Q&A with a Student EDM DJ

This week, The Ramapo News sat down with senior Frank Hughes to discuss his new radio show on WRPR. Hughes, known to listeners as DJ Frankie Wilde, along with co-hosts junior Matt Monteiro and Ethan Wood, host a four hour Electronic Dance Music (EDM) show every Tuesday night on WRPR.

The Ramapo News (RN): Tell me about your radio show.

Frank Hughes (FH): Well, I can tell you this. Though I don’t know the count for sure, I’m pretty confident in saying that we probably do the longest radio show currently on air, possibly all year, possibly in several years. Four hours is a long time to fill, which is the reason why we basically need three of us to do it.

Something else I think is pretty unique is rather than the occasional DJ who might spin a one or a two hour show, we play for four hours without stopping, no commercial breaks, no rest to go outside. We’ve each made a commitment to play all new music every week and it’s not even limited to just playing songs we didn’t play the week before, but trying to find new stuff to us.

I spend a couple hours each week trying to find different music. I would like to think that makes us unique. I don’t know anyone else who’s doing it. The people who run the radio station were pretty impressed when we first approached them with we want to be on the radio, here’s what we’re going to do; they seemed very excited, so that was cool.

RN: How did you come up with the idea for this radio show?

FH: Well, I’ve wanted to get onto the radio for about as long as I knew I could, even before I ever picked up DJ-ing, I’d always wanted to do it…The idea of seriously doing a radio show is something that me and Matt Monteiro, one of my two co-hosts have been kicking around for about a year. I’ve always been into this music long before I even entered college. He was the same way, and when we met each other and found that common interest and that passion for it, it was like well, we should do something with this.

This was a vessel for us to do something we always wanted to do and potentially, not just enjoy our own craft, but expose more people to it. This is just opinion, but for the last 20 years, electronic music has failed to be appreciated in the United States as it has been abroad. It’s only in the last five or so that that’s started to change and to be able to do that on a local level, it’s great to be a part of that.

RN: How long have you been hosting this radio show?

FH: This is actually the first and last semester that I will be involved with it as I am a graduating senior. Our first episode was on February 26. It’s not the first time I DJ’d on WRPR. A couple of years back, they did a radiothon that a now graduated friend of mine, Brian Reilly, who was the head of WRPR at the time, invited me in to DJ on the radio. But the plan is, Matt has one more semester, he’s graduating in December, I’m not sure about Ethan, but next semester you’ll probably be able to tune in, maybe at the same time and I’ll stop by every once in a while if I have time.

RN: Where do you get the ideas for your music?

FH: To pull a line from my sound cloud bio, I’ve been a longtime student of electronic music and the more you know about something, the more complicated it inherently appears, and electronic music oftentimes gets that smear-all label “techno” and the fact of the matter is there’s such a diverse amount of sounds that resonate with particular groups of people, that draw from different styles of music and have different thematic elements and one of the things that I’ve tried to do with each episode is, for the set that I do, which will generally be the opening 30 to 45 minutes of the show, I try to have a set that has a very specific focus musically.

I did an episode where I played a dub-step set, and then I played another where I did a drum-step set. Fun fact, those are two different genres, though they share some common traits. I have plans to potentially do a real techno set. I’d like to do a set of music that sounds like it’s from the 80s, the genres sort of called new disco.

One of the things that I’m most interested in doing, that I have to start pulling together, is I’d like to do a set that is entirely comprised of music that has been produced by either my friends or people here at Ramapo, to give them the opportunity to get some exposure for their work. There’s a lot of really, really dedicated and talented people here, and I think that would be a really good thing.

RN: Does the music differ throughout the night?

FH: Definitely. I would definitely say the tone changes. It depends on who’s DJ-ing and what they bring to the table every week. I never have a discussion with Matt or Ethan about where they get there music or what they want to play. Obviously, the only MO is that we can’t play anything with major profanity on the air. Other than that, they’re free to do whatever they’d like. So there’s definitely a tone change. Usually between my set and whoever plays next, which is, it’s a toss-up between if it’s Matt or Ethan, there’s definitely a change in tone and by the end of the night, where I’ll close the show, again probably the last 45 minutes to an hour, I think everything gets a little calmer and a little focused.

Rather than try to play things that are intense and exciting and driving, we always end up at this kind of common denominator with songs that have a really, really good rhythm–not ones that you want to jump up and down to, but ones that you want to nod your head to. Maybe we’re lulling people to sleep.

RN: Anything else that you want people to know about your show or co-hosts?

FH: Of all the three of us, I would probably say I take this the most seriously. We’re all passionate about music, but I’m really passionate about the show specifically, and I know that in years past, WRPR used to be a real staple of the college. If you were to go back, probably 20 years before everyone was listening to their music on iPods and online, it was probably a much more revered and interactive and valued experience on campus, and I’d like to see that happen again. I mean, I have friends and family who listen to WFDU and WFUV ,which are both radio stations, student run, that are taken every seriously. I think it would be great if Ramapo had something to match that. And that’s not to say that we can accomplish that with one radio show, but if we set an example and got the ball rolling, that would be really really cool.

And it’s nice to introduce people to music that excites us as individuals. I can’t speak for the two of them, but electronic music is, it’s always been, that field has always been my staple genre, if you had to tell me I had to listen to one style of music for the rest of my life, it would be house music… We would like to include more people in this experience. If people have music out there that they’d like us to play, if you have songs of your own that you’d like to have on the radio, songs you’d just like to request or if you’d like to perform on our show, reach me on Twitter. It’s a good opportunity for other people to participate and share their love for the music and the craft of DJ-ing, just as we do with other people.