Behind the Mic: The Flow w/ De Leon

Mikel De Leon

In this segment of Behind the Mic, we examine the wild life of thrill-seeker / adventurer / local lunatic, Mikel De Leon!

A gift (or curse, depending on how you look at it) has been bestowed upon Mikel De Leon: the need to always be doing something that increases his heart rate. It drove him to pick up soccer when he was 4 years old. Then surfing. Then, in November of last year, he bought a motorcycle.

Two months later, his body was lying in the middle of the freeway after being struck by a car.

“All I could think of was ‘Get up, get back on your bike, go home. Tell your dad you’re sorry. Everything’s ok,’ ” De Leon said about the incident that sent him to the hospital. He couldn’t get up, though. He didn’t have the physical strength to collect himself despite not feeling any pain, because his body had already gone into shock. Miraculously, to his (and his doctor’s) disbelief, he didn’t break any bones or even damage his brain. He did, however, injure his ankles, knees, shoulders, left wrist and lower back. Now, he’s grateful to be recovering at a relatively quick pace, but in all honestly, he just wants to surf again.

“I’m just like ‘Come on, I want to get back in the water. Let’s go!’”

Mikel De Leon

Mikel (MEE-kehl) De Leon is the host of “The Flow with De Leon,” which airs Thursdays at 8 a.m.

Although De Leon won’t be getting back on a motorcycle any time soon (or hopefully ever considering he’d like to be alive as long as possible and healthy enough to one day teach his future children how to surf), he’s still finding ways to scratch his adrenaline-seeking itch. At first, soccer scratched it for a while, but he began to lose interest in it after over a decade of playing. He wanted to replace it with something equally athletic to keep the weight off. The activity would also need to be peaceful and leave him in a serene mental state.

Mikel De Leon being the coolest cat around.
Photo by Monica Vigil. Coolness by Mikel De Leon

Surfing fit the bill.

“Surfing was just like, dude, everyone loves a surfer. Of course I’m going to get into it. It turns out, it’s not like that. But it’s ok. As long as I’m out there with my friends surfing, that’s all I care about. As long as I catch at least three good waves per day, I’m good.”

Mikel De Leon

Since the accident, De Leon hasn’t been able to surf and as a result, he’s been growing impatient to return to the ocean. He currently lives in Imperial Beach, a sandy, laid-back beach city in southern San Diego, just a hop and a skip away from the sea. Beforehand, De Leon would wake up every morning and make his way to the water with a surfboard in hand to catch a few waves before school or work.

“Sometimes I wouldn’t even shower because the waves were that good. I’d go straight to work and they’d know. They’d be like ‘Dude, there’s sand in your ear.’”

Mikel De Leon

His life appears to come in seasons, packaged up in different themes depending on the chapter. Sometimes he’s a chill surfer, a passionate soccer player, or even a temporary motorcyclist.

Long, soft hair totally by Mikel De Leon and genetics.
Photos by Monica Vigil. Long, soft hair totally by Mikel De Leon and genetics.

And now? He’s a radio host.

His brother attended Georgetown University and had a late night radio show at his college station. De Leon remembers listening to it and deciding he wanted to do that one day. One day after he transferred to San Diego State University from Southwestern College, he saw a sign promoting KCR and the rest has been a joyful, musical ride. His show heavily features groovy indie sounds like Homeshakeand Yellow Days, peppered in with bedroom pop. Want to tune in and listen to a combination of Beach Goons, Temporex, Minor Gems and Oak Palace? Do it! He’s plays them all.

What’s unique about “The Flow with De Leon” is that many episodes are themed (kind of like his life). One episode was full of music he would play if he owned a low-rider, featuring oldies, cholo goth, cumbia and the iconic Selena Quintanilla. He’s also had some dirty rock and reggae days, amongst many others.

An avid consumer of music, De Leon has even begun singing and creating his own tunes.

“I started off doing stupid, little, fun projects where I wasn’t taking it seriously,” he said. His friends, however, told him that he was good. He began to experiment with genres and searched for his sound in pursuit of turning the fun hobby into something more serious. Influenced heavily by Tame Impala, he plans on releasing an EP sometime in the summer. De Leon is implementing a deadline on himself or else he’ll “never release it.” He watched a short documentary about the singer of Tame Impala, Kevin Parker, and how he also had to give himself deadlines or else he would never publish his music, always trying to perfect it. It inspired De Leon to try the same approach.

“I need to set a date because if not, this is going to be a never ending cycle.”

Mikel De Leon

Be sure to listen to his shows and start your Thursday mornings right. You never know what theme you’ll stumble upon. Also, come summertime, remind him that he’s got an EP to release.

His favorite modern band?

Tame Impala (duh.)

Feel free to follow Mikel De Leon on Instagram. You can listen to his Spotify playlists here and here.

