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Electronic Music Marathon Part 3: Rounding 3rd and coming home

A month after WKDU brought back the annual Electronic Music Marathon, I think I’m finally ready to get back into the swing of things, radio wise. I held off of posting this because I wanted to give myself some time to decompress and reconcile the INSANE 75 hours of DJing, dancing, and fun over Columbus Day weekend. We are working on posting the sets, so stay tuned to our Soundcloud page for those. In the meantime, feel free to read the play by play I wrote during the final day of the marathon.

Jersey Dan kicked us off at 11 AM, playing stuff like Crystal Castles and Nenah Cherry. It was dark, it was moody, it was exactly what I needed. Highlights of the set were the “Open (Jeff Samuel faded mix)” by Rhye and the DFA cover of “D.A.R.E.” by Gorillaz, where I got a chance to turn introspective more a moment and think for a bit. If I had to pick one word to describe his set, it would be contemplative. His set really gave a chance to look inwards at my own soul for an hour. Fun fact: Dan uses a free version of Virtual DJ to mix. True the college radio ethos he chooses free when possible, making the most out of what he can. Bonus fun fact: Dan used to be a professor here at Drexel back in 2008, great to have old faculty on board!

Maxwell Knubee from Brewerytown Beats, one of our proud sponsors of the event, stepped up to the decks next, spinning all wax. I spoke with him before he got on and he told me about the evolution of his set. Originally he wanted to spin psych-funk and go into 80s electro funk, but decided eventually to go with positive hip-hop. We talked about how the best songs are the ones that talk about how good music is, or how a specific brand of shoes is just super cool (when he told me that, I was hoping he would play “My Adidas” by Run DMC, and he did not disappoint!). His set definitely lived up to the expectations, and brought the funk and hip hop beats for all to enjoy, leading nicely into King Britt’s set.

As I’m writing this, I’m surrounded by King Britt’s crew, including members of The Village and Playback Radio. Many of these guys and gals have been here in the past for previous marathons and it’s an honor to have them back. For the newcomers, let me just say this if I haven’t already: welcome to WKDU and enjoy your stay!

King got on the mic at 1:00 PM to talk about his time in high school (Central High reppin’!), coming up in music, and some of his major influences. Look for the full interview online soon. About half an hour later he stepped onto our decks and started laying down the beats. If you ask Es, he’s a beat wizard. If you ask me, he’s a beatsmyth. Whatever your preferred nomenclature, he’s really something to watch perform. He combines magic on the deck with music in the air, forging tunes, sounds, and rhythms out of nothing. I’m writing this during his set, which is conjuring some deep images in my head, floating me along a soundscape of immense proportions. I’m envisioning vast rolling hills of dark earth colors, pulsating along with the beat. The second half of his mix got a lot funkier, throwing some soul vibes out there. I was busy doing my homework during this set and it made for some great jams for concentrating.

King Britt's gear

King Britt’s gear

Matpat popped up after King, to take us into the final 5 hours of the marathon. Bringing the club beats back into the building, he got me moving once more. Funky piano, soulful saxaphone, and sexy synthesizer. Matpat brought the funk and didn’t just warm up the decks: he got them blazing hot, closing his set with “Deep Inside (Shadow Child remix)” by Hardrive.

Matpat hits center stage

Matpat hits center stage

Risky Disko hit the decks at 5 PM for 2 hours, throwing down the low BPMs with some trip hop vibes. Despite their name, I didn’t think they had that disco of a sound, though I enjoyed the set nonetheless. As with Jersey Dan’s set, it was much more contemplative and I got some nice thinking done. I really enjoy the sets that take me on a musical journey, as opposed to the straight dance stuff. Peter remarked that the whole set had a Todd Terje vibe to it, which I’m inclined to agree with. They sounded very disco influenced, but with a very clean production and modern twist.

Risky Disko

Risky Disko getting up close and personal with Roberta Flack

And now I’m faced with the monstrous task of doing justice to Dave P’s set with words. I’ll try my best, but honestly your best bet is to listen to the set and check it out for yourself. He started out slow, and I kind of just sat with my thoughts for awhile. Bringing the energy up slow, all of us at the station started to jam with some really swampy sounding songs, getting some retro-futuristic synths (my favorite synths!) going. His mixing technique is really good, too: he handles CDJs like he was born clutching a pair in his hands. His slogan of “futuristic sounds” is pretty damn accurate, the songs he spun sound like they came from a club in a cyperpunk movie. House jams through and through, solid 4-to-the-floor beats to groove to. He wasn’t laying down just future sounds though, some of his tracks sounded like classic disco house jams, with some beautiful piano and synth pads for added spice.

