//// CATCHING UP W/ DJ JORSH of FUZZED OUT/DIGITAL AWARENESS \\\

THE TELL ALL VERSION (TM)

Q1. DJ Jorsh – welcome to the interview. You’re the host of the Fuzz – FUZZED OUT BOSTON on our favorite station, the only WZBC 90.3. If Spinitron has it on the mark, it looks like you’ve just celebrated three years on the Z? What were those early days like and what got you into the whole thing? Did you wait until after your BC graduation to pop off Fuzzed Out and avoid any unwanted association during your academic tenure? 

Thank you KLYAM! Thrilled to be here. I’ve been a ZBC DJ since 2017, but you’re right that FUZZED OUT BOSTON didn’t kick off ‘til summer 2019. I got involved in radio a bit late as a student (at the end of my sophomore year), and I think that pressure of making up for lost time is a big reason why I first decided to keep things going post-grad.

My parents actually met on the AM radio dating show Hotline that aired on WRKO here in Boston in the early ‘80s, so you can also say I’ve got Radio DNA coursing through me. From one Boston frequency to another, it was meant to be!

As an underclassman at BC, I got my fill of musical expression by participating in the Bands program – I played baritone horn in the marching, symphonic, and pep bands. But after a few years I had burnt out on the valve oil and rulebooks and all the big personalities, so I was definitely looking for a more individualized way to interact with music creatively. Thank god for the Z!

The first show I hosted was a video game music show called Reboot, which I took over from a graduating DJ named Dom Rosato in 2017. DJs need to intern on an FM show for a semester at the station before they can start hosting their own, and I really lucked out on my intern placement. Dom gave me a really killer crash course on the station’s old analog board (RIP), and the video game music “genre” was a great way to experiment with a lot of very different sounds and styles.

My senior year was when I started hosting my first fully homegrown show, which I called The Hitchhiker’s Audioguide. I was starting to get deep into that big wave of psych and garage rock at the time – lots of spins from bands on Castle Face and Flightless Records. As the year went on, more and more local bands started making their way onto Audioguide playlists, and in my last few weeks as a student I interviewed two local artists on-air, June Bloom and Brother Toaster. I even hosted my first in-studio session around the same time – a killer live set from the now-defunct Jeb Bush Orchestra! It was during this Audioguide era that I was slowly realizing I liked doing local coverage, liked talking with independent artists, and more than anything I was learning that I love making radio!

So yeah, it was never an intentional decision to save FUZZED OUT for post-grad life, it just sorta worked out that way! Honestly though, it is a bit of a relief knowing that I can test the on-air boundaries a bit more now without worrying about getting sent to the Dean of Students’ office or something. Not like that ever actually happens to ZBC DJs, but I have a particularly good nose for trouble – if it were to happen to anyone it probably would’ve happened to me. Now I’m just focused on trying not to piss off the FCC!

Q2. It looks like Fuzzed Out has had some different slots before sliding into the former (RIP) Mass Ave and Beyond sweet spot of Fridays at 5 PM to 7 PM. If you care to share a little bit of those different time slots, the pros and cons, and things of that nature? I imagine the current schedule is quite conducive to a rock and roll lifestyle. 

Our current Friday timeslot is rock and roll as hell for sure! My first “Summer of Fuzz” in 2019 had the show airing on Thursdays from 5-7pm. Not bad, but since most new music drops on Fridays it was difficult to play a lot of brand new releases. Except of course for all the Australian psych I was still playing at the time – because of the time difference I was able to play brand new Flightless singles off of YouTube before they had officially released in the US, which I thought was pretty dope.

Since then, the show has bounced around a lot between Monday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons. Mondays were always awesome because we crossed over with Voidstar Productions’ High Voltage Circumcision Show. Can you imagine being given the license to say that name on-air once or twice a week?? Monday shows were also better for spinning new tunes, but admittedly they didn’t make you wanna scream “Hell yeah, it’s the freakin’ weekend!”

Friday shows are definitely where it’s at. It makes scheduling interviews and promoting upcoming gigs a lot easier, and it’s been way more convenient for allowing me to live the DJ dream while also holding down the day job. It’s also fun to check out the new Friday releases in the morning and see if there’s anything so good that it needs to be thrown into that day’s playlist ASAP!

