As Rudy Kizer and I walk to Mojostock’s artist lounge for an interview, we discuss Tomorrowland, a festival taking place in Belgium the same weekend as Mojostock in Indianapolis. We discuss how theming festivals around fairy tale-like ideas and imagery has become a recent trend- citing Gnarnia and upcoming local festival Hyperion as two additional examples. Describing the photos of Tomorrowland as he reviewed his phone’s photostream, Kizer said, “If Disney imagineers took a shitload of mushrooms and threw a rave, that’s what this thing is.”
I ask if there’s anything nearly as cool at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, an event during which I monitored Kizer’s Twitter timeline closely earlier this year. He says it’s a mixed bag and hints at boredom with the mainstage’s offerings.
KIZER: I spent most of my time at the live stage. So I got to see Little Dragon, Magnetic Man, DJ Shadow, Bassnectar, Flying Lotus.
MOJO: I saw Flying Lotus at Forecastle!
KIZER: How fuckin’ dope is that? As bad as most commercial hip hop is, you see Flying Lotus and you see the acts that are in that vein and it gives you hope that there’s still something creative to be done in the genre.
MOJO: So, let’s talk about your radio show, Hit The Decks. I know some things have been shaken up recently.
KIZER: It’s funny how shit goes from completely torched to the ground in six weeks to being built up again. My program director [Lenny Diana] at X103 got fired. They had a production meeting the following week with Buzz Casey from Q95 (now the interim program director) and whoever is left over there and they made the decision that they were going to detonate the entire Sunday night lineup. So, Hard Drive is gone. And the show [Hit The Decks] is gone.
MOJO: How did you react?
KIZER: For three hours that day, I was pretty torn up. And then I kind of started putting some things back together and into perspective. I woke up the next day expecting that crushing level of depression to set in and it kinda didn’t. It took me the rest of the week to figure out why and then I finally came to the conclusion that it’s a pretty production-heavy show. To do a two-hour show, I’m doing at least five hours of legit sound production, and probably another three or four hours doing research, pulling music, and deciding what goes in… for a two-hour show. And I kind of realized that I don’t have to bust my ass that hard for a group of folks who really didn’t understand or appreciate it.
MOJO: I get that.
KIZER: And the fact that you really can’t be loyal to an organization, because organizations think differently than people. But you can be loyal to people. And I was loyal to Lenny and Lenny was my guy and he kept that show on the air for five years… because nobody else “got it”.
MOJO: When did all of this happen?
KIZER: The second week of June. So, it’s been less than eight weeks. The big thing was that Mike Rapino the CEO of Livenation- stands up in front of God and everybody at Electric Daisy and says, “Livenation is committed to spending one billion (Dr. Evil) dollars on electronic music in fiscal 2012. *pauses and laughs* A billion dollars.
So, there’s money in the market for electronic music shows. And at a time when X103 is having problems with dwindling ad sales, they had the lock on the only true electronic music show in the city and then chose to toss it in the trash can, which is kind of strange. Obviously, it shows that they’re not really connected with what’s going on- industry-wide and in electronic music.
I was told to get in contact with some folks over at IMC TV. They do a dance music block on Saturday nights and they want to do something that’s a little bit more electronic music-oriented. They’re looking for people who are specialists and experts in particular areas. They do a really good metal show and Russ [Redenbacher] does the rock show. So, they’ve got people that are really passionate about those specific genres of music and they wanted somebody to come in and do the dance music stuff that knows it. So, we’re going to start doing Hit The Decks TV here as soon as we can get the production and stuff put together.
MOJO: And you get to keep the brand?
KIZER: That’s the thing. Clear Channel never wrote me a check. I was a contract employee there and all the IP is mine. I can get up and take it wherever I go.
It’s like I said when I lost the show- I don’t have any ill will towards X103 because, how many other folks can say that they had a specialty program continuously running on the station for close to 12 years (Planet X for seven and Hit The Decks for five)? So, I can’t complain about that. I wish that the end had been handled differently because nobody ever talked to me about anything.
The bottom line is- as electronic music breaks more mainstream, it makes sense for a dance show like that to move to a pop radio or TV station.
The power goes out in the artist lounge and the big red barn at the center of Sleepybear Campgrounds falls dark. Security and another artist hanging out in the lounge rush out to investigate. Kizer adds one last remark as we close our interview, “Electronic music is driving pop music right now.”
Anyone who dare listen to today’s radio stations would easily agree that’s he’s correct. Which is why I, for one, am equally relieved and excited for Kizer’s new role as an educator to the budding generation of bassheads currently cutting their teeth in EDM.
Although no start date has yet been announced for the programming, rest assured that Kizer has been busy preparing a catalog of his favorite tracks for the music video program on IMC he’ll soon be hosting. Also expect him to live up to his reputation for having the newest shit on the block, weeks if not months before the general population, when the show launches.
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