Dave P

Dave P deep in the mix

His set just kept amping up over the last hour. There was a certain charge in the air- everyone there knew we were reaching the end of something huge and the excitement was palpable. The room we have in the studio where all the DJs performed over the weekend isn’t that large- we were able to tightly fit our equipment table, speakers, and a few people hanging out listening to the DJs perform, but at this point we had over a dozen people crammed inside, all dancing. Dave kept the energy rising, too- by the end of it, I was sweating (almost) as much as him, just from dancing around the room. When he finally closed out at 9:00, he said some wonderful words over the air and, surrounded by applauding DJs, finished off both his set and the 11th annual electronic music marathon.

I’d like to thank everyone who tuned in, everyone who performed, and everyone who donated their time, effort, and money to our cause. With your help we resurrected a long-dormant WKDU tradition. Not only did we get the chance to party in the station for 75 hours straight, but we had a chance to connect with the community and raise money and awareness for some fantastic local non-profits. The work Musicopia and The Village of Arts and Humanities do is truly noble and we are honored to have helped play a part in their dedication to arts education and empowerment. Having pulled this off in approximately 5 weeks (90% of the work on this marathon was begun on Labor Day), we learned an incredible amount and are already looking forward to next year, where we hope to make the 12th annual electronic music marathon even better. Thanks for stopping by, and of course, keep those radio dials locked!

A final jump for joy before we all promptly fell asleep

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Costume Contest Ends Tonight!

It’s not too late to enter our ‪#‎hallowkdu‬ costume contest! All you have to do (on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook) is tag us in your costume photos and use the above hashtag. Here’s an entry from our Personnel Director Maren!

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Prizes will include a WKDU T-shirt and comp cassette, this Cloud Nothings slip mat sticker & pin, and this Twin Peaks tour poster!

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Winners will be announced tonight so get on it!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

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POND at Johnny Brenda’s 10.16.2014

by Kirsten Becker

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Spearheading the neo-psychedelic rock movement, Australia’s Tame Impala has brought a fresh and exciting new sound to indie rock within the past five or so years. Their lesser-known, wild-partying young brother, Pond, has been doing just the same while staying just below the radar. With five albums already under their belt, the Perth-born and bred band is something of a cult favorite. Featuring both former and present members of Tame Impala, including at one point mastermind Kevin Parker, it’s no wonder Pond has garnered an incredibly loyal fanbase.

The October 16th performance at Johnny Brenda’s was their first time back in Philly in two years, having played at the same venue back in March 2012. Lead singer Nick Allbrook had fond thoughts about the city, pausing many times between songs to say he loves Philly because the city knows “how to let loose.” And let loose the crowd did that night. Leading the charge,Pond, visibly intoxicated the moment they arrived, brought a feverish energy that was reciprocated through the venue. Each song was played with a flawlessly rough vibe, with jarring solos and descents into musical madness interspersed in each epic track. Allbrook at one point went on about how he is terrified of America and his lack of knowledge of the Pumpkin Spice craze. The band also continued their love for Philly saying that most of their knowledge of the city comes from repeated watchings of Always Sunny.

The set included a composite of songs throughout their career, featuring newer songs from Hobo Rocket like “Xanman” to those of my personal favorite, Beard, Wives, Denim like “Fantastic Explosion of Time” and “You Broke My Cool.” They even reached into the archives and played some of their first songs recorded from Psychadelic Mango, including “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind.”

The rousing finale of “Frond” was filled with rocking anthems and wild crowd surfing and energy. Pond’s performance was one of the most energy-filled shows I have seen in quite some time and one of incredible creative and nutty genius. Pond is slated to release a new album, Man, It Feels Like Space in January 2015.

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Introducting ExCITeCast

By: Maren Larsen

ExCITeCast, the official podcast of Drexel University’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies Center (ExCITe), is coming to WKDU!

The ExCITe Center houses a unique piano which has been retrofitted with an array of sensors and electromagnets. This allows it to produce music with the timbre of a piano and the creative capabilities of other stringed instruments, like vibrato and pitch bending. On it, you can play music that ExCITe’s beat-sensing robots can dance or play along with. Those robots are outfitted in sleek protective armor created on the digital knitting machines housed in the center’s Shima Seiki Haute Technology Lab. All of this is located at 3401 Market Street–right on Drexel’s campus.

The ExCITe Center also houses the Drexel App Lab, the Entrepreneurial Game Studio (known for its involvement in the Cira Center’s giant Tetris and Pong games), a digital inclusion lab, and space for various other multi-disciplinary, highly-collaborative projects.

Pretty ExCITing, right? (ed note: groan.)

ExCITeCast airs the first Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. on WKDU. I, Maren Larsen, Civic Innovation Co-op at the ExCITe Center and DJ of “What The Folk?” on WKDU, am the host of the program.

