Explorations In Underground Music
“There was an authenticity in Streets of Rage 2,” continues Just Blaze, “that you didn’t hear, I don’t think, in a video game previously when it came to like, dance music. I felt like some of those themes were records I could’ve played at raves. And it would’ve been incredible. There’s one theme on Streets of Rage 2 that, I kid you not, it sounded like [Detroit techno legends] Juan Atkins or Derrick May could have co-produced it.”
'As a pioneering female DJ duo, the two best friends were integral to the rise of the 90s dance scene, before a car accident changed everything. Storm talks about the soul sister she lost'.
Read the full article by Lauren Martin over at 'The Guardian' here;
New track from Powder released on YouTube today. This track is taken from her upcoming mix for Beats In Space 'Powder In Space'. Released on February 15th.
Video by AC-bu.
Find music featured on this channel, plus a load more over at Kubota YouTube;
Following on from yesterdays article on Vandelay Radio, Rapper Rodney P presents the untold story of Britain's second wave of pirate DJs.
In the 1980s a new generation of pirate radio stations exploded on to Britain’s FM airwaves. Unlike their seafaring swinging 60s forerunners, these pirates broadcast from London’s estates and tower blocks to create a platform for black music in an era when it was shut out by legal radio and ignored by the mainstream music industry.
In the ensuing game of cat and mouse which played out on the rooftops of inner city London across the decade, these rebel DJs used legal loopholes and technical trickery to stay one step ahead of the DTI enforcers who were tasked with bringing them down. And as their popularity grew they spearheaded a cultural movement, bringing Britain’s first multicultural generation together under the banner of black music and club culture.
Presented by Rodney P, whose own career as a rapper would not have been possible without the lifeblood of pirate radio airplay, this film also presents an alternative history of Britain in the 1980s – a time of entrepreneurialism and social upheaval – with archive and music that celebrates a very different side of Thatcher’s Britain.
Featuring interviews with key DJs, station owners and DTI enforcers – as well as some of the engineers who were the secret weapon in the pirate arsenal – this is the untold story of how Britain’s greatest generation of Pirate radio broadcasters changed the soundtrack of modern Britain – forever.
Featuring music from New Order, Roy Ayers, Loose Ends, Mr. Fingers and Soul II Soul.
Internet radio has obliterated the need for expensive FM broadcasting licenses, enabling those with the nous to share the music they love with a potentially global audience. It wasn’t that long ago that you could incur the wrath of the authorities for doing exactly this. Those operating pirate radio stations ran the risk of serious financial penalties and even prison sentences, not to mention the hassle of erecting antenna in strategically lofty positions somewhere in Crystal Palace. It’s a fairly recent development that has democratised a once very expensive and painfully sanitised medium that catered mostly for the unthinking masses ie. those that don’t like Techno.
Vandelay Radio is Dare Balogun, Roxy Jahansouz, Ollie Gordon and Ben Kurturan. Like most tales of success, Vandelay’s story starts with the bitter taste of rejection. Co founder Roxy Jahansouz; ‘Dare ran for a committee position on Xtreme Radio, Swansea University’s student radio station and lost woefully in very shady circumstances, so went rogue and was like 'yeah gonna start my own thing' and the only person at the time who backed the idea was Ollie and hey ho, Vandelay was born.’
The idea was to launch something that better represented their own tastes in music, as Ollie Gordon explains;
‘Yeah I mean Swansea’s underground music scene has always been pretty dire, with a heavy emphasis on drum and bass, but not even the good kind. There was like only one night bringing in music that we liked and listened to (which was Polymer) but that was it. The idea at first was that by starting Vandelay, people would be exposed to new music. They would start listening to good music, realise the acts that most promoters were bringing in were shit and start demanding for decent acts to be booked.’
