Tales from the Echobox 005
Launching in 2021, Echobox has been forging a path for community radio by showcasing the diverse characters and concepts that surround them. In this feature, we will be looking into a few of the broadcasts that you can tune into so get locked in and don’t touch that dial.
Jasmín Hoek - Petting Dogs
Hi Jasmin! Could you tell us a little about yourself and your show at Echobox?
My name is Jasmín, I was born and raised in Enschede; after living in some other cities, I have been settled in Amsterdam for about four years now. I DJ, I make music, I do some music journalism/writing here and there, and I’m writing my Master’s thesis in Gender Studies right now.
I came up with the name Petting Dogs quite randomly when I started thinking about an activity to name my radio show after back in 2018 and asked myself ‘What do I enjoy as much as playing music?’. The answer to that was (and still is) petting dogs, and I was secretly hoping for guests and friends to drop by with their dogs during my show. I am obsessed with dogs, so finding a great tune equals the feeling of getting to pet a dog.
For my guests who don’t relate to the dog-loving feeling, I tell them to play the music they really enjoy listening to, which can be anything– ambient, pop, dub, club tunes, anything. I’m really interested in what people listen to when they’re not DJing or playing music with a dance floor in mind, like the kind of things you listen to when replying to while travelling or at home.
How long have you been DJ'ing for and what got you started?
I started practising in late 2015 and then played my first club gig by 2017. I was already writing for several music platforms, so I think because of that it all happened quite fast as soon as I got into playing music as well. Looking back now, it all makes a lot of sense; I used to make mixtapes on the computer with Audacity when I was 15, and before that spent hours and hours on Limewire, YouTube, making CDs, and listening to music.
You host a bi-monthly show with us and also appear quarterly on EOS. What appeals to you about online radio?
I think the fact that you can fully play a set based on elements you feel are connecting, instead of having to keep in mind an energy level, intensity, or bpm. Or just letting the full track play and then starting the other. It’s a different approach to matching tracks and obviously I like listening to how others approach it as well. I guess the space to experiment has brought more ideas and freedom which I bring with me into DJing as well.
On a more practical level: a lot of the music I like or end up buying when I’m digging for music might not always be suitable for the club (even though I feel quite free to play whatever I want)– so it’s nice to have an outlet for those kinds of music as well, so they don’t end up just sitting in my library.
You’re currently finishing up your studies in Utrecht and focussing on the gender bias within social media algorithms?
Yes, I’m researching how different biases in algorithms could affect artists, so for example could algorithms affect their visibility, and does that then again impact their bookings… I’m still in a somewhat earlier stage, so no major conclusions yet. It’s a dense and broad subject, but it’s been really interesting to dive deeper into, and learn on a more substantial level how these technologies work.
For example, a lot of things work with facial recognition technologies, and it’s quite known that these almost inherently contain racial biases. It’s striking to realise how flawed certain tools actually are that have such a big role in our daily lives, our creative scenes and even our legal systems. One of the most shocking things is that it’s true that a certain image of a body might be pushed when it’s an advert or when it fits to a certain standard, and the same image can be pushed back in visibility for another body type.
I’m not anti-technology at all, social media has also brought me friendships, freedom and safety, inspiration, and a sense of identification. Still, it’s important to be aware that it’s also another product designed in a certain way by a specific group of people, and what flaws or mechanisms these technologies contain.
I read a recent study that petting dogs scientifically reduces anxiety… what are some of your tips and tricks to calming down?
One of the lessons the pandemic taught me is to just make everything a bit more week by week instead of seeing and worrying about everything from a long term meta-perspective, or trying to plan everything. That helps for sure. Knitting, grocery shopping, swimming, or cooking calms me down as well, although cooking can get quite stressful.
I also have a couple of go-to playlists and albums to listen to when I feel stressed or anxious. There’s sassy pop music to feel re-empowered, but also more calm things like Caetano Veloso, Dean Blunt, Grace Jones, or Thievery Corporation.