Each episode focuses on one of the center’s many projects. The first ExCITeCast, at the beginning of October 2014, highlighted the collaboration between the Shima Seiki Lab and our Hubo robotics researchers to create a technologically-advanced protective armor for the robots, allowing them greater mobility and durability. In case you missed it, it can be found on ExCITe’s SoundCloud.

November’s ExCITeCast will feature an interview with the Digital On-Ramps team, part of the Digital Inclusion Group based at ExCITe. Digital On-Ramps is in the process of developing an ePortfolio for jobseekers to store their resumes, work samples, and digital badges. They are also building career pathway maps for Philadelphia’s biggest industries so that those looking for jobs can see the next steps in their careers.

Join us on Tuesday by tuning in at 91.7 FM or wkdu.org!

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Not To Miss @ CMJ 2014

The CMJ marathon starts today! If you’re as confused as we are about how you’re going to make time for all the great artists this year, consult our list of artists we’re most excited for below. Will we see you there?

So many bands, so little time.

So many bands, so little time.

Repping Cheeseteaks: The PHILADELPHIA CREW
(ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

AMANDA X
amanda
 Moody post-punk from Siltbreeze Records
Catch their set:
Tuesday @ Cameo Gallery, Saturday @ Knitting Factory

DARK BLUE
blue
– Punk from members of Ceremony, Paint It Black, and Purling Hiss
Catch their set:
Sunday @ Rough Trade

BEACH SLANG

Alt-rock straight out of 1995 from Tiny Engines Records
Catch their set:  Saturday @ Baby’s All Right

PURLING HISS
PurlingHiss
–Lyrically poignant punk from Drag City Records
Catch their set: Thursday @ Cake Shop, Friday @ Baby’s All Right


BANDS FROM EVERYWHERE ELSE
(〜 ̄▽ ̄)〜


TWEENS

– Cincinnati trash pop trio singin’ about boredom, love, and weed. Listen our live session with them here.

Catch their set: Wednesday @ (the soon-closing) Death By Audio, Thursday and Friday @ Baby’s All Right

DUSKY
Dusky
– British house/techno duo
Catch their set: Thursday @ Verboten

MATTHEW DEAR
mdear
– 
Experimental dance pop from Ghostly International
Catch his set: Saturday @ Verboten

ONLY REAL

onlylex1
– Shoegazy rap from West London
Catch his set: Thursday @ Brooklyn Bazaar;
Thursday @ Rough Trade

FRANKIE COSMOS
mutualbenefit-21
– Fun and sentimental twee pop from NYC
Catch her set: Friday @ Brooklyn Bazaar


VULTURE SHIT
vs
– Brooklyn sludge punks
Catch their set: Thursday @ Shea Stadium


SLOWDIVE

slow
–Eighties British shoegaze pioneers return after 20 years of silence
Catch their set: (Sold out!) Thursday @ Terminal 5


THE WYTCHES
wytches
– Psych punk from the UK

Catch their set: Wednesday @ (the soon-closing) Glasslands; Thursday @ Baby’s All RightFriday @ Baby’s All Right

OBN IIIS
obn-IIIs
–Garage punk from Austin
Catch their set: Thursday @ Baby’s All Right;
Friday @ Cake Shop


PANEL AND SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY:
Ripping off the Band-Aid: Why Feminism Matters in the Music Industry

WEDNESDAY:
The Color of Noise: Amphetamine Reptile Records Documentary with Q&A from director Eric Robel and Haze XXL

THURSDAY:
All Through A Life: Emo’s Revival

& of course, the College Radio Awards!
– Among the nominees for Station of the Year, Promoter of the Year and Best Taste in Music lies Best Community Resource. Check out what we’ve recently done for the Philadelphia community here and vote WKDU!

FRIDAY:
Beautiful Noise: Documentary screening and Q&A with Nick Chaplin and Simon Scott of Slowdive

See you in New York!
dog

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2014 EMM In Photos

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.

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10 Songs That Make Me Cry

By Esmail Hamidi

So there’s this thing going around on Facebook where people post about 10 albums that make them cry. In the post, they tag a bunch of their music nerd friends, who do the same thing. Participants bare their soul on social media, everyone discovers a lil’ more music, it’s a good time.

I was recently nominated to do this by WKDU DJ Maren Larsen. In her post, she listed songs instead of albums. By doing this, she brought up a good point, and maybe I’m projecting here, but who wants to sit through an entire album, let alone sit through an entire album crying? Is any album consistently cry-worthy?

Like any good book or fine meal, an album is traditionally sequenced with introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion in mind. Musical intensity that may or may not provoke crying can occur during any of these parts of an album, but not all. A song that is cry-worthy may be on an album that is very much not. It is for this reason that I’ve opted to choose 10 songs, not albums, that make me cry.

