Aurgasm Interview: Jason Bentley

June 22nd, 2010 by Michelle

Morning Becomes Eclectic // KCRW

We here at Aurgasm are big fans of the folks at KCRW in Los Angeles. Aside from being a leading NPR affiliate, it is home to a wide variety of both locally and nationally-based arts, news and culture talk programs. KCRW might be headquartered in a basement at Santa Monica College, but maintains a worldwide fanbase due to the station’s 24/7 live-stream, web-exclusive music and news content, and podcasts. Musically, KCRW is perhaps one of the most influential independent radio stations in the world, garnering a “tastemaker” reputation due to their tendency to break the next big acts in music. Jason Bentley, KCRW’s Music Director and host of the venerable morning show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions and discussed discovering new acts, the “digital revolution” and his favorite new music.


Before you became the host of Morning Becomes Eclectic and the Music Director for KCRW, you hosted “Metropolis” (on KCRW) and “Afterhours” (on KROQ) for a number of years. “Metropolis” was especially connected with electronic music and global club culture. How was the experience transitioning from an evening show to a morning show? Does the musical aesthetic change when you’re talking about a morning show versus an evening show?

Yeah, the vibe is totally different. Having been a champion of electronic music and club culture for many years, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to broaden my musical horizons. I still bring my love of dance and electronic music to the mix, but my responsibilities as Music Director are different now. I still play out in clubs, underground events, art galleries, etc to fulfill my need to rock a dancefloor, so it’s all good.

[Fun Fact: The first artist Jason had on Morning Becomes Eclectic after he became the host was an Aurgasm feature! Oren Lavie performed on MBE on December 2, 2008. We first featured Oren in early 2007.]

Last September, you became the first DJ in North America to perform using the Pioneer CDJ-2000 when you spun the Gizmodo Gallery in New York. The player itself is a huge leap forward in terms of technology and as a digital player for DJs. In the last few years, KCRW has also digitized its entire music library. How do you think the transition to digital music affected how you listen and what you play on air?

The most immediate benefit of the digital revolution has been access to music – both in terms of finding/reviewing new material but also being able to call up a track as soon as the thought occurs. There’s definitely a lot more music out there and the casual music fan will always need filters/curators so, on that level, the DJs role is even more important. I like to say that “I listen to bad music so you don’t have to.” In the end, technology is just a tool, there still needs to be a creative impulse driving the mix to make the magic happen. 

KCRW is notorious for breaking new artists and keeping things fresh, musically. How have you discovered some of your recent finds? Word of mouth? Live shows?

I review a lot of new music, but word of mouth is legitimate as well. I kind of approach it as a fan and collector of music, so I’m initially looking for a few indicators – label, producer, general buzz, cover art, back story, etc… Having done this for a while, my ear is pretty well tuned. I can get a sense of whether something will work for me very quickly. Live shows are usually good for me to get a better sense of the true potential of an artist, whether there is any longevity. 


Local Natives is just one of a number of Aurgasm features that have performed on MBE.
The Living Sisters, Jonsi, Laura Veirs, Princeton, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sea Wolf, Fink, Little Dragon, Fol Chen, Theresa Andersson, Lay Low, Mexican Institute of Sound, Matt & Kim, Curumin, Asa and Oren Lavie are among the others that have performed on MBE since Jason took over hosting duties in late 2008.

At Aurgasm we always like to provide our readers with new music they probably haven’t heard before. Are there any songs or bands that have caught your attention recently? What music have you been excited about lately?

Tame Impala from Perth, Australia is stoner rock bliss, and Baltimore, MD band Future Islands‘ “In Evening Air” is a darkly personal record that haunts me still. 

Thanks Jason!

Jason’s recommendations:
Tame Impala – Runway, Houses, City, Clouds
Future Islands – Tin Man (from In The Evening Air)
Future Islands – In The Fall (feat. Katrina Ford) (from In The Fall EP)

Editor’s note: Future Islands will be on Morning Becomes Eclectic this Thursday, July 24 at 11:15am PST. You can listen live at kcrw.com. Morning Becomes Eclectic airs every Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm PST.

+ Purchase/Visit

Maia Hirasawa

December 2nd, 2007 by Julija

swedish pop // singer-songwriter

Multi-instrumentalist with a strong background in jazz, a member of Hello Saferide, Maia Hirasawa is one of the most adored artists in Sweden. Since her solo debut, Maia has received highly positive reviews throughout Scandinavia, been nominated as one of “the Women of the year” in two Swedish magazines, and her first single was mentioned in several audio blogs. One of her fun pop type songs, “Crackers” instantly makes the day colorful and lively, as listening to the catchy melody line, you will find yourself smiling and singing.

Glimpsing into a world of pop perfection.
Maia Hirasawa – Crackers
buy this cd

Koop

October 23rd, 2006 by Anne Cloudman

lounge vocal jazz // scandinavian jazz

I came home from work grumpy and needed something upbeat. A track I couldn’t ignore. A clever hook I couldn’t help but smile at. Some percussion to make me nod my head and tap my fingers. I found exactly what I needed in Koop’s “Come to Me”. Horns. Cymbals. Hand claps. Classy, seductive vocals. It’s really just jazz, but it’s smooth and clean. When you tire of the syrupy sweetness, “Drum Rhythm A” is a crisp palate cleanser. Both these tracks glide off the new release Koop Islands.

