Band To Watch: Private Island

If you’re on the lookout for their tour bus rolling into your town, don’t be looking for a normal tour bus. Instead, be on the prowl for a refurbished school bus. Private Island started their fall tour by selling out L.A.’s Roxy Theatre in October and are rolling through to San Diego’s very own House of Blues this Saturday, Nov. 11.

The band’s sound is a culmination of indie rock and surf tones mixed with notes and hues of R’n’B. Where words fail to describe, the band’s songs speak volumes. With tracks such as “Bear Hands” off of their “A Good Look” EP, the band eases into chunky grooves, with drummer Timothy Barbour’s complex yet danceable beats and Roger Mawer’s smooth synth tones.

If you’ve been keeping up with the Private Island’s current sound you’ll find much darker tones, separate from their second EP, “Sunbreak,” which offered listeners a more refined version of the band’s ever evolving sound. The songs “Trouble” and “I Know” from their “Sunbreak” EP can’t be described. You’ll just have to listen to experience the feelings of nostalgia and romanticism the song’s will most likely conjur. Sun-soaked guitar riffs by lead guitarist Cameron Anderson will have you turning up the volume and rolling down your windows as you drive into the sunset.

Produced by Jacob Munk, Private Island’s newest singles will surely have old and new listeners alike intrigued and pining for more drawn out songs drenched in synth-pop undertones. Lead vocalist, Christian Lum, breaks up previously used techniques by having more effects that add to the fresh and dark sound of these singles. Be sure to give “Juvenile” the listen it deserves. This single leaves so much unsaid by Michelle Guerrero, the backbone of the melody, whose subtlety and talent still shines through as a secondary vocalist.

Pro-tip: Check out “Don’t Call Me” from their first EP if you want to hear Michelle have her say. This track that stands out as crowd favorite and is a chart topper all on its own.

Private Island will be playing at the House of Blues in San Diego, so for those of you lucky enough to live in the area be sure to buy your tickets now and don’t sleep on this band.

Featured Image courtesy of  ©2016 Lisa Flory.

The Sounds of State-Kiana Malekzadeh, Renee Ramirez, and Kiersten Sukert

Hello and welcome to another week of The Sounds of State. This week, I interviewed a trio of new KCR DJ’s from our Indie Invasion block. I was late on Wednesday afternoon when we met in the studio and walked out to Campanile and sat right down on the grass in a circle for our discussion. Here’s how it all went down:

Cameron Satterlee: Okay, so I’m here with Kiana, Kiersten, and Renee. Alright so let’s start off with an easy question, so what is your radio show and do you have any DJ names?

Renee Ramirez: You want to start?

Kiersten Sukert: Okay our radio show is called KRK, it’s pretty simple, it just stands for Kiersten, Renee, and Kiana. And we have the title of Indie Invasion, we didn’t come up with that though, that was just given to us. But yeah we basically play genres of indie music, we kinda play EDM-based too.

Kiana Malekzadeh: Alternative, kind of.

KS: Yeah, it’s just very different music.

CS: Okay, and your show is when?

KS: It’s on Wednesdays at 4, so listen.

RR: 4 to 5.

CS: 4 to 5 alright, yeah yeah the Indie Invasion block I think is for everyone who has shows at that time of the week. So you said you play indie music but also a bit of EDM, do you all personally sort of have your own niches that you like to play?

RR: I don’t play that much EDM.

KS: That’s kinda my thing. I wouldn’t really categorize it as EDM though.

KM: It’s really hard to describe.

RR: EDM-indie, is that a thing?

KS: Yeah if I had to describe it in one way it would be EDM indie.

RR: Laid back but still upbeat I guess.

KS: Electronic based indie.

KM: Yeah. Also I feel that you like to put slower songs and then, me, I don’t know, I can be all over the place. I just know that you like the slower, more mellow stuff.

KS: Yeah.

CS: Alright, so I’ve been trying to get into this music, cause I’ve found it more interesting as I’ve been in college and I guess exposed to new things, so that’s a more recent interest for me. But what’s the back story for the three of you, how did you get into this sort of music?

RR: I just started to listen to it my senior year, that’s when I got into indie because I started going to more concerts. Because they were cheap tickets, they were fifteen dollars, twenty dollars, and my friends would be like “let’s go see it” and I don’t know who they are but okay. And then as I went to more shows, on Spotify, I put them in the radio section, I would type in Young the Giant and I would see all these related artists and new songs would come up and it kind of just filled my playlists. And that’s how I started liking it.

KM: For me, I guess I’ve just had an interest in bands my whole life, just from my parents too. And I remember in fourth grade I liked bands, that was my thing. But then as I got older, I’ve always been prone to trying to find new stuff to listen to, it’s just fun, cause I get sick of skipping songs and you want to find new stuff. So Spotify definitely helped me too, plus it’s updated now, you can go and discover and things like that. And me and my friends from back home have the same taste in music too and we’d go to shows as we got older and could drive. You’d end up liking the opening band and stuff like that. Yeah, it just grows and grows I guess, I would say.