These songs are in the order they occurred to me. I definitely wouldn’t play all of them on KDU, but they are all significant. Hold on to your hankies, fair readers.

1. Fuck Buttons – Sweet Love For Planet Earth (2008)

It’s hard to nail down why, but this is the first song that I thought of. I guess it might be attached to some old memories. Over this ten minute track, Fuck Buttons uses swampy electronics to build a hulking groove.

2. The Rolling Stones – Shine A Light (1972)

The penultimate track from the Stones’ drugged out, ambling, classic album: Exile on Main St.

Mick Jagger delivers a great vocal performance. True fact: Shine a Light was written about ex-Stones guitarist and 27 Club member Brian Jones’ worsening drug addictions in the late 60s. Cut with the Rolling Stones Mobile truck, a legendary thing among studio nerds and musicians alike.

3. Weekends – Camp Nowhere (2008)

The final track off Weekends’ first, self titled album. The coda features an oscillating snippet of the drummer yelling “Hey!” in a way that some may find annoying, but I interpret as exploding with emotion. It’s the musical equivalent of a thought loop, emerging from the background while life continues in the form of the duo bashing away on their gear.


4. The White Stripes – The Air Near My Fingers (2003)

“Life is so boring/it’s really got me snoring/wearing out the flooring in a cheap hotel”.

Jack White said that the album, 2003′s Elephant, was a commentary on “the death of the sweetheart” in American culture. In a New York Times interview, White elaborated, saying that “The sweetheart, the gentleman — it’s the same thing. These ideas seem to be in decline, and I hate it. You look at your average teenager with the body piercings and the tattoos. You have white kids going around talking in ghetto accents because they think that makes them hard. It’s so cool to be hard. We’re against that.”

I take this to mean that with this album, the Stripes rally against the lack of emotion in early-oughts American culture. Emotion can be good or bad, but is always powerful. This song is sniffle-enducingly powerful.

5. Jimi Hendrix – Bold As Love (1967)

The final track on Jimi’s sophomore effort Axis: Bold As Love.

The final “underwater” section guitar solo, featuring the first example of flanging on a studio recording, is incredible.

“My red is so confident that he flashes trophies of war, and ribbons of euphoria/Orange is young, full of daring, But very unsteady for the first go round”

6. Mumblr – Sober (2014)

The first time I saw Mumblr was under the Greys Ferry bridge, with my friend Nick. We talked to some Temple freshmen girls, drank out of red Solo cups, climbed on the abandoned rail bridge, and got really hurt in the dusty, dirty moshpit. With broken glass underfoot, surrounded by skateboard-swinging punks, huffing generator fumes, my mind went to a really beautiful place.

This song is on their upcoming album Full of Snakes, which comes out September 16th.

7. The Plugz – Reel Ten (1984)

This is off the soundtrack to Repo Man (not Repo Men), the 1984 film about Otto, a young Cali punk played by Emilio Estevez. There’s space travel, secret agents, and great music, often all in the same scene. The lesson to be learned here: when punks grab synthesizers, good things happen.

This track is surfy, spacey, eerie, and jubilant. Many chills to be had.

8. PILE – The Jones (2012) 

“tried to keep up by running in place/tried to keep my cool but all that blood went in my face/now i’m cold”. 

I could go on about PILE forever. They’re my favorite band you can bum a cigarette off of. Their KDU live session was awesome. Rick’s lyrics are about as abstract as you can get. That means they have a wide appeal, but are still cutting-edge intellectual.

My thoughts are racing as my body is transformed into a sweaty mosh alien, feeling the air of the Golden Tea House thicken with the essence of fifty other people having the same exact experience.

9. The Front Bottoms – Skeleton (2013)

“Who was I kidding? I can’t get past you/ You are the cops, you are my student loans”

It’s desperate and ragged, but chugs on and on, like a drunk kid making his way home. Drug abuse, feelin’ loose.

10. Double Dagger – Rearranging Digital Deck Chairs (2007) 

Double Dagger is special to me because they were more or less my introduction to basement music, waay back in 2009. Yeah. While this song was never one of their live favorites, it still holds significance because it was pretty much the first Double Dagger song with introspective, philosophical lyrics that are more thoughtful than pissed off. This song is the moment where Double Dagger ceases to be a joke band about graphic design (see also: this song), and becomes the most dangerous band in the land.

“It’s always a problem/when the weight of the world/it’s always a problem/is outweighed by the girl”

______________________________________________

Some observations about this list: 7 out of 10 bands on this list are post-2000. 2 are from Baltimore. 1 hails from Philadelphia. 5 are bands that I’ve seen live. 4 are bands that cease to exist. Take from this what you may.

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