On The Air: Shake A Tail Feather

photo by Chirag Mahajan

photo by Chirag Mahajan

Sunday is a smooth day for soul music; a day to reflect on what has passed, and to dream about what lies ahead. If you’ve had the pleasure of tuning in to Shake A Tail Feather on Sundays, you’d know DJ  V has followed radio veteran George Barrett’s merry reggae vibes with all things soulful—from the golden years to today’s local scene.

On the air since September 2006, and on alternate Sundays since January 2011, DJ V, aka Vanessa Tara, knows that a splash of soul and a dash of funk are all you need to get up and shake your tail feather. DJ V reminds me that the show’s name is inspired by the 1963 tune by the Five Du-Tones, and to see one of the grooviest covers of that classic, look for a clip of Ray Charles in the 1980 cult classic, The Blues Brothers.

– Chirag Mahajan

 

 


Discorder: What music did you grow up listening to?

DJ  V:  I was born in 1970, so I grew up with a lot of soul and early rock ‘n’ roll. My mother was a huge soul fan, and I guess the music she played must have just come out. This included Barry WhiteThe O’JaysCurtis MayfieldMarvin Gaye,Diana Ross, and many others, so there certainly was a lot of soul around the house.

What made you start Shake A Tail Feather?

In a previous life, I was doing radio at CKUT [at McGill University, Montreal]. That was 20 years ago. I was volunteering in their production department. I then took over a literary program on CKUT, and I hosted that for a summer. I went around to local cafés to record various poetry and fiction readings on tape. I then had the tech person mix it, with me doing the announcing in between. It was neat!

Do you collaborate with local radio hosts?

I’ve done that here at CiTR. David Love Jones from African Rhythms was on the show, particularly in my first couple of years. I’ve also had Gavin Walker on fromThe Jazz Show, because classic soul and jazz often overlap. Guest host GAK fromExploding Head Movies has played blaxploitation film soundtracks. Darren (Gawle) from Stereoscopic Redoubt, which was a psychedelic music show when he started it, was on and we played psychedelic soul, like FunkadelicThe Chambers Brothers, and Sly & the Family Stone.

What is Rainbow 24?

Rainbow 24 was a project put together as a special 24-hours of programming.QUEER FM, which was hosted by DJ Aedan Saint and company, decided to put this together as he was leaving. Aedan invited me to do an hour of LGBTQ music onRainbow 24. There are soul artists who identify that way, but if you go back to the 1960s or ‘70s, the artists weren’t necessarily out. For example, Toronto-basedJackie Shane was openly gay, but didn’t actually say so in public. But he had makeup on with a bouffant hairdo, or wore a dress or a feminine-looking suit. He peppered his stage with songs about women but they actually weren’t. Other examples include Little RichardBig Mama ThorntonLaura Nyro, and Billy Preston.

What has been your most memorable on-air moment?

Coming out on the air last October was a major one. I didn’t expect it to be that big a deal but it brought a lump to my throat. I started that show like a regular one, played great music, and I told our listeners that I had an announcement at the end of the show. A couple of hours later, it was quite moving. My friends who were listening called me and congratulated me. I was DJ V from that point on.

If you could relive a year in the history of soul music, which would you pick?

Probably 1967. It was a huge year for soul. Musically speaking you can’t beat that. You had soul, Motown, Stax, southern soul, blue-eyed soul, boogaloo (a fusion of soul/R&B with Latin American music), ska turning into rocksteady in Jamaica, and the rise of northern soul in Britain.

If you could only play one album to shake your tail feather, which one would it be?

Wow, it’s such a big genre! I would have to say In The Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett. Another one would be James Brown At The Organ: Handful Of Soul. A lot of people don’t know this but James Brown used to play the Hammond B-3 organ very well!

What is your favourite CiTR radio show, besides your own?

It used to be Sweet And Hot (with Charles Burnham), which was a fantastic 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s show. It’s not on anymore, but it gets an honorable mention. I’d have to say The Jazz Show with Gavin Walker.

This month marks the show’s sixth anniversary. What does the future hold for Shake A Tail Feather?

lettering by Michael Lee

lettering by Michael Lee

Originally, I thought I probably had enough ideas for six months. And now, it’s been six years! I take every show individually, and I enjoy each one. Each show has its own focus: the songs could be from the same year or they have the same theme, so there’s always something going on. As long as that continues to happen, I will continue doing it. But I’m more concerned about how long the music lasts, so I’m really interested in mentoring somebody. I’m a UBC alumna so I’m more than happy to mentor students who want to get in to radio, who like and respect the music, and who simply love to learn, because then the listeners benefit.