Written by: Monica Vigil

Vince Staples & Buddy at The Observatory North Park

Born in Compton & raised in Long Beach, Vince Staples has risen to be one of the leading artists of west coast, new wave rap.

On April 2nd, he performed at The Observatory North Park along with up-and-coming artist Buddy (famous for tracks such as “Black” ft. A$AP Ferg, “Trouble on Central”, and “Trippin’” ft. Khalid). Similar to Vince Staples, Buddy was born in Compton and went to highschool in Long Beach, CA. Throughout their “Smile You’re on Camera” Tour, they have consistently sold out shows (including the one in San Diego), and made good money selling stylish merchandise at venues.

The Observatory North Park served as a fantastic host site for the event.

Considering that the venue is one of the best in SD, it helped that their was a large enough space to hold a huge rap-loving crowd. For those over 21, the venue includes a bar that serves drinks throughout the night. Additionally, security consistently ensured their was no underage or irresponsible drinking

As the crowd slowly poured in more and more, spaces were condensed and mosh pits were formed. Vince Staples’ entrance was as grand as his latest album and immediately made an impact, causing hype throughout the crowd. His presence fueled the energy of the fans and consistently maintained an open environment for those screaming the lyrics they had memorized

As a Vince Staples fan who has been listening for years…

I was ecstatic each time an old song was performed. Vince Staples recognizes crowd favorites and catered to those long-time fans. In addition to his new album, he performed songs from every single one of his albums and even some long forgotten mixtapes.

The visuals and lighting used for this show were extremely well done and added to the grandeur of things. Smoke was used to create an ambience that filled the stage as the lights created a silhouette of Vince Staples. The live video playing in the background features low-res footage shot with slow shutter to make it seem as if Vince Staples were moving in slow motion, but in real time. All in all, it was very impressive.

When concluding his show, he walked off and let his friend take the stage in a special way. They played a video of Mac Miller performing an NPR Tiny Desk concert; to add to the mood/sentiment, it was shown in widescreen format as well as black-and-white. Seeing as Mac Miller has passed and I never got to see him live, I truly appreciated the deed; it was as if Vince Staples was touring with him and it felt so authentic as if he was really there; they used audio from a live performance where he thanked fans for coming and was speaking from the heart. It was heartwarming to see that 90% of the audience stayed for the entirety of Mac Miller’s “performance” as it was just a video that was not advertised/warned.

What San Diego received was an overall great show with great stage presence from both performers and a hyped crowd that fell more in love with the artists/music. As they continue their tour, we in San Diego can only appreciate the good time that they carried in with their arrival that night.

Written/Photographed by: Eduardo Orozco

Memorable Hits from the 80’s

The 80’s: an era filled with luminescent colors, crazy hairstyles, and fashion-oriented influences. This decade was especially well-known for its variety of music that people still listen to today.

As a product of two parents who were teenagers in the 80’s, I feel that this decade of music left a mark on my life. It feels as if I grew up with this decade of music, as well.

Not many of us today understand how much of an influence this decade has brought towards fashion, music, television, and political stances in the 21st century. With that being said, those who  are interested in listening to music from the 80’s feel unsure where to begin. Lucky for you, I have created a playlist to start you off with some of the most memorable songs of the 80’s to pique your interest.

To begin our list of 15 songs, let’s begin with the meme-worthy track:

1. “Take on Me” by A-Ha

This beloved track was released in 1985 off of their album, Hunting High and Low. From what I know, this track was placed in a famous vine and later grew in popularity for its trendy sound. In my opinion, this is one of those songs that you’ll want to sing a-long at a karaoke cafe.

2. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!

If you haven’t heard this song before, I assure you that this is one of the most uplifting songs that I’ve ever heard. George Michael’s vocals in this song impress me so much during the higher notes of this song. Though George Michael passed away in 2016, fans of his vocals can continue to dance to these famous hits written by Wham!

3. “Our Lips are Sealed” by The Go-Go’s

This song is a bit more well known to those who have heard the Hilary & Haylie Duff cover from 2004. However, hearing the original version really helps you envision the 80’s feel that this song exudes. This 1981 hit started off the series of songs that would always be remembered from the 80’s.

4. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M

By far. this song struck a political accord onto everyone who heard this 1987 track. R.E.M has lyrics that were considered to focus on a seemingly stream of consciousness with a number of diverse references throughout the song. In all honesty, this is your go to song when you are also struggling to handle all the social and political issues that occur today.

5. “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol

This new wave/post-punk artist brings his own flair onto this well-known Rock-band featured track. My mother told me how Billy Idol was the first artist she had ever seen live back when she was a teenager, and to this day she has no regrets. The type of music he created was very central to a punk/rock style that influenced fans to show up in bright colored hairstyles and mohawks.

6. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson

While there is some controversy going around about Michael Jackson’s past, most of us can say that the 80’s was nothing with this hit song. This Grammy Award winning track was written in 1982, which came off of his Thriller album. If you never were given the opportunity to listen to Michael Jackson’s music, I honestly feel bad for you.

7. “The Metro” by Berlin

You cannot have an 80’s playlist without this amazing track by Berlin. Every time I hear this song, I feel like I have been zapped into another dimension as it has a synthesizer in the background of the track. I feel that this should be one of the songs that people remember the most as it is very unique and has a very vintage feel.

8. “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners

I’m certain that this 1982 track played at almost everyone’s high school dances. This track is also featured in the Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack. If I could say one thing about this song to sway you into hearing it, it would be this: listen after 2:55 and tell me that this does not make you want to dance.

9. “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins

As a fan of both Top Gun and the television series, Archer, this song is one of those feel good tunes you want to blast in your car after a long week. This is the first song I ever heard by Kenny Loggins and it was all thanks to an animated adult-series that referenced “danger zone” so often.

10. “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds

Thanks to the film, The Breakfast Club, we all should know this very memorable 80’s song. Every time someone played this song, you can tell they are expressing a very sincere emotion for this tune. Plus, you really can’t forget about this song…

11. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley

Okay, I know what you are thinking…this is not a rick roll. This is the one song that I know every single person on the planet knows about thanks to meme culture and Wreck It Ralph 2. Whether you enjoy the song or not, we would not have the meme culture of today without this man. Cheers to Mr. Astley!

12. “Rock Lobster” by the B-52’S

Based on my survey with people I talked to, most have never heard of the group the B-52’S. Though, I know this song was very popular because of Family Guy‘s reference to the song & Dance Dance Revolution featuring it. While I know this song came out in 1979, this could still pass for a famous 80’s track.

13. “I Love Rock N’ Roll” by Joan Jett

For all my rock fans out there, Joan Jett is the very reason I was able to get into rock music. I feel that her influence on the rock genre in the 80’s is the reason we have such amazing rock music today. If you don’t believe me, please listen to her.

14. “La Bamba” by Los Lobos

As a Mexican-American student, this was one of the songs that my family would love to play. Even though this song was originally written by Ritchie Valens, their cover for this song is just as amazing if not memorable in my eyes. This was a way to bring back the memory of Ritchie Valens.

15. “Livin’ On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

You are lying if you say you haven’t done karaoke to this song at all! I faintly remember the day my friend and I sang this on Guitar Hero. This song will empower you and get you through the rest of your week. Honestly though, I mean it…”Woah, we’re halfway there.”

I understand that there are other songs that should be recognized on this list; however, everyone has their own unique tastes within this genre. With the emergence of rock, punk, or new wave being introduced to the mainstream during this era of music, it is safe to say that almost everyone will love something from the 80’s.

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Kodaline at the House of Blues

Kodaline gave their audience a taste of the weekend with their thrilling and riveting performance at the House of Blues.

 

The concert was opened by Ocean Park Standoff, a band consisting of Samantha Ronson, Pete Nappi, and Ethan Thompson. The group was energetic throughout their entire set, especially Thompson, who couldn’t help but jump around the stage. It was hard not sing along, especially as the singer about to dive right into the audience. Plus, the band members chemistry was impeccable, as the three cracked jokes throughout their set. They got right along, offering words of advice before continuing onto their next song, “Good News:” “If you had any bad news this week, fuck ‘em.” With their youthful spirit, Ocean Park Standoff encouraged us to let go and enjoy. It just made everyone excited for the rest of the night.

Kodaline’s entrance was silent, but their entrance caused the crowd to go wild. They started with “Follow Your Fire”, a song from their newest album “Politics of Living”.  Known originally as 21 Demands, the group started in Dublin, Ireland with Steve Carrigan (vocals, guitar) and Mark Prendergast (guitar) as founding members of the group. The name later changed to Kodaline with the addition of Jason Boland (bass guitar) and Vinny May Jr. (drums).

 

With the moody lights and simple stage set, Kodaline focused on what was important: their music. Seemingly in his own world, main singer Steve Garrigan had his eyes closed for a majority of the songs. Though it was a contrast from Ocean Park Standoff’s interactive stage presence, Kodaline’s style of performance was just as captivating.

Listening to their music in such an environment made their vocals sound even more raw. I had always loved their music, listening on my phone or through Youtube, but to hear it in person, was an experience. Being apart of the audience felt like a dream, with everyone swaying in a trance to a deep pulse. If I had another chance to go listen and see Kodaline, I would not need a lot of convincing. Not only is their music amazing, their performance and stage presence must be seen in person. Kodaline has come a long way since their humble beginnings as a two-man band, and their fans and other music enthusiasts should look forward to their future projects indefinitely.

Review by: Veronica Yoo