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Las Cruces DJ makes name for himself while serving his country

The Las Cruces electronic dance music scene has been slowly building up over the past several years. Many DJs are known for dropping the bass to make rooms shake. However, one Las Cruces EDM DJ and producer intends to thrive in the music industry while serving his country.

NMSU alumnus Luis Finston, aka Cykloid, has performed at several on-campus events in the past including the NMSU Spring Fashion Show in 2016, KRUX Fest 2017 and the NMSU homecoming Pool Rager Pt. 1 and 2 in 2019.

Luis Finston revisits New Mexico State University Wednesday, March 9, 2022. The DJ played at two Las Cruces EDM concerts this month before returning to Houston, Texas. (Photo by Daniel Sosa/Kokopelli).

He has played events for KRUX 91.5 FM, St. Albert the Great Newman Center, NMSU Kappa Sigma and the Las Cruces Kings semi-pro football team. He also ran for NMSU homecoming king, which to his surprise granted him a bit of popularity.

Finston was an underwriting manager, promotions director and radio DJ at KRUX 91.5 FM for three years. During his time there, he hosted his own biweekly show, “Cykloid Sounds,” where he often mixed live and played his favorite hits.

In September 2018, Finston headlined his first event, which was NMSU Kappa Sigma’s 12th Annual Foam Party featuring DJs Zennon and Raxx. The EDM event had its own live stage, lasers, flamethrowers and other special effects.

“I think if I remember correctly, it’s still to this day the most successful Greek philanthropy event in NMSU history,” Finston said. While that argument may be subjective, the event’s highlight video posted on his YouTube channel has over 1,200 views, which is his most-viewed video so far.

Finston also performed his most-attended opening act at Summer Jam at the Pan-Am in 2019 that featured Tyga, Mustard and A-Trak. Finston is currently a U.S. Coast Guard operations specialist as of August 2021, and has since moved to Houston, Texas. 

Having wanted to be a performer as a kid, he played the saxophone, piano, bassoon and drums. He saw it as a way to channel his anger, boredom and relevant feelings. His father played the flute and trumpet. His late mother also introduced him to church choir during his childhood.

His favorite music during the ’90s was mostly eurodance music while his current favorite artists include Eric Prydz, 2 Unlimited and Paul Oakenfold.

After listening to heavier-sounding music such as dubstep in his teens, Finston began singing with his friends’ metal rock band 100 And Above while attending Las Cruces High School. As time went on, he became more comfortable listening to progressive and tropical house music.

Luis Finston, left, and Ryan Mako play some heavy-sounding EDM songs Saturday, March 5, 2022, at 575 Cruces Crafted Cocktails in Las Cruces. The two DJs performed under the name, Brocade. (Photo courtesy of PEN Photos).

During high school, he also met long-time friend Neo Mendoza, aka Neokiddd, who previously played several back-to-back DJ sets with him. The two performers also had the same mentors and have expressed interest in collaborating. Mendoza described Cykloid as a performer who tends to push forward a more electronic sound in a pop-music-influenced environment.

“He definitely will push the limit in a good way to show people music that has never been played out here,” Mendoza said.

After living for a year in Brooklyn, New York, and playing for Brooklyn College’s soccer team, Finston returned to Las Cruces in 2014 where he would eventually become an iconic house DJ throughout New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Colorado.

However, Finston’s illustrious DJ career had a rocky start when he started up his music alias, especially with a smaller EDM presence in Las Cruces at the time. With several DJs being a staple in all the city’s bars and clubs, Finston didn’t immediately feel welcomed.

“A lot of these other DJs who had been DJing for like 8-15 years, they pretty much had the city locked down. So when somebody else was trying to come up and either take their place or break in, they’re kind of like, ‘Who are you?,’ so I had a lot of opposition from them,” he said.

According to Finston, country music had been most prominent in Las Cruces in 2013. He said any heavy-sounding song that he played made everyone leave the room. At that point, he didn’t seem to have a lot of hope until he met two well-known mentors, DJ Espy and Phat Tony.