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Shake A Tail Feather airs alternate Sundays, from 3pm to 6pm.

Listen to the show’s podcasts here.

Interview by Chirag Mahajan

On The Air: African Rhythms

photo by Chirag Mahajan

photo by Chirag Mahajan

The moment after David Jones heard the first record he bought in the early ‘70s, he must have known music would become his life. Now older and wiser, David has gone from owning records to running Vinyl Records, a great place to buy some of the most soulful grooves on vinyl in Vancouver.

But if radio is your thing, you might know that DJ David “Love” Jones has long been airing all this soul and funk, along with the rarest of grooves, on CiTR’s African Rhythms since 1994. And just like the first hit record he bought, The Sound Of Philadelphia by MFSB — the most famous theme song of the 35 year-old American TV show Soul Train — it seems David “Love” Jones is on a smooth soul train himself, one that will keep on spinning.

– Chirag Mahajan

 


Discorder: Where did your name get its “Love” from?

David “Love” Jones: I used to work at Manhattan Books, a bookstore on Robson, where I met this gentleman named Dennis Mills who was the lead singer of theJazzmanian Devils, a local jazz and funk band. I made them a rare groove funk tape, and so Dennis asked me to DJ for them in between their sets. That became one of my first professional gigs. Dennis said we needed to have a name for me and so, out of the blue, he said “Love Jones!” At first I was weirded out; I didn’t want to call myself “Love” because people would think I’m a Casanova [laughs]. But Dennis was all about the entertainment and knew that being called David Jones was not enough. So I went along with it and, over time, it just became a part of my persona.

D: You have a long history with vinyl: you worked at your first record store at the age of 17; you joined Odyssey Imports in ‘82 and started DJing underground events; you started African Rhythms in ‘94 and took over Vinyl Records in ‘99. After all these years, what does the sound of vinyl mean to you?

DLJ: I think I’ve always been sensitive to the sound and quality of vinyl records and that has always been meaningful to me. Early on, I learned how different types of records can enhance the sound differently, and I began to appreciate the unique soundscapes of one country’s pressing over another. For example, British pressings from the ‘60s had fantastic dynamic range from certain labels. So, in my life, as a purveyor and a DJ and a radio host, the quality of the vinyl means the world to me.

D: How did you start African Rhythms?

DLJ: When I was working at Odyssey Imports, as far back as 1984, I met Mike Johal, who was a CiTR host on Friday nights. He invited me to CiTR to do a spotlight on his show. I thought that was great since I wanted to do my own show, too. After I did two or three of those spotlights, Mike encouraged me to go further. I also knew Don Chow who was also on CiTR’s Friday nights at that time. Around 1993, Don told me about a spot on CiTR that was opening up and he encouraged me to go for it. I definitely remember my first show: a friend of mine, Bill Reiter — a famous radio voice who started the show Groovin’ Blue [on CKLG-FM] in the late 1960’s, playing R&B, Soul, Funk, Jazz, and Blues — was actually on my first show, along with Don and Nardwuar. From day one, Nardwuar was really supportive of what I did. It definitely helped to have such people as mentors, because they cared enough to facilitate my creative energies here.

D: What has been your most memorable on-air moment?

DLJ: There are two instances that have been highlights of my radio life. One of them was a three hour Black History Month special with guests Riley Inge — a local soul singer who was formerly with the Temptations — and Andre Benjamin, both of whom sang and read poetry on air. It was a magical moment. I would also have to mention Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers. Bobby was a famous local soul singer. He once invited me to his gig to interview him. At one point, in the dressing room, I got him singing Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” something even he hasn’t recorded. I worked hard to put together that interview for my show, by adding his music and overlays. I gave Bobby a copy of that and he said I did a great job. It felt good to hear that from him.

lettering by Tyler Crich

lettering by Tyler Crich

D: If you could only bring one album to a deserted island, which one would it be?

DLJ: That would be The Show Must Go On by Sam Dees.

D: What is your favourite CiTR radio show, besides your own?

DLJ: I definitely look to Nardwuar [on Nardwuar the Human Serviette Presents] for inspiration. I enjoy his humour, his angles, his preparation, and his post-production work.

D: What does the future hold for African Rhythms?

