Category Archives: Set List

Setlist: BTR Hip Hop Show

The luscious voice that opens up DJ Wayne Ski’s Tuesday afternoon Hip Hop Show doesn’t hold back what she feels for him or the beats he plays: “I got you. Can I get you more than once a week? I can’t get enough of that Hip Hop Show on”

So what is it that makes Wayne Ski’s Hip Hop Show on BTR separate itself from the rest of the Internet hip hop stations? It’s the delicate mix between classic and fresh that Wayne Ski spins that keeps his listeners thinking they just “can’t get enough.”

“Basically, the beats sound like New York City underground hip hop Radio in the 90s blended with the new sound mix show,” explains Wayne Ski in an email on the style and sound of BTR Hip Hop. “Heavy beats and dope rhymes. Boom Bap Rap as most people like to call it.”

The BTR Hip Hop hour on Tuesday afternoons is a “show that features new artists as well as underground hip hop legends [who are now] on the independent route.” This special blend helps promote new talent while tapping into the listener’s desire for the nostalgia. Take this week’s show for example, we get everything from the very scratched up and redelivered Bumpy Knuckles to the much more smooth and ‘opulent’ Gangalee. “The best part of the show is that I get to play artists who some people have no idea who they are, but once they check out the show they know exactly who they are.”

Another portion of Wayne Ski’s talent that shouldn’t go missed are his colorful mic breaks. One of BTR’s more full-personalities on the mic, I found myself listening to what he had to say about the music just as interesting and entertaining as listening to the tracks themselves.

Take, for example, a message he shares with his listeners at about the halfway point in his show. With a creative way of delivering what is happening in hip hop news and the latest rap music scene, as well as a sense of humor in keeping it real with musician-friends, followers, and fans; DJ Wayne Ski is never short of entertaining antics: “You don’t have to follow me. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. But if you do, I’m pretty sure you’ll be entertained in some way. shape. or form.”

His programming technique is “simple,” he says. “Basically, I want to hear the studio shake when I turn a song all the way up. And of course I must get the crazy head nod going. Once that happens it’s going on BTR.” Wayne Ski explains to me that “most of the artist I feature I already have relationships with; so once they send it in–it’s on.”

Just like all hip hop, the music on BreakThru’s Hip Hop hour is not about sound only. In respecting the true values of the hip hop form, Wayne Ski makes sure to feature music “that has a message.”

“It’s not just about kicking it or having fun. I would like my listeners to challenge themselves to listen to what the artist are saying.”

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– Kory French


Setlist: Japanese Super Terrific Happy Hour

Japanese Super Terrific Happy Hour is BTR’s stretch across the Pacific Ocean and into that quirky, subcultural gizmo-techno world of Japan. In the words of two-man collective DJ Hanabi: “Our main focus with the show is to highlight the incredible ability the Japanese possess to copy a particular element of US pop culture, in this case music, so well that they actually become a parody.”

In a cross-country email, Hanabi elaborates on the modus operandi of today’s Japanese rock/pop/punk bands, making clear to his listener, and my reader, just what it is that makes Super Terrific’s playlist so unique, and in their own rite, cool: “Japanese bands tend to become almost obsessive in their desire to emulate the music that speaks to them most, yet they have no real connection to the roots of the music or the scene itself. Most of these bands don’t speak much English and therefore rely on visual and aural cues to form their approach but they often lack the essence of the scene and sound itself. For example some of the Japanese rockabilly bands we’ve played have the Stray Cats ‘look’ and sound down cold, but you get a sense that they have no real understanding of the rockabilly sub-culture or the music itself. Not that we do either.”

This is what makes the show so “awesome to [them].”  It is precisely these bands that DJ Hanabi feel best harness their talents and incorporate influences into their own, very original sounds.”

DJ Hanabi is actually made up of two people; John and Matt. They tell me they like it that way, but only because it was “a lot easier than coming up with another separate DJ name” than one they already record under. Their approach to each Super Terrific show is usually centered on a specific “genre of well known music and then finding the best and worst examples of Japanese mimicry.” What makes this formula most interesting is that Hanabi never overtly tells their listeners which tracks they think to be good and which they find sillier than anything else, because “of course, that’s subjective.” The explanation of selection-formula goes on, “Actually, we really do enjoy all the tracks we play in their own way. Sometimes we laugh our asses off when listening to some of these bands. How can that be a bad thing?”

Their attitude and sense of fun in the show is contagious. Before writing this article, I listened to their show while in a library. At times, I found myself snickering out loud to the disapproval of many around me.

