Walk a few blocks behind the Rutgers Student Center on the right nights and you’ll notice there’s something in the air. Of course, there’s the smell of a nearby pizzeria, but that’s not quite what it is. Perhaps there’s even the faint smog we’ve become accustomed to, but that’s also not what I’m talking about. Notice instead that low, muffled, repeating thud coming from … everywhere. The youth of every generation since the rise of the middle class have had their dance music: their swing, their soul, their twist and shout, their disco. From disco’s use of the synthesizer came the seed of today’s dance music, and the rise of the personal computer and digital audio workspaces provided the necessary fuel. We have electronic dance music.
Alternatively, tune-in to 90.3 The Core FM on Sundays beginning at 4:00PM and you’ll hear a much clearer and more coherent sound, beginning with SQUO, followed by DJ Soma with Straight to the Hard Drive, then with Lauren Jefferson with Eclecticism, and ending with DJ Psy with Electronic Phonix. This style of electronic music is not necessarily of the variety of the Netherland’s top 40 house hits, but a sound that’s much more home-grown and personal.
With his show, SQUO retains that hard-hitting urge to dance from the music of house parties and nightclubs while adding an underground, undiscovered, up-and-comingness into his mix; the sound is unapologetically electronic. His style is not the polite bass of electronic music has become known for, but rather the grittier, more soulful bass of artists like Branchez, Trippy Turtles, and Victor Niglio. When not DJing for The Core, SQUO is brewing his own entries to the electronic music scene. “I’d love to be able to reach out to more budding artists”, says SQUO, who like the rest of the station, is intensely committed to the community over the commercial, “I’d like to develop a mixshow of my own, bringing on unknown DJs, featuring their mixes, and having a discussion about their music.” You can learn more about SQUO on his website, DJSQUO.com.
This emerging, soulful variety of electronic artists is sponsored and broadcast by The Core FM, a purely student-run organization. Coming to your radio dial at 90.3 FM and from their website thecore.fm, The Core FM is available to the New Brunswick area and beyond. “I am about inclusion, not exclusion”, says the General Manager Josh Kelly. With both a New Brunswick community focus and World Wide Web prescence is consistent with the The General Manager’s commitment to a broad and diverse audience and Rutgers’ slogan, “Local Roots, Global Reach.” Josh continues, “We try to keep commercialization out of the equation, we want to find and showcase music that is for kids by kids, not by a big budget producer.”
The show that immediately follows SQUO also exemplifies this attitude, with DJ Soma’s show, Straight to the Hard Drive. DJ Soma resists the commercialization of his music in both the sense that it isn’t from a massive label, but also that the music is free and legal, with links on DJ Soma’s blog, dj-soma.tumblr.com. “The beauty of electronic music too is the fact that almost anybody with access to the technology can create something unique, and distribute it to a possible audience of millions.” says DJ Soma. His timbre cadences SQUO’s well, with ambient soundscapes, gritty drums, and psychedelic synths. The electronic music’s soul emerges from guitar riffs, turntablism, and occasionally samples from music, movies, and radio circa 40’s and 50’s.
“I am really into keeping my ear to the streets”, says The Core General Manager Josh Kelly, who is keeping his focus on the community aspect of The Core. Not limiting themselves to a single medium to share music, The Core FM recently worked with New Brunsiwck to organize a free and public show in Boyd Park that showcased local talent. This is The Core’s categorical attitude, as Josh says, “If it takes lots of money to get somewhere, then it isn’t part of a fair system, and people are systematically left out in the cold in terms of participating.”
Lauren Jefferson continues electronic music on Sundays with her show Eclecticism at 8:00. As the name suggests, her style is much more varied, retaining the electronic timbre and dance-inspiration while producing excitement from novelty. Lauren is deeply committed to bringing her listeners both a high-quality and novel listening experience, “It hurts when I hear people say they can never find good new music.”, says Lauren. On some occasions, Ecclectism’s timbre can be downtempo and soulful with tracks from labels like, for example, Ghostly International. Alternatively, the show can take on an entirely more catchy and upbeat vibe with offerings from French label Kitsuné. You can keep up with Lauren on her blog, eclecticism1.blogspot.com.
Concluding electronic music on Sundays is DJ Psy with his show, Electronic Phonix with. DJ Psy has been broadcasting since 2008, and his sound has grown with the station, with the genre, and with the technology. Very excited with the state of the genre, “The cost of production equipment is now as cheap as a laptop and some software”, notes Psy, “We’re seeing the biggest growth in a ‘genre’ since amplifiers, guitars, and 4-tracks became commodities, forever changing rock’n’roll.” Electronic Phonics is glittery, shiny, and bassy, with beats that move your feet and featuring artists like The Magician, RAC, Joe Goddard, LCD Soundsystem, Coleco, and Classixx.
The artists at the Core FM are challenging the music industry from two sides, offering their community high-quality and non-commercial radio on one front and then both sourcing and broadcasting their music using the Internet on the other. As more and more people come to have control of the means of electronic music production (computers and audio software), there will be less and less possible or needed involvement from the aptly antiquatedly named record industry. The Internet has emancipated an entire generation of people wanting to express themselves, and The Core FM is a manifestion of that. From Josh Kelly’s point of view, “We want to find and showcase music that is by kids for kids, and not by a big budget producer.