Just walking around a city by yourself that isn’t your own can be quite calming and nice as well, it doesn’t need to be abroad. If you have a free day, I’d recommend going to a part of the city you don’t often visit or even taking a train to another city in The Netherlands, there’s nice and inspiring stuff to see beyond the A10 as well ;-).
What events or projects have you got coming up?
I’m excited to feel and get more creative again after I finish my degree and see what comes out of that. For me university drains that quite a bit to be fair.
Right now, I’m just still really happy to be playing again, and seeing friends from abroad in Amsterdam or visiting them. I’ve gigs lined up for summer I’m excited about - like playing the Echobox Boat Party with legends Cinnaman and Rachel Green! I have been able to enjoy DJing more than ever before in the past months.
Shaquille Shaniqua Joy - OSCAM Look Around
Can you please introduce who you are and what you do outside of Echobox?
Hi my name is Shaquille Shaniqua Joy and I always tell people to pick one of my names that speaks the most to them. I do a little bit of everything but its always connected to storytelling in some way. I like the idea that the things that I do are as layered as my identity and therefore love to try out whatever feels right in the moment. My work as a moderator and creative producer is based on my fascination for people and stories, which is also what led me to work in the cultural sector. Within my Fashion and Branding studies, I specialised in International Journalism and Cultural Diversity, researching the human body as an archive, which very much informs my work. I also work for the museum OSCAM, and among other things, host a monthly radio show called Look Around on Echobox. In the show, I interview creatives and artists to learn more about and from their processes and give context to our exhibitions and programs.
What was the idea behind your show at Echobox?
I have always been someone who soaks up interviews, movies, music and art like a sponge. My work as a moderator really allows me to ask all of the questions I have, while at the same time I am able to share all of the references I gather on a daily basis through the interviews. Look Around is based on my personal fascination for people and their creative process. I learn so much from the way other artists create, no matter what their discipline is. When entering a museum you might learn something about the art and the artist to a certain extent but in my radio show we dive deeper and get to know more about the artists and the cultural sector, as well as its challenges and possibilities.
What kind of role do you see OSCAM (Open Space Contemporary Art Museum) as having amongst the wider Amsterdam museum landscape? How is it unique or specific?
OSCAM is a very unique place in general, but especially within the museological landscape. As a museum, we are accessible to a large group of people for so many reasons. We always aim to highlight both experienced and emerging artists from Amsterdam Southeast and at the same time showcase renowned artists from all over the world. This creates an interesting balance between someone who might have their first solo exhibition in our Young OSCAM Art Kitchen across from a well-known artist in the bigger exhibition space. To me, OSCAM feels like a second living room in which a community comes together that celebrates these artists and one another in a space that is filled with talent, love and ambition to constantly create exhibitions, programs and events that unite and inspire. Apart from that there is always good music, food and of course art.
How important is your focus on youth and subculture within OSCAM?
With different activities such as Young OSCAM Summer and Young OSCAM Winter Activities we focus on youth from Southeast and abroad. We do this as a team and always try to connect with the current exhibition. The youth is the future. We want them to feel safe in our open space.
Your approach to interviewing is very personal and you bring a lot of personality to it. How did you become interested in the medium of interviewing?
I think my interviews end up being personal because I don’t really see my job as me interviewing someone but rather us having a conversation. I knew that I wanted to be a moderator from a young age. I have always been very talkative and social and loved being in conversation with people. I don’t necessarily love being the centre of attention, but I also never had a problem being in front of audiences. So for me, asking someone questions with the focus on the other person, while I get to decide the direction of the conversation and how much I want to share of myself, always felt perfect.
Dead or alive who would be your ideal person to interview?
