Here's What Every Creative Professional Should Worry More About
Odds are Chris Douridas has made you a mix tape.
If you owned an iPod in the 2000s, you can bet you know his work. Despite a prolific and storied career at the forefront of the digital music scene, the one-time music director of L.A. radio station KCRW, DJ, and music supervisor doesn’t consider “tastemaker” to be a job. It’s a noteworthy anecdote, considering the moniker is often bestowed upon the venerable 25-year music industry professional in any number of creative circles.
Cutting his teeth on public radio in Texas, Douridas landed on the L.A. music scene as a radio host in the early ’90s. He’s often credited with discovering artists well before they became marquee names (like Beck and Gillian Welch, to name two.) Steve Jobs tapped him to curate original programming for iTunes in the initial stages of Apple’s music business coup. If you bought a first-edition iPod, he made your playlist. Douridas holds three Grammy nominations for music supervision, has interviewed everyone from Paul McCartney to PJ Harvey, and hosts a weekly bicoastal music showcase (School Night!) that Paper magazine deemed “America’s Best Party.”
Of course, one would never know any of this simply by lunching with the guy. Douridas isn’t going to tell you. Despite an illustrious past as one of the industry’s most respected musical touchstones, he is highly unlikely to mention accolades or accomplishments in casual conversation. In fact, he only wants to talk about what’s next. The “what” might just be your new favorite band.
I sat down with my colleague and friend of many years to talk love in the time of internet hate, things to never ask musicians, and exactly what it takes to make a respectable living out of passion projects. Among the most amiable and encyclopedic multihyphenates in the business at large, Douridas has built a career on integrity and, for lack of a better term,, good taste. He’s also got a good Lou Reed story for you.
JILLIAN KNOX FINLEY: It’s hard to cherry-pick what to talk about first. You have so many impressive career points.
CHRIS DOURIDAS: Really?
JKF: Yeah, really! I’ll just start at the start. You majored in theater in college, and your first gig in radio was deejaying the college station, right?
JKF: Did you always want to work in radio?
CD: No. It was the furthest thing from my mind. Actually, my stepbrother lived with us when I was a kid, and I would hear him through the bedroom wall in the next room imitating local DJs. It annoyed the shit out of me. I thought, there’s nothing more obnoxious than being a radio DJ!
JKF: You have one of the least obnoxious radio DJ voices. It’s all soothing tones.
CD: Well, thank you. He was imitating commercial radio DJs. You know—Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Moto car speedway!
JKF: Commercial radio is a pretty far cry from what you do at KCRW.
CD: Oh yeah. It’s night and day. The difference is commercial radio is driven by advertising. We’re driven by public support. Generally speaking, in order to get pubic support, you program what you think is quality. Ideally you’re driven by a sense of integrity and, you know, truth. It was not until I got to college that I really became aware of public radio. I started slowly falling in love with the NPR outlook in my college years.
By then, I had volunteered at the college station and started noticing how much amazing music was coming into the mail there. I realized, Wow there’s a world of great music that nobody hears about. My friends in school would talk about how music sucked. If I heard them say, “There’s no good music anymore.” I’d be like, “No! No! No! Check this out.” I kind of developed a passion for sharing the cool things that I was coming across.
JKF: How did you come to KCRW?
CD: I was planning to be an actor, continuing to work in theater in Texas while I was in school. When I left school, I set my sights on Dallas. I thought it would be kind of great if I could continue working in radio instead of waiting tables between jobs. An opening happened at KERA, the public radio station in Dallas. I ended up getting the job.
At the time, the listenership at that Dallas station faltered so much because they were operating like most other public radio stations: playing strictly classical by day and jazz at night. Another colleague at the station and I convinced the management to transform the format to match what we had been doing in college. The show I had in college was called The Morning Exchange, and we were mixing everything from blues and bluegrass to reggae and pop.
Turn up the volume
JKF: So basically it was Morning Becomes Eclectic.
CD: Essentially, yeah. I cut my teeth mixing eclectic music. So we convinced the management to transform the format. My colleague was working the day shift, adding things like Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain and acoustic folk to the classical mix. I was on at night doing the jazz show, adding Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, and kind of jazz-flavored Joe Jackson into the mix. We ended up meeting in the middle. The format really flourished. Texas Monthly did a cover story about our growth. In that article, they compared us to KCRW in L.A. That was the first time I heard about KCRW. I realized I could move to Los Angeles, pursue my acting career, and maybe work there.
