Thematics Radio : The Pleasure of Randomness

Since the end of All Go No Slow podcast, I was an orphan. No more sweet guy, driven by the pleasure of discovering music, to help me separate the wheat from the chaff. I’m too busy drawing and writing, I can’t do everything ! So it’s was a blessing to discover by accident Thematics Radio. Hosted by Micko, a dashing Aussie, this show offer every week, as it name talks for itself, a thematic. A focus on a musical genre, an artist or even a word. So let’s go meet this Good Samaritan from the other hemisphere. Interview. (La traduction française -approximative- se trouve ici)

Can you give us a little description of yourself (where do you live, your studies, etc) ?

I’m a 31 year old Australian guy living in Sydney. I work a fairly normal office job but spend my weeknights preparing my radio show and then Saturday night broadcasting it. It’s a volunteer gig but I look upon it as my real job. As for studies, I went to university for three whole days and realised I didn’t wanna be there, so left to have fun with my life. I’m obsessed with music and hearing it really loud.

How do you start your podcast ? Is this your first radio show ?

Well I only started podcasting in early 2008 as this is when the radio station 2RRR started giving us access to wav files of our shows. I started doing Thematics in 2004, but have been at the station since 2002. I began doing a punk and hardcore show but got really tired of each week just playing « punk » music and constantly trying to work out whether something was punk enough to play, so applied for a new slot and the station must’ve liked the idea I pitched to them of themes.

Flying Lotus – Zodiac Shit, from the Futur Jazz show

Concerning 2RRR, it’s a fairly small community radio station and sticks out a fair bit in the radio landscape of Sydney. It’s very diverse in it’s programming and caters for many different ethnicities (there’s even a French program called « Trampoline »). It has always used the tagline « Your alternative » and it’s spirit lies in the fact that we’re not playlisted, with all programmers getting to select and play whatever they like.

The number one priority is serving the needs of the community that we are licensed to serve. We do this by giving a voice to people who through the mainstream media have no voice. I’d have to say that we’re fairly unknown in Sydney as most people listen to the commercial garbage that’s rammed down everyone’s throats. But most people who just listen to radio don’t « follow » music anyway. Our transmitter isn’t all that powerful either, so actually a lot of people in this large city can’t even pick it up. So that’s another advantage of uploading my shows.

Can you give an idea of how you make a show (defining the subject, choosing the tracks, recording your appearance, etc) ?

Luke and George from Bernie Lomax 5 during  the 90’s alternative rock showMaking each show is pretty different as I try and do all sorts of themes. Choosing the subject can be influenced by a particular CD that an artist or label sends me for airplay, so I’ll often look through the track titles and select a theme that one of those tracks would fit into, and go from there. The process is often quite random, which I’m into a fair bit (randomness philosophy like in The Dice Man) and it might be as simple as picking a band or producer spontaneously and fitting the theme around them. If I feel like having a guest on the show I let them choose the theme (and most of the musical selections).

Uoki Toki – Little Red Riding Hood, from the Chiptune Show

Choosing the tracks once I know what theme I’m shooting for can be an arduous task of looking at the backs of my CDs, trolling through my hard drive via the trusty search function or plundering the depths of illegal file sharing domains like Soulseek (I’m not ashamed of this and am exposing talent).

After each episode, wav files are ready for me to pillage from the radio station’s computer, which I then cut up and edit if needed and upload to my site for podcasting. This is handy because I’m on air between 11pm and 1am on a Saturday night, so most people have better things to do than stay home and listen to me rattle on!

Could you define in few words the spirit of your podcast ? It seems difficult though when you look at the diversity of the musical genres in your show.

Tough question indeed. Moving from doing a punk show to what I do now was influenced by not being limited by genre and over-killing my love for one sort of sound. I am very conscious and wary of destroying a genre’s soul as I’ve gone through many phases of loving one sort of sound as a younger man.

Repetition rewards the listener with familiarity and instant gratification but in the long run they’ll get sick of it completely and move on. I want my show to surprise the listener week by week and for them to be exposed to different sorts of music.

The Who – Circles (Instant Party), from the  « Circle » Show

The theme-element of the show I think manifests interesting views on a certain lyrical theme for example and often shows a very diverse range of approaches to tackling a subject. But really, for me growing up I was always obsessed with making mix tapes and a lot of the time they’d be theme based or musically diverse.

I see doing this radio show as working hard to present a live mix tape with added commentary for even more personal touch. It’s spirit is sarcastic, with an attempt to flow and link up through associations of lyrics and sonic texture.

Besides your thematic podcasts, you also provide DJ’s sets. How do you select them and what do you like in these sessions ?

I have a lot of friends here in Sydney who are some of my favourite DJs and producers of electronic music. So a lot of the time when people come and play live in the studio, it’s resulted from just chatting to them at gigs or what not and them showing an interest in coming in one week. Basically, if someone shows interest in my show they’re more than welcome to come in and show the world their skills and tracks.