KS: Am I doing this one too?

CS: Yeah, sure.

KS: Okay. I think it started when I found my parent’s vinyl collection. They had a lot of 80’s, so I started getting slowly into the 80’s, and I think I kind of just worked up the decades. And I kind of realized that when I met people who liked the same music as I did, we had the same or similar personality traits. And it’s kind of like its own culture within society. You know you meet cool people, you listen to the same music.

RR: That’s how we met.

KS: That’s how we met. Yeah and these girls are awesome.

CS: Great! That’s sort of a Segway to my next question, I’m interested how the three of you partnered up at KCR.

RR: It was very random.

KS: We were just talking about that.

RR: We all just went in solo, we just wanted to make friends, wanted to get involved in school, I’m a freshman and they’re both sophomores and so I was like “KCR, might as well get involved”. And they were like “yeah get involved now” and then I met Kiana first, the very first night they were signing up for what show you wanted to do and she actually thought I didn’t like her first. Because I was in a rush to go somewhere and she was trying to get to know me and I was like “yeah where’s the paper, where’s the pen, let’s sign up, let’s go”. And then, the next day, we meet Kiersten the next day randomly and she’s like “what kind of show are you guys doing” and we say indie and that’s how music brought us together because she was like “oh I listen to that too, we should all be cohosts together” and I was like “okay I guess three makes it easier if I had to back out on one day” (all laugh).

KS: (laughs) You were thinking about backing out?

RR: No I just was thinking if I couldn’t make it to a show (all laugh). But yeah it was fate.

KM: Yeah.

CS: Alright anyone can answer this question, would you say that you have good chemistry on the air.

KM: Yeah. I can stumble on my words but for the most part they make me feel more comfortable by talking as if I was talking to anyone else.

KS: We’ve got our own movement too, Kiana’s always usually on the laptop playing songs and she usually introduces them too. And Renee and I switch off controlling the laptop and talking. But we usually do the intro or closing. We have our own system going (“yeah”’s all around).

RR: “Kiana, what song’s next?” (laughs).

KM: And we try to talk about upcoming shows with artists who are playing and stuff like that.

KS: Right now our big thing is Coachella.

KM: Cause it’s in a month.

CS: Alright, so are there any songs or bands or albums that you really like to play on the air right now? What’s the new big deal for the three of you?

KS: I don’t know. We don’t have a specific person that we always play.

KM: We played a few alt-J songs, I’ve noticed. I’m the one that puts the songs on so I can remember more than you guys.

RR: Oh yeah.

KM: But definitely alt-J, I’m trying to think.

RR: San Cisco.

KS: I’ve seen a lot of Glass Animals.

KM: Oh yeah, definitely.

RR: But I guess with indie, there are so many indie bands that we don’t really stick to one artist.

CS: Alright, so last question, I always think it’s a fun one to end with, I want to know how your perfect show would go. Just if everything was awesome and you left the studio just thinking ah yeah we nailed it! How would that be?

KS: Honestly, we talk a lot while our music is playing.

KM: On accident.

KS: No I mean about our personal lives, and you can definitely tell we each have a different personality. And I feel if we put that personality on air that would be a perfect show. Just be comfortable in the studio and talk with each other like we normally do.

RR: Well we don’t really talk much on our show because it’s music so I don’t know if the audience really gets to see our personality. Cause we just kind of introduce a song and talk a little bit about the artist or their show, so I guess they don’t really know our personalities yet. And I don’t want to talk too much cause it’s a music show.

KS: We kind of established that in the beginning too, to not talk that much.

KM: But the perfect show would just be us not messing up. We get some technical difficulties sometimes.

KS: We’ll be giving away tickets and getting the people who call on the air is hard.

CS: Oh, we’ve all been there. Alright well, thanks, this has been a great interview.

All: Thanks.

Afterwards, I had to go do my own radio show so I stayed in the studio for that while the girls walked off, hopefully to reward themselves for a job well done. Kiana later messaged me a few songs to give you readers a sampling of what they play on their show, check them out:

Spoon-Do You

ODESZA-Say My Name

Blind Pilot-One Red Thread

Bahamas-All The Time

If you liked any of those songs, be sure to check out KRK, Wednesdays from 4-5 pm on KCR Radio, the Sound of State.

(Also maybe stick around till 6pm cause that’s when I’m on air!)

The Sounds of State-Thomas Torres

Hello there readers. It’s been a long layaway for the KCR blog but we are back with a vengeance! I’m happy to announce that I’m returning to do The Sounds of State for another semester. There are so many more DJ’s out on KCR putting great stuff over the airwaves. I’ve got a great interview for you all today. For the first interview of the semester, I profiled Thomas Torres, who’s out there sifting through the music that makes alternative seem mainstream.