“As to our performance on the show, we definitely wanted to stay away from the more typical Disc Jockey banter; and we certainly do not want to come off as pompous bastards who think they are way more cool than others because we happen to be lucky enough to have a radio show.” Personally, I found their mic breaks to be anything but “pompous” or “pretentious.” DJ Hanabi informs without taking themselves too seriously, a refreshing addition to online radio these days. They find a great balance between “snarky quips, sarcasm, and an aloof delivery” and informative DJ’ing.

Finally, DJ Hanabi represents the West Coast of BreakThru’s international DJ squad. Admitting that they are “quite happy to remind people we live in San Francisco” they are just as happy to remind many of their listeners that “they don’t.”

“Basically, we have fun with it and don’t take ourselves too seriously and yet we produce a quality show. We wish we received more fan mail though.”

Send Hanabi an email, will ya?

Link to this article:

– Kory French

Setlist: The Dapper Fitting Drinking Hour

The following is a conversation between two insane men; between two unknown.  It is the conversation you overhear between the two drunks at the end of the bar. It is Tom Waits and Chet Baker trying to make sense of this mad world we live and love in:

“How do you think of people listening to this radio show of yours, eh?”

“When someone is listening to the Dapper Fitting Drinking Hour, I like to imagine that person just getting out of the shower, around 9 PM on a Thursday night,” says Lehtola, stepping down from a rolling ladder amidst stacks of reference books. “You know, when I’m getting ready to go out at night, getting’ dressed, shaving, brushing my teeth, {sic} sending out those pointless text messages, whatever, I always like to listen to loud music.”

Lehtola pauses, examining a battered version of Roget’s Thesaurus.

“It’s usually a medley of songs, skewed toward whatever my current mood is at press time. I like to imagine it as my theme music for the night, you know, a lil’ something to bring along for whistling. And for me, doing this is just as important as bringing my wallet, or remembering my keys. I’ve been doing it since I had my first tape player with a speaker.”

“Thursday, schmursday. Stop fillin’ the ego.”

“Well, it’s always struck me as the unofficial beginning to the weekend,” shouts Lehtola, sipping from a hot cup of the Cuban. “There are often good shows on a Thursday, never mind bars with drink specials and the overall good feeling of Friday on the morrow. It’s in everyone’s eyes, radiating out like some beacon in the collective subconscious. That sounds like a circumstance in which a specially tailored mixtape can enhance the atmosphere.”

“You’re fuck’n drunk. Be more spec’fic?”

“It begins with transitions. So much depends upon the beginnings and endings of songs. They have to flow together, like a seamless hand-off-on-a-relay-team-type-thing, you know.” Lehtola yelps at the moon unaware. Exiting the library and stepping out onto the street, seems too commonplace without action. He puts his hood up to represent the youth in his strut. “That’s always something you have to consider. But I also like to have a certain feeling, or mood, when putting together the Dapper. It is about drinking, to a certain extent. And going out on a Thursday night. Those two situations can yield a lot of different emotions. Sometimes I’ll go the dancey route, bands like Casiokids, !!!, Antibalas, Washed Out, Yeasayer & El Guincho. Other times, you go out on a Thursday night, maybe your mood is more grim, more wrecklesss, and you’re drinking, so I’ll play bands like The Walkmen, Gonjasufi, Cass McCombs, Surfer Blood, Drink Up Buttercup, Total Warr, so many options. Or maybe it’s Halloween, and I’m playing Dead Man’s Bones, the Misfits, Suuns, DJ Spooky, ‘Candy’ from Frankie Rose And The Outs and ‘So Haunted’ from Cut Copy.”

“You’re a fraud! You got no philosophy,” demands Waits. “What the fuck do you know about making mixtapes, Bushwick wannabe?”

“Well,” says Lehtola, taking a pair of red earbuds out of his pockets and beginning to untangle the mess of wire, “I believe there is a perfect song for every possible situation a human being might encounter, or find theyselves [sic] in. So, the question is, what do I want to hear when I step out of the shower on a Thursday night, with endless possibilities and adventures ahead of me? That answer is always changing, which is why I like the concept of the show so much. The only thing that doesn’t change is that you always want to look good on such a night, you know, you want to look dapper. And the music has to make for a dapper fit to the mood. So it’s all about about being dapper on two fronts, the physical & the mental, with drinking to boot.”

Link to this article:

– Kory French

Setlist: Revolver

“There is a misconception that an ‘indie dance’ show should be all about electronic music. I play electronic music, but I also play hip-hop, country, rock, pop–anything that might inspire someone to dance. The type of dancing, like the type of music, does not matter.”