JKF: All these years I have known you, and I found out from an internet search you were in Waterworld. Somehow that never came up organically in conversation.
CD: Yes. Remnants of my acting pursuit from that time. So yeah, shortly after that article appeared in Texas Monthly, I moved to L.A. without a job and pounced on KCRW. They wouldn’t really have anything to do with me because they didn’t have any open slots on the air. I found a job at KUSC, the classical station here in town, for the first six months living in Los Angeles. Then Tom Schnabel announced he was leaving KCRW, and I swooped in. It was really good timing. Then, of course, I got consumed by wanting to make Morning Becomes Eclectic as successful as possible, so my acting life took a backseat.
JKF: It took a detour.
CD: It took a detour, yeah. I had just turned 28, and I had the best job in the world in radio.
JKF: As someone who grew up in the ’90s, I remember Sessions@AOL (which you started) as a pretty big deal. It predated phones at concerts. YouTube wasn’t yet a thing. My parents wouldn’t allow me to go to shows, and almost all the venues were 18 and over in Austin.
CD: Yeah, so that was your venue! We were on the welcome page of AOL. It was a natural outgrowth of my work at KCRW. I got invited to run creative programing concepts for AOL music, and it was a natural thing for me to take the same daily interview and performance format I was doing at KCRW into the digital universe.
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JKF: You were the first person to curate playlists for Apple at the behest of Steve Jobs when iTunes launched. Essentially you were at the ground floor of the digital music boom.
CD: Yeah, I left AOL after four years or so. It was a very corporate environment. I don’t think I can really pinpoint when I became aware of what Apple was doing. I heard that they were working on this music service that would fuel iPod sales. When I left AOL, I got a call from Apple asking if I would come up and meet with Steve Jobs about the launch of iTunes. I basically did what I was doing for AOL, but with a cooler boss.
As the music-programming consultant for iTunes, I built iTunes Originals, a performance program interviewing icons in their home studio environment. The idea was to record them where they were most comfortable. We did Willie Nelson in Austin, Björk in Iceland, Paul Simon in Connecticut, Depeche Mode in a studio in New Jersey… We went all over the world. iTunes Essentials was a sort of playlist to-go idea. You could go on iTunes and find the song you want, but what if you wanted a custom playlist? The goal was to become the biggest digital music source in the world.
JKF: Well, you succeeded. The web changed the way people discovered music. The access changed, but the need for curators stayed the same. Being someone who was known and vetted for tastemaking, did you find yourself more in demand than ever?
CD: I didn’t really think about it. I do think that with the easy access to so much music around the world, people need filters. They’re going to go to the trusted filters that they rely on to find what they love, places like Pitchfork, KCRW, or Spotify.
JKF: Your taste is diverse, to say the least. My favorite thing about your show is you have the ability to jump seamlessly between new music, deep cuts, and older established tracks. I find myself getting stuck in patterns of only listening to say The Stones back catalogue for three weeks straight. Then I’ll get fixated on something else or swing into a neophiliac binge of only feeling stimulated by music that’s new. How do you stay hungry for finding new bands? Do you ever just dive into the classics and say in with the old?
CD: Oh yeah. Every day! It’s not because I’m sick of the new. Everything that I do is really the same job. I wake up every morning, and I’m excited to find that next great thing that turns me on musically, whether it’s something from an old ’50s country album or something that’s brand-new that’s coming from a band recording their first demos. I think having that sort of rediscovery of an old ’60s classic or some offbeat Stones track illuminates what’s new. Very often you can hear reference points in new music that are throwbacks to old tracks. This juxtaposition of the best of the old and the best of the new gives dimension to both.
JKF: It does. I think at times people can get stuck on the past musically. For whatever reason, they stop acquiring new tastes and fall back on nostalgia.
CD: I would say there’s so much great new music being made now. To close yourself off to that is shortsighted.
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JKF: I was listening to an interview you did with Lou Reed on Morning Becomes Eclectic in 1994. Reed was saying how hard it is for artists to make money in the industry, that essentially they are “at the bottom of the food chain” financially, as he put it. It might be surprising for the general public to know how difficult it actually is for artists to make money. That was in 1994! There’s so much overhead; so many people get paid first before the artists.
CD: It’s true. I don’t remember the specifics of that conversation. Lou came through a few times. I remember once he came by with a book of lyrics he had published. He was saying how he always wanted to write the great American novel. At the time, I found myself thinking that he really had. His songs are populated by these amazing characters, like Holly in “Walk on the Wild Side.” If you look at his body of work, he really did in some ways create the great American rock ’n’ roll novel.
