Kool Kat of the Week: Get Jet Lagged and International with DJ Yoon Nam as She Spins Us into the Trippy, Psychedelic Vintage Air-Waves of WRAS Album 88.5

Posted on: Nov 12th, 2014 By:

by Gretchen Jacobsen
Contributing Writer
Yoon Nam on the deck

Yoon Nam, Korean-American DJ and queen of vinyl, gets retro and internationally bizarre, supplying our hungry ears since 2006, with all things ’60s and ’70s international psych, prog and outsider folk rock, spinning us into the trippy, psychedelic vintage air-waves of Georgia State University’s WRAS Album 88.5’s Jet Lag! Tune in and catch a unique show filled to the brim with vinyl recordings of the weird, obscure and enticingly strange, on air every Sunday night from 8 to 10 pm! She also delivers an all-classic jazz show, The Blue Note, exclusively using vinyl recordings, every Sunday afternoon from noon till 2 pm!

There is a ritual most Sunday nights at my house. I sit on the floor in a corner of my kitchen and chat with my husband while he makes dinner. We also listen to the radio, always WRAS Album 88.5.  It took us a while to wrap our minds around the trippy, jazzy international sounds that comprise the vast Jet Lag” sonic-sphere, but once we finally “got it,” we were hooked. I wanted to learn more about Yoon, her tastes and her vinyl, so I thought I would just go ahead and ask her!

ATLRetro agreed that she’d make a perfect Kool Kat of the Week, so I caught up with Yoon Nam for a quick interview about her love of ‘60s and ‘70s psychedelic tunes and her adoration of the vintage-ly weird!

ATLRetro: What is “Jet Lag”?

Yoon Nam: The show features psychedelic music from around the world, focusing on the ‘60s and ‘70s and almost always played from vinyl. I especially enjoy featuring music that isn’t very common or heard on the radio much. When I started doing the show, I was taking over an earlier jetlag_01international music show on WRAS. I knew that I wanted to play a lot of prog, psych, strange folk and other music like that, so I eventually settled on the name Jet Lag. It is the name of an album from one of my favorite bands, PMF (Premiata Forneria Marconi). The name, of course, has to do with tripping, and the topos of travel since the show features music from all over the globe.

How did you become interested in this type of music?

I grew up in South Korea, and over there a lot of ‘70s prog and psych bands were actually famous. I was surprised when I came to the U.S. and found out that the general public often didn’t know about bands like PFM or Banco (Banco del Mutuo Soccorso). Italian prog is widely admired in Korea. Also, as I try to let people know through the show, there were a lot of amazing Korean psych and folk artists in the ‘70s, and they were still popular in the ‘80s when I was growing up.

There was a little record store called Wooden Horse Records near where I grew up in Seoul that I liked to hang out in, even when I was quite young. I heard a lot of European and American jazz and other stuff there. That’s where I spent my first allowance money from my parents. There were also clubs called “Dah Bang,” where DJs would play records while they served tea and coffee. They were just quiet tea and coffee rooms, but they had DJs playing records. While the DJs would play some of their own records, these “Dah Bang” would always have a large built-in collection of records, and so the customers could also pick and request the music from the library. The big collections of vinyl always impressed me a great deal. I would sneak in with my father sometimes and listen. My father was friends with a DJ, and he inherited a lot of records from that DJ when one of the clubs closed down. The whole retro-vintage culture movement in Seoul has brought “Dah Bang” back—all vinyl records, even—which is awesome.Yoon Vinyl

Why does the Jet Lag sound appeal to you?

Although the show started in 2006 with me playing both CDs and records, three or four years ago I started playing almost all records. It’s about texture and sound. I love listening to records! I don’t play much, if any, newer stuff because it just doesn’t sound right or mix in well. There’s just something about the way they started recording music in the ‘80s. I’m also not particularly into information or sharing information; it’s mostly about sound – not necessarily about the rarity, though I do play a lot of obscure records on the show. When a person walks into the room and hears the music and wonders, “Where am I?” That’s what I like. Jet Lag is about travel and trips, both in terms of distance and culture.

How do you discover new sounds for Jet Lag?

Luckily, I did grow up with a lot of the music I play on the show. Sometimes it is simply a matter of something I’m really into showing up to be BANCOadded to my collection (since I never, ever play computer files on the show). In truth, a lot of the records I buy these days come from overseas, but I often find cool stuff in Atlanta’s awesome used record stores, too. I also like a lot of ‘60s and ‘70s international movies. When I hear things I like, I track them down. Whenever my husband and I visit Korea, we always go to the underground arcades and record stores in Seoul and find fantastic records. I listen to stuff all the time, and I’m always on the lookout for records that I haven’t heard before or that might contain awesome music. The Internet is a really crazy resource, but it goes without saying that if I don’t like something enough to track down a real copy of it—a vinyl copy, that is—I don’t share it on the show. The show is personal. I have to really like something to play it on the air.

