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The Moon, the Roof, Gelabergrief and You

20 Oct

moon package
A few weeks ago, I was digging around in my external hard drive and found this piece of Microsoft Paint art I made in high school. I had dreamt that the moon flew down from the sky in a U.S. Postal Service package, through my bedroom window, and onto my floor where it started shrinking away. It was so silly and scary, I had to draw it.

Then last week, I was digging around my archive of mixtape playlists and remembered that I made a mix inspired by that dream and the subsequent events of that day. I discovered that, as the school theater’s lighting technician, I had access to the roof—the beginning of an urban exploration obsession. I saw Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with some friends, and we were all overcome by a strange, conflicted emotion at the end that Nick ApRoberts coined “gelabergrief.” I finally admitted to myself that I had a crush on someone new. (Two weeks later, I sealed the deal with a Valentine’s Day candygram.)

As I wrote back then, “It was a cheery ending to a depressing week that I partially blame on watching Donnie Darko for the first time.”

So, here’s what me and my Limewire account were up to on February 1, 2003.

Original Analog Oatmeal

5 Mar

fortress of solitude
In the winter of 2005, I was a freshman at UC Davis, a new volunteer at KDVS, and a night owl. Because my dorm roommate always went to sleep much earlier than I did, I created a Fortress of Solitude underneath my partially lofted bed, complete with futon, stereo, party lights, and a blanket big enough to hang down from my bed like a curtain and close myself in.

In the middle of one crazy day — wherein I overslept because Rob Roy was playing metal on the radio and it made me so upset that I turned it off and forgot to wake up, almost got hit by a semi truck riding my bike, missed two classes and an oral presentation, and was forced to get a shot for the first time in like 15 years — I bought some blank cassettes and made this mixtape.

This is all the kind of stuff I was listening to at age 18. It was all on the fly, since I wanted to practice sequencing songs for my future radio show. I called it “Analog Oatmeal” referencing something John McCrea from Cake said at a concert: “There are a lot of good things in life, and there are a lot of bad things. And they’re all stirred up into a confusing, oatmeal-like mixture.”

Note: This recreation of the mix is missing “Time Is Now” by The Hi-Fives after Tori Amos, “Real Love” by John Lennon after Ani DiFranco, and “Black Sand Beach” by Mr. T Experience after Green Day because Grooveshark didn’t have them. Sorry! I gave the original away!

oki yo! 沖縄よ!The Album

11 Feb

jojo and elisa in okinawaFour years ago today I got up at like 5 a.m. and flew to Okinawa, Japan. (I was pretty sure I remembered the date, but I double-checked my Google Calendar, and sure enough I had February 11, 2010, labeled “HOLY SHIT.”)

Our 12-week trip was part vacation with my family, part English-teaching internship with my cousin, and part musical traditions study in an oceanic cultural crossroads. It’s the reason I bought a portable recorder, the place I started recording live music and found sounds. It was the greatest adventure I’ve ever had, and it opened my heart to ethnomusicological research. You can read all about it on our travel/music blog: oki yo!

It took me over a year to synthesize all my recordings, photos and stories into one compilation album, which was my goal all along. After many hours drudging through audio content and getting frustrated at Kinko’s, I had this neat little CD package, an oki yo! time capsule in four chapters: traditional concerts, private performances, adventures, and originals.

Each of these songs has a story on oki yo! if you want to search around or in the liner notes if you want to order the album!

Radio Show: Folkways World

19 Jan

elisa in the folkways stacks
After spending the summer as an intern at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in Washington, D.C., my No. 1 goal for my trip home to California in the fall was to sub a radio show at KDVS. I wanted to share all my Folkways favorites, all the new music I had learned about.

While Folkways is best known for its collection of American folk music (i.e. Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie), I was introduced to it at KDVS as an incredible source for regional folk music from all over the world. In this show I focused mostly on Africa, Asia and South America.

See the KDVS playlist page to follow along!

African Party Music

5 Jan

miss laptop dj
For New Year’s Eve, my party-planning brother collaborated with the Folsom Street Foundry, a soon-to-be brewery in San Francisco, for a night featuring Berlin-style ping-pong, skeeball, a really great Talking Heads cover band, and a few DJs spinning music that influenced and took influence from the Talking Heads. He asked me to fill the “African party music” slot.

I went on first so there weren’t many people there to dance, and my family missed my whole set. But I uploaded it, and now you can dance at home!

DC Summer Mixtape: Side 2

20 Sep

that's me, if you can't tell

Side 1 was the weird melancholy side of this year’s summer adventures mix. Side 2 is the feeling-amazing, biking-at-night-and-loving-it, watching-a-moon-rocket-in-the-sky-from-the-roof, fireflies-and-lightning electro side.

  1. Adayudaya congregation – Psalm 136
  2. Michael RJ Saalman – Cancerous
  3. Pregnant – Philip (Your Song)
  4. Banabila & Machinefabriek – Spin ‘n Puke
  5. The Nothing – Sing-a-malon
  6. Pierre Henry – Psyche Rock
  7. Collin Crowe – Crystal Dreaming
  8. Gianni Safred – Disco Satellite
  9. Gershon Kingsley – Popcorn
  10. J.D. Robb – Synthi Waltz

LISTENING NOTES: Continue reading

DC Summer Mixtape: Side 1

2 Sep

ocean city sunset

This summer has been a strange and exciting one: moving to a new city, navigating new streets on a new bike, meeting new friends at a new job, living 3,000 miles from almost everyone I love.

This first half of the mixtape is the strange, nostalgic, mellow, melancholy side.

  1. Pregnant – Elisa (Your Song)
  2. Stephen Steinbrink – The Way It Is
  3. Dragging an Ox Through Water – Shima Uta
  4. Poppet – Tunnel Vision
  5. Elvis Presley – Blue Moon
  6. Dimples – Boundless Love
  7. Norwegian Arms – Jitterbug
  8. Ever Ending Kicks – Outside Again
  9. Dark Dark Dark – Daydreaming
  10. Kepi Ghoulie – Stormy Weather

Hear Side 2, too.

LISTENING NOTES: Continue reading


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