Pelican – Spaceship Broken Parts Needed, from the « Space » Show

I love these sets because I get to sit back for a while and cop a free gig in my studio! The DJ set/mix culture is pretty huge on the Internet and I find that the sets I’ve uploaded generate lots of interest and downloads which is great for these people who take the effort to supply a performance for the airwaves and those who like downloading free music.

Among the DJ Sets you’ve broadcasted, do you have some favorites artists you would like to highlight ?

Tough question, but I’d have to say having Robert Inhuman from the U.S. digital hardcore band Realicide come in and play a set on the floor of the studio with a whole bunch of equipment was a highlight. Other sets I rate up there would be performances by Athrocycle (using circuit bent toys and an old Amiga), Paul Blackout, Highly Dubious and the one and only official Thematics release – three mixes given to me by Wildness Records to broadcast.

Now Wildness is a net-label based in France actually, and give away free underground metal and electronic releases. I was quite happy to get involved with them as Evy who runs the label is really nice and makes great music. The mixes on the release were by Mental D-Struction (France), La Foudre (France) and Bart Hard (The Netherlands).

The release from Wildness Records

You seem to have a incredible musical culture so I have two special questions for you : Do you know the australian band 11th He Reaches London, do you like it and do you know others great unknown bands from Australia you could advise us ?

Why thank you! I’m really happy that you’ve listened to the show and enjoyed it. I was given an 11th He Reaches London CD about eight years ago I reckon, and played it on The Punk Show. To be honest I haven’t heard what they’ve done since as I’m slightly out of the loop when it comes to the Australian band scene. I don’t remember disliking them, but they weren’t really my thing. I think they’re from Perth from memory which is on the other side of the country so I haven’t heard their name around much.

Some Aussie bands that I highly rate which you might not know of include : Captain Cleanoff, The Kill, The Optionals, Ether Rag, Pure Evil Trio, Unknown to God, The Clap, Burning Servant, Kromosom, Taipan, Royal Headache, Nintendo Police, Extortion and Inebrious Bastard.

Second special question : I’ve seen (and listened to) your french breakcore podcast. Great one by the way. But how did you decide to make it ? Is it France so very well known for this kind of music or your love for this country ? :) (If you answer yes to the second part, would you be able to make a special French podcast ? :D )

I decided to do a French Breakcore special because there’s so many producers of breakcore who I love that come from your fine country! Guys like Rotator, Krumble, Igorrr and Electromeca are such talented musicians so this inspired me to search out more of that kind of music. I’ve been intrigued by the genre of hardcore techno which exists called Frenchcore which has people from other countries that make it which is culturally fascinating.

Perfect – Can’t Touch Me, from the Dancehall Show

I have a thing for French people and music because of a crew who I hung out when I was first getting into dark hardcore and noise sounds who happened to be mostly Frenchies who lived here at the time, who exposed me to a lot of artists from France. They were actually a few people who would take a soundsystem around to locations around the place and blast loud hardcore techno, noise and breakcore.

Most of them have moved back over there now, but I’ve become quite good friends with the crew that they were a part of – Killerwatts Soundsystem. I’m not sure what it is about the French and myself, but I seem to become involved with them through music, and just today I found this link from another French electronic producer named Lord Sinister concerning my most recent show on doomcore.

So a bit of both to your question! I could certainly do another France-centric episode for you! How special do you want it to be? I’m always open to suggestions for podcasts so get in touch !

Do you have favorite podcasts you would like to advice us ?

I’m a fiend for downloading podcasts and mixes. Some of my favourites lately have been Radio Like You Want (new weekly show hosted by Blag the Ripper from The Dwarves), Harder View Podcast, Signal Flow Podcast, Weasel Radio, Grindthieves Podcast, Bassfreqs Podcast and Filthcast.

Behemoth – Spellcraft and Heathendom, from the Black Metal Show

There’s so many excellent ways to present virtual radio shows in this day and age! I’m just glad I can have the best of both worlds and broadcast to (scare the hell out of) lonely taxi drivers on a Saturday night as well as catering for the worldwide podcasting scene.

As a last question for the interview, would you like to add something ? A side that I haven’t stressed enough ? A word for my (innumerable) readers ? :)

Well thanks to anyone who follows this up and checks out some of my shows online and to drop me a line if you have any music you’d like me to play. I’m always keen to show the world unknown music and especially of those people who don’t usually get much exposure.

Commercial radio is the devil and I want to kill all breakfast announcers when I hear them on my way to work in my car!

Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice, from the Beach Boys Show

Everyone should make mixes for their friends and share their music. Download like crazy and keep helping out with the taking back of music from record labels and greedy company executives. Read books and do all you can to keep your brain active. Thanks Gwen for the offer to interview me, it’s very good of you.

And thank you too ! I’ll keep the readers up to date if the idea of a playlist come out form this friendly interview :)


Thematics Radio on Myspace

Thematics Radio on Facebook

Thematics Radio website

An interview by Gwendal. Photos : Micko

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