Are you a musician?

No, unfortunately. But I can hum and I love Karaoke!

Where do you go to see live music in Atlanta?

Atlanta is a great city for live music. I love 529, The Earl, Eyedrum and a lot more places. I try to catch jazz and classical music at Cobb Energy, Symphony Hall and Spivey Hall down at Clayton State, too.

What are you currently listening to that you’re not playing on the radio?PMF

I’m really enjoying pre-1975 Vietnamese pop 7-inch records. It’s so wonderful; a collision of jazz and pop and traditional Vietnamese music. I listen to jazz constantly, but mostly stuff from the ‘70s and before. Again, something about the recordings sounds better to my ears.

How is the WRAS takeover affecting you and the staff at Album 88?

What happened was really unfortunate because it robbed Atlanta of something fantastic. It’s more than just losing music during the daytime hours on the radio to a duplicate of what already existed. It’s a symbolic loss. I still do The Blue Note—all classic jazz and vocals played exclusively from vinyl—every Sunday from noon till 2 pm on WRAS, but Jet Lag is no longer broadcast on FM after the takeover. We are still working hard at the station and really, really appreciate the outpouring of local support for us!

What are your plans after GSU?

Wow, plans? I’m writing my Ph.D. dissertation now (16th and 17th Century British Literature). I want to keep sharing music and making art after I graduate. Exactly how? Let me think about that after I am done with my dissertation!

Is there anything else we should know about Yoon?

I don’t actually know what to say about myself. I am a product of two different cultures—Korean and American—and music is something that 10264514_10152420993828658_1715209705951625765_nconnects them both for me. Even though I love music, I try not to be that person who shows up at a party and starts talking about nothing but music. Some people seem to be so competitive about what they know. I do DJ around Atlanta occasionally. Also, I enjoy making art about my female calico cat, Reginald.

*Due to the “daytime” takeover of WRAS airwaves, Album 88 programming, Jet Lag is still on air but The Blue Note can now only be heard via the WRAS HD2 stream or online through places like Tunein (Search for WRAS-HD2). There is also a free WRAS streaming app for Apple users that was created by a loyal WRAS listener.

*The fight for the return of 24 hour student run radio to WRAS is not over. Visit the Save WRAS page on Facebook for updates or to lend your support.

All photos courtesy of Yoon Nam and used with permission.

Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kool Kat of the Week: Gritty Psychedelic Garage Rockers Nick and Peter Furgiuele of Gringo Star Get Nostalgic and Make a Hometown Pit-Stop, Slingin’ Some Old-School Sounds with a Modern Twist

Posted on: Oct 27th, 2014 By:

by Melanie CrewGringo Star 2014 PR-5 (2)
Managing Editor/Contributing Writer

Gringo Star, will be slingin’ that nitty gritty, ‘60s beach-y dirty rock ‘n’ roll your mama warned you about this Thursday, October 30, during a homecoming pit-stop on their whirlwind of a Fall tour, at DASHBOARD CO-OP, presented by Atlanta’s own WRAS-Album 88! And if that wasn’t enough, they’ll be hawkin’ their hot-off-the-presses, 7”- debuting two new edgy singles, “Long Time Gone” and “World of Spin” released by dizzybird records, which can also be purchased here. So, rock out, clear your calendar, and shake on down for a night of psychedelic shenanigans with Gringo Star and their pals, the psych-rock outfit, the Mood Rings at DASHBOARD CO-OP this Thursday!

Atlanta’s Gringo Star is a long-running collaboration of brothers Nick and Pete Furgiuele, catching the ears of the nation and the itch reaped from the godfathers of R&B, rock and soul. Their tantalizing and tainted tunes pay homage to The Kinks, Richie Valens, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Sam Cooke and a helluva lot of old-school rockers and purveyors of doo-wop and soul. Their love of music sprung from a childhood chock full of the wonderment spilling over from their radio dj’ing granddad and his tales of the past. With three full-length albums under their gritty garage rockin’ belts [2008’s “All Y’All”, 2011’s “Count Yer Lucky Stars”, 2013’s “Floating Out to See”], their new 7” and nods from national outlets [December 2011, Rolling Stone mention here, Consequence of Sound articles here and more recently, a review in The New York Times here ], they are well on their way to the psychedelic garage rockin’ celestial cloud of Gringo Star-dom!

ATLRetro caught up with Nick Furgiuele for a quick interview about Gringo Star’s rock ‘n’ roll roots, their new singles “Long Time Gone/World of Spin”, why Aretha Franklin rubs them the wrong way and their upcoming show at DASHBOARD CO-OP!

Gringo Star 2014 PR-6And while you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A with Furgiuele, take a peek at Gringo Star’s new “World of Spin” video, reminiscent of “an old Polaroid coming to life”, here, directed, shot and edited by Megan Gamez.