Last semester I used to cross over with DJ Scott Saleem, who took over the Mass Ave and Beyond hosting duties from ZBC legend Chris Collins in 2020. It was awesome getting to know Scott and learn more about how they approach hosting such an important (and dare I say historical?) show like Mass Ave. I know there are some longtime Z listeners out there who must be disappointed that Mass Ave and Beyond isn’t continuing this semester – in fact, some have communicated these sentiments directly via their messages in our Spinitron chatroom!

And to be honest, I’m still kinda conflicted about not taking up the Mass Ave mantle. I know the show has been going on for decades, I know I already specialize in local music – but it just didn’t feel right to convert FUZZED OUT into Mass Ave. Great local tunes are the connecting tissue between the two, but the “tone” of our show is intentionally kinda stupid and irreverent. We didn’t want the added pressure/baggage of screwing up a show that people already love, and FUZZED OUT is also an original brand that I’ve slowly been building up on-air and online since 2019. It’s grown a lot in the past few months alone, and I’m excited to see where that goes!

We’re still figuring out how to do Mass Ave segments on our show in a way that’s respectful to that program’s legacy, and Scott knows that they have an open invitation to come back and host a special installment of Mass Ave and Beyond anytime they’re in town. But yes, RIP to Mass Ave and Beyond, and we’re very fortunate to have been able to move into their awesome old timeslot!

Q3. For those who are a bit behind the 8 ball on this one – if somebody pops on the Z to your program, what can they expect? Purely local stuff of the garage, psych, and adjacent varieties? Commentary and banter? I enjoyed the heck out of coming on the show to talk some KLYAM by the way. Thanks again. I really like the banter component and the leisurely approach. I find the best DJs of today aren’t the ones strictly popping on records and reading back what they played and that’s it. There needs to be more! Or should be! The Boston Call-In show was an amazing example of that. Keep up the good times. 

Thanks for coming on the program, G. Gordon! Your show was honestly a great example of what an ideal FUZZED OUT looks like. Lots of local tracks interwoven with an interview of a local artist/creative, as well heavy promotion of upcoming neighborhood gigs that deserve it. That’s been the formula for a while now, though it’s only been in the past few months that we’ve really gotten into the swing of having new guests on the show almost every week.

That’s the current format, but right now I’m also having some great conversations about the future of the show with my new co-host DJ Grey Cassettes – they joined the FUZZED OUT family in April when we assumed our current timeslot. Grey plays in a few different bands and is a massive gearhead, so having them on-board to supply the musician’s perspective has been a great way to flush things out, especially when it comes to the interviews. I also tend to like riding the levels on our soundboard just a little too hot, so Grey is gonna teach me a thing or two this summer about fader discipline! 

Our banter game is also pretty strong like you said, and the whole show flows so much smoother than when it was just a pretty anxious Jorsh in the DJ booth attempting to multitask 8 different tasks at once. Grey and I have a pretty natural cadence with one another, which is funny because we’ve only known each other for the past year or so. Shoutout to our mutual friend (and former ZBC DJ) Peter “Zogster” Zogby for introducing the two of us last summer!

As for what’s to come? We’re planning on formally dropping the “BOSTON from the show title at some point this summer – mostly for flow reasons, but it’ll also give us a bit more freedom to spin some bands that definitely fit in the FUZZED OUT mold but might not be based in the area. Spotlighting local music will always be the show’s main focus, but now that we’re somewhat established in the scene it’s exciting to branch out and check out the new stuff folks are cooking up in other scenes. Philly, Albany, Austin – you’re all on notice!

Q4. Speaking of garage, psych, punk, and all that – what was your personal introduction to this kind of music (I know that’s broad) and also the local introduction – going to shows, etc, etc? Was there the ole pop punk highschooler gets into indie rock gets into weirder shit flow of things? 

I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to fleshing out my music tastes! I was a marching band nerd in high school too so I listened to a lot of third-wave ska, a lot of They Might Be Giants, a lot of weird or funny music from the Newgrounds and early YouTube-era people I liked at the time. I listened to a lot of Q104.3 (New York’s ONLY Classic Rock) and was lucky to have a great music education growing up, so I wasn’t totally oblivious to the broader music world. Still, I hadn’t really spent much time thinking about why I liked the music I did or what my processes for music discovery were like.

