Jason Bentley, host of KCRW LA radio's Morning Becomes Eclectic, Metropolis, and EDM pioneer. AMA.
Hi reddit. I’m excited to be here. This is definitely better than people approaching me to ask questions while I’m in the middle of a DJ set! I’ve been working at LA public radio station KCRW since I was a teenager and now I’m the Music Director at the station as well as the host of Morning Becomes Eclectic and the Saturday night dance show Metropolis
In addition, I was the music supervisor for the Matrix series, the recent Tron reboot, and Oblivion. I’ve also taken the stage for sets at Coachella and a bunch of other festivals worldwide.
KCRW is a non-profit known for breaking bands (including artists like Adele, Beck, Gotye and others) and we’re about to start our winter pledge drive. You can learn more about what we do, donate, or just listen here: kcrw.com
OK, ready to take your questions, AMA!
thanks to everyone for participating, there were some great questions and honestly I had no idea what to expect. Rachel here at KCRW got me really worked up about the whole thing and I was quite nervous. But it's been a terrific experience. I hope you enjoy today's episode of MBE, if you haven't heard it yet: http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/mb/mbe
It's a real pleasure to be your music director, thank you and please consider pledging starting tomorrow.
Are you the web developer in the Bay Area that always snaps up my username?
You're out of luck with Beats music because I got my name there!
As the music director for a non-profit public radio station, do you ever feel a duty to expose KCRW’s listeners to “important” music which may not be popular among your listeners? Or does the station’s reliance on listener donations necessitate the dumbing-down of music programming to ensure sufficient funding? Is that why more eclectic, but less popular, DJs such as Tom Schnabel are no longer on the air?
Well, you always want to strike a balance between things that are familiar, and things that are going to be a new discovery. A lot of our listeners tune in for music discovery specifically, so that's a priority for us. And over the years, we've been able to present many many artists with their first airplay in the states. So whether it's Adele, or Norah Jones, or whomever, it's almost like the list runs really long. So that's an honor and a privilege, but to your question, you want to strike a balance between things that are accessible and things that are just much more progressive. I still think that our sweet spot is pretty far left of center. I mean our world is far more independent and in most cases unfamiliar to the mainstream.
Specifically for Tom, he's still at the station and he hosts an online music blog called Rythm Planet (http://blogs.kcrw.com/rhythmplanet/) so he is still with us. He was our very first music director in the late 1800s.
Jason, thank you for doing this. You've been my favorite DJ for as long as I can remember.
Morning Becomes Eclectic is the best show on the radio.
What are your favorite small clubs to see bands in LA? What is the coolest place you've ever DJ'd at?
Good questions! For local venues, I like the El Rey and I like the Fonda (even though it's a little bit bigger) and for nightclubs, I think Sound is best. And there's a new spot called DBA which is great too. As far as favorite DJ sets, that's really hard to say because it's like 2 decades of playing. Sometimes if I imagine a map of Southern California in my mind, I could drop a flag at so many locations over the years. But I would say a special honor was playing the Governor's Ball, which is the Oscar's after party, which I've played twice. And also Coachella is a personal favorite because I haven't missed a single Coachella and I've played there 3 times now.
Jason I've been listening to you and KCRW since I was 15-16 and it has become the soundtrack to my life, I'd first off like to thank you and the staff for everything you guys do! 1st question: How is your voice so smooth and soothing? Rumor has it, it sends men and women alike into states of delirium. 2nd question: What is your favorite 90's 1 hit wonder, I'll go easy and let you pick 3 :]. Lastly if you were to be stuck with 5 albums to listen for the rest of eternity what would they be?
THANK YOU JASON AND KCRW FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR LA!! RADIO ISN'T DEAD.
P.S. You always have the best background tracks/interludes between sets or when you talk, I'm beginning to think you keep all those instrumentals as your own little gems, and are sending me on a musical scavenger hunt. P.P.S. Please start doing audiobooks.
1st question: Proximity effect, look it up. 2nd question: Blackstreet's No Diggity, Eels' Novocaine for the Soul, The Breeders' Cannonball. 3: I'll take a shot. I would say The Who's Quadrophenia, The Clash London Calling, Kate Bush's Hounds of Love, Radiohead OK Computer, and Massive Attack's Blue Lines.
You're totally right, I consider those proprietary.
And people call about the interludes and I either ignore them outright or give them the wrong information.
Hey Jason! Long time listener, first time writer. How much would it cost for you to DJ my wedding? And for the follow-up, will you be the groom at my wedding?