ATLRetro: Your Fall 2014 tour has been a non-stop rockin’ trek across the U.S. What’s it like getting to come home and put on a show for your local fans?

Nick Furgiuele: It’s always great to play in Atlanta, getting to come back to a bunch of familiar faces and friends after being gone awhile.

You have a show nearly every day so far on this tour; what’s a day on the road like for Gringo Star?

Well, there are nights we don’t get to bed until 4:30 am, and then we’re up at 9 am. to start driving to the next spot. So first, we have to find coffee. Seventy-five percent of touring, we’re driving down the highway, so we have a little acoustic guitar and we just have sing-alongs in the van. The radio sucks and our CD player doesn’t work, either, so that helps pass the time on the drives. That and apples. Then we get to the place—load in, sound check, hurry up and wait. Play the set, load out. Repeat.

How did you get involved in Atlanta’s rockin’ indie music scene?

We’re all from Atlanta or the surrounding area.

Gringo Star has been described as being the purveyors of retro-infused rock, stepping in and out of genres, while keeping your fans on their toes anticipating what’s coming next. How would you describe your sound?

#underground

Can you tell folks a little bit about your new 7-inch featuring “Long Time Gone” and “World of Spin?”gringorooftopcincy

This is the first record we’ve recorded that was just Pete and me on all the instruments, vocals and recording. We did it at his home studio in Atlanta earlier this spring. “Long time Gone” is my song and “World of Spin” is Pete’s.

Having experienced releasing albums that were both produced in studio with an engineer [2008’s All Y’all and 2011’s Count Yer Lucky Stars] and home recorded, mixed and produced [2013’s Floating Out to See and your new 7-inch], which would you say fits your band’s persona more and why?

We like doing things both ways. Lately we’ve been more into doing it ourselves. It’s just nice to have more time to experiment with the songs, arrangements and sounds. Sometimes when you’re in a studio with a producer, you feel more pressure to finish things up or hurry because of time constraints. Plus, although it’s great to have some other ears besides ours involved, in a way, it’s also kind of nice that we don’t have any other outside perspectives—it’s as much us as it can be.

You guys draw much of your sound from a wide spectrum of musical acts of the past [Sam Cooke; Ritchie Valens; The Stooges; CCR, to name a few], fusing their genius with your own. If you could pick one musician/band from the past that influenced you the most, who would it be and why?

It’s hard to pick only one. The Kinks are way up there. Buddy Holly was one of the first guys I was really into, but there are so many great bands and singers out there.

1277168_10151884827439797_837269387_oMusic definitely runs in your family with your grandfather’s involvement in ‘40s and ‘50s radio and his induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Can you tell our readers any interesting tales about what it was like growing up with his stories and how they influenced your own musical upbringing?

That all definitely played a big part in us playing music growing up. Our mom used to always tell us stories about her childhood, being around the early rock & roll scene, hanging out with Sam Cooke, who was granddad’s favorite, working at the record shop and going to shows. Our granddad started off as a radio DJ and then got into promoting shows and opened several record shops in Columbus, Ga. He used to put on shows by Sam Cooke, The Soul Stirrers, James Brown, Otis Redding, Little Stevie Wonder, Jackie Wilson, Martha and the Vandellas and on and on. We always used to look through my grandma’s scrapbook at all the photos she took of the shows, and we’d listen to her retell the stories. I guess one of the go-to stories we used to hear was how our granddad was putting on a show with Aretha Franklin coming through town, and she got completely wasted on whiskey and then fell off the stage that night and broke her arm. My grandma took her to the ER. She said she was swearing at her the whole way. And then she sued my granddad for the medical bill. So, yeah, never been much of an Aretha fan. Can’t stand her voice.

If you could put together a dream lineup of bands to play with [still around or not], who would it be and why?

I would have loved to have played with Ritchie Valens. I love his guitar playing so much.

Anything special planned for your 7” release party at Dashboard Co-Op this Thursday?10373113_10152507399444797_5166874530616465230_o

We couldn’t be more excited to have this show at the Dashboard Co-Op space over on North Ave. We’ve been friends with them for years and love that we’re getting to do the show somewhere a little different from the normal clubs in town. Plus, Dashboard has a major rad exhibit currently installed over there that folks can check out. We have the WRAS DJs spinning tunes between bands and afterward for the dance party! And our pals Mood Rings are playing with us, too! And it’s ALL AGES!! And if you’re old enough, there’s free beer!!!

What’s next for Gringo Star?

We’re going down to Florida for a final week of shows after the Atlanta release show, and then we’ll be back to start working on the new album, which we hope to finish before the end of the year.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

The question is, “How do I do shots with Gringo Star at one of their upcoming shows?” Answer: Tweet at us. #shotswithgringo

I take Lorazepam by https://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ativan before I go to work. Within 30 minutes I feel more relaxed and calm that helps me to communicate better.

All photos courtesy of Gringo Star and used with permission.

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