I’m an advocate of the Seattle movement, from the early days to the present; from The Melvins, Nirvana, Mother Love Bone to Ayron Jones, Hobosexual and the Young Evils. The last band mentioned has Troy Nelson at the helm. He currently plies his trade with Seattle radio station KEXP radio and agreed to answer a few questions from us.
I grew up in a small town in South Dakota and upon graduating from High School I went to an audio engineering school in Florida called Full Sail. Once I graduated there I moved to NYC and got an entry-level position at The Hit Factory and was an intern at Matador Records. Once I maxed out 2 credit cards and struggled with the hustle of New York, I decided to move to a smaller city that had a vibrant music scene, and that city was Seattle. I worked at Easy Street Records for 10 years and in 2005 I started at KEXP as an overnight DJ.
You’re a man of many musical talents. How did the gig at KEXP happen?
While working at Easy Street Records, my Friend Rachel Ratner asked me if I wanted to be her assistant for her overnight radio show on KEXP. She also knew I dabbled in the comedy world and asked if I would record some goofy radio spots for her to play on her show. She started playing these spots and the Morning Show host, John Richards, would hear them on his drive into the station and asked me if I would record some for The Morning Show. He started playing my spots so frequently that it led to him asking me if I’ve ever thought about having my own radio show. So oddly, it was more through comedy that I ended up on the air and I’ve been here for 13 years now.
Before working at KEXP, what previous job did you do?
I’ve been a guitar teacher, a house cleaner, worked at Tower Records, Easy Street Records, The Hit Factory, and interned at Sub Pop Records and Matador Records.
You worked at Easy Street Records. For people who may not know about this place, please describe the place. Also what was/is your favourite meal there?
It’s the greatest record store in the US in my opinion. Matt Vaughan is the owner and a dear friend, he’s the master behind the place. He gives his employees the freedom to play what they want in the store and gives his employees the freedom to express themselves. I love the café, the “Little Richard” is the best basic breakfast and I get it every time.
Why should we listen to your KEPX show?
I just like to present a mix of all types of music that I’m excited about, new and old, and I like to try and tie them all together in a 4-hour show. Weaving a musical blanket, if you will.
Seattle is world renown for creating a musical genre and giving us Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Tad, Green River, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone… What is it about the city that created bands such as these?
Folklore says that since it rains so often, people are inside a lot. What do you do with that time? I guess many play and create music. That, and there’s just such a strong community of artists here.
What’s happening with your band Young Evils?
We hit it hard for so many years that we had to take a break to regroup. Oddly, during our break, we recorded a 10-song album that’s being mixed right now! Check out their catalogue.
What’s the first concert you went to and where are your favourite venues to play and watch bands?
The first concert I ever saw was New Kids On the Block when I was in 6th grade. My first “real” show was seeing Jawbox, The Meat Puppets, and Stone Temple Pilots in Nebraska in the mid-nineties. In Seattle, I love any and all venues that give bands an opportunity to play.
Have you a routine for attending and staying at music festivals?
I just get a bunch of snacks and wine and throw caution to the wind.
What are your top three albums of 2018 and who has grabbed your attention this year?
I love the new Parquet Courts, Pusha T, Confidence Man, MGMT, Kali Uchis, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Shame, ….ok that’s more than 3 but I can’t help myself.
If you had the choice to host your own stage at a festival and could choose five bands (alive/passed on) to perform, what would the running order be?
Fever Ray/Suicide/Curtis Mayfield/The Velvet Underground/Nirvana.
When can we hear you on air and when will you tour the UK/ Ireland?
I’m on Saturdays from 3 to 6 pm and Mondays from 2 to 6 pm. On-Air DJ 90.3 KEXP FM & KEXP.ORG. I want to come to the UK/Ireland so much. I would wish to the moon sooner than later.
What up and coming band/musician/DJ would you recommend we reach out to interview or add to our band of the day feature?
I recently interviewed John Maus and he’s fascinating. Angus from Liars is a great interview too. Curtis Harding is one of my new favourite artists.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to enter the music profession or become a DJ?
Just find a radio station you love and go ask them if you can volunteer there. It’s the best way in. You start to meet the staff and if you make an impression, you can only move up.
If you could ask any person of your choice one question, who and what would it be?
I would ask whoever/whatever created the Universe: “What is this, seriously?”