College & Local Radio is RAD!

KWVA_905As many of you may already know, I have a passion for radio. When I was a junior in high school, I visited my (now) college campus for the first time, and I was immediately drawn to the student-run radio station, KWVA. I loved the idea of a community of like-minded, music-obsessed students talking about/ playing what they love on the air.

The station, at the time, a small hole-in-the-wall studio that was once a women’s bathroom, was covered in stickers and band posters. Promo CDs were scattered among stacks of cassette tapes and vinyl, and hipster-looking students rushed in and out of the studio, welcoming me with giant smiles. I knew I had to get involved.

giphyI’ve been a part of my college radio station for 2 years now, and I will be heading into my last year in the fall. (That’s me in the studio on the right!) Since my first visit, the studio has expanded and moved to a shiny new space in the student activities center, located at the heart of campus. While on my summer break from school, I haven’t strayed far from the radio biz. I’m interning with the Portland Radio Project, a local radio station in Portland. I’ve met so many cool DJs, learned about some crazy talented local artists, and made some great connections.

According to Pitchfork, “college radio can reflect what local broadcasting should strive for: freeform programming that’s community organized and unentangled in market-based obligation. It is also a continually replenishing talent pool for the industry at large, and every part of the musical ecosystem can count former college radio DJs among their staff” (2017).

Both student-run and local, community radio provides music-lovers and radio enthusiasts the opportunity to think outside of the box. It’s an outlet for up-and-coming artists to receive recognition, listeners to be exposed to new genres, and a place for community members to share their music knowledge on the air without corporate involvement. This is how it should be when it comes to sharing the music we love!

According to FRG, “community and local radio stations focus on local areas they are an opportunity to give the community a voice. Community Radio Station’ staff are usually volunteers, and they are nearly always not-for-profit organizations. Funding is mostly given through donations or would incorporate fundraising in the form of events, pub quizzes and advertising.”

Kirsten at KATUKirsten Nicolaisen, a Portland-based journalist working in the social media and digital world of TV news, is a KWVA alumn and DJ at the Portland Radio Project! (We have a lot in common.) 🙂 Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kirsten made her way north for school where she spent four years working at KWVA Eugene. From production assistant, to DJ, to eventual News Director, Kirsten wore a number of hats at KWVA. A stint at Oregon Public Broadcasting brought her to Portland, which she now calls home. Now, Kirsten  works at KATU News. (Photo to the right.)

kirsten at KWVA“My favorite memories from KWVA are late nights and early mornings spent in the studio” Kirsten says. “KWVA was my library, my office space, my living room, and my little world tucked away down a long hallway at the student activities center. I loved diving into the music library in the wee hours of the morning when I first started DJ-ing during the Tuesday 4-6 AM shift, and sticking around afterward to catch up on school work… constantly distracted by all the messages and jokes scribbled on the walls. It was in those quiet hours that my love of music, radio and media truly blossomed.” (Left: Kirsten in the KWVA studio as a student.)

Kirsten believes that local radio stations like PRP provides music fans with the most unique music and best radio-listening experience.

“Without stations like PRP, I believe many talented local musicians would not have the platform to properly showcase their work. I feel lucky to be a part of a growing force in the local music community!” she says.

College and local radio is pretty rad. Let’s help keep it alive!

2014/365/351 On The Air At CFBX

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CONCERTS: Passenger

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I’ve been lucky enough to see singer-songwriter Passenger live three times now, and each time, he never ceases to impress me with his infectious energy, crowd involvement, funny travel stories, and remarkable music. Last month, I had the pleasure of seeing him in Portland, Oregon with my friend Shayna, who bought me tickets for Christmas! (Click the picture above to see a clip of Passenger performing his song “Life’s For The Living.”)

Michael Rosenberg, also known as Passenger, is most famous for his single “Let Her Go,” which, he jokes, often gets confused with the hit Disney song “Let It Go.” He formed the initial band, Passenger, with singer and friend Andrew Phillips in 2003. They produced one album, then the band broke up in 2009. After that, Michael continued to pursue music on his own, keeping the stage name Passenger as he busked around the world solo. He is good friends with singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, and performs with him often. My favorite duet of theirs is “Heart’s on Fire.”

Each of Passenger’s songs tell a story. Focusing on themes of life, loss, laughter, love, change, travel, stars, summer nights, fear, shimmering waves, growing old, and his views of the world, Passenger captures vivid scenes and memories through his music. His latest album is titled Young As the Morning Old As the Sea.

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Before Passenger came on stage in Portland, the fabulous Paper Kites performed, an Australian band who formed in 2010. This was a fun surprise for me–I listen to The Paper Kites regularly, and I even played one of their tracks recently on my weekly college radio show. They rocked! I was standing directly in front of the guitarist, who had so much energy and incredible skill. I even met the guys after the show (see above), and talked to them about my music blog and radio show. They were pretty stoked to hear that I had played them on the air. Along with being enormously talented, these guys are so funny and kind. Check out their latest album “Twelvefour,” here, and click here to watch a clip of their performance in PDX. (Pictures below are mine.)