DLJ: When you’ve been doing a show for 18 years, there are moments when you start to lose your momentum, or moments when you find it hard to have the same inspiration. It can be intimidating, but I always find ways to get around such things, especially by keeping connections with the local and international community. They make it worth putting all the hard work into making shows that will be heard for years to come.

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African Rhythms airs Friday nights on CiTR 101.9 FM, from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Listen to his podcasts here.

Visit his website, africanrhythmsradio.com

Interview by Chirag Mahajan

On The Air: Trancendance

illustration by Joel Rich

illustration by Joel Rich

Sunday night is a good time to wind down. But if you’re craving vibes that get your mind tripping instead of dreaming, Trancendance is the show for that shift in consciousness. On the air since 2001, DJ Smiley Mike and his brother DJ Caddyshack have been mixing vinyl and digital tracks live, exploring different styles of trance (classic, deep, full-on, acid, psychedelic) and breakbeat (drum and bass, psy-breaks, acid breaks, rave breaks).

Watching them mix live in the studio is an even better experience: you might think Smiley Mike goes into a state of trance himself. If you’re curious about these genres, hear their incredible mixes on Trancendance.net. You won’t be disappointed.

– Chirag Mahajan

 

 

 


Discorder: When did your interest in trance and breakbeat begin?

Smiley  Mike: I used to listen to a couple of shows on CiTR, including Digital Alarm Chronometer and Home Bass. I can’t remember how I found them, but I immediately stuck to them. Even before I came to UBC in 1994, I used to hang out on Digital Alarm Chronometer for a long time. I think I went to my first rave show in 1992. Back then, shows didn’t happen often, but I fell in love with the music. I also used to go downtown to Odyssey Imports, where I started my record collection.

Caddyshack: I got into it because of Smiley Mike. I distinctly remember his early ‘90s techno CD by The Grid, some goa/psytrance CDs by Man With No Name and (ex-label) Concept in Dance, and a breakbeat hardcore CD by Acen. I was listening to a whole new type of music I had never heard of, and I was only 10 or 11 years old then.

D: What is the format of Trancendance?

SM: It’s a two-hour show, and we each play one 50-minute set of continuous music. We’re a hundred-percent-live, real-time, one-shot show: there are times when it’s absolutely smashing, and there are also times when there are glitches. But when you’re playing in real time… magic can happen. And I think that keeps it real and that’s always been important to us. Not just for us playing on this show, but that reflects on what we’d like to see from other DJs.

C: You don’t necessarily want to hear the DJ mixing because that may mean he is off-beat, but you still want to be able to tell that the DJ is doing something. And I want people to go with those magic moments because you can’t really pre-plan those. Each set is supposed to be a journey; you don’t always know which way it’s going to go.

SM: We don’t typically plan out or practice each set in advance. I probably play many tracks that I’ve barely listened to before so I don’t even necessarily know what the track is going to do. And that makes it fun. If I were to run through a set a few times before the show, I would probably be bored of it and do something new. As much as I like to play for other people, I like to play for myself, too, and that means it has to stay interesting.

D: In 2010, Trancendance made the shift from mixing vinyls to digital tracks using control vinyls connected to Scratch Live, Serato’s vinyl emulation software. What has the show gained from this digital shift?

photo by Chirag Mahajan

photo by Chirag Mahajan

SM: Before we moved to Serato, I would usually buy a record for one track on it, even if it had three or four tracks. And I would’ve spent several hours in a single day at a record store. Now, tracks are a dollar and I don’t have to compete with other DJs to get to stores when a shipment comes in. And we’ve gained a much higher production quality with new digital audio. Also, when I used to DJ with vinyl records, I’d always be watching the little changes in the groove patterns on records to get a hint of what’s happening next. Now, with Serato I can see a track’s colour-coded wave form; I can see it’s shifting intensity and mood. It allows us to do a way better job.

D: If you could play a live tribute set using the tracks of only one artist, whom would you pick?

SM: Union Jack or Lamat would be on my list for a trance set.

C: I’d do a drum and bass tribute set to Sub Focus.

D: What is your favourite CiTR radio show, besides your own?

SM: Since we’re more exposed to the shows around us, I’d say Synaptic Sandwich, orBootlegs and B-Sides. Both have consistently great tracks.

D: What does the future hold for Trancendance?

