Electronic Music Marathon Part 3: Rounding 3rd and coming home

A month after WKDU brought back the annual Electronic Music Marathon, I think I’m finally ready to get back into the swing of things, radio wise. I held off of posting this because I wanted to give myself some time to decompress and reconcile the INSANE 75 hours of DJing, dancing, and fun over Columbus Day weekend. We are working on posting the sets, so stay tuned to our Soundcloud page for those. In the meantime, feel free to read the play by play I wrote during the final day of the marathon.

Jersey Dan kicked us off at 11 AM, playing stuff like Crystal Castles and Nenah Cherry. It was dark, it was moody, it was exactly what I needed. Highlights of the set were the “Open (Jeff Samuel faded mix)” by Rhye and the DFA cover of “D.A.R.E.” by Gorillaz, where I got a chance to turn introspective more a moment and think for a bit. If I had to pick one word to describe his set, it would be contemplative. His set really gave a chance to look inwards at my own soul for an hour. Fun fact: Dan uses a free version of Virtual DJ to mix. True the college radio ethos he chooses free when possible, making the most out of what he can. Bonus fun fact: Dan used to be a professor here at Drexel back in 2008, great to have old faculty on board!

Maxwell Knubee from Brewerytown Beats, one of our proud sponsors of the event, stepped up to the decks next, spinning all wax. I spoke with him before he got on and he told me about the evolution of his set. Originally he wanted to spin psych-funk and go into 80s electro funk, but decided eventually to go with positive hip-hop. We talked about how the best songs are the ones that talk about how good music is, or how a specific brand of shoes is just super cool (when he told me that, I was hoping he would play “My Adidas” by Run DMC, and he did not disappoint!). His set definitely lived up to the expectations, and brought the funk and hip hop beats for all to enjoy, leading nicely into King Britt’s set.

As I’m writing this, I’m surrounded by King Britt’s crew, including members of The Village and Playback Radio. Many of these guys and gals have been here in the past for previous marathons and it’s an honor to have them back. For the newcomers, let me just say this if I haven’t already: welcome to WKDU and enjoy your stay!

King got on the mic at 1:00 PM to talk about his time in high school (Central High reppin’!), coming up in music, and some of his major influences. Look for the full interview online soon. About half an hour later he stepped onto our decks and started laying down the beats. If you ask Es, he’s a beat wizard. If you ask me, he’s a beatsmyth. Whatever your preferred nomenclature, he’s really something to watch perform. He combines magic on the deck with music in the air, forging tunes, sounds, and rhythms out of nothing. I’m writing this during his set, which is conjuring some deep images in my head, floating me along a soundscape of immense proportions. I’m envisioning vast rolling hills of dark earth colors, pulsating along with the beat. The second half of his mix got a lot funkier, throwing some soul vibes out there. I was busy doing my homework during this set and it made for some great jams for concentrating.

King Britt's gear
King Britt’s gear

Matpat popped up after King, to take us into the final 5 hours of the marathon. Bringing the club beats back into the building, he got me moving once more. Funky piano, soulful saxaphone, and sexy synthesizer. Matpat brought the funk and didn’t just warm up the decks: he got them blazing hot, closing his set with “Deep Inside (Shadow Child remix)” by Hardrive.

Matpat hits center stage
Matpat hits center stage

Risky Disko hit the decks at 5 PM for 2 hours, throwing down the low BPMs with some trip hop vibes. Despite their name, I didn’t think they had that disco of a sound, though I enjoyed the set nonetheless. As with Jersey Dan’s set, it was much more contemplative and I got some nice thinking done. I really enjoy the sets that take me on a musical journey, as opposed to the straight dance stuff. Peter remarked that the whole set had a Todd Terje vibe to it, which I’m inclined to agree with. They sounded very disco influenced, but with a very clean production and modern twist.

Risky Disko
Risky Disko getting up close and personal with Roberta Flack

And now I’m faced with the monstrous task of doing justice to Dave P’s set with words. I’ll try my best, but honestly your best bet is to listen to the set and check it out for yourself. He started out slow, and I kind of just sat with my thoughts for awhile. Bringing the energy up slow, all of us at the station started to jam with some really swampy sounding songs, getting some retro-futuristic synths (my favorite synths!) going. His mixing technique is really good, too: he handles CDJs like he was born clutching a pair in his hands. His slogan of “futuristic sounds” is pretty damn accurate, the songs he spun sound like they came from a club in a cyperpunk movie. House jams through and through, solid 4-to-the-floor beats to groove to. He wasn’t laying down just future sounds though, some of his tracks sounded like classic disco house jams, with some beautiful piano and synth pads for added spice.

Dave P
Dave P deep in the mix

His set just kept amping up over the last hour. There was a certain charge in the air- everyone there knew we were reaching the end of something huge and the excitement was palpable. The room we have in the studio where all the DJs performed over the weekend isn’t that large- we were able to tightly fit our equipment table, speakers, and a few people hanging out listening to the DJs perform, but at this point we had over a dozen people crammed inside, all dancing. Dave kept the energy rising, too- by the end of it, I was sweating (almost) as much as him, just from dancing around the room. When he finally closed out at 9:00, he said some wonderful words over the air and, surrounded by applauding DJs, finished off both his set and the 11th annual electronic music marathon.

I’d like to thank everyone who tuned in, everyone who performed, and everyone who donated their time, effort, and money to our cause. With your help we resurrected a long-dormant WKDU tradition. Not only did we get the chance to party in the station for 75 hours straight, but we had a chance to connect with the community and raise money and awareness for some fantastic local non-profits. The work Musicopia and The Village of Arts and Humanities do is truly noble and we are honored to have helped play a part in their dedication to arts education and empowerment. Having pulled this off in approximately 5 weeks (90% of the work on this marathon was begun on Labor Day), we learned an incredible amount and are already looking forward to next year, where we hope to make the 12th annual electronic music marathon even better. Thanks for stopping by, and of course, keep those radio dials locked!

A final jump for joy before we all promptly fell asleep

2014 EMM In Photos

The 2014 Electronic Music Marathon was one of the most gratifying experiences I have had as a member of WKDU. I was fortunate enough to spend a good chunk of time down at the station, catching many great sets and having the opportunity to chat with luminaries like King Britt and Dave P. Regardless of stature, I was struck by the humility and friendliness of all of our performers; it was truly a pleasure having everyone down at the station.