Monday, May 19, 2008

Daily Session channels the New York Underground

It's been a while, but today I've got an interview blog. Btw, if there are any stations out there that would like to participate in an interview, please contact me at:

I've been looking for a station like Daily Session for some time now - a station which channels a large city's underground into a 24/7 stream. So when Jonathan Schippers contacted me to add Daily Session - a station which profiles and exclusively plays New York's underground (based out of Brooklyn) - I was thrilled!

In my mind, this is a big part of what Internet Radio is about. This is the true grass roots stuff which normally you need to get off your duff and walk into a club reaking of stale beer and cigarettes. To be sure, there is no substitute for going out and experiencing live music (more on that in the interview), and it could take weeks or months before you hear something genuinely groundbreaking on the level of Nirvana or Fatboy Slim. But for the music geek, I strongly encourage regular visitations of Daily Session.

Case in point: A couple weeks ago, I was surfing around the techno stations. They all seemed to be in a rut that night, but I was hungry from fresh electronic sounds, and nothing was sating my appetite. I zipped over to Daily Session, and there was this brilliant set playing which I can only compare to something from Wendy Carlos' A Clockwork Orange soundtrack (one of my favourite films and soundtracks). The piece was electronic, but seamlessly morphed to and from uptempo trumpet playing. I had felt as though I had gone from downing a Burger King combo, to chewing on a nice fresh piece of ginger. It's a great feeling.

But if I was to level a criticism against Daily Session, it would seem to play a lot of "Live Set" inspired material. I like Live Sets, but quite often I feel that I'm missing the physical setting's context, and that the artist is not making the same connection with me that she might if I were physically present. I guess that's why I prefer to hear the sound of the crowd, to get a better feel of the interplay. But these are minor quibbles. If you want to keep your hand on the pulse of new music, a site like Daily Session will please you.

Btw, before getting on with the interview, if you've never been to New York City, I highly recommend it. I've been to NYC four or five times, and each
visit I come away more impressed than the last. I hate to say it, but it makes our own Toronto look like a hick town in comparison (but a nice and friendly hick town).

Now on with the interview...

Q1 Neil: Who came up with the idea of Daily Session, and how long has it been around for? What's the story?

Jonathan: I conceived the idea for dailysession in the summer of 2007 and spent about six months in development. We officially launched in January 2008! I think our press release best describes the motivation for pulling it all together:

In recent years, New York City has undergone a physical change, losing many of the cultural institutions that helped provide its creative edge to high priced condos, velvet ropes and block after block of national corporate chains. Most of the enduring independents have fled Manhattan, leaving behind a heavily fragmented community. Not surprisingly, the artistic ethos that these places helped sustain has suffered a similar fate; drowned out by banks and bottle service, it has been forced into a disjointed existence. As a result, for the first time in its colorful history, New York City is without a cohesive underground culture. As the city concedes its remaining character to corporate America one question can be heard echoing throughout its streets, ‘Has New York Lost its Soul?’

The good news is that New York’s soul is alive and well just beneath the surface but because of the rapid changes that so many neighborhoods have undergone recently, it’s a little harder to find these days. Our mission at dailysession is to reunite the city’s fragmented underground community and support the businesses and individuals that are playing such a vital role in keeping New York City on the world’s underground map.

Q2 Neil: Are there other stations out there which cover other city's undergound scenes that you're aware of, and do you have relations with them?

Jonathan: I’m not aware of anyone doing internet radio in the hyperlocal sense that we are.

Q3 Neil: How would you characterize the New York underground, as compared to other cities' underground scenes?

Jonathan: New York’s underground music scene is unlike any other in the world. A quick glance at our events calendar this week shows Louie Vega, Kevin Hedge, DJ Premier, Brand Nubian, Carl Craig, KRS-ONE, Turntables on the Hudson, Tony Humphries, Danny Krivit, Francois K, Joe Claussell and Danny Tenaglia all playing in the next few days - and that’s pretty standard! However, it is true that the once unrivaled energy that pervaded our music and nightlife scene has been somewhat watered down by current trends like bottle service and the bar mitzvah style of DJing that compliments it.

Q4 Neil: How do you select new material to play. Are you hanging out in clubs and approaching artists, or do they come to you?

Jonathan: A lot of the surviving record stores here in New York host weekly shows on They have relationships with many of the city’s prominent DJ’s and routinely book them on their shows. As a result, we have a constantly expanding network of underground contributors here in NYC that helps us inch closer and closer to our goal of one day accurately representing the city’s underground music scene.

Q5 Neil: How much material do you plow through before you play anything? Are you tossing out a lot of crap, or is most of the source material you're reviewing decent?

Jonathan: We do receive a steady stream of submissions, most of which is just average. Of course, there is the occasional demo that stands out (and not always for the right reasons).

Q6 Neil: What is the worst thing you've had to listen to? How about the best?

Jonathan: Thankfully, the worst things aren’t that memorable. The best mixes we’ve received came from DJ Monchan who now hosts Monday’s dailysession at Zakka, NYC!

Q7 Neil: Have you "discovered" any artists that have gone on to sign with a major label?

Not yet. We haven’t been around that long and a lot of the music that we broadcast isn’t on the Major label radar.

Q8 Neil: Do you have ties with local clubs. Are you mainly active in Brooklyn, or do you venture into the other burroughs?

Jonathan: We’ve been speaking with many local clubs about broadcasting some of their events live on dailysession. In the upcoming weeks and months, we plan on integrating these live broadcasts into our regular programming.

While we are based in Brooklyn, we broadcast everything live, on-location to emphasize the community aspect of A few of our regular weekly shows are broadcast from record stores in Manhattan (A-1 Records, Fat Beats) so we venture out of Brooklyn regularly!

Q9 Neil: Are there different "scenes" in each NYC burrough (e.g. how might Brooklyn differ from Queens), or is the entire city fluid?

Jonathan: If you just look at the city’s underground music scene, it’s pretty fluid. Parties tend to pop up wherever there is available space! The outer boroughs (Brooklyn and Queens) generally host more warehouse parties thanks to the greater availability of space while Manhattan is known more for its clubs and lounges. But, as more and more people are priced out of Manhattan, you see more and more clubs and lounges opening up in the other boroughs.

Q10 Neil: What does the future of Daily Session look like?

Jonathan: In the short term, we plan to continue diversifying our programming by involving all of New York’s major underground contributors. Beyond that, we’ll begin exploring the possibility of expanding to other cities with strong underground music communities.

Q11 Neil: If Daily Session had some theme music or a theme song, what would it be?

Jonathan: I’m going to have to simplify this one by narrowing my choices to music that we’ve featured on dailysession thus far. With the options narrowed, the answer is simple: Nina Hagen "New York, New York." Check it out at 11:42 on Session 84 Hour 2: A1 Records, mixed by K.Life Walks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting interview. articulate and informative. Thanks!