Electric Kingdom Live- A Goodbye and Year in Review
In honor of Peter Melero’s final episode as host of Miami’s longest running live electronic music show, Electric Kingdom Live (EKL), we wanted to share a few of Peter’s favorite memories and illustrations. Not only has Peter served as a loyal host to EKL, but he has also guided the station as Music Director. Without Peter’s leadership, dedication, and knowledge, WVUM would not be the station it is today. Thank you Peter and best of luck with graduation! -Ez and the WVUM team
Peter Melero Presents Electric Kingdom Live
Ever since May of 2018, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting Electric Kingdom Live on WVUM, “South Florida’s Longest Running Electronic Music Show.” EKL started in 1993 as a specialty show called Outlands created and hosted by Alex Caso, which originally showcased imported IDM from the UK from progressive labels such as Rephlex and Warp. Shortly after though, Alex decided to switch formats and turn the show into a live show where DJ’s would play sets on-air and stick around to talk about the music for Miami’s listening pleasure. The show was renamed Electric Kingdom Live in honor of the ‘80s electro hit “Electric Kingdom” by Twilight 22. Ever since, the show has retained its exact format even with changes in music technology. After Alex left someone else took over the show, leading to a succession of hosts over the past 20+ years which eventually lead to me.
Over the past year, I have created promos for our guest DJ shows, which are the antithesis of the slick, photoshopped flyers that are standard in the industry. My stream-of-consciousness black-and-white marshmallow creatures came about due to my need to promote the show despite having no technical facility with any art or photo editing software. With no formal training, I used index cards and sharpies to draw silly, eye-catching images and phone/Instagram filters to make it look like I had scanned the cards when in reality I just took a picture of each card against a white background in the WVUM office. Behind each promo there is a greater story to be told, so I’ll take this opportunity to share some of those behind the scenes stories with you.
Audrey Horny (7/5/2018)
Over the summer of 2018, the WVUM studio was in full renovation. This was the first episode to be done using our new audio-playback system, Simian, and by extension it was the first show on WVUM to fully utilize the new studio. Audrey Horny is the brainchild of DJ Woozles and guitarist Rick Fantasia who both operate on the same wavelength and use their different musical backgrounds to arrive at a beautifully bizarre sound unlike any that has been heard in recent EKL memory. Their music sounds like a combination of Tangerine Dream and The Residents with spritzes of Frank Zappa coating each track. We really hit it off on-air talking about obscure proto-electronic rock groups from the ‘70s and the vinyl scene in Miami, yet there was tension throughout. I had set up the CDJ’s assuming they would be familiar with the equipment. As it turned out, DJ Woozles only played turntables and Rick had never even touched a CDJ. In addition, they wanted to give out a ton of merch on air meaning I had to talk to them and conduct constant on-air giveaways. After a stressful crash course CDJ usage and numerous t-shirts given away, the show went smoothly--much to my surprise--and the recording of the show ended up being immortalized on their Soundcloud account.
Sel. 6 (8/30/2018)
This promo is a lie. I had planned to have Sel on for a set to promote her EP released under the Space Tapes label earlier in the year. It was going to be great. The problem was the fact that Sel lives in Pompano, which is over an hour away from the university without factoring in rush hour traffic. After setting up as usual, I used the extra time waiting to chat with my friends Israel and Andy who at the time hosted a political talk show called The Monkey House. After 20 minutes of worrying, I get a text from Sel that confirms my fear; the traffic was too much for her to make it that night. At this point I had two options; one was to cancel the show and the other was to DJ myself. I had practiced on the CDJ’s in between guest arrivals but I had never done a full set, and definitely not one for thousands of listeners with almost no preparation. I asked Israel to man the board and then took the plunge playing an hour-long set of completely improvised house music. I tended toward jazzy beats from artists like Floating Points and Herbert as well as stylish house from Peggy Gou and Detroit Swindle. I made a few mistakes, but overall it was a positive, fun-loving set. I would even see some people dancing outside the studio. It was the most exhilarating show I had ever done and gave me the confidence to begin taking assorted DJ gigs around Miami.
Station members enjoyed this promo so much that it was added to our permanent collection of WVUM art and musical paraphernalia. The saxophone headed guest on the left isn’t just a bit of surrealism. My guest that night was Josiah (aka Tymebreaker), an accomplished jazz saxophonist and doctoral candidate at the Frost School of Music but relative electronic neophyte. Before I knew any of that I knew him as a man emailing me through the station’s Music Director account who desperately wanted to share the passion project he’d been working on for over a year, what he called an EDM composition. In reality, while the music he made superficially resembled that to his stated inspirations of Kaskade and Deadmau5, it was far more harmonically sophisticated. It was still danceable yet ultimately failed to achieve what it set out to be as it was far more interesting to appreciate it on its own terms as a piece of art than dance to its beat.While his composition was playing, we nerded out off-air about contemporary jazz music. We expressed a mutual love of progressive working jazz musicians like Mary Halvorson and Steve Lehman and talked about how jazz can become “cool” again. Jazz will always be as cool as electronic music in my heart and Josiah proved that to me.