After establishing a connection with them, Cykloid’s first Las Cruces show was in what used to be Dublin’s Street Pub & Grill on a Thursday night. His performance was also what he claimed to be a humiliating first-timer DJ experience.

“I had no idea what I was doing. My transitions were off, the music wasn’t lined up at the beats per minute, and a lot of people were like, ‘Dude you suck!’ And yeah, they were so disappointed,” he confessed.

After that, Cykloid still managed to perform at his friends’ house parties over the next several years, paving the way for bigger shows in Las Cruces and El Paso. While attending NMSU, the rising superstar gained the attention of several Greek life fraternities that targeted him as a talented spring break DJ.

However, this off-putting lifestyle change would overwhelm him while he tried to balance time with his family. For that reason, Finston established Cykloid LLC in 2019, consisting of a photography and modeling department, rave dancer team, online merchandise store and a few sponsored DJs.

Finston’s partners include PsychDesert, Southwest Creative Co., and friends Alpha Prime, Ryan Mako and Neo Mendoza. The team has traveled throughout the borderlands and a few Mexican cities such as Puerto Peñasco and Cancún.

“The name was starting to get pretty big so there was always the kind of thing of, well, you know, I don’t want somebody else to take my name and get credit for that and like it gets all messy and someone sues,” Finston explained. With a necessity to trademark his artist name, he also saw this branding move as an opportunity for other DJs to represent him during performances to make up for his absence.

In terms of what to expect from a Cykloid DJ set, Finston’s song selections depend on the location and sometimes on the venue owner’s preferences. When playing at dubstep-attracting El Paso venues such as Club Here I Love You and Green Door, the DJ tends to experiment with other EDM genres. However, when it comes to original Cykloid songs and most of his shows, progressive and tropical house are his calling.

“I’m down to kind of experiment with like multiple different sounds and genres, but I want people to remember me as a house kind of DJ. Not someone that like is jumping around everywhere,” Finston stated.

Regardless, Finston is not afraid to sneak in some heavier-sounding music into his own music arsenal from time to time. However, the meticulous DJ learned throughout his career that sticking to what you know is mostly for the better.

After being booked for many public and private events, Finston seemed to love playing both experiences. While his live show performance is what many of his fans know him for, playing private parties also seems to give him a sense of pride.

“I love private events because it feels good to kind of like be contributing to making someone’s wedding or day kind of happy,” he said.

With Finston’s decision to join the Coast Guard exciting his family, he believed this would help with his financial troubles, especially with most U.S. clubs shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said some of his friends were surprised, however, and some even questioned his initial motive.

“You know, just to kind of have something solid for a couple years and save some money up, travel, gain some experience and just get the benefits for school ’cause I also still wanna go to graduate school and get my master’s,” he said.

His maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Army during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His paternal grandfather had also been a Manhattan Project nuclear scientist.

Mendoza also showed support for Finston’s new military job. He described the position as a big role and admired his military and music balance as an act of courage. “That’s a lot on the plate, but he’s still doing it. On top of that, he’s meeting a lot of new people out there,” he said. While cutting pizza rolls from his current diet seems like a downside for him, the performer doesn’t regret joining the military.

Finston praised Las Cruces for its small EDM community and a place for any local performer to not feel pressured starting out as a DJ. However, knowing the right people in the right place at the right time gets music producers and DJs to the next level in the music business, according to him.

He further emphasized the importance of connecting with others on a meaningful level, regardless of potential. “The skill set can definitely take you places to get you noticed. But if you don’t make the effort to also network and communicate with people, you’re never gonna make it to a higher level,” he said.

As for his discography, the producer and DJ has released 10 original EDM songs since 2014. While it has been over a year since he released his last single, “Remember,” Finston said he is working on an EP along with two singles planned to be released this summer.

Finston also plans to release another EP in the fall as Brocade, his and Ryan Mako’s new heavier music project. They are also working with several singers including Las Cruces country singer and American Idol contestant Dzaki Surkano. Finston also said he wouldn’t hesitate to perform in Las Cruces again in the near future as he confirmed the city to be his hometown he will always return to.

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