Classic, classy, comfortable.
Koop – Come To Me
Koop – Drum Rhythm A
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Scanty Sandwich

November 5th, 2004 by Paul Irish

big beat // acid house // motown remixed

Scanty, AKA Richard Marshall, is signed to the record label of mister Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim — which should give you an indication of his musical style. In fact, for two years people actually thought Scanty Sandwich was just another of Cook’s pseudonyms; their sounds are near identical: hard-hitting bass, danceable funky music action. And naturally, I can’t serve you this butt-stomping groove without the original sampled track. “Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day” was written by Stevie Wonder, but MJ covered it in sizzlin’ motown soul fashion.

Scanty Sandwich – Because Of You
Michael Jackson – Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day

Eastbound Jesus

April 19th, 2012 by Kyle

northern rock

Whether digging country roots or rocking guitars, these hearty rascals from Greenwich, NY produce incredibly appealing tight rhythms, choral elation and rollicking stomp. Eastbound Jesus has a vibe I cherish at bluegrass festivals: kids running freely, families sharing meals, camping areas for jamming all night, and tents for free lessons. People are real and their good nature is alive. Thoroughly uplifting, Holy Smokes instills a sense of everything being alright even if you’re far from it. Songs reveal boyhood girl troubles, the workingman’s plight, and helpful lore with a refreshing dash of revolt. Open your windows and doors; feel sun-fueled air kite stymie issues. Hang laundry, clean dishes – dance, sing, paint! Let pieces puzzle together as you lead where life takes you.

Folksy romp with humble foundations.
Eastbound Jesus – For the Ride
Eastbound Jesus – Without You
+ Purchase/Visit

Xploding Plastix

November 15th, 2004 by Paul Irish

orchestral jazz // spy music // idm

Layers upon layers of sound that whooshing by you in a sonic fury. Norway’s Xploding Plastix erupted in their country’s impressive music scene with their debut, Amateur Girlfriends Go Proskirt Agents and earned themselves a Grammy for best electronica record. Their music is like James Bond lounge-jazz meets Amon Tobin; Henry Mancini vs. Squarepusher. Their blow-you-away website has all their music available, in high fidelity audio.
A triplage of gorgeous music, today, for you to indulge in.

Xploding Plastix – More Powah To You
Xploding Plastix – Treat Me Mean, I Need the Reputation
Xploding Plastix – Rattlechaser

Xploding Plastix’s website (with full songs)

Trost

March 15th, 2007 by Julija

electro pop // eclectic electronic

Annika Line Trost is a charming and charismatic creature. You probably know her from the Berlin duo Cobra Killer, who began as a part of digital hardcore movement. You hear her voice, her sound, and her gorgeous style as you click on play her album Trust Me (2006) lead you into the world of the urban rhythms and the most elegant darkness. Trost tells you her stories of cheap lipstick and love in three languages, English, German and French.

Be aware, she’s an addictive one.
Trost – I was Wrong
Trost – In Diesem Raum
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The Ark

February 15th, 2006 by Paul Irish

swedish glam-rock

During last year’s South By Southwest festival, hipsters heading down 6th Street on their way to the Bloc Party show were stopped when passing by a closet of a club called The Drink. Inside the giant sidewalk window, leadman Ola Salo was jumping from amp to ceiling light to drum set, while his band was pumping out firey glam rock action. Now, typically music with electric guitars and drums doesn’t strike my fancy, but The Ark definitely forces the volume knob up. ‘Rock City Wankers’ perfectly showcases their ability to instantly spawn a party with their vibrant attitude.
Dynamic rock that makes it impossible to stand still.

The Ark – Rock City Wankers
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ILS

October 7th, 2004 by Paul Irish

nu-skool breaks // hip hop // drum ‘n bass

Mind-stimulating dance music. ILS, aka Ilian Walker, was picked up by breakbeat godfather Adam Freeland after the promo Idiots Behind The Wheel hit Adam’s ears. The sound that he heard was something new: instead of an targeting the hard body-moving breaks and drum machine sounds of standard breakbeat, “ILS succeeded in bringing a deeper, jazzier, more intelligent flavour to the genre without losing its trademark punch.”[BBC Collective] The following tracks are off his latest release, Soul Trader.
This breakbeat’s got an organic, natural feel that gets your body and mind into the groove.

ILS – No Soul
ILS – Prohibition

Celso Fonseca

April 13th, 2005 by Paul Irish

nueva bossa nova // brazilian acoustic

Little can put your mind at ease the way that some quiet bossa nova can. Fonseca, a producer and instrumentalist who has collaborated with Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Bebel Gilberto, has been actively creating music since he was 12. He now is releasing Rive Gauche Rio by way of world music powerlabel Six Degrees. Fonseca has lately been working as one of the most desired producers in Brazil; his keen ear shows on this record – the sounds are beautiful, sensual, and slightly melancholic all at once. He duets quietly, subtly and smoothly on “Don De Fluir” in Spanish with Oscar-winning Urugyuan vocalist Jorge Drexler in typical Brazilian unhurried rhythm. As a surprise, Celso gives Damien Rice’s eerie and somber “Delicate” a new face; an interesting cross-continental cover with graceful guitar and heart-trodden percussion.
Feeling easy, warm sunshine, wading in the sea.

Celso Fonseca – Don De Fluir
Celso Fonseca – Delicate (Damien Rice cover)
buy this cd