In a world where we are obsessed about music, we naturally tend to put the bands in the spotlight most of the time, but I thought it was about time to pay a bit of attention to at least one the key figures behind the dreampop/shoegaze scene that plays, promotes and supports these bands fervently and moves heaven and earth to get the word spread. Time to probe the man behind DKFM Shoegaze Radio: here’s FAR‘s long-awaited interview with mister Greg Wilson (aka DJ Heretic), who is not only passionate and diligent when it comes to his beloved music-genre, but also a very nice guy!:
-Hi Greg, can you tell us the story of DKFM in a nutshell and DJ Heretic?
Greg: “Back in the day, I fell in love with a website known as Turntable.fm. It featured myriad “rooms” filled with amateur DJs, each taking a turn spinning favorite tracks. I spent the majority of my time in the “shoegaze rooms” discovering new and underheard classics. It bugged me that this exquisite music couldn’t be heard on radio outlets, especially as it was starting to make a strong comeback, championed solely by new artists. Before the return of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, folks like Tears Run Rings, Airiel and Be Forest were making a beautiful noise that wasn’t getting nearly enough attention. I started a radio station dedicated SOLELY to this music in early 2012. It wasn’t a great presentation, and I look back and cringe at how ‘tryhard’ it came off. But I had some limited radio background, and I kept refining and polishing until it became the award-winning presentation we could be proud of.”
-A few years back you shut down? Why was this and how did you make a restart?
Greg: “Our primary network carrier was forced to close after a decade of bringing internet radio to popularity. New U.S. royalty rates and restrictions priced out all small and “pureplay” webcasters from the market, leaving only the Spotifys and Pandoras of the world. I’m not saying they don’t serve their purpose, but “new music discovery” isn’t a priority for these outlets, even though they pay lipservice to it. We scrambled to find alternative platforms, even briefly moving broadcast center to Belgium for a time. For the last three years, we’ve found what we hope is a forever home in Canada, which allows international broadcast with affordable rates and music licensing coverage. But U.S. and international laws are changing every day, so we lose sleep trying to keep this ship upright and streaming for the benefit of the bands we champion and the listeners who demand it.”
-Is DKFM solely a shoegaze radio still or are you branching out on other associated genres?
Greg: “We remain primarily shoegaze and dream pop by choice. There are other stations around the globe that provide a good mix of sounds and artists like KEXP and KCRW, really no need to compete in that segment. Our success, such as it is, comes from serving THIS music. DKFM provides a home for a sound that is underrepresented on other platforms. This doesn’t mean we won’t throw in some high quality postpunk and slowcore from time to time, but this is where our bread is buttered, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
–When the Sun Hits is a regular show on DKFM. How did the connection with Amber Crain come about? and how did the idea for the new show with Krissy Vanderwoude arise?
Greg: “Amber was providing a top-quality show on Strangeways Radio for years. Once I’d heard that their platform would be winding down, I reached out to her immediately. She’s done so much to keep the genre relevant, even in the “lean days” of shoegaze, it was simply unacceptable to ME that she no longer have a regular radio outlet. Plus, our sonic imprint was always best suited to her presentation. Krissy had toyed with the idea of a regular show on DKFM, but we waited for the calendar to turn to 2019 before making it official. She brings a warmth and natural goodwill to her presentation, and as a long-time fan of the station, it’s a truly symbiotic relationship. We also brought DJ Steve and his Static Waves program to our air in January. He’s also a long-time listener and fan, and he brings a natural radio sensibility that our platform demands.”
-Can you describe what it is about shoegaze/dreampop that appeals to you?
Greg: “It’s an excellent question. I probably can’t. Was a time in my youth that I thought synths were superior to guitars, because the guitar could produce a limited series of sounds. But I was younger and dumber then, Kevin Shields and Adrian Belew proved me wrong. My best attempt at an answer? The best shoegaze and dream pop is textured and layered, rarely ‘obvious’ or formulaic. It can be enjoyed on multiple levels. Whether the approach seems detached or impassioned, the standout artists leave plenty of room for exploration and interpretation. My best summary: this is what heaven sounds like.”
-Any new acts that we should keep our eyes on? Why?
Greg: “At this point, my money is on Blushing to break out big. “The Truth” was my song of the year in 2018, and it appears that their just-completed debut album is ready to find a label home. I’d always understood that the talent was there, but now they’ve assembled all the pieces they need: songwriting, arrangement, production… put it all together as they have, it’s like the feeling you got when you first heard Lush in their heyday. This talented quartet is the real deal.
Beyond Blushing, we picked our favorite artists from across Texas and around the world, and booked them for our upcoming DreamGaze ATX Festival later this month. There’s just no quit in this bill. Belgium’s Slow Crush headlines night one, and they’re simply EPIC. But we’re thrilled to present Highlands, Grivo, Blushing, Vet Trip, Trauma Ray, Daze, Angel Aura, Glare, and Fun With Ether. Plus we’ll have an afterparty Monday with Lightfoils, Ringo Deathstarr and Dottie. We’re music fans (okay, music nerds), so this represents all the folks we listen to and promote, some of the best the scene has to offer, we’re pretty proud of this carefully-curated bill. And Trish of The Nothing Song booking makes this train run brilliantly, I can’t imagine trying to pull off something this epic without her able support and direction.”
FAR thanks Greg for all his time, effort and support! Please don’t forget to check out DreamGaze ATX Festival and DKFM Shoegaze Radio! (links below).