My buddy Joe Taurone was sorta the one person who got the ball rolling on me changing all of that. We met as coworkers on the maintenance squad at our town pool the summer after I graduated high school, and we quickly hit it off. I made the schedules, so I’d make sure Joe and I both worked Monday afternoons. Afterwards we’d get in my ‘97 Camry and drive over to Taco Bell while listening to the hour-long “Get the Led Out” Zeppelin block on the Q. When we weren’t rocking out to Zep or scarfing down our Cheesy Gordita Crunches (or would it be “Cheesy Gorditas Crunch?”), Joe would expose me to some newer tunes and I was usually a big fan! 

I went with Joe and some friends to see Tame Impala in Brooklyn that summer, which was the psych key that I needed to unlock that part of my brain. I re-upped about a year or so later when I finally decided to check out that stupid King Gizzard Lizzard Wizard whatever the hell band Joe had been posting a lot about – I think this was right after they played on Conan in 2017. I was hooked instantly, and from there I was able to get more into garage-y and heavier stuff.

I started getting out to Boston venues at first just to see these bands when they toured through town, and from there I started going to some local garage/psych shows, mostly just at Great Scott (obligatory RIP) and O’Briens when I was still finishing up at BC. I still remember being so nervous while getting ready to go see a Zip-Tie Handcuffs / Teen Mortgage show at OB’s, because I wasn’t sure if there’d be any moshing and wasn’t sure how to dress! That was only three years ago, so it’s pretty funny to see how far I’ve come and how many local venues I’ve been able to cross off my list in the time since.

I’ve already said a lot, but my entire musical and show-going journey is all really funny to me. I grew up in central New Jersey within driving distance of New Brunswick, which is a big college town and pretty popular hub for the DIY scene and basement shows. Some kids from my town would drive out there for shows – Joe definitely did – but it took me seeing a few psych bands from Australia to get me interested in seeing the ones playing right in my own neighborhood. Joe lives out in Albany now and plays in a ton of different bands in that scene, most notably Lemon of Choice and Laveda. I probably wouldn’t be doing my thing if it weren’t for my friendship with Joe, so hey – thanks Joe!

Q5. And kind of relatedly – in contemporary times – how are you consuming or hearing about local music? I appreciate the pulse of the scenes (plural) that you bring with the radio show. There’s surely an underground or multiple undergrounds in our city. Anything you’d like to say about that – like in your view, what’s connecting bands to each other? It’s been a little bit of a trip to see the evolution of the Fuzz scene in Boston. Remember that House of the Rising Fuzz compilation from 2015 which sort of epitomized an era where the garage, psych, and punk was a major player in the DIY circuit – maybe mirroring what was going on on the national level.  You might argue that it’s all very much alive, but do you also feel a sense that the points of references/inspirations have shifted or widened and there’s more to Fuzz than what we might have thought in the past? 10 years ago I could scour local rags, blogs, and radio shows and find dozens of weird/lo-fi/experimental oriented bands playing around town, but the Fuzz seems to be trending in a little more watered down or capital R rock direction. I’d love to be proven wrong or shown the Light – so what do you got for me?

Local music consumption and discovery is the name of the game, my good man! I’ve found my brain likes to gamify things generally, and FUZZED OUT has been a super-specific way for me to gamify listening to music and going to shows. If I go out to OB’s and see a new band like Feep that immediately blows me away, I can start spinning their tunes and maybe even get them in for an interview at some point! Even just walking around in Boston, there are fun ways to gamify the physical world through a FUZZED OUT lense: there’s a random show poster hanging up on this pole, better check it out! This grimey sticker looks like it’s for a band, better search the name and try to find them!

The main way I keep tabs on things is via the @fuzzed_out Instagram account. I follow just about every New England area band or musician I come across, and right now that number is just about 2,000 which is nuts! I also drop these bands follows on Spotify and Bandcamp – I recently stopped paying for Spotify Premium, but as I’m switching everything over to Bandcamp it’s still nice to have my weekly Spotify Release Radar playlist with all the local bands I’m following in the mix.