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My friend and I were first in line about 2 hours prior to the concert, and ended up being front row once we got inside the venue! It was amazing to be at the barrier–I’ve only ever experienced it at one other concert. Passenger was so interactive with the crowd–he responded to fans shouting compliments, and talked to all of us as if we were old friends of his. Being so close to him standing on the edge of the stage as the lights reflected off his guitar and the beads of sweat on his forehead made the whole experience so raw, real, and incredibly fun.

Passenger told a few different stories through out his set. He started by explaining the story behind his song “Travelling Alone,” from his album Whispers II. Michael said he initially struggled to write this song–he had the first half of it written, but wasn’t sure how to continue it.

Me at the concert.

He recalled the day when he had crossed paths with an Australian man who was travelling alone. The man explained that he and his wife had saved up to go on an extravagant trip together after their children had grown up, but she had died before they had been able to go. To honor her memory, the man decided to take the trip anyway. Along the way, however, he found that it was more difficult than he expected–he began to feel further away from home, and further from his wife, than he ever had before: “He said ‘I’m a long way from the Gold Coast. Furthest I’ve ever known. Oh and this just ain’t my home. It was my wife’s idea, but she’s no longer here. She left me travelling alone.’

The other half of the song is written about a woman Michael met during his travels. Her husband left her, and she told him the story: “‘See, ten years with this man. And a life time of plans. Oh, and I loved him to his bones. Now I’ve lines on my skin…And he’s traded me in. He left me travelling alone.'” Michael described to us the process of intertwining the two stories in order to weave the song together. Although the two stories are very different from each other, they shared a common theme of lost love experienced in different ways. Listen to it here!

Passenger played a mix of old and new tracks during his concert–one being “27,” a fast-paced, witty single that tells the story of his life up to the age of 27. Before performing it, he reminded the crowd of the importance of doing the things that make you happy, regardless of what anyone else might think. He wrote “27,” during a time in his life where he felt he had to “sell out to get sold”–he struggled to create music that he knew producers and record labels would enjoy, but not necessarily content that brought him joy. I sang along to every word!

After his final song, the encore was loud enough to break the glass windows. He had wrapped up the show with his single “Scare Away the Dark,” a fan favorite that features a distinctive chorus of “oh, oh oh, oh, oh oh no’s” that the crowd continued to belt even after Michael had left the stage. After a few minutes, he came back on and finished up the show with “Holes.” Click the photo below to watch the fun encore!

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After the show ended, Shayna and I took our chances and waited outside in the rain in hopes of meeting Michael. After about an hour or two, he came out and greeted us! He was so kind, asking us if we enjoyed the gig. I gave him a big hug, telling him that we loved the show, especially since we were lucky enough to get front row. “Oh yeah, I saw you dancing and singing!” he responded with his thick British accent. We chatted for a few minutes about Portland and music before he hopped onto his tour bus.

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Overall, it was an unforgettable night! Thank you to Passenger for being such a down-to-earth, talented performer, and Shayna, who made this night possible 🙂

I Was Featured On My Favorite Radio Station!

plA few days ago, I entered in a contest through 94.7 fm, my favorite alternative radio station. The contest required you to enter five of your favorite songs you’d like to hear on the radio, a short description as to why you chose them, and a little bit about yourself. Of course I entered, since this type of thing is right up my alley! 🙂 I listen to this station every day, and love hearing other people’s playlists that are highlighted.

To my surprise, I was chosen to be featured on the radio segment last night at 6 pm! The segment, funnily enough, is called 94.7’s Perfect Playlist, and if you’d like to listen to last night’s episode to hear the five songs I chose, as well as a little bit about me, you can do so by clicking the image on the left! (Photo of me by Kendra Siebert.)

If you’d like to listen to these five songs more clearly, here are the individual links.

“Phantom Limb” by The Shins

“Bridge Burn” by Little Comets

“Packed Powder” by Blind Pilot

“She Moves In Her Own Way” by The Kooks

“Linger” by The Cranberries

Enjoy, and thank you so much 94.7 fm for this awesome opportunity!

An Interview With Jimkata

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Jimkata

Jimkata is a three-piece band from Ithaca, NY. After a short hiatus, the band self-released their latest record, In Motion, which is a flurry of synthesizers, echoing vocals and light, snappy guitar riffs. Fans of bands such as Bleachers, Walk The Moon or Bad Suns will appreciate Jimkata’s upbeat, infectious bass and tracks that incorporate a number of styles—funk-electronic, a bit of alternative, and a touch of 80’s influenced style synth-pop. Songs on the album such as “Jumping Out of Airplanes,” or “Wild Ride” are fast-paced with a heavy dance beat, while the smooth melodies of songs like “Synapses” are slower but still feature a funky, driving rhythm. I was so excited to interview this band–I’ve had their latest record on repeat the last few weeks!