JKF: Street Hassle alone is a novel. His lyrics have always been steeped in social commentary.
CD: I think the interview you mentioned was the same time I had walked him back across campus to his car. He was all leathered out. You know, he had his leather jacket on. We were walking across campus, and we passed a couple of students. I heard one say to the other, “Check this guy out. This guy thinks he’s Lou Reed.” I asked Lou if he heard that, and he said “Yeah.” We just laughed.
JKF: Okay, I love that story. My wardrobe goal is maybe to have a stranger say, “That girl thinks she’s Lou Reed.” Are there artists that truly stand out to you as genuine innovators? I don’t entirely think it’s fair of to call artists the “next” iteration of something. There can’t be a next Dylan or a next Elvis. Artists are a product of their time as much as anything else. I’m interested from your perspective, though. Are there musicians that come along who are entirely nonderivative?
CD: Wow. That’s a good question. Some are.
JKF: You just got very pensive.
CD: I’m thinking it through! Even the ones I can think of are kind of conglomerates of things past. If you take Tom Waits, for example. He’s a bit Howlin’ Wolf. He’s a bit Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, yet he doesn’t sound like anybody else.
JKF: I think Tom Waits is a solid response.
CD: While his influences might be apparent, he’s forged a whole new thing of his own out of it. I think that’s true about our favorite artists. If you think about Leonard Cohen taking the exposure to the Old Testament of his youth and infusing that with his day-to-day meditations on love and relationships, his work takes on this sort of sanctified look at relationships. Nobody’s doing that the way he does it.
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JKF: Do you ever get nervous when you’re interviewing major icons, being that you’re also a fan?
CD: Of course! The real cure for being nervous is to be fully prepared. I was sitting with Leonard Cohen last week, and I was nervous. I’ve had him on the air many times, but it was an atmosphere where I had journalists from around the world watching me. I would be nervous meeting Bob Dylan. I’ve never met Dylan.
JKF: I loved the Day of Dylan thing at you curated on Eclectic24 for his 75th birthday. That was an embarrassment of riches!
CD: Oh wow!
JKF: I listened to it the entire day.
CD: I think I had one person tell me they heard it.
You know immediately when you put something on the air if it’s working. The radio show is the laboratory.
JKF: I heard it the whole day into the night—24 hours of Bob Dylan. It was fantastic.
CD: Thank you! I was so proud of that. That makes me so happy. I assembled that whole thing myself, all the interviews, songs, covers. I mixed it. I picked all the tracks. I’m so glad you heard that. What was interesting for me was I was never really the “Dylan Guy.”
Usually when somebody comes into the station, or if I’m going to do an interview, I comb through their entire catalogue. I read everything I can that’s available. I really dive in. If there’s a book, I’ll read it. I do a lot of preparation. In doing so, I get to know their entire life. I never had that opportunity with Dylan, because I’d never met him.
I always thought one day I’d meet him and go through it all to learn his entire catalog. The Day of Dylan thing was my opportunity to go read everything, listen to every possible interview, find all the good covers, all the songs about Dylan, all the songs that he loved. You heard what I culled from that exploration. It was a documentation of the things I found that got me excited about his work.
JKF: I remember when you were putting together three full days of Coachella-only playlists this year for KCRW.
CD: Yeah, that almost killed me. I was buried. That took me 85 hours to produce. It was intense.
JKF: When you’re making a playlist, do you have a whole ethos?
CD: You mean orchestrating the sets and stuff?
JKF: Yeah, there’s a whole story arc to a mixtape!
CD: Of course! It’s completely built on segues.
JKF: Do you find taste-wise you’re always ahead of the curve?
CD: I don’t know. Who knows? It doesn’t really matter.
For the Coffee Table
JKF: Well, you know about bands first well before they break. What’s the biggest demo discovery that’s ever come across your desk?
CD: Well, probably Beck, because it set into motion KCRW’s reputation for finding bands first. After Beck, the station became essential listening for A&R worldwide. But now it happens all the time. I was in Dublin last week and I found this band I’m really excited about. They’re recording some new demos right now that I’m waiting to hear. You were asking me earlier what I’m mostly excited about. The truth is I’m most excited about the one I just found this week!
JKF: The next one.
CD: Yeah! The one I’m going to find tomorrow—That’s the one I’m most excited about!
