The 2014 Electronic Music Marathon was one of the most gratifying experiences I have had as a member of WKDU. I was fortunate enough to spend a good chunk of time down at the station, catching many great sets and having the opportunity to chat with luminaries like King Britt and Dave P. Regardless of stature, I was struck by the humility and friendliness of all of our performers; it was truly a pleasure having everyone down at the station.
Day 2 of the Electronic Music Marathon kicked off with a heartwarming start from the Musicopia crew. Musicopia is one of our nonprofit partners who focus on arts education in schools. I wasn’t there but heard they were absolutely adorable and amazing overall. Stay tuned for the full write up.
I woke up late and unfortunately couldn’t come in for Musicopia’s set. Scandalous, I know, but I need some sleep otherwise I might never be useful to the station again. I woke up instead to multiple texts from my brother and sister both informing me that the DJ who got on afterwards was super dope. I found out that was Billy (M//R) from Great Circles, who once I threw on the radio got me motivated to take the quickest shower and make the fastest eggs just so I could get down to the station and see him during the performance. As I sit here writing this, I’m enjoying the hell out of the set, even though I missed most of the live performance. It’s a lot more progressive than the sets from last night, which I like because I feel like I’m being taken on a musical journey down in the station as opposed to just “untz-untz-untz”. Justin closed off the Great Circles set, keeping it abstract and weird. Much more mood music and less danceable stuff. Honestly I thought it was great, took me on a whole new level.
Nigel Richards from 611 Records came by next and once again I had a great chance to chat with him before he got on. He discussed his time spent on college radio at University of Rochester WRUR, how he learned the technical side of DJing, and more (I was a big fan of how he didn’t crap over me for relying on the sync button on modern DJ controllers: “Hey, no one can blame you for using technology. If they’d had that when I was coming up I probably would have used it too”). His set started in funky with some acid sounds, much more “hands in the air” than before. Brought the energy in the place back up real nice.
I spoke with James and Thom from Broadzilla and learned all about the difference between club DJ-ing and radio DJ-ing, how they came up, and what drives their current style. They also brought a guitar pedal with them, so they were able to get some really cool effects with the microphone (it’s the little things in life). They recorded some super whacky station IDs for us, full of pitch shifting, echo/reverb, and all around weirdness. Keep your ears tuned to the airwaves to hear them again. Their set had lots of synthesizers and some great 80s sounds. Sounding super cool Broadzilla took us on a musical journey until 7:00 PM.
Matthew Law, aka DJ Phsh (from Illvibe Collective) popped in next, and while he was really fun to talk to, everyone at the station went a little nuts over his shoes. He dropped the hip hop (trip hop?) beats, with a groovy (I keep saying that word but I really can’t help it all the DJs really have been) low BPM set. Matt pumped up the energy in the second hour of his set, going in a whole new direction. Not club style but definitely more danceable than his earlier set. The whole set overall was really good jamming music- I was manning the phones most of the time during that set, just nodding my head along. Best part though: Matt’s grandmom called in during the set, and let us know she was jamming along!
Jay, aka Telequanta came by to lay down his tracks in a special live set on the air. His stuff is supremely chill, reminds me of a trip-hoppier version of Gold Panda (and then he even played Gold Panda after his own stuff, too!) I now totally see why he was always tuning into my show last summer. After his live stuff, he just played some of his favorite songs, which were the ultimate chill out tunes to lead us into the beginning of the late night sets.
As I write this sometime after Telequanta finished, I’m starting to fade fast so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Patrick Richards stepped up to the decks at 11 PM (holy hell how is someone so young so freaking talented?) and rocked us until midnight. Tight transitions and a choice song selection, my favorite being when he played “Walking With Elephants” by Ten Walls and Tchami’s “Pushing On” remix.
Jansen and Sylo popped in for the midnight to 2 AM slot. They took it to a new level, with some dark tech house. I didn’t recognize any of their stuff but damn was it cool. I finally tapped out some time after 1 AM, struggled my ass to Wawa, and thankfully was able to nab a cab just before I stepped onto the subway platform #luxurious. I was still listening to the marathon the entire ride home until I finally passed out to the sounds of Enrique Villacis’s guest mix around 3 AM, ready to get refreshed for the next big day.