I do not play weddings, it's just potentially a minefield with music, so I steer clear of that. We should probably have dinner first.
Hey Jason. I had the chance to talk with you for a bit at the 1998 Kraftwerk show at the Palladium, which for a High School kid immersed in the LA rave scene at the time was pretty cool, as you were a rave staple back then. I was very happy that you went on to KCRW as you've turned me on to some pretty amazing music over the years.
My question is, what is a common thread you've seen in bands/artists who have started out small/unknown and have broken into wider success? What advice would you give to the struggling independent musicians out there that hope to gain wider exposure?
Well earlier I talked about finding your community. A band really needs to find its audience and that is going to mean that touring is important, finding new ways to build that relationship with your audience. I think that there's a greater opportunity for artists to have a decent career independent of major labels or even radio support, you can exist on touring. So you know that's really important. I think that people should just do it as long as they love it. A hit song is a hit song and that can change your entire career overnight, but it's also a little bit like winning the lottery. It's not easy, and there are those that enjoy 1 hit and then never come back to the limelight. So there is no 1 right way to do it.
As far as common thread, I think you just need to love what you do, playing music and making that connection to people. Look at a band like the National right now. Their trajectory is over multiple albums, they are from the midwest (Cincinnati) and now they are headlining festivals. I like that trajectory where it's a slower build, you work to establish an audience over time and over multiple records. It's tough when you go big on your first record. Look at MGMT. They clearly don't like their early success. They have been trying to get away from the music they wrote in college ever since they put the album out.
Hi Jason, thanks for coming here. What bands from the past decade or so do you think will hold up as classics of the era? By that I mean the bands that will remain the most culturally and musically important in the coming decades.
Wow. That is a tough one. I'll say that it was great to see Daft Punk receive 5 Grammys just a couple weekends ago. That for me was special because i presented their first DJ appearance in Los Angeles and have worked closely with them over the years, specifically on Tron: Legacy, so to see them validated at that level was pretty special. People know me as a real pioneer for electronic dance music, and they are obviously such a part of that too. The EDM movement over the past couple of decades has been my most significant genre and is my sort of "British Invasion" if you will.
As far as other bands, it's really hard to say who will endure, especially these days it seems like you know pop music and culture moves so quickly now because of digital and the internet, you are just seeing things turning over more rapidly. I think that when record labels were in more of a powerful position, they would really help to refine artists over time, but now when artists break on the internet, it's a little more disposable.
Hi Jason, Thanks for helping make the soundtrack to my life. My parents and I always referred to KCRW as "the station" and it was constantly on in our house, in the car, everywhere. My dad recently passed away from cancer, and when he was in the hospital, it was a comfort to be able to listen to KCRW, whether MBE or the all music online channel, to make that horrible space and time softer, to share something together that was always such a huge part of our family. Thank you for that. I guess my question would be if you're going to see Kraftwerk at the Disney Music Hall in March, and if so, what day did you choose and why. (it was a tough call, but Mom and I chose The Mix on Friday).
Sorry for your loss and it's wonderful to hear that we have been a part of your lives as a family. Kraftwerk is going to be amazing. They are legends. And I think you've chosen well with The Mix. I personally don't know which day I'm going. Depending on the kindness of the LA Philharmonic to allow me to probably stand at the back of the room. But I will definitely be there, so please come and say hello.
Jason, I need to know.
Who cuts your hair, player? And can I walk in and say give me the Bentley?
I go to Yuki Sharoni in Beverly Hills, the mecca of hair salons.
Jason, first off, huge fan of everything you do.
As a person who has pretty much been a part of the Los Angeles "EDM" scene since the get-go, what aspect of this recent boom in popularity has been the most surprising for you?
Also, any crazy story you care to share about the old school warehouse days??
Well you know to see EDM on Superbowl commercials, major motion pictures, basically the highest level of popular exposure is pretty remarkable. And also these events, whether it's EDC or Hard or Ultra in Miami, it's pretty astonishing. I didn't expect that it would become as big as it has gotten. But it's certainly validating for those of us who had a sense of its potential very early on, the power of connecting and a different way to experience music unlike rock n roll.