JFK: What do you think it really takes to make it as a band these days?
JKF: Yeah, but it’s more than tenacity. It’s not just appetite.
CD: Great songs. I’ve got Leonard Cohen on my mind because I just spent some time with him. Here he is, 82 years old, and he’s turning out a record that’s as good or better than anything he’s ever put out (You Want It Darker). That’s rare. That somebody can have a six-decade career and be at the top of their game still is extraordinary. So many people dry up in their late 20s and early 30s.
JKF: Wasn’t Wayne Coyne still maintaining a day job at Long John Silver’s well into his 20s?
CD: I think so! Even Leonard started late! He was 33 when he released his first album. But you mean what does it take to survive? It depends on what you mean by success. I still say writing great songs.
JFK: I think there’s often a significant gap between popular success and critical success.
CD: Well, yes, of course. I don’t know. I think you gotta be a little crazy too. But mostly it’s following your instincts, trusting yourself, and working toward writing the next great song.
Worry less about getting the work out there and worry more about creating what needs to get out.
JKF: And bands often don’t know which songs are going to be hits.
CD: Usually they don’t. I think a lot of artists make wrong turns when they let go of their own instincts and put their faith in other peoples’ ideas. Once you let go of that impulse, you can lose your inner compass. You’re going to hit a wall.
JKF: Did you have any point in your career where you thought you weren’t really accomplishing everything you wanted to be doing?
CD: Every day! [laughs]
JKF: You know, I started working at DreamWorks (where we met) when I was 19. I came up in the studio system with this palpable sense of corporate loyalty. The model was that you get in and you move up. The getting in was tough. After that, you were loyal to your studio. It feels a bit like that culture is dying off. Pesky Whipper-Snappers in particular bounce around quite a bit from job to job, company to company. You’re someone who has really built a career on relationships.
CD: It is a career based on relationships. I know that to be true. KCRW has remained a constant for me. It’s been my home for 25 years. It’s fueled everything that I do. My radio show is a lab where I can monitor what’s going on in the world of music and try it out in front of a very commanding audience. You know immediately when you put something on the air if it’s working. You might think it’s working; then when you put it on the radio, you can feel that. You can certainly tell when it’s not working. It’s a great barometer. The radio show is the laboratory.
JKF: School Night is a really fun laboratory.
CD: Yeah, School Night adds a layer to that idea in the live performance arena. You can love a record, love an album, and have the band come play in front of you and realize how far they have to go.
JKF: It’s always fun to realize two plus two doesn’t equal four!
CD: Yeah! It could all fall apart in that environment. The opposite can also be true: Sometimes they’re even more amazing live! At School Night, we’re getting bands that haven’t recorded that much. We might have a demo or two, but often they have yet to go into the studio to make an album. You’ll have them on stage doing an incredibly captivating thing, and then once the recordings come back, they don’t always hold up to the live show. It’s really wonderful when you can find ones that succeed at both.
JKF: Beyond School Night, you've ventured into the world of music publishing with a very auspicious first signing, Andy Shauf. How did that come about, and what's next?
CD: I couldn't be more proud to be working with Andy. I can honestly say he is my favorite new songwriter. Actually, my KCRW colleague Liza Richardson first turned me onto him. He comes from a very small town in rural Canada. That's probably why it’s taken him a few years to become known beyond his hometown.
We gave his last album a lot of play on air, but it only hinted at the level of talent that is now so evident on his new release, which has been gathering a lot of critical praise, a Polaris nomination, which honors Canada’s album of the year, and the love of his peers. Father John Misty, Wilco, Reggie Watts, and Carly Rae Jepson have become very vocal fans.
I am very excited to watch him grow and to continue expanding my role as a music publisher. I am learning from one of the greats, Lionel Conway, who I've worked with over the years through his longtime publishing client Tom Waits.
JKF: What’s a band would you never miss coming through L.A.?
CD: A new band?
A photo posted by @chrisdouridas on
JKF: Any band.
CD: Oh god. [Laughs] Well, if Tom Waits tours this next year, I’ll go. I’m excited about The Lemon Twigs. They’re a couple of young brothers from Long Island. They are 17 and 19 years old, and they’ve got one of the freshest albums in recent memory. It’s a very cool record.
JKF: Have you ever given an interview that was a tough nut to crack?
CD: I definitely have. I can count them on one hand—the ones that went south. Generally speaking, because guests are coming to the radio, they’re going to try to make a good impression.
JKF: It is live.