DJ Emily has her precedence right where it needs to be. The point of Revolver, BreakThru Radio’s Friday night alt-dance show, is to get people, from all places and of all musical tastes, ready for the weekend dance floor. Revolver will put the cut in your strut and the glide in your slide before you even get out of your apartment. DJ Emily is one of the best there is at infusing energy through Internet radio, and tuning into Revolver, one of her four featured shows on BreakThru, will not leave you disappointed.

A veteran of Internet radio (Emily has been with BTR since the beginning) DJ Emily understands what it takes to program a lively show. Having tested the theory out herself, and not to embarrassed to admit it I should add, Emily discloses the secrets of a workaholic radio DJ: “I myself have listened to the show when its aired and gone on to dance alone around my room on a Friday night. I truly hope that when people listen to the mix that they are dancing. Whether it’s around their room alone or with a group of friends, Revolver is really all about the dance.”

I would have to say that it is more than just about dancing. Looking at this week’s playlist proves Emily’s stringent declaration to “play anything.” From Hot Cha Cha to the Cool Kids, and Of Montreal to Naty Kid, Revolver stretches farther than any other dance mix station you will find on FM radio.

“The mix is the most fun thing to put together. I basically listen to a ton of different tracks and whatever gets me moving is what I play. I like to sit at my computer and listen to the first 15 – 20 seconds of a song, and if it doesn’t make me bounce to the beat, I move on.”

Learning DJ Emily’s method, it is easy to see how Revolver keeps one “bouncing” through the entire show. Never does it seem to slow down, not once does it fade off, and at no time do you feel the music becomes repetitive or monotonous. Revolver is one of those BTR shows that you play loud on your own when you have nowhere to go on a Friday night; and then you dance around your room by yourself and don’t feel ashamed about it. Because when you are alone with great beats, “the type of dancing,” to reiterate DJ Emily’s point, “like the type of music, does not matter.”

Link to this article:

– Kory French

Setlist: Get Into The Van

It’s CMJ here in New York City and all of the DJs on BreakThru Radio have been doing wonderful work in playing the music on BTR that you can go and see in the hundreds of clubs and venues throughout the city. For our weekly-featured article Setlist, this presents the perfect time to discuss one of the station’s more interview-styled programs: “Get Into the Van.” 

“My show features phone interviews with artists placing a particular emphasis on touring/playing live,” writes DJ Jezz–who seems to be the perfect host for such a venue. Jezz Harkin is a music enthusiast who has survived just about all aspects of the music industry. He spent seven years working for Richard Branson’s V2 Records and “suffered through artist management for several years” on top of that. A native of County Donegal, Ireland, who has lived in New York since 1988, Harkin provides an introspective look at the trials and tribulations of small-time touring.

“It’s an insider’s view to life on the road; stuck in a van with the rest of your gang.” Asking questions that most music fans who have never been a member in a band would not think of, “Get Into the Van” offers a window into what life is like for indie bands playing local gigs.

The show stays true to the BreakThru Radio mantra by featuring “new and up and coming acts from all over the world.” The format is similar to some of the other talk shows as well; “I play four tunes from the guest act, and also music by other independent acts,” says DJ Jezz. ”The music ranges from rock, to electronica, to singer songwriters.”

This week it is a conversation with Justin Angelo from Jersey City’s Black Hollies. The talk focuses on the tough economic times for all of us at the moment, and how it trickles all the way down the line to the local hometown band.

Angelo begins, “all the glamorous things about touring during the financial turmoil right now–”

“Yeah, you and a thousand other bands right now,” interrupts Jezz.

Jezz goes on to remark, “That’s what I’ve been finding each week with bands on the road. It’s very, very hard out there and which is another reason I like talkin’ to you, so people can hear that.”

The music industry has taken an interesting twist over the last twenty years, where music is now free for the most part and bands are forced to find new means of earning money. This leaves them with only two options: 1) Concerts, and 2) Merchandise. With all that is happening in New York this weekend and the CMJ Music Marathon, we often forget what it must be like for some of these indie bands who have traveled from afar.

Jezz Harkin reminds me of one distinctive quality all these bands share: “What they all have in common is the road.”

(Photo of Jezz Harkin host of Get Into The Van)

Link to this article:

– Kory French

Setlist: All Access

Elephantom can be heard on All Access

So many great bands got together while they were still young. There is something genuine and innocent about a high school or college band. Too young for self-destructive egos, these bands exist in a time and place where desire and self-determination reign supreme over narcissism and fear of failure. This is the music featured on BreakThru Radio’s Friday afternoon program All Access hosted by DJ Boon.