A Perfect Playlist: How would you describe your sound?

Evan Friedell, lead singer of Jimkata: We call ourselves electro-rock.  Basically, it’s synths, guitars, and electronic production all smashed together, but with its roots in classic songwriting.

 APP: What’s the story behind your band name?

evan2J: Packy, Aaron, and I have been playing together since we were kids. At some point when we first started writing our own original music in high school, we needed a name for a gig in the local park. We were spending a lot of time recording with a friend of ours and one day he introduced us to this ridiculous movie called Gymkata. It’s  a really cheesy American made Kung-fu movie starring 1984 Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Kurt Thomas. In the movie, he must use his unique art of gymkata to defeat the fictional Eastern European country of Parmistan…hilarity ensues…  SO, when it came time to toss names around, “gymkata” made us laugh at first…but then we thought, “hey that actually has a ring to it,” and it’s stuck ever since.

APP: Who are a few artists in the music industry today that inspire you?

J: One of my favorite artists is My Morning Jacket. We like the idea that you can be great songwriters and producers, create well respected albums, but also have a raucous live show and an organic following of loyal fans.  There are a lot of artists that I admire, but the ones I admire most tend to cross genres and demographics to bring people together.

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   APP: I heard that you recently went on a hiatus from performing. Can you tell me a little bit about that? How did the break help you further develop/define your sound & style?

J: We went through some line up changes over the last year, and ended up having to take the fall off from touring while we figured out how to continue playing as a three-piece.  It was our first time not touring in quite a few years, and I think it ended up being a blessing in disguise. It gave us a chance to refocus, plan the album release more effectively, and set our intentions as a group going forward.  Then, as soon as we decided to go forward as a three piece, we just started rehearsing like madmen. After playing our first few shows this way, I think we’re really hitting our stride stylistically as musicians. I had a lot of time to practice singing and playing, and we had time as a group to perfect all of the sounds we use in our live shows.

APP: What’s your favorite song off your latest record, In Motion? I’ve had “Jumping Out of Airplanes” on repeat all this week. Love it.

signing2J: Awesome!  Ya know, I think that might be one of my favorites as well.  I often feel self-conscious about songs in that I never know if they’re really done. Especially with lyrics, it can sometimes feel like I could edit, over think, and basically doubt myself forever.  This record came together really quickly and I didn’t even have much of a chance for any of that. Sometimes, when you trust the first feeling or thought that comes to mind it’s just meant to be and you shouldn’t mess with it too much.

APP: Who were some of your musical inspirations as a kid, and who are they now?

J: I was a huge Michael Jackson fan as a kid.  Still am. I looked back on that recently and realized he really was the king of the 80’s and 90’s.  I don’t know if there will ever be a pop star of that magnitude again. I loved Paul Simon’s Graceland and I had a couple early hip-hop tapes that I wore out.  I’m all over the map now in terms of musical inspiration.  Sometimes it’s just one song by an artist that grabs me, other times it’s their whole way of being and going about their career. I also love Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. I admire the fact that, given the top of the charts celebrity status he had, Kendrick chose to create such a socially, politically and musically meaningful album. He could have just made some record label created crap that was calculated to sell but he chose the more challenging route.  To me, there aren’t enough artists like that right now.

reflection2APP: Who had the best performance on the Grammy’s this year, in your opinion?

J: Didn’t watch all of it, but I did catch Kendrick Lamar’s performance and, again, amazing. He’s just pushing boundaries, making statements, and remains seemingly humble despite the immensity of his fame.

APP: What would each of you being doing if you were not pursuing a career in music?

J: I really don’t know. When I was a kid, my first goal was to be in the NBA.  Then I got older and my next goal was to be a musician. I definitely didn’t make the NBA…so now I’m a musician.

APP: I am currently a volunteer for the on-campus radio station at my school, and I recently did a review of your new album that just came out this month. (I loved it, obviously.) We are planning to play it on KWVA pretty soon. Have you ever heard one of your songs on the radio? If so, what was your reaction?

1454263538-jimkataJ: I have. It’s a little trippy.  At first it’s exciting, but then I gotta turn on my analytical, self-critical brain and think about if it sounds good enough to be played for a wide audience.  Then I try to turn that off and be like, “chill out and just enjoy it! Your song is on the radio!!”

APP: Anything else you want to say to readers of A Perfect Playlist?

J: Thanks for listening!!!

Jimkata will be performing with X Ambassadors and Robert Delong on May 16th at State Theatre of Ithaca!

Check out my fave track by the band, “Jumping Out of Airplanes” here:

Find the band below:

YouTube

Website

Instagram

My interview is also featured on the homepage of KWVARadio.org. Check it out here.