WOW. JUST, WOW.
The 2014 Electronic Music Marathon was a SMASHING SUCCESS.
This was our 11th year of the EMM after 7 years on hiatus, and my first year involved in the event.
Before I get into this post, I want to give a big shout out to one of my radio inspirations – Jenn Louie. For many years, Jenn had an amazing house and electronic show on KDU called Foundation, and organized many of the previous EMM’s. Some of my first beat matching and set building lessons were from watching her mix using our cruddy CUE speaker and CD players with rudimentary pitch controls.
I’m so honored that I got to pick up the history of a 10 year event, and continue the tradition of connecting Philly DJs of all kinds through electronic music.
Part of me wants to just dive in and rave about how RAD everyone’s sets were, but I’ll have to do that later when we get all the audio sorted to go with.
I want to tell a story.
We have one caller who ALWAYS calls our station to say hello. I’ll be in the mix on my show, see his name come up on the caller ID, and then get a little grin on my face.
I know that he’s going to suggest some rave track for me to check out, or talk about how I should check out this particular Kung Fu movie (not even kidding), or mention how another DJ earlier in the day was killing it.
He damn well knows his house music – but when I talk to other KDU DJs, they also tell me about how he knows his jazz, his psych-rock, and so on.
His support of the entire KDU DJ roster is really amazing, but his main message is even more awesome.
Whenever I ask him his name, he simply says, “SPREAD LOVE!”
We refer to this caller as SPREAD LOVE, and have taken his message to heart.
I TRULY believe that the Electronic Music Marathon SPREAD LOVE through ALL kinds of electronic music this past Columbus Day Weekend, as we rocked the airwaves for 75 hours of CONTINUOUS ELECTRONIC JAMS.
From electro to disco, boogie to gritty, Italo to techno HOLY MOLY the 2014 EMM DJ lineup absolutely KILLED their sets.
From talking with King Britt about Sun Ra, to chatting with Billy Werner about how he went to high school with Ron Morelli, to hearing about how Dave P spun at KDU to promote his first ever Making Time – our studio was BLESSED with the energy of some truly amazing DJs who donated their time and resources to make this a SMASH.
We received the kindest words from Dave P, who is definitely one of the RADDEST DJs around.
He posted this photo from his closing set of the EMM on his Instagram and really blew me away with his words….
“Last nite I had the honor of playing the closing set on @wkdu‘s Electronic Music Marathon and….it truly was an honor. It was also one of the most positive and inspiring musical experiences I’ve had in years. I have not seen such genuine positivity, true love of music and excitement about music and being involved in music from a group of people like I did last nite in the WKDU studios in a very long time. They really are a MAGICAL group of people who are doing great things for the right reasons. It makes me think that the music “industry” should be learning from these kids and gaining inspiration from them and people like them as opposed to them learning and gaining inspiration from the music “industry”. One of the staff members was talking to me about some of the DJs they wanted to have play who didn’t ended up playing for them. One DJ’s manager, who will remain nameless, told him he would need a minimum of $10,000 to have him play. C’MON…..REALLY ??? The music “industry” and the people involved in it….artists, managers, agents, labels etc should be doing everything they can to support these kids and others like them and like I said….probably learning from them and gaining some inspiration from them too. (Hey….look how much DAVIDE taught and inspired me while I was in Positano and…..he was younger than me.) Anyways….They’re doing this for the right reasons and so should all of us !!! This IS supposed to be FUN….remember ??? Here’s to a group of college kids who put together what was basically a 4 day DJ festival on their RADio station with no budget while, in the words of one of the staff, “hopped up on falafel and red bull” !!! Congratulations WKDU and thank you for allowing me to have such a MAGICAL and inspiring experience last nite !!! I can’t wait to do it again next year and…..hopefully DAVIDE can join me next time. He has some really rad olde ITALIO-DISCO records.“
We can’t thank Dave and everyone else who helped us out enough!!!! DAVIDE, come back with those Italo records ANYTIME!!
Support WKDU and college radio
Support Musicopia and arts education in Philadelphia area schools
Support The Village of Arts & Humanities and community empowerment in North Philadelphia
Go to wkdu.org/emm to find out how you can donate and support three amazing causes.
THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As I sit here recovering from my wisdom tooth surgery, doped up on oxycodone, I can’t really do much more in the running of things for our electronic music marathon and figured it would be a good time to do some write ups. Rob Paine and Will Putney from Worship Recordings kicked us off from 6-9 PM, with our favorite listener Spread Love calling in for the first time of hopefully many times.
Noah Beresin (Noah Breakfast) walked in at quarter to 9, for his triumphant return to the WKDU airwaves: the first time he’s been in the station since 2009. We talked a bit about what he’s listening to right now and he told me his favorite beat maker right now is Mr. Carmack- who I’ll be sure to check out ASAP. He gave us the low down on what it was like for him coming up making beats as a student and a bit of history of WKDU from before I even came to Drexel. He’s a pretty chill dude, and I really enjoyed the behind the scenes rundown he gave us before the show. And holy damn did he bring the noise!
Brad Henley AKA B-Rilla came next, for his first (but hopefully not last!) appearance on the WKDU decks. He played a set of drum n bass, a genre I know nearly nothing about. What I expected was something sounding like 90s Prodigy- what I got instead was fast paced, breakbeat goodness.
Next up, a name we’re all familiar with stepped up to bat: Chris B from The Hot Mix took the first all wax spin of the night. A few minor technical difficulties aside (hey this is college radio after all- it wouldn’t be any fun if it all worked the first time!) he threw one funk of a set. Slowing the grooves back down was the perfect lead up to Fich from Young Robots.
Michael Fichman, DJ Apt One from Young Robots, actually got here about 40 minutes early, which gave Sam and I some great one on one (on one) time with him. We talked shop about breakfast and fast food: who makes the best fries (the consensus seemed to be Shake Shack, though I still think Five Guys and their massive sized portions offer the most bang for your buck), and where you can get decent Mexican food in the north (apparently Norristown is quite good for that). Fich and I also swapped some painkiller stories. I won’t spoil the surprise or befoul his good name, but he definitely got into more trouble when he got his wisdom teeth removed than I did.
Did I say Chris threw down one funk of set? That’s totally true, but Fitch freaking KILLED IT on the funk and grooves. Going back to the roots of electro and synth pop he hit all the buttons to keep me dancing, painkillers and all. His set of italo-disco was the coolest thing I’d heard all night, taking the cake for my favorite set so far. Even more impressive was that he had come from a 4 hour set earlier in the night and still had that kind of energy until 2 AM.
Sam from Blueshift gave me a tour of his Vestax board, showing me all the cool shit he’s programmed into it. Really gave me a new motivation to get a controller of my own and start experimenting. His set was much deeper than Apt One’s, a lot more chill, but no less awesome. Really good jams for 2-4 AM (the best time for jams).
For the last few hours of night the pain in my jaw had been getting steadily worse (basically from B-Rilla’s set until Blueshift’s began), but I had been holding off more painkillers (I’m afraid of addiction/constipation). Eventually I just said screw it and took another pill, lay down for a few minutes, and arose feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy Blueshift’s set.
Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation or maybe it’s the drugs but I’m feeling pretty good about the state of WKDU’s Electronic Music Marathon. With the first night behind us, I’m ready to face the rest of the weekend. I’ll be back on the blogz daily over the next few days, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @wkdu for updates, giveaways, and more.
Words and photos by Nick Stropko
I think the most apt way to describe seeing King Tuff live is to describe the banner in front of which he performed. The words “KING TUFF” are spelled out in flames, surrounded by sunglass-clad skulls with varying numbers of teeth missing. The sunglasses have the words “KING” and “TUFF” emblazoned across the lenses.
King Tuff is not big on subtlety.
On Wednesday, Vermont-based garage rock weirdos King Tuff played to a packed house at the Church–part of the string of final shows this fall before R5 cedes the storied space to an after school group. Mr. Tuff (actually named Kyle Thomas) may be one of the world’s best ambassadors of dad rock, slinging shamelessly massive riffs with a bright blue Gibson SG through a beat up Marshall full stack, backed by what appeared to be two aging roadies for Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band exuded a certain skeezy charisma, affecting the part of rock star idols (replete with sweet moves) despite the dingy basement setting. They wasted little time in working the crowd up, which devolved into a mass of moshing entropy after two or three songs that only grew throughout the night. If you suspended you sense of disbelief and squinted just a little bit, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine King Tuff in the mid-seventies selling out stadiums. For now, though, he seems perfectly content being the freak working up weirdos in basements–and I seriously dig it.