“What I love most about my show is that I am constantly breaking new artists, usually about three per show,” says DJ Boon in an email. “I play all different genres of music, but focus on only what catches my ear and could potentially catch others’.”

DJ Boon is a friend of mine, so trust me when I tell you that he is like a kid himself. He has such a sincere fervor for discovering new music and his genuine joie de vivre is contagious and can bring out the adolescent music fan in all of us. His enthusiasm for the concept of BTR as a whole and the music he plays creates a perfect marriage between host and content, propelling All Access from a show about teen bands to a show about excellent, fresh music worth listening to.

“I recycle old music I’ve had from the time before I began DJ-ing All Access and combine it with new sounds that I find. What is most wonderful about this is that some bands will keep in touch and send me new tracks. I like being one of the first to hear how their influences may have changed over the years; or maybe they’re experimenting with synths or perhaps they have a new female vocalist; it’s always evolving.”

There is no real pattern or forced genre to All Access. This week’s program features everything from opening female Hip Hop track “Take A Picture Of Me” by Ms. Proper, to Indie sax-included “Citizen Of The Earth” by Elephantom, and modern punk-pop “If Late” by Atlantic Meets Pacific. “I hardly have any themes, but sometimes I’ll find three great bands from Texas or three new female artists,” explains Boon. “I try to vary the music and promote each band/musician equally.” The variety of the Friday afternoon program keeps you guessing and listening, you will run less risk of falling victim to losing the musical sound to camouflaged noise.

The first thing to keep in mind about All Access is that it is a show designed to “feature today’s youngest artists.” Playlists almost entirely made up of “college and high school students, and occasionally some middle school talent.” The second thing to keep in mind is just how much DJ Boon cares about, and enjoys, the music he features. “Above all, I take pride in maybe giving these ‘kids’ a chance. In the hopes that someone ‘big time’ is listening, I think to myself that maybe they’ll get a record deal out of it. In short, they could score a goal and I would get the assist. That’s really awesome.”

Link to this article:

– Kory French

Setlist: Overnight Sensation

Overnight Sensation artist: Battle Ave

“Today’s golden geezers of DIY music, Sonic Youth, famously sang: ‘Kill your idols!’ Now we must sing: ‘Kill your Sonic Youth!’ It’s all we can do,” says Patrick Kolodgy, DJ Patrick K of BreakThru Radio’s Overnight Sensation. When speaking to DJ Patrick K about the focus of his show in contrast to the rest of postmodern music, he sardonically quotes the phrases we are all too sick of hearing: “‘Today’s fast-paced changing world;’ ‘Remixing and misremembering;’ ‘Something-something the medium is the message.’ In conclusion, now it is ‘DIT’ (‘Do It Together’). We crowdsource corporate content, provide data proudly, copy/paste constantly. They’ve always been doing it together, I guess, but now the music matters less. We create music in the service of content, not the other way around. Today’s most inspirational rock stars are innovative distribution models, not humans.”

This is one of BTR’s most off-the-beaten-path shows. I actually just cringed at using such a cliché term (I hope Patrick doesn’t kill me). Everyone thinks they want something different, and most people pretentiously assume they listen to and create something different. Overnight Sensation is the true test of limits. It’s twenty-first century Dadaist composition; its brilliance is its futility. “’DIY’ is as meaningless as ‘Indie.’ Most of my generation learned about it second or third-hand from commercials on children’s television. By now, the term’s originators are either dead of old age or playing a reunion tour. So we have no role models. WHO CARES!?”

If you are one of our BTR listeners who enjoys the most outer limits of music production and experimentation, than this is the show for you. If you are one of those music snobs that gets off on calling the music played on BreakThru Radio too mainstream, then I implore you to check out Overnight Sensation. DJ Patrick K mines every avenue of the Internet to find the most homemade sounds that exist.

“Overnight Sensation isn’t really a DIY show because I do not know how the bands I play are doing it. They aren’t sending me one-sheets, and I don’t research them very thoroughly. For all I know they are all sponsored by Mountain Dew, have publicists, lawyers, management, and their MySpace pages, where they have 27 friends, are part of a strategic cred-building campaign that just hasn’t gone viral yet. Personally, I try to stay out of it. I basically just surf around MySpace or Bandcamp or whatever is next until I hear a band I like. Then I play the band on my show. Each week I try to pick five new bands that will work well together, and then play a few tracks from each. If there’s time left to kill, I’ll play older stuff. Sometimes I repeat stuff. It’s OK to do that, I think. The music is disposable, but that doesn’t mean I should dispose any of it immediately.”

Link to this article:

– Kory French