As far as the old days, lots of very funny stories. One time I was at a rave and I stumbled down the wrong hallway and came upon a Quinceneara that was happening at the same time. We threw a rave on Catalina called Gilligan's Island in the casino that's out there and I just remember people as the boat was leaving the next morning running down the dock trying to jump on the boat at the last minute. I remember a rave in a bullring in east LA and the Orb played. Fond memories of a really influential event called Organic in 1996, probably the ultimate lineup of any rave, it had Underworld, Orbital, Meat Beat Manifesto, The Orb and the Chemical Brothers. And actually I really hope that we can get a 20 year anniversary of Organic event together. So that would be coming up in a couple of years. Countless memories, breaking into warehouses. I knew these promoters that would go downtown and they would put padlocks on different doors and they would come back a few weeks later and if the padlock had been cutoff they knew they could not use that warehouse, but it was a great way to test whether people were actually using the space. Sort of a reverse psychology there. So if the padlock was still on, they knew it was open season. Map points were also a really big part of the scene. Before everybody had a cell phone, the party would have a voicemail and you would call the voicemail number and you would get directions to a map point. You would go there, pay your money and get a map to the rave. There was always a sense of adventure in the scene. It needed to be illicit and sort of dangerous. That was a big part of it. So you and your friends would drive for hours trying to find these places, and you get there and it would be a giant room or giant sound system, something very special about all of that. I don't run around looking for underground parties anymore, so I don't even know if that scene exists. But I'm sure it does.
I went to a PACKED sold out Tame Impala show one time, and you stood right next to us. There was a good 2 foot radius of space/respect around you so you were not crowded.
How did you get so cool?
Stay in school.
I first heard you on Metropolis back around 1996 when the electronic music scene was still very young and very underground. Back then the only ways to hear some of that stuff was to drive out to shady warehouses/arenas in San Bernardino or out into the desert.
Being such an influential part the EDM scene and bringing much of it into the mainstream through your work in movies, what is your opinion on where it is now and where it is headed?
EDM is everywhere now: commercials, clubs, bars, restaurants, movies, TV shows, giant festivals... many genres have disappeared/are still niche/have evolved into something else (acid house, deep house, breakbeats, jungle). Do you think any of those will ever come up to the surface? Which underappreciated genre of today would you like to see more popularized?
Also, what do you think of the definition of "dubstep" being morphing over the years? I always associated it with a reggae vibe and then it was transferred to the dubstep we hear now.
Thanks again for being awesome all these years. For me, your voice has become very closely associated with being home (in LA) and with very big inflection points in my life.
Thank you very much for that. I don't worry about the underground, I feel like it will always turn over and offer something fresh and new. And I do think that the saturation of EDM in pop culture will eventually fade and shift underground. We are always seeing that a little bit and that may be why we are seeing more of a deep house response. These things are cyclical and that's what's exciting, I think that is what drew me to club culture in the first place, it's such a fertile ground for new ideas. I'm not worried about the future, I think that it's more interesting when we see these combinations and new approaches and technology that changes the way we experience music. Like it was popular for a while in the early 2000s with a mashup phenomenon, the result of technology of laptops with vinyl controls to rapid-fire combine all kinds of different songs. It was like a jukebox on steroids. And then technology moved it to a different place and you are able to combine elements with more fluidity. Point being that innovations in the DJ booth result in different trends and different ideas. This last question referenced a number of different genres and it's all very special and I don' think we will ever experience the same thing as the 90s, it was a very unique time in dance music, but I think that we are safe and sound going forward with people coming up with new ideas and new directions. I think the underground is in good hands, you just have to be open minded enough to listen and go out there. Usually that's a young person's game but I encourage people to step out and go to a warehouse party in the arts district downtown once in a while. It's just good for the soul.
Jason! Longtime MBE listener and metropolis fan here :) I wanted to ask you what you think the role of radio will be as people are now using different services such as spotify or pandora. How is KCRW handling the shift? What is the role of KCRW now that so much music is so readily available.
Thank you! Love the show and all of the great music you've introduced me to!
Thanks. Well KCRW is supportive of any emerging platform. Instead of being defensive or fearful, we look to inhabit any new platform. It still feels like a wild west and there is no doubt the streaming services are an exciting innovation, but it also feels a little bit like satellite radio 10 years ago when there was so much hype and expectation of a game changer and then it didn't quite pan out. So my feeling is the jury is still out with streaming services but it's definitely buzzing right now with the growth of Spotify, Beats music launched recently, things are just changing so fast and you see these artists like Beyonce (not that we'd play her) but to see her engineer the release of an album pretty much out of nowhere and exclusive to iTunes is pretty remarkable. Our principles have remained much the same but we try to embrace new technologies as they come.
Boxers or Briefs?
What are your current favorite restaurants in LA?
I love inc. because it's a culinary adventure. I also like Scopa on the west side for italian, and Tar & Roses is also good. We definitely have it good in LA for food.