You might not be familiar with the names on the Vandelay roster, but that’s the whole point. As well as spending an awful lot of their own spare time scouring the dark corners of the internet for new and exciting talent, they also put the word out, asking for submissions from DJ’s and artists that wanted to contribute. The station is only in it’s seventh month yet they have already established a roster that’s truly global, France, Australia, Tunisia, America, Germany, Romania, Scotland, Holland, Canada, Poland, amongst others are all represented with DJ’s and artists contributing weekly or monthly podcasts and live shows.
It’s a formula already successfully utilised by other online stations like Rinse and NTS. Find talented (and mostly young) people and give them a platform to put out their own interpretations of music that they love.
The musical focus is largely electronic but you could also catch anything from ambient to soul and funk or jazz. It’s pretty much everything interesting that catches their collective ear. No adverts, no weather updates, very little in the way of convo, no horrific news stories that remind you how shit everything is, just consistently fresh and varied podcasts and live shows that allow you to transition to a better place. Mercifully they only broadcast after 6pm weekdays, so those with ‘normal’ working hours can get stuff done.
So, being true to the spirit of investigative journalism, we decided to get in contact to ask them some hard questions about this new station and the motivation behind it.
Who is Vandelay, where is Vandelay and how old is Vandelay?
Dare: Vandelay is myself, Ollie, Roxy and Ben. Or to be more specific, Vandelay Radio is everyone that plays on the station. I don’t know really. We’re kinda based in Swansea but stream worldwide, and we don’t have a station so we like to say we’re based in Swansea cause that where we started. We kicked off in March, so about 7 months old which is kinda scary. Yikes.
What is the musical focus of the station?
Ollie: Good music basically, that’s the only real restriction we have.
Dare: At first we were like no drum and bass, cause I honestly hated that sort of stuff, but Ollie and other DJs really opened my eyes to the fact that there’s actually good drum and bass, so it’s all allowed now. Just has to be good really.
Can you tell us about the day to day running of the station? For what appears to be a fairly small independent station there is an awful lot of content on there. How much of your time is taken up with running the station. Is it a full time operation for you or is it run outside of work?
Ollie: What with there being a few of us involved, it’s easy to split the workload between everyone, we all work together to get it done, so for me it's run outside of work, Dare, Roxy and Ben are all still at university.
Dare: I mean the more DJs and hosts we have on the station, the more work we have to do, so it is difficult to balance between like work and running the station.
Tell us a bit about the artists that feature on your station, where they are from and how you find them, seems to be pretty international. How does this work with programming the shows live or are there some pre records?
Ollie: Initially we had people approach us for our launch week, finding them within facebook groups. The story is fairly similar now, most people who want shows usually approach us but there have been a few guests, who we usually approach, that we have asked to come back onto the station as regulars. Yeah the crowd is from all over, a very strong presence in Europe and the UK but we have some from across the pond in the states. Most shows are pre recorded and sent to us with a few occasionally going live.
Dare: It’s literally Ollie and I going into the depths of the internet, finding DJs/Producers we like and just asking if they’d like to join.
You posted about being slightly disillusioned with the lack of interest from women applying for slots on your station, is it really just males getting in contact, has this situation improved of late?
Dare: Women have never been attracted to me anyway, so I wasn’t shocked. I think it's about providing a platform, and with a roster that's nearly entirely male, Vandelay doesn’t really look like a good platform to encourage female DJs and producers to join. I don’t think that’s our fault, but rather the scene’s fault. Electronic music is predominantly white and male, so it’s always looked like one big boys club, and the few women who do decide to get involved are either sexualised and/or fetishised, or judged to a higher standard than men. It’s fucked and terribly wrong, but its a symptom of society which in itself is fucked and terribly wrong.
What good things have happened since the birth of Vandelay Radio, for the station itself and those that work there and those that present the shows?
Roxy: So radio-wise, we have a residency in 'Behind This Wall' down in London, every last Sunday of the month, hosted by Vandelay regular Osc Kins, for non-club music, ambient, down-tempo and lazy house music on a ridiculous sound system, it’s pretty cool. We also have a film club at 'Cinema and Co' called 'Soundtrack Saturdays' where we play films we think have outstanding soundtracks.