CD: It’s live. If they’re acting like a dick, it’s pretty obvious to the audience that it’s not me. In that way, it’s a pretty sanitized environment. I’ll hear people go, “Oh, so-and-so is such an ass. They’re so mean.” I’ll say, “They were great with me!” Then I’ll have to catch myself and say, “Well, I was putting them on the radio, so they’re going to treat me pretty well.” So I have a pretty sanitized impression of those people probably. Although I will say it’s been my impression that the bigger they are, the cooler they are.
JKF: Really? That’s refreshing to hear. That’s cool.
CD: Yeah. And the more grateful they are. The greatest of greats are always so grateful and happy to have the careers they have.
JKF: I watched Montage of Heck the other day. I was really struck by the idea that music is so intimate, yet it’s trotted out to the public as entertainment. Do you think the vulnerability it takes to create an honest piece of work begets that idea of the “tortured artist”?
CD: It definitely shows how often an artist’s perspective of the world is not only off-center enough to where they can create these incredibly moving pieces of work, it’s also off-center enough for them to have some difficulty having emotional security in the world we live in.
Cohen was talking about artists that tour and record all the time. He said, “An entertainer is likely to develop an inflated idea of himself if he’s constantly recording and touring.” Most of the time, artists are surrounded by people who are always saying yes. If they’re constantly working, then they don’t have the opportunity to go back to the real world and get grounded and not be surrounded by that.
CD: Applause, yeah. For Cohen, he went to the extreme. He would leave the road or recording studio and go to a mountain to live in a zen monastery. He would peel back everything to get to the quiet.
JKF: I find extremes to be easier than equilibrium. It’s natural for the pendulum to swing back the other way.
CD: Yeah, that’s true usually.
JKF: It must be a delicate thing to talk to musicians about their art in a way that acknowledges the sanctity of it. Cobain was emphatic about the work speaking for itself, people not overthinking his lyrics.
CD: I never ask an artist what a song’s about. If they want to tell me or say something about the song or how it came to be, then they’ll tell me. I might ask how a song started or if there was inspiration behind something, but I won’t ask them what a lyric means or try to pin them down to specifics. I know well enough by now that how songs are brought into the world is a very mystical process. Often the songwriter himself doesn’t really understand what it’s about. It may be years later that they actually have some sense of what it means to them.
Bowie was doing cut-and-paste. He was cutting words out of newspapers and magazines and jumbling them in a hat and laying them down on a piece of paper to arrange them into lyrics. They probably do come to have some meaning. I mean, why did he happen to choose those pieces of lyrics? Why did he arrange this lyric with that lyric? There’s something happening at the subconscious level no matter how you’re writing songs. Maybe you can’t put that into words and describe where they’re coming from. In a lot of ways, it’s a very spiritual undertaking. Sometimes things will come to people in a dream.
JKF: Didn’t Keith Richards wake up, record Satisfaction, and then fall back asleep?
CD: Did he? Yeah, case in point.
JKF: Do you have a time of day that you like to make discoveries?
CD: Most of the listening that I do is in the mornings when I wake up. I feel like I’m clear and empty-headed.
JKF: How does working as a music supervisor vary from your work in radio?
CD: Collaborating with directors is a very gratifying experience for me. I’ve been very lucky in that I get hired by people who want me to bring my taste to bear on any given project. They probably have a good sense of what I’m into based on my radio show and from my existing résumé.
JKF: I definitely Shazam-ed episodes of Flaked a few times.
CD: I share the love you shower on Flaked with Will Arnett and Chris Muckley. That’s a fun show. We’re doing Season 2 right now. It’s relationships like that that make what I do not feel like work. The last time I saw you, I think we had the same chat. You mentioned a friend that hated his job so much he was drinking by 3 p.m., and I told you that at KCRW, we don’t have to drink to get through the day.
JKF: Yeah, there’s my sound bite! I was recalling studio days past. I believe I was saying, having worked in the film industry for so long, the business can really dictate the art. That’s not always a negative. I was so green starting out in Hollywood. The frustration among creatives in Hollywood was a real culture shock. I’m from Texas! I just assumed everybody in town was thrilled to be makin’ movies. The ability to dovetail passion into a successful or lucrative career is a tricky thing. It’s why I love talking to you about what you do.
What do you think about the negativity that occurs online? As a writer, I’ve always been far more concerned with championing something I’m passionate than tearing something down or critiquing something I didn’t like.
CD: That’s why I could never be a music journalist. I could never be a critic.
