Which song, album, or artist initiated your love of music?
I think it was when my dad made me watch “The Kids Are Alright”--that movie about The Who--when I was super young. I saw The Who smash all their instruments and Keith Moon blow up his drum set; it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. That or when I started listening to The Clash in middle school and I realized that music from other parts of the world (including ska) was cool.
How did you first hear about or get involved with KVRX?
I actually sought out student radio stations at colleges that I was applying to because I knew I could have a place to hang out at and play punk records at 2 a.m. So, I sent a probably terrible email to some department over the summer asking how I could get involved. What’s funny is that at the first meeting, I was confused about what was happening and so was the second-to-last person who got to the computer to sign up for DJ training and got the last training weekend.
What is your first KVRX memory?
The first one that comes to mind is my first show. I walked in a little early (just before midnight) with my soon-to-be-normal canvas bag of records and I felt compelled by the universe to play “Lil League” by Cap’n Jazz on the turntable--the best it has ever felt. Also, first of many glimpses from the booth window of the sleepy and barren Whitis Avenue while everyone was out Friday nights partying.
That, or the time an old man tried to quiz me on the booth-phone over Marion Brown and ESP-Disk free jazz during a 5-hour winter session.
Which shows have you had on KVRX?
Tom’s Magical Mystery Power Hour--Fall 2019 to now--Freeform. It was at its best at the end of Spring 2020, when it was 2 hours long and I was able to get creative with the turntables, going in and out of jazz and reggae at the same time, as well as long noise-punk jams into ragas, etc.
Tom’s Brief History of Buddhist Philosophy and Literature--Fall 2020--Community Programming/Talk Show. This was a weekly challenge for myself to type out 5 or 6 pages of notes and write about a bunch of books I love, then to try to read my notes out loud, and spend an entire day editing out my stuttering and weird pauses. I have finally come to realize just how terrible my enunciation is.
Which KVRX staff positions have you held?
Library Intern — Spring 2020
Music Director — Summer 2020, Fall 2020
Librarian — Fall 2020
How has KVRX affected your interaction with music?
I really have no idea. Cole got me into Silver Jews after I had ignored one of my friends who told me to listen to them. I remember many times where I was the sole defender of ska and reggae in group conversations at KVRX, which has not at all waned. I think I play and listen to more spoken word now because it went very well with my shows. Being a Music Director over the summer definitely helped me get a better handle of Texas/Austin-based music and what kinds of things are going on in “the scene” today. Having a freeform show also definitely pushed me to explore my somewhat out-there musical sensibilities even further, which was kind of ruined by me getting into Bob Dylan later in my freshman year.
What’s up outside of KVRX?
Lots of reading and writing I guess, though my writing has not improved at all since I’ve started college. I’ve been trying to put together an undergraduate thesis about Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, ancient Chinese and Japanese wandering-hermit poets, ecological and Beat poetry, and religious anarchism. I’ve also been reading a lot of Kenneth Patchen, making zines of weird original poetry, and writing for my creative writing class. If we were back on campus, you’d be able to find me almost any day at either the PCL Poetry Center or the hill by the LBJ School reading in the sun. Whenever I can, I type letters to my friends on my typewriter and mail them with funny names and dinosaur stamps. I might start trying to teach myself Sanskrit.
What is your favorite part of KVRX?
Definitely the people. They are a very warm and welcoming community that is more than just indie kids. Nothing ever beats having a laugh with your fellow DJs or the in-between moments of wide-eyed discussion of a shared passion or interest. Also, the feeling of pulling off a nice transition in the booth when providence grants the perfect sound of the turntable speeding up when you press start on it, and you leave your skin for a second.
What advice would you give to new DJs?
Listen to everyone else when they say to show up to stuff. I’m an incredibly shy and quiet person, but I have still made some great friends at KVRX just by showing up often and chiming in every once in a while. Take a course with Neil Nehring--he's a cool English professor who rags on modernism and likes punk rock (and teaches Maldoror). Take a poetry class. Play jazz on your show. Being on DJ Skeepsy's “Flight of the Bumblebees” is always fun. Use the turntables in the booth, but don’t mess with anything besides the volume knobs and not set them back, or else I will get very confused.