Ahead of his set on the #2014EMM, I caught up with Philly DJ and producer Blueshift to chat about house music, changing tastes (music and otherwise), and the Philly scene. He’s got a release out on the legendary New York label Nurvous Recordings, and was the co-founder of the highly acclaimed French Express blog, amongst manyyy other things.
Chris B: Wassup man, thanks for linking up, and looking forward to having you on the EMM!
Blueshift: Noo problem, man – happy to chat, and stoked to participate!
CB: So, how did you get into house music?
Blueshift: I’ve always been a fan of 80’s music. Even as a kid, synthesizer-heavy stuff caught my ear. I loved Eurodance! When I discovered dance music and really got into it, it was mainly the harder stuff like hard trance and such. Over the years, I just branched out and moved to different genres.
CB: What was one of the first tracks like that that you loved?
Blueshift: Snap! – “Rhythm Is a Dancer” is one I always really liked.
CB: As you got older, what was some of the dance-y stuff you got into?
Blueshift: In the later years of high school, I was really getting into music, but listened relatively passively. I remember this one track by Ghost in the Machine called “A Time Long Forgotten” – I listened to that a lot. I think I had a few Hybrid tracks around then, too. College is where I discovered internet radio dance music stations and got into hard house and trance. Stuff like Tidy Boys and Tunnel Trance Force.
CB: So how did you end up moving towards the funky side of things?
Blueshift: Just through changing tastes. I moved from trance, to progressive stuff, and somewhere around 2006/2007 my ear really caught onto the french house and nu-disco sound.
CB: Around that time for me, that was Justice / MSTRKRFT – what was it for you?
Blueshift: I liked their sound, but for me it was the Lifelike/Fred Falke/Alan Braxe crew that really did it for me. Thinking back, the turning point might have been when my friend played one of James Grant’s early Anjunabeats Worldwide shows for me, and I heard Michael Cassette’s tracks for the first time. Something about it just seemed to combine trance, but with a pure 80’s sound and it totally shoved my taste in that direction for the next few years.
CB: They are both awesome crews – as a side note, have you heard Erol’s fabric live mix? Pure FILTHH.
Blueshift: I haven’t! I’ll load it up on queue for today :D
CB: Have you always been based out of Philly?
Blueshift: For the most part. I was in NJ for a couple years for the last year of high school and for college, but moved back around 2006.
CB: I feel like the ‘scene’ here has kind of blossomed recently – tell me about your experiences in Philly – as a resident, as a DJ, etc
Blueshift: The scene in Philly DEFINITELY has exploded in the past two years or so. The caliber of artists coming through now is so great. We have tons of awesome and current acts in on a regular basis, and lots of smaller groups popping up as well. There’s a pretty steady rotating lineup of good gigs. Philly can also be a pretty tough city to get a handle on though; I’ve played a wide range of shows here, from empty to packed, but I’m definitely grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to play here.
CB: Who are some of your artist homeys in Philly that we should know about?
Blueshift: The Worldtown peeps have been putting out some great tracks recently (and crushing it with their events) **editor’s note: they’re spinning for us on the EMM, too!**, Apt One always brings the heat **also spinning for the EMM**, Les Professionnels are super pro **ALSO spinning for the EMM**, and PS 118 has some really tight stuff upcoming. Maggs Bruchez are also some of my favorite Philly producers.
CB: Where’s your fave brunch spot?
Blueshift: Cafe Renata in West Philly. I’m always there. I’ve also found myself at Broad Street Diner a bunch recently.
CB: I love pork roll – how do you feel about pork roll?
Blueshift: Pork roll is great, man. Blew my mind when I first heard it called Taylor Ham.
The 11th annual Electronic Music Marathon will take place October 10-13 on WKDU. 91.7 FM Philadelphia / wkdu.org worldwide!!!!
Tune in for our amazing lineup of DJs, on-air giveaways, and support college radio and arts education while you’re at it!!!!!
Get @ us all weekend long during the marathon for info / giveaways | @wkdu #2014EMM