DJ Spotlight: Karl Benedek (DJ Kranky Kowboy)

This week’s DJ Spotlight highlights Karl, AKA The Kranky Kowboy! He hosts “Blood On the Saddle,” Mondays, 8-10 pm.

KWVA: When did you get involved with KWVA and why?

K: Around 2000, my friend who was already a DJ talked me into becoming one, too. I started doing a show called “Radio Unfriendly” from 3-7 am Saturday mornings. After a year, I had enough of an interest in Country music (the “insurgent country” thing was going into full swing at that time) that I decided to take the leap and apply for a “Specialty Show,” which was a distinction we had then for shows with specific themes, usually genre-based. That show became “Blood on the Saddle.” It started as a 7-9 pm show on Mondays, then when the news hour blocks became a thing, it settled in its forever home: 8-10 pm Monday nights.

Soon after, I also started engineering for John Zerzan’s show “Anarchy Radio” and I’ve been doing that since at least 2001, first on Sunday nights from 11-midnight, and now during the news block, Tuesdays at 7 pm. That show is perhaps most infamous for having Adam Lanza as a call-in guest about a year before he went on to commit the massacre at Sandy Hook. As he had called in with an alias, the connection wasn’t uncovered until 2014.

I also do an occasional (I call it “ephemeral”) show called “Transcendent Phase,” which features space music, drone, new age and meditation music. This is the show I do when I am filling in for someone.

KWVA: Do you have a favorite KWVA memory?

Karl: I remember when we first got a computer in the on-air room! It was not clear what we were supposed to do with it at the time, but I guess we figured it out.

KWVA: Have you been or are you currently involved in other music-related projects/hobbies outside of KWVA?

K: My current musical project is called Woke-Ass Messiah. It’s a solo act based around the modular synthesizer I’ve been building for a couple of years now. Modular music is really diverse, from all-out noise assault to hard techno to floaty clouds of ambience. Mine is sort of in the middle, leaning closer to the techno side of things.

KWVA: Best concert you’ve attended?

K: I love live music! The first concert I remember is Marty Robbins in 1982. The next concert I have tickets to is Stereolab in Portland this October.

KWVA: On-air catch phrase if you have one?

K: Never thought about it much but I guess I say, “Good evening cowboys and cowgirls” at the beginning of every show, so that counts, right?

KWVA: Fave album for the summer?

K: Right now I’m in the middle of my annual June-July Grateful Dead marathon. This year, I’m focusing on the new Jerry Garcia Band box set, “Electric on the Eel.” I’m also really looking forward to “Weather,” the new Tycho album, out in July.

An Interview with Drowse and Kelp

Thanks to DJ Alright for submitting this week’s blog post, an interview with PNW band Drowse, and Japan-based group, Kelp! Listen to the interview above.

DJ Alright is a fan of any and all experimental music. The content of their KWVA show “Museum” (showtime at Wednesday 12-1 PM) ranges from black metal, to early electronic music, to ambient.

Drowse is the project of Kyle Bates along with a few collaborators, notably Floating Room’s Maya Stoner on the upcoming album “Light Mirror.” Drowse is a product of the Pacific Northwest — the guitar swells, tape distortion, and echoing, soft vocals call to mind endless rain and clouds (they have even been self-described as “gray pop”), and would appeal to fans of Grouper and Mount Eerie. Make no mistake, though — Drowse’s output stands in a class on its own. The detailed metaphors and concepts lyrically woven throughout the track “Cold Air,” (Drowse’s second-most-recent release) and “Light Mirror,” along with unflinching reflections on personal illness and loss, create a product that is as delicate as it is crushing. Drowse will be playing several shows in Oregon (including a Eugene date) later this July.

Kelp is Tomohide Ishibashi, Takeshi Yamamoto, and Sohta Setoguchi from Fukuoka, Japan. Their “far East cold sound” incorporates a wide range of influences, from jazz to ambient. Kelp’s songs are urgent and beautiful, and feature keyboard, trumpet, drums, and bass. Each member of the band is also involved in a variety of other projects (including the projects Sea Level and Macmanaman), further showcasing their ability to create and incorporate a wide variety of genres into a new experience.