Shout Outs – Part 2

July 31st, 2009

One of the advantages of putting out an album is that you can write liner notes, thanking all your musical influences.  The problem is, unless you put out an album, you can’t put out liner notes.  So I’ll take this blog entry as an opportunity to shout out to my musical peeps.

As you’ll see in Shout Outs – Part 3, my musical development was not a gradual thing, but kinda sudden.  Not that I suddenly replaced my Weird Al Yankovic tapes with Screaming Gibbon Vivisection Cake tapes, but I was rapidly exposed to a lot of new music in a very short time.

The biggest influence there, by far, was KTRU (Rice Radio) 91.7 FM.  KTRU is Rice University’s radio station, and had a fairly unusual musical selection policy.  While other college radio stations in the 80’s and 90’s avoided the regular radio system of “playing your favorite top 40 hits over and over again” and instead chose the wholly radical approach of “playing your favorite indie hits over and over again”, KTRU eschewed Pere Ubu and Galaxie500, instead following a policy, as near as I can tell, of “You should never listen to KTRU and think ‘oh, hey, they’re playing *that* song!  I *love* that song!’, because that would mean you’ve heard that song before.  Instead, you should think ‘what the heck is this?!  This is awesome!'”.  Admittedly, that’s a little long to fit on a bumper sticker.

I started listening to KTRU in late junior high school.  Back then, they were broadcasting at a power of 1 watt or so, probably powering the station antenna off a pair of AA batteries.  The station only came in at night, and I ended up with a Frankenstein array of aluminum hanging off my alarm clock radio antenna in order to improve the signal.

KTRU was largely free-form.  They had a few specialty shows (MK Ultra’s techno show was the first place I ever heard jungle, and the first place I ever heard goa, both of which I love to this day), but for the most part the programming was non-thematic.  And how non-thematic it was!  A screaming abrasive noise piece would be followed by some 1930’s cowboy music, followed by some modern classical piece, followed by some anarch0-punk piece, followed by some spoken word piece, followed by a cascade of beeping and xylophones, etc.

This aspect of KTRU pretty much ruined my ability to be a DJ.  A few years ago, I bought some software that allowed me to DJ using my computer.  I played a handful of little parties, and, while I was a good ambient DJ, I was absolutely awful at anything else, because my aesthetic is a pure descendent of KTRU’s influence.  While most DJs will start a set up, build up energy, switch into some favorite, maybe drop the tempo a bit to give people a rest, etc., my sets ended up completely devoid of flow.  Fast would rush into slow, noisy into melodic, dark into happy, not in a “take the audience on a journey” way, but a “is this guy actually doing this on purpose, or has he just put his iTunes library on shuffle?” way.

And, yeah, at home I actually *do* quite enjoy putting my entire iTunes library on shuffle.  I don’t think segueing from Beethoven to Screaming Gibbon Entrail Discovery to  70’s prog disrupts my flow, but improves it.

I’ve retreated a bit from the extreme musical tastes of my college days,but I still have to thank KTRU for te extreme breadth of genres it exposed me to, and for being the kind of college radio station that other college radio stations should want to be.  My mp3 library might be a barren landscape of terrible Top40 music had I not had the fortune to encounter it.

2 Responses to “Shout Outs – Part 2”

  1. さぶろぬ Says:

    俺のギターとギターケースに黒地に黄色の「KTRU 91.7 rise radio」のステッカーが張ってある。



  2. さぶろぬ Says:


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