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Staff Picks: Our Meaning Behind The Music


With KCSU being a creative platform for musical expression, we pride ourselves with our knowledge and passion toward valuing a diverse array of music. Whether that be emo-punk or smooth jazz, we are all able to come together to celebrate the growing community of music. 2017 is a year for appreciating good music, and anticipating what there is to come from our favorite artists. Here at KCSU, our staff consists of many different positions, but we are all able to find the inspiration and motivation behind music. So these are the genres that keep us listening, and craving more.

Laurelle Turner, Production Director, on Jazz

“I feel like I connect with Jazz on a personal level. I wasn’t raised on Jazz; it was something I discovered much later in life. It expresses the ability to be an individual, to be creative, and to only be accountable to myself, fully responsible for my own beauty and power. That’s what Jazz has always been about. So, in its majesty, in its history, and in its vast influence…it’s something anyone could find refuge in. Jazz is something you can turn to and be entirely yourself. And I think that’s amazing.”

Ave Martin, Assistant Production Director, on Jazz and Rap 

“Jazz is immensely nostalgic for me. Growing up I spent quite a bit of time with my grandfather who always listened to jazz, and the complexity fascinated me. All of the different elements seemed as if the instruments were having in-depth conversations with me – sometimes they were arguments. Jazz is the only genre that’s both highbrow and mature, but also doesn’t give a damn what you think about it, and does what it wants. From the classic improvisations Miles Davis and John Coltrane to the smooth Latin-inspired melodies of Billy Taylor and Stan Getz, jazz never fails to bring me back to those times with my grandparents. 

Rap is the grandson of Jazz, it follows its own rules. Rap is pure poetry when it’s done right, but it can also just be a good time with no thought or form. Common does a better job of explaining the importance of the genre in “I Used to Love H.E.R” so just use him as a reference. Also, for the record, The College Dropout, To Pimp a Butterfly, Be, The Love Below, among a plethora of other albums are some of the best pieces of art ever. Don’t @ me.”

Mimi Hibben, Music Director, on Rap and Hip-hop

“I never grew up listening to rap or hip-hop. I hadn’t discovered my admiration toward the genre until I started understanding the deeper messages that lie within it. These artists take their experiences, and turn them into an uncensored expression. Which is a type of musical vulnerability that plays a beautiful role in the concept of being raw with your listeners. I find that rap communicates a type of culture that was foreign to me, and for that I am grateful, and forever happy to find my place within it.”

Oscar Lorandi, News Director, on R&B and Soul  

“R&B and Soul music is without a doubt my favorite genre. It’s called SOUL music for a reason… it requires a certain level of passion to fully understand the emotions behind a song. R&B is soul music’s promiscuous cousin. The sexy vibrations that accumulate to make R&B come from the raw disconnect we sometimes have with our own wants, whether that be: sexually, emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. Just throw on some Ginuwine or some Temptations and eat your heart out.”

Meena Rezai, Local Music Director, on Afrobeat 

“Aight I’m gonna go with Afrobeat. Originating in Nigeria by Fela Kuti, it incorporates this amazing mix of jazz, funk and soul. I feel like the upbeat, consistent rhythm of this music creates a sense of comfort, and it gives me life every time I listen to it. The chants and wide array of instruments bring a sense of community to me and, for that reason, I feel others connect to it as well. Although I’m not from Nigeria – this music speaks to my soul.”

Jonathan Simon, News Director, on Folk Music

I connect deeply to singer/songwriter folk music. In folk music, specifically Indie Folk and Americana, there is generally a heavy emphasis on lyrics. This, coupled with the use of traditional instruments such as the acoustic guitar and harmonica, creates a natural, almost earthy auditory aesthetic. The reliance on the embedded message of each particular song strikes a chord with me personally that feels very intimate; there is arguably nothing more profound than hearing a song that seems to describe ongoing events in one’s own personal life. When this type of connection between the artist and the listener is established, the experience can often be nothing short of spiritual. Due to this potential for deep interconnection, it is no surprise folk music is frequently used as a medium to convey social realities of common people, and often associated with political, lifestyle, and counterculture movements. Folk music is a platform for people of all backgrounds to come together and revel in our deep likeness as human beings.”

Sam Bulkley, KCSU Station Manager, on Emo Music

“I have come to accept the genre emo as something I love. I didn’t really want to be the kid in high school that was into ’emo’ music that sad kids listen to but I had found that this music built upon emotion and logical thought. The emo/pop-punk scene are also very positive and intimate cultures that breed community and acceptance of people who don’t feel included in normal society. Through music, people from all realms of life can come together and experience something with a passion that they can’t get anywhere else. This music can talk about things that are hard to deal with and give you ideas to think about. That’s what all music should do, and I think that this is a genre that does it the best.”

Kara Zhener, Programming Director, on Emo Music

“I love Emo and its subsequent genres because it has been the type of music that has always been in my life. My music taste has changed a lot with time, but Emo music and music following the Post-hardcore scene have always stuck around in my life. Which is also pretty cool because the sound changes frequently, flowing with other music scenes in order to make it interesting and still worth listening to. It also crosses genres sometimes, making emo an aesthetic rather than a set genre. But it has always been what I relate to most. I’ve been through some really dark times in my life, and a lot of the focus around the Emo music scene is how intimate the lyrics are. The melancholic sound or the sensitive, emotional lyrics address things that not many are willing to address, and it has a definite connection for me. There is nothing better than dancing around to a poppy rock song that talks about death when you have been in that kind of mind space. These bands not only speak to my experiences, but connect it back to my spiritual soul. And if that isn’t the most emo sounding thing I have ever said, I’m doing it wrong.”

Nick Baker, Sports Director, on Classic Rock

I like it [classic rock] because my parents listened to it a lot when I was growing up so it has some kind of nostalgic connection and I think that’s the same as other people about my age.”