funky sound, don’t be surprised to hear funk, electro and even the occasional drum & bass set coming out of the Mog.

(RSL)What is the Space Cowboys signature? What do you feel you do best?

(PK)Shaking your business! True story: At a Mog sound check by our old warehouse, an old man, the proprietor of a nearby shop, came running up and said “You! What you doing? Stop! You shakin’ my business!”

That’s frickin’ hilarious! So, with all the other big sound camps & sound art cars at Burning Man, what makes yours unique and a not-to-miss place to be?

(PK)Oh, you’ll have to come and find out. We wouldn’t be around so long if we hadn’t figured out the secret recipe!

(RSL)This year’s burn theme is Rites of Passage. For many old school electronica fans, the rave was a musical rite of passage for them. Do you remember your first rave and can you tell us about it?

(PK)Rave? I’m originally from New York City. I was going to clubs as a kid. I was Old School in High School!
[And on a side note] A True playa story: I was sitting in an RV with a friend’s ex and he asked me how I got started in this whole crazy thing, and I told him that I used to go to this club in NYC called MARS on Friday nights and we would dance all night in the basement. The crowd was amazing and diverse, there were drag queens, models, artists and big black gay men blowing whistles while the house music would keep everyone together in this amazing moment… I asked him how he got his start as a dj, and he said he started substitute djing for a buddy and eventually took his gig. When I asked where, he said Friday nights at MARS. His name was Moby.

(RSL)What a great playa story. When you think back to those days, who do you remember being the first significant DJ or what track made you fall for electronica? What about it affected you?

(PK)Jungle Brothers. I’ll House You. it made me realize that “electronica” is a ridiculous concept, the boundaries people draw are silly. Was that Hip-Hop or was it House? Who cares? Good music is good music. And to quote an ILS track: “Everybody loves good music.” [Here’s a 2011 video clip with Afrika Baby Jam who discusses the group’s history among other hip-hop topics on air with Breakbeats & Rhymes Radio.]

(RSL)Who are a few of your camp’s resident DJs our fellow burners shouldn’t miss and why?

(PK)Oh. I’m not going to play favorites. You crazy? Our crew is amazing. With talent like Shissla, Mancub, ShOOey, rrrus, 8ball, Kapt’n Kirk, Brad Robinson, Tamo, Deckard, Zach Moore and others how do you?

(RSL)Is there anything else you’d like BRC citizens to know about Space Cowboys this year?

(PK)Sure we’re going to do a little day thing at our ranch on Wednesday in the BRC Historical District, 4:45 & Esplanade, and of course out there somewhere on the open playa Friday night for the Black Rock Hoe Down. Come find us. [Note: RSL knows where they’ll be Friday!]

Go to, or check the Space Cowboys’ RIPEcast (their weekly podcast) available on Podomatic or iTunes and load up on sweet Cowboy sets.


  1. Nice! The Unimog is definitely one of my favorite art cars, and when PK mentioned MARS, the first thing that I thought of was leaning against a pillar in that basement taking a nap and getting woken up by Moby on the decks!


    August 22, 2011

  2. Great to see the shout out to Jungle Brothers. Bam was in our camp last year and we definitely tore it up at some Space Cowboys parties… Crazy.


    August 24, 2011

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