@chrisdouridas our co-founder of School Night will be spinning tonight. Don't forget to RSVP http://www.itsaschoolnight.com/rsvp/150803la.html . We will also be live streaming on @periscope_tv with some backstage niceness! Set 8:00pm - 8:30pm - Chris Douridas (opening DJ set) 8:30pm - 9:00pm - Night Beds @nightbeds 9:30pm - 10:00pm - Blah Blah Blah 10:30pm - 11:00pm - King Washington @kingwashington 11:00pm - 11:30pm - Garth Trinidad (DJ set) @garthtrinidad 11:30pm - 12:00am - Yoko and the Oh No's @yokontheohnos 12:00am - close - Garth Trinidad (closing DJ Set) **Tanner will DJ between bands** @lovetapsmusic #music #live #periscope #taglines
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JKF: I have to agree. I prefer journalism as cheerleading.
CD: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
JKF: If you can’t say something nice, go find something or someone that inspires niceness!
CD: Right! And who the hell am I to sit here and say, “This record sucks.” You know? Why don’t I just spend time on the ones I love? Instead, I can say, “This is great!” I can get excited about stuff and put it on the air and leave the rest alone.
JKF: Yeah, it also bums me out when fans discover a band early on only to feel alienated by their major success down the line. That feels like not being a team player to me. You can root for success.
CD: I think those are fans for the wrong reason. That’s being a fan for what it does for your own sense of self. It’s disingenuous.
JKF: I recall being in record stores in the ’90s and there was a sort of tribalism to music. This is punk. This is pop. This is alternative. There was a staunch breakdown of trends. Was that just a marketing gimmick, or do you think audiences identify less now with a certain movement?
CD: I don’t think so. I think genre fixation came about because journalists needed to describe music and people needed to sell it. I’ve never been a fan of putting a label on music. Most of the amazing artists that we could sit here and name have influences from across the spectrum. Listen to The Beatles.
There’s Indian music in there. There’s world music in there. There’s vaudevillian music, marches, hardcore rock, acoustic folk. They’re the most eclectic band on the planet. How do you classify The Beatles other than by calling them The Beatles? I’ve always been a fan of record stores that just categorize artists by their name. Period. End. You know?
JKF: Yes! I love that too. Amoeba is well-organized.
CD: That’s how we are at KCRW. We don’t sit there and say, “Coming up next is a bluegrass record from so and so.” You just say, “Here’s (fill in the name of the band)” and let the audience decide what it is—good, bad, or indifferent.
The real cure for being nervous is to be fully prepared.
JKF: Music festivals were, in a sense, born out of an idea of showcasing new talent. They’ve grown into a whole different animal. Do you think the festival system has evolved beyond discovery? Do you still find bands at SXSW?
CD: SXSW is over the top. It’s now a marketing machine. It’s hard for a baby band to get any notice at SXSW. The only way you can really make any headway there is to play a showcase with big sponsorship. It’s too insane.
JKF: What’s the best way for a band to break these days?
CD: I keep going back to writing great songs. When you write great songs, the rest comes. Everything comes. Everything will come to you. Then you’ll start building the right team out of the people that respond to those songs—labels, publishers, booking agents. Then that team will help push you into the areas you need to be in, whether it be great bookings, the world of film and TV, or radio, whatever. That team is only going to come if you’re writing great music.
JKF: You can’t keep a good man out.
CD: Yeah. The good stuff rises to the top. It’s not as though there are a bunch of unknown artists that have written amazing songs that aren’t getting their music out somehow. All the great songs are not sitting somewhere in a vault. That doesn’t happen. Songs find their way out. If there is great material, great artistry, it’s going to find an audience. Worry less about getting it out there, and worry more about creating what needs to get out there.
JKF: What makes the L.A. music scene so distinctive?
CD: It’s the best time ever for L.A., I think—right now. It’s really becoming the music capital of the world, not just in the industry, which it has been for a long time. The community of musicians in L.A. is more vibrant than ever. It’s more of a magnet for artists than ever before. I really believe that.
JKF: What’s your favorite part about your job?
CD: Finding the next great thing. It’s largely an editing process, sifting through a lot of mediocrity to find the good stuff. But, you know, I’ve never once headed to KCRW and thought, Ugh, god, what a drag. I gotta go do a radio show! That’s never happened.
JKF: You’re living the dream. My new dream is being mistaken for someone who thinks they’re Lou Reed. Thank you for that.