I appreciate your comment about the show representing multiple scenes, since it’s definitely an aspect of the program I’ve been working to improve for about the past year or so! I think the expanding scope of FUZZED OUT playlists can be tracked alongside the general broadening of my music tastes. Once I did get into the psych/garage stuff I wasn’t too interested in exploring outside of that scene right away, and there are probably enough straight-up rock bands in town to make up a whole radio show’s worth of tunes each week.

But I’ve been trying to branch out a bit more lately. As much as I like fuzzy frequencies, I do think that having different genres and sounds on the show makes it a much more dynamic program. Working in commercial radio for a few years also taught me that having this level of access to a locally minded FM frequency is a huge privilege in this day and age. So while we are trying to cultivate a certain sound, I don’t want it to ever feel like we’re only playing songs from hard rock bands whose members are all four white dudes from Allston. I especially don’t want it to feel like we’re gatekeeping certain types of genres or artists off of the airwaves. 

We don’t do a great job of this every week, and certain genres are harder to incorporate than others (shoutout to all the local hip hop artists out there that release clean/censored versions of their tracks), but it’s definitely an active goal. I think if you were to look at our playlists from even just one year ago, they’d be a lot less expansive than what we’re putting on-air these days.

I also think we’re lucky to have the word “Fuzz” be our guiding light through all of this, since it’s a fairly non-specific label. You and I probably think of similar stuff when we hear “fuzzy music,” but it still isn’t tied down to exactly one specific sound or one exact genre. Of course, I will always have a soft spot for a lot of those bands on that 2015 comp – I’ve been playing Black Beach, Nice Guys, CreaturoS, and Midriffs on the show for years!

But as you mentioned, genres shift and change all the time, especially in terms of what’s “hot” right now. I don’t purport to be a genre expert, but I’ve been getting bummed out these past few years seeing a lot of the bigger, more influential bands drop their psych sounds in favor of something more generically “indie.” Tame Impala, Pond, The Murlocs, Post Animal – obviously these artists should make what they want, and each is going in a fairly different direction on their newest release. But it does feel like we’ve seen a mass exodus from a genre that was really popular only a few years ago, and it’s starting to feel more like a passing fad than I’d like to admit. My roommates with more diverse listening tastes tease me for being “psych boy” sometimes :/

And for the Boston Fuzz scene specifically? I’m not sure what it was like 10 years ago, but I do still think there are a number of local acts who are keeping the fuzz going strong. I guess we’re also in the middle of the Great Pop Punk Revival right now so you see a lot of that going on too. But you’ve certainly got newer bands like The Chives that are keeping the mid-decade Allston Fuzz sound alive and well. My friends in The Endorphins have been working dutifully on their unique grunge-infused garage/psych since 2016 – they’re recording a new record with Alex Allinson right now, which I’m sure will be a ripper. Even Black Beach put out a new EP at the end of last year called Giallo which probably sounds a bit noisier and more experimental than most of the stuff they released in the 2010’s. So I guess everything is constantly changing, but things are staying the same too… How’s that for a middle-of-the-road answer?

Q6. Switching gears a little – give the people a shout on Digital Awareness and what you’re doing with this analog video project? A little live visuals? 

A lot of live visuals!!! Digital Awareness is a new project that I’ve been working on alongside my new-ish friends Harley Spring (who may or may not also be DJ Grey) and Abbey Franz. We specialize in live, audio-reactive show visuals and we’ve been working gigs around town in our red DA boilersuits since the beginning of this year! It’s something we’ve each been interested in independently for a while, so coming together as a team and trying to make a real process and business out of it has been very exciting and creatively rewarding.

Right now we’re starting to narrow down the list of bands we want to work extensively with. It’s fun to hit as many gigs as possible, but we’ve met some really great people in the scene these past few months and think we’re ready to start honing in on unique visual styles with each of them. We’re still finalizing this initial DA “roster,” but if you’re in the scene you’ve probably already heard of Paper Lady, Dutch Tulips, The Rupert Selection, Clamb – they’re all really great musicians and collaborators. We’re so excited to keep working with them and see where each of these acts go from here, since they’ve all already been killing it around town for a while now!