Thomas was quick to respond to my messages and we scheduled a time very quickly. I met him last Tuesday outside the KCR studio and we walked outside behind the communication building where we sat down. February in San Diego is perfect for being outdoors, and that day was no different. So here goes the interview:

Cameron Satterlee: We are now officially rolling! I am sitting here for my first interview of the semester with Thomas Torres. How are you doing, man?

Thomas Torres: I’m doing good, I’m doing good.

CS: Thanks for sitting down with me. So when is your radio slot, and do you have a DJ name we can go with?

TT: So my radio slot used to be Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. and it used to be a two hour show. It still is a two hour show but I’m not Monday from 2 to 3 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m. It still technically is a two hour show but now it’s split into two different things.

CS: Wow that’s cool. I haven’t heard of a two hour show split between two different days, so you’re making it work with your schedule.

TT: Yes, and for my DJ name, I go by DJ Box.

CS: DJ Box?

TT: Yeah Box, B-O-X.

CS: That’s pretty easy to remember.

TT: Yeah yeah, it’s nice.

CS: Alright so how long have you been with KCR?

TT: So, let’s see, that would be at least 4 semesters now. Yeah 4 semesters cause I signed up when I was a freshman. And that was right in 2014, so it should be at least 4 semesters.

CS: Hey right on, that’s probably just as long as I’ve been here. I think I’m on my fourth semester too. Cool.

TT: Nice, nice, very nice.

CS: So you’re a music show correct? So what do you play specifically?

TT: Ok so I am a music show but I used to do album reviews, and that was the two hour show. The first hour would be the album review with my cohost, but he’s not here anymore. And the second hour would be what I call the super robot playlist, which is kind of just a quirky name I came up with. What it is is basically all my musical tastes, which are very non-mainstream music, all compiled into one. I’ll have things from Bandcamp artists, I’ll have things from recent indie artists, I’ll have things from complete strangers that have sent me stuff, or I’ll have some other unknown type of artist type of thing. And that’s kinda what I go with, is the unknown artist type of deal. More of what I like to call the alternative to alternative type of music. That’s mostly what I play on the radio show now.

CS: Just kind of a random mix of everything?

TT: Yeah it’s a random mix. There’s no real one genre that I’m kind of concerned about. It’s a variety of things. If it’s mainstream I’m not gonna play it, that’s pretty much my only thing.

CS: Yeah well that’s a good way to use KCR. I mean cause if it’s mainstream chances are you’re gonna hear it on regular radio. So on KCR yeah why not promote these alternative artists.

TT: Right.

CS: Yeah so that’s pretty cool. Alright so this might be a bit redundant but I am a bit curious, just to understand how you got to these sort of alternate tastes. Like you said they’re everywhere alternative pretty much. So why do you like these—I guess not specific alternative groups, they’re diverse—but how did you get into them?

TT: So my original cohost Christian, who went by the name DJ Pocket Lint, he and I have been exploring these different musical tastes since middle school, I want to say. Which was 4 years ago. So it grew out of this dislike for mainstream music, and so because of that I branched out into “okay well I don’t like mainstream music, let’s look at classic rock, okay classic rock’s getting boring let’s move out to progressive rock, progressive rock it getting boring, let’s move out to something different: electronic music, let’s move out to video game music, let’s move out to rap music, hip hop”. And that kind of just exploded into a bunch of different artists that no one ever talks about, and hey, these are pretty good artists. And that kinda branched into Bandcamp artists who are just regular people trying to do a lot of art and music and they have some pretty interesting sounds too. So it’s kinda a mix of that and just branching out. All it is is just branching out musical tastes, that’s really all it is.

CS: Just a restless desire to seek out new music.

TT: Yeah.

CS: I like it. Alright I’ve got kind of a follow up question. I’m not precisely sure what you mean by Bandcamp artist, is that a specific genre?

TT: Well it’s not a specific genre. What it is is that there are a lot of artists who post their music online, and there are a lot of artists who use this online platform called Bandcamp. It’s basically just a music hosting website where you can upload your music.

CS: Kinda like Soundcloud?

TT: Kinda like Soundcloud except it’s a lot more formal. It’s a lot more suited towards people who wanna be recognized more as formal artists instead of some user who’s uploading all his music. So a lot of times you’ll have actual bands posting their full EP on Bandcamp. Or you’ll have a single artist posting his LP on Bandcamp. And there’s a lot of really notorious people on Bandcamp, just in general I know Frankie Cosmos, some other people too, who really use Bandcamp for that type of “get it out there” you need to expand more you need to get it out there and that’s one of the best ways. And honestly you have some of the best artists coming from Bandcamp. So it’s really a good source for music and that’s why I like to include it in my radio show.

