As I wrap up my fourth term here at Cal Poly and my third term as a KCPR DJ, I inch closer and closer to the inevitable doom of a life almost solely dedicated to music. It seems that with each day I continue to be a part of this organization, I find that what I want more than anything else is a life completely immersed in this medium. This doesn’t shock me. I wanted to be a part of a college radio years before I took to KCPR’s airwaves.
All of us at the station come from very different paths, and I think it’s important to look back and think about how we all fell deeply in love with this little room on the third floor of Graphic Arts (building 26).
For me, it started when I was 9 years old. This was the first time I remember digging through my parents’ record collections. I found bands like Portishead, an English trip-hop collective from the mid-1990s; Medeski, Martin and Wood, an acid jazz trio from Brooklyn; and X, a 1970s L.A. punk band. My eclectic music taste made for a pretty weird third grader who didn’t find a whole lot in common with most of his classmates. However, I didn’t stop listening; I knew there was something about these sounds that resonated with me more than anything else at the time.
A few years later, my dad gave me $100 and drove me to the best record store in my hometown of Sacramento, California. (Said store is now a BevMo, but whatever, I’m not bitter.) On this occasion, I discovered what are still some of my favorite records of all time: Sonic Youth’s Dirty and Black Flag’s The First Four Years (a compilation of the tunes they had released before Henry Rollins’ joining in 1981), among others, ended up in the stack I took to the register that day. I received some puzzled looks from the employees, and after almost 10 years, I can see why.
Not too much later, I set sail on the stormy voyage that was my middle school career. I entered my new school with a fascination for metal and other forms of aggressive music. I had a couple Metallica CDs and knew how to play almost every song by the progressive metal band Tool on guitar. I was doing the long hair thing, wearing skinny jeans that really didn’t fit me the right way and being as angsty as, well, a kid in middle school. It was a dark time for all of us, I’m sure. Soon enough, I made the transition into post-hardcore like a lot of my classmates did. Bands like The Fall Of Troy, Dance Gavin Dance and Circa Survive made their way onto my iPod and filled it with wretched screams and whiny shrieks.
These tunes got me through the first half of high school until I found my next obsession, which has lasted until now. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m talking about math-rock, a distinct genre that combines the sensibilities of punk rock with the complexities of jazz. Soon, Tera Melos’ Patagonian Rats, The Speed Of Sound In Seawater’s Blue Version and Red Version and Hella’s Hold Your Horse Is fell into constant rotation on my playlists.
I owe everything to what I’ve listened to over the years. Even though many of my old records now fall into the “dorky” category, I can’t deny how influential they were to me. I think many of us are ashamed of what we used to listen to, but I’ve come to learn that what I used to listen to and who I used to be are absolutely essential to the person I am now. I would advise anyone to not feel so embarrassed by the music that made them feel good five years ago, 10 years ago, or ever.
So if you see me around campus with my headphones in, I might be listening to the newest garbage-wave, post-drone, art-funk record that no one else knows about — or it might just be one of those lame records from my past, and I’m enjoying every second of it.
The Audio Files is a space for those involved with KCPR, Cal Poly’s radio station, to express any and all things music. Be sure to check out previous musings from Warfield’s KCPR colleagues.