Q7. I also know you’ve been lugging an Aughts or Pre-Aughts camcorder around filming some bands play music. What’s the latest development on giving that a platform?

The show capture stuff now lives under the Digital Awareness umbrella too actually! I wasn’t totally sure where this fit in last month when I filmed Death Snail and Electric Street Queens at the KYLAM Blessing of the Bay gig, but in retrospect it’s a pretty obvious fit. We film on VHS-C tape using a few different JVC GR-AX camcorder models – the first one we started using was actually my old family camcorder that I nabbed from my basement at home. It’s a pretty sturdy model though and fun to shoot with, so we’ve actually gone online and bought a few more since. 

The other big piece of the DA show capture pie is Abbey’s new mirrorless camera – she recently bought a Canon M50 to shoot on, which is convenient because she happens to be a super talented photographer! Tape filming is fun and the lo-fi look can be cool, but we also recognize that a lot of local bands are looking for really high-quality photos these days. So that’s another service that DA provides, right now just to some of our friends’ bands that we’re already working with. Once we finish ironing out a few more details we’ll be ready to start more formally shopping that around town too!

Q8. One final thing. One of the internet’s best things was Dazquest. There’s probably at least a handful of people that agree with me. For all the lazies who aren’t trying to hunt down your website (which is top notch) – tell us about this video game relic and did the subject ever find out about it? There was an entire pandemic to get all up in that business. 

I thought you’d never ask! DazQuest is a project that I started working on in my junior year, when I was studying abroad at the University of Haifa in the spring of 2018. The bus system in Haifa was generally great but it shut down on the weekends. Sometimes I was out and about traveling, but other weekends I stayed in my dorm room and taught myself Twine, a piece of interactive storytelling software that I had been interested in for a while. At the time I was an editor of the BC satire paper The New England Classic, so naturally my first target for a silly comedy video game was our incredibly mediocre head football coach Steve Addazio. (‘Daz was an early Vine star, and was eventually fired in 2019 after going a perfect 44-44 over his six year career at BC.)

I came back from Haifa that summer and went to work fleshing the game out with my friends and satire brothers-in-arms Luke Layden and Peter “Zogby” Zogster. DazQuest got some local campus press coverage and we registered over 1,500 hits in its first two weeks, which felt pretty cool. But did the mustachioed man himself ever lay eyes on it? We’re not sure, but I heard from members of the football videography staff that the players were definitely playing it on their phones in the locker room and were trying to hide its existence from their coaches.

We also went onto Daz’s Wikipedia page afterwards and wrote a whole section about the game which nobody ever removed, so I bet he has heard about it before in one form or another. It feels kinda weird to have spent multiple years of my life turning a real flesh and blood person into a living meme, but  when you get paid over $2.5 mil a year I sure hope it helps you develop a thick skin when it comes to dealing with losers like me.

Q9. And lastly – did I leave anything out? Any shout outs or wheelings and dealings in the Jorsh World? 

I think your questions were pretty exhaustive actually! I do have a few quick shoutouts – specifically to Mariam Ahmed Aare and Judy Schwartz, both of whom helped FUZZED OUT get back on-air this semester after a brief hiatus at the start of the year.

I also want to thank Ari Khoudary for all of their help and support over the years. Ari was the Program Director at WZBC when I started getting more involved at the station. They gave the Audioguide some great timeslots, helped me run the Jeb! in-studio, and opened my eyes to what good interview-based programs on the Z could look like with their show default mode. Ari and I stayed close after college – they supported me greatly during and after the launch of FUZZED OUT, opened my eyes to the joys of owning and listening to music on vinyl, and helped me get a basic foothold in and understanding of the Boston music scene when I was just starting out. Ari and I are no longer close, but both FUZZED OUT and my overall love for radio would not be the same without their influence in my life.

And of course, I want to thank everyone who has ever tuned into the show, dropped a comment in the Spinitron chat, liked one of our posts online, or otherwise kept things FUZZED OUT. Without you, we’d be doing this all for nothing! Which still wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, I guess. Thanks again for having me on for an interview, KLYAM!

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