CS: Alright see yeah now that you mention it, it does remind me in my first interview last semester when I interviewed Joey Bautista and Bridgette Rickman, Joey sent me links from Bandcamp and I’d  never heard of it so thanks for explaining it cause yeah I guess I forgot about it till now. I mean I think that is a good platform like you said for real serious artists not like Soundcloud, who has these sort of serious artists but it’s also got the “check out my mixtape” kinda guys.

TT: Yeah, and I mean there’s nothing wrong with those type of people.

CS: You gotta start somewhere.

TT: Yeah you do, you honestly have to start somewhere. If you play the music, and it’s good, that’s all you need to know.

CS: So this question, I love to ask it to music DJ’s because I always get a very interesting and very different answer cause it’s a personal question, so why is this music important to you? What’s your personal journey with it?

TT: I think it’s important cause there’s a guy named Jello Biafra who is the lead singer of the Dead Kennedy’s, it’s a punk band, and he said a quote saying “if you outlaw evolution, only outlaws will evolve” and that speaks to me in the same way that there’s music out there that’s not being talked about. There’s music out there that nobody understands or nobody really cares about. And if you think about it that’s the type of thing that people aren’t paying attention to but because of that they’re free from all the social dogmas or they’re free from the tropes that are out there in music. They don’t have to do autotune, they don’t have to do 4-1-4 chorus, they don’t have to do the regular chord progressions anymore. They can do whatever they want to do, and at the same time it makes for more interesting music I think. You get the sense that once you listen to something, you realize that something is the same, and the same is posted over and over and over again, and you start to realize that a lot of people understand that too. And because they understand that, they’re saying “well let’s try to do something different” and I think that’s what is important in music is trying something different and seeing if it works and if it doesn’t work try again. And I think that’s important for music in general because it makes for more interesting music. I mean if you think about it we’re not like classical music anymore. Music has evolved past classical, past Beethoven, past Mozart. And it’s because of artists in their day, like Mozart and Beethoven who in their day did all that radical stuff that you see in the classical music. And you don’t think about it now, but you think about it back then, their music was radically radically different back then than the music that was at their time. And so I think it’s important that the music today is like that. The music that stands out is the music that is radically different than the stuff we hear today.

CS: And you’re helping to expose people to it.

TT: Yeah, that’s what I like to do. They’re out there, that’s what I like to think.

CS: Alright, well, man that’s a great answer. This is why I do these interviews, you guys always have something interesting to say. Enlightening in this case because I think I agree with you. I do agree with you. I think you’re right, and so I think what you’re doing is important.

TT: Thank you.

CS: It’s great that we have you at KCR. So this is a much more of a lightweight question, is there any song, band, or album that you’re listening to now.

TT: Not in particular. I got most of my music from my cohost recently so I’m still trying to check it out. One thing I do recommend, one artist that I’ve really been listening to is Machine Girl. Machine Girl is the only one I’ve been wanting to say out loud because that’s what I’ve been listening to lately. Anything else? I’ve been listening to the new Father John Misty album, and that was alright, I liked that one. And I’m still waiting for Death Grips’ new album, Jenny Death, part of their two-sided album. So I’m still waiting for that. Other than that not really, I’ve just been checking out a lot of the new music that my cohost has left me.

CS: Alright, right on. So I always finish with this question because I think it’s kinda fun; describe your perfect show, And since you have two one hour shows I’m really interested in what you have to say.

TT: Alright so my perfect show would actually not be a music show. It would be a music show but not like a typical host show. My perfect show would be a scripted almost radio play that combined scripted talking with a story with music, just really Avant Garde, really crazy music. And you’d play it in between and the music helps move the story along just because you have that perfect music. So that would be my perfect show. It’d be a weird combination of those two things and I think that would be like “woah radio has changed forever”. You can’t go back to just plain music and talking. You go to, hey this is story driven radio play with music in it. That would be the perfect radio show I would like to do. Unfortunately that’s just way too much work for me. But hey, who knows? Maybe one day. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage and energy to do it. Right now I gotta focus on other things such as school and not failing any of my classes.

CS: Alright. I sympathize, I know what you mean. Well so Thomas, this has been a great interview, thanks for sitting down with me.

TT: Yeah and thank you thank you Cameron. Thank you, I don’t know what else to say, but thank you.

CS: We can close it there.

TT: And doot-dootle-oot-doo.

We concluded the interview and unfortunately I had to run back to work. Thomas has so far been one of my favorite DJ’s that I’ve interviewed and I wish I had the time to talk to him more. His unique show and ideas are what I think help set KCR apart from the other radio stations. College Radio is an opportunity for us to innovate and run our own shows to essentially our own standards. Thomas appears to be taking this to heart as he spreads he eclectic and very unique content out into the world.