When would be the most convenient time during a DJ set to approach you and ask questions?
JB! Long time listener/supporter of KCRW and MBE. I have built a lot of my music library around your selections and have a great amount of respect for what you and your KCRW colleagues do for artists. That said, what genre(s), if any, do you have your eye on for 2014 and who's albums are you anticipating most?
Good question. New music trends are trancehall and gravewave (a mix of witch house and chill wave, it's the next thing). No I'm joking I just made that up.
The Beck album is superb. So is the Broken Bells record. Those 2 albums are early candidates for the best of the year when all is said and done.
If you could have been apart of any movie to provide music for what would it be? Do you think you could improve it?
Well earlier I mentioned wanting to hang out with Stanley Kubrick. I guess a bunch of his films, but A Clockwork Orange definitely changed my whole worldview when I saw it as a teenager. I think that being involved in that process would have been pretty amazing. I think the genius of Kubrick is that he is a complete filmmaker. I think it really was a case of Kubrick appropriating and placing the ideas, not a traditional film score. But any of Kubrick's films would have been great to have worked on. I really liked There Will Be Blood in more recent times. Gotta credit The Social network and Trent Reznor because it was so unconventional and represented the film so well.
One of the things that people don't realize is that composers will come onto a picture when there's already a temp score in place. And the effect of that is usually limiting creatively. Because the direction and the sensibility has already been set in place. And so the conversation is usually with the director saying something like do something like this, I know it's the temp, it's from another film but we're used to that. It's a negative spiral. Sometimes you have directors like David Fincher for instance who involve a composer very early on and there is never a temp. Because a director like Fincher will appreciate the pitfall of doing that. So he involves someone in that process from even the script phase, getting ideas going. That's what we did with Tron: Legacy and Daft Punk. Daft Punk were on that project for 2-3 years wire to wire. On the set we were playing demos they had made. It helped to inform a scene and inform actors on a mood. So not everybody has that luxury because it doesn't make sense for a working composer to set aside 3 years for 1 film but the great films and the great directors (back to Kubrick), these are people that are approaching it with a holistic vision and that's when you get great results.
hey Jason, huge fan. I was 1 of about 6 people who came to watch your set 2 summers ago at PacFestOC where you DJed on the bus that looked like a giant fluffy dog.
That's all. Just a great experience. Me, you, and a giant dog-bus in the middle of nowhere. You made me dance.
I do play raves.
First off, you kill it! Great mix every morning, and you are pretty much my only source for new music now. I was honestly thinking about tweeting your this morning asking this, but this is even better. Also, as a direct result of you keeping me listening every day, i've recently become a kcrw member!
Have you thought about doing a show or set dedicated to people playing Coachella? I want to get pumped on some of the artist I haven't heard yet, what better way then MBE.
Well I have always felt that KCRW of any radio station truly reflects the spirit of Coachella and we support those artists all year long. So a dedicated show is cool but at the same time we are always playing those bands, perhaps it's more a dedicated website or blog or something that get people more familiar with the smaller bands, but I will say that during the week between Coachellas, it's always the busiest most action packed time for us with special guests because everybody's in town and it's always a crazy week. 1 thing that I can mention is that I will be the host of the official Coachella webcast and for the first time they even have a host ever, so I will be onsite both weekends really reporting and interviewing and covering the festival for the Coachella webcast.
Hi Jason! Love the show and glad to have discovered it. Thanks for all the music you play. You've really opened my ears!
What made you pursue the music life? Was it an artist or a DJ that you listened to when you were younger?
When I was young I was totally fascinated with radio and subculture. By that I mean style and graffiti and music in the city. And so I think without having a set plan I have always known what excites me, what interests me and have naturally been drawn to music and culture. I have always loved radio as a medium. I think partly because it engages the imagination. I think music videos and video in general it establishes too much. It tells you too much. I always liked radio being theater of the imagination and that's what drew me to KCRW originally because there was this exotic music programming and really unusual radio drama that I had never heard before. I'm not talking about the BBC presents Shakespeare, it was weird radio drama like an intimate conversation that you should not be listening to. So I think KCRW always drew my interest from just being very young.
You play incredible music, and your voice is as soothing as Bob Ross'. Those are the highest compliments I've ever given someone. Are you just constantly listening to new music or do you have interns helping out? What do you think of the Broken Bells new album? Who's your favorite band of 2010+?
Love the new Broken Bells. I listen to all the music. I don't know how I could assign someone like an intern to do that for me. It does not really compute for me. And as far as a favorite band post 2010, let's say M83.
