THE BOX: DJ Faalon Andrews talks WNUR, Girls That Mix and Battle of the DJs

Melanie De Vincentiis, Reporter

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MELANIE DE VINCENTIIS: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Melanie De Vincentiis. Thanks for tuning in. Welcome to THE BOX, where Northwestern’s musical artists talk about themselves and their art, and show you, their audience, a part of themselves that you don’t get to see through SoundCloud or their live performances. Here, artists can create their own box, their own brand, while entertaining an honest conversation. Here at THE BOX today is DJ Faalon Andrews. Faalon! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

FAALON ANDREWS: My name is Faalon Andrews. I am from Salt Lake City, Utah. I’m a senior at Northwestern right now. And I’ve been DJing for four years. I got my start doing WNUR and I’ve been doing WNUR for the past four years.

DE VINCENTIIS: Cool! So you said you were from Salt Lake City, Utah. Have you been there your whole life?

ANDREWS: Actually, no! I moved around a lot growing up. My dad was in the military, so I was actually born in Japan and then I moved to Alabama, Colorado, Germany, Pennsylvania, Utah and then my family actually moved to Michigan about three years ago. I don’t think Salt Lake City shaped me in terms of my musical influence, just because there is really not a musical scene out there. What actually influenced me to get into music was my dad. My dad is from Chicago so he listened to a lot of Chicago house music, so growing up he would play that around me all the time. And I used to hate it, because I remember in third grade or something, my dad would drive me and my friends to the movie theater and he would just be playing house music and it was just a nuisance, but my dad always told me, “One day, you are going to go to college and you are going to fall in love with house music.” That actually ended up happening! I came to Northwestern and I got involved with WNUR and specifically Streetbeat. Its core mission is to empower underrepresented communities and their music, and it was one of the first radio stations to play Chicago house music and popularize it in Chicago. So, when I got involved with WNUR, I would hear about all these things, and then I would go to people’s shows and that was true! A lot of the people played house music and I really just ended up falling in love with it. My dad is kind of like, “Well, I told you so!” and I guess he did.

DE VINCENTIIS: Do you think that DJing is fundamentally different from songwriting?

ANDREWS: I would say so, yes. I think songwriting is creating a moment. You are writing something about something that’s happened in your life, or partying, and you know, like, getting drunk and stuff like that. It feels a little bit more static to me. I would say DJing, rather than creating a moment, is more about creating an experience. You’re creating this sonic, dynamic moment that is always changing and very fluid, depending on how people are feeling at the time, how you’re feeling. Awareness of yourself as well as the audience is what DJing is and I think it’s very, very different than songwriting.

DE VINCENTIIS: Why do you DJ?

ANDREWS: I moved around a lot as a kid and so a lot of what I was doing was meeting new people in different cultures and trying to find ways to adapt to the situation, and that requires a level of being empathetic. And I think that’s what DJing does. Looking out in a crowd, feeling them out, trying to step into their shoes, like, “What do they want right now?” and “What can I do for them in this moment?” And so I think that’s mostly why I’ve been drawn into DJing.

DE VINCENTIIS: And what do you think the role of music in general is, in the broader sense?

ANDREWS: For the most part, everyone has music that they like, everyone shares music interests with their friends. You can be so different from someone, but then you can have this commonality, like “Oh, you like blablabla? I like blablabla!” and all of a sudden it’s like, this blossoms into this beautiful relationship. I think music is very special in that way.

DE VINCENTIIS: So I checked out your SoundCloud, and there’s one track on it and a #Guac Club. What is that?

ANDREWS: Yes. It’s my radio show that I have with my friend Mark Berger. We started this radio show my freshman year at WNUR. We started it with my other friend Rachel Silverstein who isn’t doing the radio show with us anymore but she was one of the founders. The name Guac Club arose from a dumb little joke that I made back in eighth grade or something. When we started off, we applied for a show on Streetbeat but we just weren’t good. We ended up having a Freeform show. We had a show that was 3 to 5 a.m. every Friday night. Awful, absolutely awful. But we were dedicated, we wanted to learn how to DJ and we messed up so many times, but I’m grateful that we had that 3 to 5 a.m. slot because that really taught us how to be independent and learn. And now we have primetime slot, you know? We made our way up there.

DE VINCENTIIS: When is the primetime slot?

ANDREWS: It is Wednesdays from 11 (p.m.) to 12 (a.m.)

DE VINCENTIIS: Accessible!

ANDREWS: Exactly!

DE VINCENTIIS: You recently starred in the event “Girls That Mix.” How do you prepare for an event like that?

ANDREWS: That event I prepared a decent amount for, just because it was a special event showcasing female DJs, which is a largely underrepresented group on campus. I took it very seriously, pulled a bunch of songs, created a loose set. When you’re DJing any event, you can prepare a set, but sometimes, just based on how the audience is responding to your music, you really have to be on the fly. But yeah, I spent a lot of time on that one.

DE VINCENTIIS: On the ninth of May, there was Battle of the DJs. Did you participate?

ANDREWS: No, I have done Battle of the DJs like two years in a row and I’ve lost every time. But yeah, I went to the event and it was really cool. Looking back, I understand why I lost those events. They are looking for a specific type of DJ that are very high energy, gets the crowd jumping up and down, because Dillo Day is on that big stage and you’re following these huge acts, so you really need to create this huge, big, epic moment for everyone. But, I think my kind of DJing is more you know, like basements, those small clubs and those kinds of acts don’t do well on a Dillo Day stage. So as salty as I am about that, I think it’s just a different beast.

DE VINCENTIIS: Is there anything you’d like to say to the people listening to this podcast?

ANDREWS: Support your friends that are DJs! We love seeing you at events. Because it’s really sad sometimes going to events and there’s no one there, or people aren’t responding to your music. Like go out there and dance for your friends! If they’re messing up or something, cheer them on. I want to give a shoutout to Mark Berger, my homeboy, been there for me, day one. Listen to GuacClub, every Wednesday night, 11 p.m. to 12 a.m., on WNUR, 89.3 FM. Or the livestream, wnur.org.

DE VINCENTIIS: You heard the woman, tune in! Here is a sample of one of Faalon’s live mixes. Thank you for listening to this podcast. I’m Melanie De Vincentiis, see you next time!

(Music: Faalon Andrews’ live WNUR mix)

Email: melanie.de.vincentiis@u.northwestern.edu


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