SM: We’ve been here for 11 years, and the show has evolved and will continue to evolve. We’ve always played what we’ve wanted to play and not what’s popular, and that part will hold for us. And we will probably spread more overseas. The majority of interactions we have on our Facebook and Soundcloud pages are international.

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Trancendance airs Sunday nights on CiTR 101.9 FM, from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Listen to their CiTR podcasts here.

Visit their website, Trancendance.net.

Interview by Chirag Mahajan

On The Air: The Rocker’s Show

Sunday. 12:00 p.m. Not a soul at CiTR. I was sitting in the lounge, waiting for a tentative Discorder meeting. I heard what I thought was the ghost mix emanating from A-Control, the on-air studio. Suddenly, the studio’s music became louder. I heard laughter and a merry Jamaican voice. I realized someone might actually be on the air. I smiled as I turned up the radio in the lounge. What I heard for the next three hours were positive vibes that would keep me smiling for many Sundays to come.

illustration by Mark Hall-Patch

illustration by Mark Hall-Patch

Fueled by the rhythm of the show’s ska and reggae beats, I did some research on the awe-inspiring host. By 3 p.m., there was only one thing left to do: ask for an interview. And even though that Discorder meeting was postponed, I did not wait in vain, because I’ve now met a man who loves reggae with every inch of his soul: George “Reggae” Barrett, host of The Rockers Show since October, 1982.

- Chirag Mahajan


[Interview has been condensed]

Discorder: The Rockers Show is among Vancouver’s longest running reggae shows, second only to The Reggae Show, which you started in 1976 on Co-op Radio. Since then, you’ve received many awards for your broadcasting work. How does it feel to receive such praise from the community?

George Barrett: When I started The Reggae Show, it wasn’t that popular because a lot of people didn’t know reggae music. Some people even called it “reggie” [laughs]. Still, the community really enjoys what I play on both these shows. Now, many people know there are stations they can tune in to on the weekends to hear these vibes. I’m very proud of myself for starting something from scratch, like watering a plant and seeing it grow for 30 years. It feels so good to be a part of this community.

D: Over the years, you’ve collected over 4,000 seven-inch singles, over 3,000 LPs, and over 10,000 CDs. How do you select your show’s playlist from this massive collection?

GB: I have so many records. Too much! [laughs] I still get vinyls from people almost every week, especially from England. I listen to so much reggae that I am reggae. That’s why people call me George “Reggae” Barrett. [laughs] I select the music when I’m at home. I sit down on Saturday night and listen and select. Some songs are good for some days, like February was Black History Month, so I try to pick songs for that. It takes some time to select my show, but I try to do it right, because sometimes there can be some swearing in the songs, so I have to listen carefully. On a Sunday, everybody wants it nice, warm and easy.

D: Few people here know that you’ve met the King of Reggae. How did that happen?

GB: Bob Marley! Yes, he came here in 1978 [on the Kaya tour]. I left Jamaica in 1972, so when I heard that a band that we cherish over there was arriving in Vancouver, I was so excited! Bob played two sold-out shows in the same night at the same place, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. I stayed for both shows! And when Bob was on stage singing “No Woman, No Cry,” everyone had their lighters out! It was overwhelming! After the second show, I was in the dressing room with all of them: Bob, Carlton [Barrett], “Family Man” [Aston Barrett], everybody was there, chanting and talking about Jamaica. Carlton asked me, “George, what’re you doing in Vancouver? There’s nothing here!” And I said, “You’re joking!” [laughs]. I hadn’t started The Rockers Show yet, but they were a big influence. I played a lot of Bob Marley on the air to show how happy I was that Bob had come to town.

D: What has been your most memorable broadcasting moment?

GB: There are several. I interviewed Burning Spear; I interviewed Joseph Hill from Culture. Another was when I received the Peter Tosh Memorial Award at the Canadian Reggae Music Awards.

D: If you could only bring one album to a deserted island, which would it be?

George ‘Reggae’ Barrett | photo by Chirag Mahajan

George ‘Reggae’ Barrett | photo by Chirag Mahajan

GB: Bob Marley’s Catch A Fire.

D: What is your favourite CiTR radio show, besides your own?

GB: I really like the Friday night shows, like African Rhythms with David Love Jones, and The Bassment.

D: What does the future hold for The Rockers Show?