You've played Coachella 3 times, and even did the voiceover for their trailer. How did you first get involved with the festival? What were your thoughts on the introduction of the new Yuma tent last year?
Yuma is very cool. It's the result of the Sahara tent getting overblown. The EDM takeover of Sahara, Yuma is the answer to that. And it puts music first. And low on spectacle. It's very much an environment where you can feel the sound. I think it's a brilliant innovation on Coachella's part, and Coachella is a very influential festival. I would guess that other festivals like ACL or Lollapalooza or Sasquatch will probably follow suit. But it's basically an answer to the EDM bombast of Sahara.
Hey Jason! What's been your greatest musical find in the past 10 years?
I do love Tame Impala.
Where do you get all those awesome t-shirts?
I am photographed a lot, so I have to be thinking about my shirt selection. I really like All Saints. I know it's just a mall store, but I think it's because they are from England that I really like them. For more unusual fashions, I like Opening Ceremony. But I have to keep mixing it up, it's true, because I take photos with all the bands that come through and I can't be seen wearing the same shirt every day.
The majority of the music in Morning Becomes Eclectic is in English. Is music in other languages considered too inaccessible for airplay?
Is there any group or type of music that you would have liked to play but couldn't because of language barriers?
Thx! Love all the music programming of KCRW, it's truly the heartbeat of L.A.
I try to be inclusive of music (spanish, french, portuguese) and music is a universal language so there should not be any limitation, but I just want to know that I can treat it on a level playing field. I don't want to think of it as latin alternative, I just want to think that it's great music. I do play a lot of things and it depends on a scene and how much music is coming out of that particular scene. Yesterday I played a band from Paris called Lescop and they are on Kitsune, also a new single from Quantic based in Columbia right now, and that is spanish language, so it's in the mix. I just don't want to make it noticeably separate like a special show for spanish language or anything else. I want it to be just a part of the fabric of programming. And I think we do that. I think we could maybe do a better job of it, but there are only so many hours in a day and we also do news and culture programming and the music is part of what we do overall.
But it's a point well-made. It's about excellent music in general.
Jason! Awesome job all the time, love MBE!
Since you're neck deep in the industry and see a lot of musicians moving towards more innovative ways of making money (due to the old ways not working as well), such as utilizing themselves as brands and integrating alongside partners such as movies (Pharrell + Despicable Me 2 and his 24 Hours of Happy website or even Bieber getting the digital video makeover from addidas) and more - What have you seen in the digital music marketing world that you feel has been really effective in spreading awareness of the artist, brand and getting listeners and fans excited?
There are so many different ways to do this nowadays. I think it's very important for an artist to have a strong aesthetic. It's more than the music which needs to be great, but it's an artistic statement that extends beyond that in terms of whatever imaging or affiliation they make. It's really important. And it's definitely not lost on me the effort that is made. I can't really offer a magic bullet in terms of what a solution is for people across the board. But aesthetics are important.
For instance if you send me a CDR with some writing and a sharpie, I would prefer to find you based on a compelling statement musically and artistically. So be careful about the partnerships that you strike. Generally people are more forgiving of commercial endorsements and brands, people understand that it's a necessary evil of sorts. But try to be discriminating of who you get in bed with. There are lots of opportunities out there. Music is a special magic that connects all of us. As human beings it's our connective tissue. So if you are able to make that magic, just protect it and respect it and you might have to turn some things down if you don't feel good about it.
As far as great marketing, it's more about respecting your craft and finding the right people to help you get the word out.
Jason, you are one of my biggest influences in music. I remember listening to Metropolis 15 years ago living in California and being introduced to then unknown artists such as the Basement Jaxx, Mr. Scruff, Sylk 130 and Layo and Bushwacka. I still listen to you when I can.
Thank you for the years of great interviews and not dumbing down electronica and having such a great taste and ear for great music!
Who would you say are your favorite all-time electronic music artists that influenced you in the biggest way?
Also, if you could open for any electronic music act, who would it be?
Biggest influences: Underworld, definitely. Massive Attack.
I don't know who I would want to open for. Maybe Daft Punk just for the sake of it? Also the year they have had. It would be great to open for them.
Hello, Have been a KCRW member for a while, listen to you in the morning at work, and very excited for this summer's line up at the bowl. anywho, living behind the orange curtain, there aren't many shows down here. KCRW did an event at the Segrestrom Center a couple years back, and that was it, no mas. Any chance it might happen again? Or any KCRW events in Orange County for that matter? Thanks and keep up the good work :)
I totally hear you. And it's really a matter of limited staff and resources. We would love to do more events down there, it's just about finding the time and the energy honestly. We enjoy coming down there and also the reception that we get is always terrific. People really appreciate the effort and that is an important audience for us. But sometimes all we can do is focus on the more immediate community in central LA, but please know that we definitely are trying to find more opportunities down there.
