Friday, June 25, 2010

Meet Our Judges!

When I moved to Seattle my music tastes changed A LOT and it's mainly because we have the most awesome radio station here, KEXP.  You can stream it online so there really is no reason not to listen to them.  KEXP will introduce you to tons of awesome new bands and really has been a huge influence on this city and why we have so many awesome musicians here.  Anyways, I got a few dj's from this station to participate in the Battle of the Bands challenge.  The first one is dj El Toro.  I did a little interview with him so please read on!

S- You not only dj at the best radio station in the country but you also recently wrote a book!  Can you tell us more about it?

ET- My new book is entitled United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties, and Handmade Bitters: A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement It's an overview of myriad ways younger folks are adapting and adopting practices often associated with "bygone" eras (such as circuses, canning your own food, hand-tooled leather crafts, etc..) It began as a book about Americana music but quickly morphed into something much more expansive that reflects my desire for folks to think more about how we can be creators and curators, not just consumers.
S- What are you most excited for this year at Bumbershoot?

ET- There's a lot of great live funk-soul acts this year, including the Budos Band, Ozomatli, and Kings Go Forth. I'm embarrassed to admit I've never seen Bob Dylan live, so I'm psyched about that - especially since two of my favorite regional success stories (Neko Case and the Decemberists) are also on that bill. And if Courtney Love has a complete meltdown during the Hole show... well, I'm not saying that wouldn't be entertaining. 
S- How did you become a dj?

ET- I started buying records in 8th grade, and in high school things intensified. I had a good-paying part time job at a video store just a few doors down from a record shop, and spent much of my income on weird import singles and whatever else I'd read about in NME or was recommended to me by a kindred spirit with funny hair. Many years later, while living in New York City, it occurred to me I should try to be a DJ, but I only got as far as a lesson in beat-matching from my friend Rob. When I moved to Seattle in 1996, the guys at Tasty Shows knew I was connected to the DJ community and had a big record collection, and hired me for a weekly gig at - I don't think they realized I'd never actually DJed before. So I learned on my feet! My job at KEXP came about as a result of my complaining to one of the station big wigs that I didn't like some of the music I'd heard on the air at the time; he challenged me to learn the ropes and audition. I did, and a year or two later I started out as a sub. Now I have my own show, Wednesday nights from 9 PM to 1 AM Pacific Time. 
S- What band/musician would you most like to see in plush form?

ET- Well, it it came down strictly to a cuddling potential basis, I'd say James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem. But visually, I'm thinking Slavic and German '80s new wave types are the way to go: Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich, Klaus Nomi. Of the three, Lene's look was the most colorful and she had those incredible Rapunzel-length braids, so if I had to choose one, let's say Lene Lovich. 
S- Top 10 bands you are currently listening to?

ET- Good Lord, it changes moment to moment. Some things in rotation right now include:

Twinn Connexion - late '60s Sunshine pop duo. Identical twins from Helena, MT.
Scissor Sisters new album "Night Work," especially the last track, "Invisible Light." Total Frankie Goes to Hollywood rip-off.
I found a used 45 of Ronnie Spector singing Billy Joel's "Say Goodbye To Hollywood," backed up by the E Street Band, in a used bin recently. Big smiles all around.
Goldfrapp's latest, "Head First," has stayed at the top of the stacks much longer than I thought it initially would. Very sly and subtle.
The forthcoming Mavis Staples, produced by Jeff Tweedy from Wilco..
Ships "Compulsory Listening" is probably my favorite new local release. Solid, smart power pop.
Matmos + So Percussion have a collaborative album called "Treasure State" that is a mind-blowing yet strangely soothing mix of avant garde electronics and experimental percussion.
The late Walter Gibbons was a New York DJ who worked with my hero, Arthur Russell, a lot. Strut Records just issued a 2-CD anthology of Walter's spacey, mind-blowing remixes and productions called "Jungle Music."
I can't stop playing the new LCD Soundsystem, "This Is Happening," nor do I plan to... although the Drums self-titled debut full-length may supplant it on my iTunes as summer in Seattle continues (starts?) to warm up.

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