GB: The future holds a lot, because CiTR will be moving to the new studios in the new building, so I’d like to stick around for that. The community is changing, too. New vibes are coming in, because younger people now love the roots and dancehall. Even dub is rising up, and they’re calling it dubstep. I like how they do it. They’re using the same old dub, but they speed it up, put those effects on, they add in more bass, and then you hear “WUB-WUB-WUB-WUB.” [laughs] I love it!

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The Rockers Show airs Sundays from 12pm to 3pm.

Podcasts of the show can be found here.

Interview by Chirag Mahajan

On The Air: The Bassment

the-bassment.gif

For some of us, there is no better time than the end of the week to turn up our untouched subwoofers and let loose a raging river of bass. Tune in to CiTR on a Friday night and you’ll enter The Bassment, where Rhett Ohlsen lays down a playlist filled with the latest in local bass beats that give this radio river some mad flow.

Ohlsen started The Bassment in August of 2011, and has since been exposing our listeners to many talented local DJs and new record labels — some of whom would otherwise be heard only at underground events, or be found lingering in the back alleys of our search results. It takes a lot of patience to search for these artists and to find the right vibe for a show, but with the way bass music is booming (pun intended) on the Web these days, Ohlsen must have a whole lot of love for the music and the community to give us a fresh playlist with such good vibes every week.

And as far as anyone can tell from Ohlsen’s work with the Vancity Drop podcast, along with promoting local crews and labels, he will definitely be wherever the bass drops.

– Chirag Mahajan


Discorder: What kind of music do you play on The Bassment?

Rhett Ohlsen: I play bass music. For those unfamiliar with that term, it’s a fairly young label placed on the West Coast’s unique style and approach to electronic dance music. Bass music can also be a blanket term that can encompass EDM sub-genres like dubstep, glitch, drum and bass, UK funky, electro, juke, future garage, dub, or breakbeat. It’s music that’s fast in tempo and beats per minute, and explores sub bass frequencies not generally heard in other dance music.

D: What made you want to have a radio show?

RO: I’ve always been told I had a face for radio [laughs]. But seriously, I love how unique this music is and the energy it inspires in listeners. I especially love the community that’s forming around this music. By hosting a radio show, I’m given the opportunity to share the future of music and bring light to what’s happening in our city for others to find it and experience it themselves.

D: What has been your most memorable on-air moment?

RO: I had two buddies of mine visit and say a few words on-air. I figured they’d have a lot to contribute because of their experience, not only as frequently-booked DJs, but as supporters of the scene. After the conversation, I addressed the mic alone, and, as I’m talking, one of my buddies threw a ball of paper at me. I completely lost my train of thought and froze for almost a minute. There was a patch of dead air until I zoned back in and turned on some music. It was a little embarrassing.

D: Do you also collaborate with local DJs and bass music promoters?

RO: I’m involved with another music project called the Vancity Drop, which is a podcast that involves me and a DJ from the Suave Assassins [a crew supporting local and international dubstep and drum and bass]. Together, we contact emerging and unheard music producers and labels worldwide to gather forward-thinking music. At the end of each episode we have a DJ mix from a new artist. I’m also involved with the SHAHdjs [a drum and bass crew that organizes large-scale monthly events to showcase local talent and international artists] to spread word of their events, build support, and distribute tickets.

D: If you could only bring one album to a deserted island, which one album would it be?

RO: I would bring Bigger Fish Frying by Longwalkshortdock. LWSD has found a unique style that combines the analog sounds in techno and video games with the heavy bass drums, synths, and horns of bass music in a way that makes it impossible not to stay still. He has surpassed any boundaries of EDM and has taken music production past the software by incorporating numerous pieces of hardware to manipulate the sounds.

photo by Chirag Mahajan

photo by Chirag Mahajan

D: What is your favourite CiTR radio show, besides your own?

RO: I like [DJ Cyber’s] Synaptic Sandwich. Very unique style of show, and I love the tune selections.

D: What does the future hold for The Bassment?

RO: I eventually want to create a blog-style webpage or join forces with a current heavy-traffic bass music blog in the country to have a central spot for resources, must-hears, local events, and a place to show support, interesting news, and so forth. I also want to start having a guest come in for 20 minutes of live mixing, and possibly start hosting interviews with international talents who frequent our city. Our local talent specifically is exceeding all of my expectations with new tunes forthcoming on national and international labels.

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The Bassment airs Fridays from 9:00pm – 10:30pm.

Podcasts of past shows can be found here.

The Vancity Drop can be found here.

Interview by Chirag Mahajan