Hey Jason, you obviously cast a wide net when it comes to the music you play and the DJs/hosts on KCRW. I'm wondering is there any sort of music that you don't particularly care for?
(PS I miss the Big 3 on Saturdays. Really got me amped to get my night going. Now I listen to their show mid-week on the KCRW app.)
I just don't like commercial music. Like glossy, poppy, overproduced pop music. It's just hard to enjoy. It sort of obscures any honesty in the music. It's just bland.
Jason, hi. Listening to your show on KCRW for a long time ... nearly 20 years. I volunteered during a few membership drives during your shift too.
I'm sure you've had many offers to accept jobs elsewhere. What's kept you in the KCRW studio for all this time?
It's more of an extended family, and you know, it's home. It's like a big house of crazy people and you know the little secret place where you can sneak off and get a little work done, and the place where you're going to run into somebody, it's just sort of a touchstone over the years. So I'm just totally a KCRW person, I listen to the radio station when I'm not here, and I'm here every day. I have been here a really long time. It's really strange, I didn't think I would be a lifer, but it's sort of working out that way. As long as I wake up and I'm excited to come here and excited to play that first record and that first set and figure out how I'm going to inspire people and do something special on the radio, I just don't see a reason to stop. It's really special to find a purpose and a calling. Not everybody finds that. We all make sacrifices here to do what we do, we take less money than we might make or we have to make other compromises in our life but it's worth it.
How do you line up your music supervision gigs ... do producers/directors reach out to you directly, or is it vice versa? Also, how many of movie/tv/game projects per year can you ideally work on?
Well the music director position here at the station is my priority and takes up most of my time. The other projects such as films, commercials, video games, I will consider on a case by case basis. Honestly they are really about relationships. Directors that I've worked with over time, projects that I feel have a certain creative reward, in other words I'm not just looking for anything to pick up. I don't have a set number I try to do, it's just about interesting opportunities that come up that I'm excited about and working with good people.
Why did you leave KROQ? I first heard you on KROQ on weekends, but I forgot what show you did…
edit: I remember KROQ gave your Silversun Pickups remix a lot of plays back in the day...
Well when I became music director of KCRW it would have just been weird for me to carry on at KROQ. But I love those folks, they do great work and we're still friends.
Ready for torturous question? Your favorite LA taco spot. Go Bentley! Haha
What's your favorite Pokemon?
I don't really know Pokemon, sadly. I feel like I am missing out. Sorry.
Jason. As a curator for the KCRW world festival shows @ the Hollywood bowl, have you thought about bringing house music to the bowl? Something like say Masters at work? a Reunion of Nuyorican Soul? With some contemparies to show the evolution? I think 30 plus years on House music is having a revival currently. Any thoughts on this?
House music is definitely having a revival, largely due to Disclosure, 2 young brothers from England. Their Grammy nominated album Settle is a nod to classic soulful house music. As far as the Bowl, booking is not easy and it has to be done so far in advance so a lot of times ideas will go on a back burner but it's a good one, house music night. We did have the Basement Jaxx from London there 6 or 7 years ago and that was a great night of house music. But the genre has definitely seen a resurgence and that's just the cyclical nature of the dance music world. I think it's down to move in a different direction in time, probably Trance will make a comeback.
I love raspberries. But on the Matrix, amazing project, a good 3 years of my life working with the Wachowskis. Just totally inspiring. A long time ago. Wonderful to be around such creative people. The first Matrix was such a game changer. I also got a Grammy nomination for that soundtrack. Unfortunately I lost to Phil Collins for Tarzan. It's true, I was on the edge of my seat when they made the announcement and then they said Phil Collins.
The funny thing about working on a film is that you are too close to it. You see a film in pieces and at the end of it you've seen it 50 times or more so it becomes really difficult to even tell anymore. I knew it was great but it's so hard because your perception is so off. I don't think I knew it would have the kind of pop culture impact that it did. It's just impossible to say that. But amazing group of people, visionaries, and it changed my life.
Yay hi Jason! Is there a particular artist you have not yet had the pleasure of interviewing that you would just love to talk to?
Also, you should make meditation tapes. You have the most calming voice EVER. ☺
Maybe that will be my fallback career if this radio thing doesn't work out, I will do yoga and meditation tapes.