Dare: For DJ's on the station, I don’t know what impact we’ve had on them really but I know what we’ve created. Vandelay is a more than a radio station now, it's like a community of DJs, producers and friends of the station, and everyone seems to be getting along. I mean Stullett and Adam who are both Vandelay regulars did a track together which slaps, and I’m now currently working on and EP with Mood, a Tunisian producer that we met through featuring him on our guest mix series. I don’t think it's about the good things that happen to our acts on the Vandelay roster, but rather the opportunities that being on the Vandelay roster creates.
It’s the year 2025, how is Vandelay doing?
Dare: Extinct cause the world’s been fucked and ravaged and global warming and plastic turned earth into a sauna that got too hot and killed us all. Either that or we’re still going strong.
Ollie: Who knows? Something huge could happen tomorrow, something disastrous could happen. I would love it if by then we had maybe a physical studio space that we could call our definitive home, right now it’s just internet.
Whats the dream booking for Vandelay Radio?
Dare: I wouldn’t have a dream booking for say, like our priority is finding talent and promoting on our platform, That being said, it would be pretty cool if we found the next Jeff Mills or DJ Stingray in a bedroom in Watford and he played on our radio station. Our success as a station is dependent on the success of the artists on our roster, so no one is prioritised or anything.
What other stations (if any) are worth our time?
None. Vandelay Radio. All the others aren’t as good. (but check out Noods, NTS, Melodic Distraction and KMAH up in Leeds)
And finally has it been worth it?
Ollie: I can’t tell yet, but it’s been a great laugh.
Dare: Yeah man, telling people I run an online independent radio station works wonders. Everyone now thinks I’m cool and like down with it, which is pretty great.
So there you have it, what a lovely bunch. A product derived from such selfless endeavour and obvs not about self promotion is surely authentic and reliable in its intentions. If you need herding into a sonic paddock then Vandelay are there for you. They broadcast from 6pm weekdays and from 1pm at the weekend. Links to the live broadcast, the Vandelay Soundcloud page and their Facebook below, get your shit together, give them a follow and get locked in.
Also, why not send them something (preferably music)? Or if you have a nice studio in the Swansea area that is suitable for radio broadcasts then you better let them know. If Dare has to ask you for something and you turn him down, then he's going to do his own thing anyway and him and his mates are going to make you obsolete, just like Xtreme Radio is now (will take about six months).
'Each note seems to have a unique character, a unique "mark". The most impressive thing is that a recent study showed that dolphins can identify these "markers" in some unknown way. The CymaScope unit records the vibration generated by each tone on the surface of distilled water. The vibration caused by the homophonic sound produces a clearly visible "mark" due to the high surface tension of the water.
Each sound has its own unique characteristic, just as each snowflake has its own unique shape. Recently, CymaScope, at the request of New Zealand artist Shannon Novak, was the first to visualize the notes. It was also used with vocal vowels and music tracks (eg, rock band Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the machine"). CymaScope has been in use since 2002. At the beginning, scientists used PVC film and then changed it into a latex film. Finally, the most ideal medium was water.
The resulting image is like a wonderful kaleidoscope, showing the sound in addition to being able to listen, but also providing a wonderful image.'
'By bringing distant voices close, radio connects people and places. Radio Garden allows listeners to explore processes of broadcasting and hearing identities from across the entire globe. From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from 'home' from thousands of miles away - or using local community radio to make and enrich new homes.'
Explore radio right now, as it is happening, anywhere in the world......
"When systems like Coxsone and Prince Buster would set up within hearing distance of each other, in the early days, squads of police were usually called in to control the resultant fights and shoot ups."
Detailing the golden age of sound system culture in Jamaica. Take 14 minutes out of your day to check the stacks, the fashion and of course the music......the singing is sublime.