DJ Kramer (10/25/2018)
This promo was one of our highest rated instagram posts of 2018, establishing me as the premier naive outsider artist of Miami’s electronic music promotions community. DJ Kramer is an up and coming DJ of only 20 years at the time of this episode airing. She is one third of an all female DJ collective called Miami Soundwave that tends to play very bombastic, hip-hop oriented sets at various parties around town. Given this, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t usually DJ straight electronic music. Even with that in mind I saw a DJ who deserves to be put on-air. Kramer is a cool customer and far more in-tune musically than most people her age. She ended up doing a dizzying uptempo set of grime, new wave, house and of course a few hip-hop remixes. With the eclectic nature of her set in mind we had an interesting on-air discussion about the demarcation between electronic music and other kinds of music that heavily utilize electronics like hip-hop. She also talked about her beginnings as a house DJ at one of the last surviving roller rinks in Miami. Coincidentally, the next time I saw her was at a makeshift roller rink built inside a warehouse in Wynwood right after face planting on the floor from a severe lack of roller skating experience.
Amber Robertson (11/1/2018)
This was a nerve wracking show for me not because I had a high profile DJ that night but because my guest was not only a former EKL host but also a Music Director and General Manager for the station visiting for WVUM’s Alumni Week. I had been on a week-long email chain with her hashing out the specifics of the show. I found out that she couldn’t DJ using CDJs and asked if she could do it from the board using Radiologik--our previous audio playback system. When I informed her we had just switched to a newer system she took it upon herself to install the archaic Radiologik onto her brand new Apple laptop. The plan was to have her DJ from her laptop and connect to the board using an adaptor cable, but when the time came I couldn’t find that necessary cable. Fortunately, at the last second and after rummaging through every wire bin in the station I found the cable and within a second of plugging it into the board the show started. Everything went according to plan after that. We talked about the state of WVUM today and she played a set filled with disco and synth pop influenced by the major tastes of the station circa 2011. She contacted me the week after the show asking for the recording for the show and I had to admit that I was an ameteur and accidentally deleted the recording from the computer. Sorry Amber. Regarding the promo, I was worried that with the faux sanskrit and mix-and-match hindu deity it would be seen as culturally insensitive. It ended up being a hit with people and remains as my personal favorite promo.
Jonny From Space (11/19/2018)
This show was a case of me bending over backwards to support the local scene. I got a text asking me to promote an upcoming rave scheduled for Black Friday. I loved the idea, but I said I couldn’t do it since our regular showtime that week fell in the middle of Thanksgiving. But after making a few more texts, I was able to offer them a Monday drive time afternoon slot which they accepted. Jonny might have been born on Earth but his name still rings true. He works in programming for Club Space in downtown and its sister club Floyd. Many of the artists I’ve featured have passed through those venues, especially Floyd where the programming trends towards more alternative DJ’s and boutique styles of electronic music. This rave, taking place in a small warehouse space in Little Haiti, was even more alternative than that. Jonny definitely proved himself as someone on the cutting edge of Miami’s electronic scene playing a distinctively Miami mix of ambient, electro and experimental reggaeton.The rave itself ended up being a huge success. Turnout was easily twice as expected and it went on to be known as a moment that firmly established the new wave of Miami’s alternative electronic music scene.
Trigg Adams (12/13/2018)
There is no greater fan of EKL fan than Trigg Adams. This man was an early adopter of electronic music, getting into the music during the late ‘60s when synthesizers took up an entire living room and NASA sent men to the surface of the moon using technology with less processing power than a graphing calculator. He has religiously listened to the show since Alex first started it in ‘93. I took a gamble when I asked Trigg to come on the show. Since he wasn’t a DJ, other electronic musician or anyone involved in the scene I had no idea what to expect or even prepare for the show. He came with a single turntable on its last legs and a small library of old records and CDs. It ended up being the most interesting yet hectic show I ever had. We started by playing and commenting on rare records featuring classical compositions transcribed to be played by primitive synthesizers, merging his love of classical and electronic music. Within three records, the old turntable decided to give up the ghost on-air leading me to discreetly assemble a CDJ and mixer while talking to him in order to semi-seamlessly segway into playing from his CD collection. I announced we were playing some more music, grabbed one of his CDs blindly and put it in the CD to use its underutilized CD playing functionality. It ended up being one of my favorites from high school, Orbital’s 1993 album Orbital II--very fitting. After that we played early ‘90s UK electronic music for the rest of the show, reminiscing on the past and wondering what the future held for EKL and electronic music.
Laura of Miami & Taimur (1/24/2019)
No one on Earth is more quintessentially WVUM than Laura Sutnik, who is fittingly known as Laura of Miami. In the late 2000s and early 2010s she was a staple at WVUM serving a Music Director, Production DIrector and host of the long-running critically acclaimed specialty show Vamos a la Playa. As a Music Director myself, she is very much an inspiration. As for Taimur, I wasn’t too familiar with him prior to doing this show but after talking to him I found out he was a man rooted in promotions who pivoted to starting his own all-vinyl record label, Black Market. Laura co-runs Klangbox--an online radio station and event organizer--these days so her teaming up with Taimur to promote shows in town makes sense.This was a fun show but hectic due to the fact that there were two DJ’s playing an ticket and march giveaways for the event they were promoting; American-Canadian DJ D. Tiffany playing at the Electric Pickle and her label, Planet Euphorique. Despite an issue regarding the tempo slider of one of our CDJs we had a lot of laughs and great on-air moments. I went to that show to see both of them support D. Tiffany and it was a blast. If you’re confused about what that thing being abducted is in the promo, it’s a manatee with cow spots, horns and a nose ring.