I'd love to hang out with Prince but who wouldn't. I'd love to hang out with Bjork. Ultimate dinner party. We'd all be sitting in silence. I know he's not alive but I'd love to hang out with Stanley Kubrick.
Jason, loved you since them kroq days. Still going strong after all these years. keep it up man! Just a couple of questions? Been trying to find a few songs played back in the day. One of them is a progressive dance track with a female singing the lyrics "you're on my mind." repeatedly. hope u can help. thanks
Can you sing it?
Hello Jason, what did you have for lunch yesterday?
I went to The Counter (location undisclosed but I love The Counter).
Speaking of listener support, could you break down, roughly, how is the money from donations distributed in order to keep KCRW on air?
Roughly 70% of our operating budget comes from listener donations. The rest of it is from major donors, corporate grants, things like that. people can hear that on the air, it's not quite a commercial but you will hear credits for different people. It's like our version of an advertisement. But 70% is a lion's share. Also we are working on a new building which is part of Santa Monica college but hopefully in a couple of years we will have that finished. That's a huge commitment, but there is something called a Capital campaign where we go to more institutions, organizations like the Annenberg foundation and things like that for support. So it's not so much the listeners for that one. But we are excited to move into a new facility in a couple of years in Santa Monica. It's a big deal and it's been taking a long time.
Hey Jason, I'm a big fan, and proud member, of KCRW. I have 3 questions for you.
1) How does one become a KCRW DJ, is there anything specific that you look for? 2) What was the inspiration for bringing back Metropolis? 3) How do you think the electronic music scene in Southern California has changed in the last decade, and where do you see it going in the near future?
1 well I started at KCRW as a phone volunteer in the main office and traditionally that's how people get involved and find their way and many of our DJs had their start as volunteers so that's certainly 1 way. We don't really go out and recruit people so much. Henry is an exception but he's an exception in a lot of ways. Get involved is the easy answer. It's public radio and there's a lot of ways that you can.
2 When I became music director my responsibilities broadened significantly. While my passions for electronic dance music remained, I didn't really have the outlet. It was by popular demand, enough people over time asked me about it and ultimately our general manager brought it up and asked me to bring it back. And so we devised a saturday night program and that's my forum for just pure unadulterated Metropolis.
3 Well Los Angeles has always been a beacon for dance music culture. It's probably a combination of reasons (weather, the aspirational spirit, interesting venues, British expats) and so from the early 90s we really picked up from a lot of what was happening in Europe. Over the years it has evolved and we have made it our own in lots of ways. There have been growing pains where the rave scene has had major issues with people being injured, dying, it's just a matter of managing the masses and safety. There have been growing pains. But we do have the biggest dance music promoters in the country whether it's Insomniac who do a number of events including the Electric Daisy Carnival which is the largest single event in the country (used to be in LA for many years), also the Hard Festival, and then megaclubs like Avalon and Create. And also a lot of the leading Djs have relocated here like Tiesto and Zedd. So Los Angeles is undeniably the US capital of dance music. As far as where it is going, it's hard to predict the future but wherever it's going I will be there.
Long time listener here, loved Metropolis for years, glad it came back.
How do you find some of your tracks? Great selection as always.
I'm a fan, first, so I'm always on the lookout for leading indicators, whether it's producers or labels or different recommendations or things that are buzzing online. It's sort of a lifestyle. You're just immersed in a music scene that you love. So I think that when you're approaching it that way with an open mind and excitement for what you do that really helps. Also maybe people will mention things and I will pick up on that and pursue it. Also I review a lot of music, people send me music constantly, I'll get hundreds of submissions a week so I try and go through as much as possible, typically in the evenings.
I love KCRW and listening to it in my car is one of the top 5 things I miss about not living in LA anymore.
Can you really put on anything you want (that's not cursing)? Like could you find some random band from anywhere and put them on the air, or do you have certain sources that you're 'allowed' to choose from?
Is Henry Rollins the same off-air as on?
Well first, to quote Peter Parker's Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility.So I can play anything I want, but I need to be mindful of the audience and the radio station's reputation, and our credibility, so I take all of that very seriously and my goal is to play the best music possible. I jokingly say sometimes that I listen to bad music so you don't have to. And KCRW is an important filter for people, and you know, in a pop culture landscape where there's more choices and access than ever before it can really make your head spin. But that puts KCRW in a more important position.
Yeah, Henry really is crazy. He's outta control, he's a special individual. I recruited him and he's been great. One thing I really appreciate about him is how he has so much passion in what he does, and when you hear that in his voice, you're pretty much going to give anything a chance, no matter what he plays, you're going to sit there and go Ok, if you're that into it I'm happy to check it out.
Hey Jason, really appreciate you doing this. I'm a huge fan of KCRW and a member.
Just wanted to ask, in your time as host of Morning Becomes Eclectic, who has been your favorite in studio performance and any good stories from the people that have played?
We host roughly 150 live musicians every year, so it's difficult to pinpoint a few. But personally I loved Underworld. They're a british electronic act and they were just great. But I have a chance to speak with a wide range of artists from Neil Young to Broken Bells. It's pretty crazy. So I really just want to facilitate a good conversation and provide a little insight into an artist's creative process. And there are good and there are bad, but I think my goal ultimately is just a solid conversation. Nick Cave, he's an intimidating figure and an amazing artist, but if you just sort of listen to his music, he seems like a pretty serious customer. That was a real triumph getting a better than good interview with him. It's funny because he is someone who during our conversation talked about the importance of creative tension, and sometimes when you step out of your comfort zone, you bring your best effort, because of the anxiety, because of the tension. And I thought a lot about that when he talked about that and it's true. Having those butterflies really means that you care about something going into it. A lot of artists have dysfunction or they have a certain reputation and from my position you're thrust into a place with someone you don't really know and you have to try to get this conversation done so whether it's Sigur Ros or Ryan Adams, everybody is complicated. So some of my main principles are to be gracious and welcoming. For us, the art is the most important thing. We all rally around the art and the artist. So one of the most important things is to just show our respect for that and our care for that.
Also as an addition to that, if I can promote our fundraiser tomorrow, we have a very unique place here, we have a very unique philosophy here, and that is only made possible by listener support. We don't answer to a corporation or a boardroom, we are free to share our passions for music and art and culture, and really, honestly the only way we are able to do that is that individuals decide to pick up the phone or go online and support us. It's a very 1 to 1 relationship. So if you want to keep that spirit alive here at KCRW which has made such a huge difference for artists over the years, we hope you will make a pledge starting tomorrow.
MBE is hands down my favorite way to discover new music. Thanks so much for all that you do. Probably a hard question, but which in-studio guest session surprised you the most?
Hmmm. Well, I think I hope for surprise every day in terms of what people are bringing to that stage. It's a rarity that any radio station would allow live bands nearly every day to play their hearts out live for the radio audience, it's almost old timey, it doesn't happen anymore. So I hope for the sense of surprise and excitement for everybody. I think the last band that really made me kind of stop and my jaw drop was White Denim. They've been in studio a few times, they're from Austin, Texas, and they are just so good as musicians, they are completely in a zone when they play. It's almost startling to watch. Probably the best live band I know that I've played at KCRW. I mean, everybody's good, but there's something about White Denim, they take it to another level. Oh, and they're at the Troubadour on Friday!
Hi Jason, do you have any advice for an aspiring producer/DJ?
Probably find your community. When I think back to the days when I was just getting started, you're naturally gravitating towards your friends and like minded people, whether it's at your college radio station or a live music scene. But don't take any of that for granted. It's amazing to me, looking around at some of my peers today who are successful, are friends I've had for a long time. And you know you really never know. If you find people with a shared passion for something… music, a club scene, a live music scene, everybody has a skill set. And so you probably know a person who can act as a manager or as a promoter or as an art director or as a lighting person, there are so many different ways to express your talents and your passion. I feel like it's easy to overlook these people who are right in front of you a lot of the time, especially when you're hanging out with your friends.
Hi Jason - I was thrilled to see your name on the calendar for today's AMA. I have been a long-time listener and fan of KCRW. KCRW is my go-to when I need to hear something new. I have to know - where do YOU go for the latest and greatest?
Hat tip to you and your staff for turning me on to acts like Tame Impala, Gary Clark Jr, the Monophonics, and Fat Freddy's Drop. All incredible artists.
I go to my mailbox, honestly. With the amount of music that I get, and just try to review as much as possible. And I love all the bands you just name checked, excellent taste.
Jason you are the best ... KCRW is the best ... that is all.
Any tips for having such a smooth voice? You always sound great.
Well like I said earlier, proximity effect (which is basically eating the microphone) - lower your voice and whisper, come up close to the mic. You have to come closer to the microphone. I don't really do anything specific for the voice. People have told me to eat an apple everyday. It's never really about the voice, I know it helps the whole deal, but to me it's about music.
Well...this is awkward.
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