Wow, this is a difficult question. There are so many people. I never met any of my grandparents and won’t ever have the chance to, so that would be amazing. And next to that, I would love to have a show in which I could drive around in a different car for each episode while interviewing different people. I know that this format already exists in different ways but something about having conversations while driving feels exiting to me. If I could choose anyone at the moment, it would be Issa Rae or Jeremy O. Harris. But since I have this fascination for people, their background and work I could think of a different person each day.
Have a lovely rest of your week!
Christo - Hidden Fruits of Terra
You are a philosopher as well as a radio host who plays fantastic music. What are some of your favourite examples of philosophical movements or paradigms intersecting with developments in musical trends, styles, or scenes?
Ah well, thank you for the compliment. It’s all in a hard day's work for DJ person. That’s actually a reference to Monty Python's bicycle repairman, but de-gendered. Anyway, I find avant-garde music philosophically interesting. All avant-garde art has philosophical roots. It challenges your thinking, criticises traditional understanding and methods of composing, and also ‘truths’. It usually comes up with entire new frameworks people cannot really relate to. I like that. It’s a reorientation of the world/music and your ideas about them. I usually get excited when a worldview I have is exposed as a belief, a perspective, and to find that there’s another way to deal with reality. To me, this is about personal freedom. You don’t have to be stuck in your world. But for others, it can be very uncomfortable to go beyond their security and valued opinions.
Music is also more than ever used as a means to emancipate oppressed groups. Music has a liberating effect these days. Artists use it in search of their own identity away from Christianity, colonial domination, and other forms of marginalisation. There are badass feminist bands, Angry Blackmen rapping, and queer artists such as Special Interest and Chris Conde expressing themselves being fed up with the shit they have to deal with. They usually express revolt, anger, apathy, and also insecurity. Its energy is straight from the heart and channels the emotions involved in an authentic way. It’s music working at the centre of humanity.
What is the role of radio in modern life?
Radio has for a great deal become McRadio. It’s programmed to get a market share while philosophy and spirituality are scarce. I think that the raison d'être of radio from a philosophical point is to connect the experiential worlds of people and share existential stories, make visible the capillaries of social life, function as a democratic watchdog, and also entertain, and lighten things up. Radio is a supplement to the public domain, such as café culture, the village square, parks, and libraries. I think Echobox does a great job in this regard. Echobox is radio as a tool of discovery that offers different music and perspectives.
How do you spend your time away from music, philosophy, and radio?
Besides philosophy, music and radio, there’s not much else. In jail, I’m doing philosophy with prisoners, but that’s philosophy again. I do take care of my sprouting tomato plants and hope to eat delicious tomatoes this year. I write a lot too. Mainly useless stories. And normally I cycle 200 to 300 kilometres per week on my road bike this time of year in those silly spandex clothes. But I’ve been recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism so that activity is postponed for now.
In the face of the environmental crisis that intertwines the fate of human life in a series of interlocking processes that include but also go far beyond the human, is there a need and a capacity to move beyond philosophical forms that centre human existence?
There are actually philosophical approaches within environmental ethics that go beyond anthropocentrism, the view that only human interests and desires matter. A non-anthropocentric approach reasons that it’s absurd to assume that any non-human life can be seen as an extension of human interests. And we do actually acknowledge the moral status of non-human life. It’s for example allowed to kill elephant poachers in the act, which means we give animal life more weight in some situations than human life. On the other hand, companies such as 3M and DuPont are destroying ecological systems for over 50 years with the production of PFAS. (And this is only one of many examples.) But these CEOs are not put in prison or shot down, even though they do way more damage than an elephant poacher. We still have to figure out how much weight to give to non-human life and ecosystems apart from human interest and profit. Profit seems to be higher valued in many cases. If the moral status of nature is more strongly acknowledged - we have the moral theories - then we can do more to preserve nature. And the thing is, at the bottom people are willing, but at the top, it’s a mess.
Should philosophy have a more prominent place in mainstream modern societies? Would the problems we face be addressed with a more coherent and conscious societal philosophical outlook?
Wow, that’s a question I definitely want to answer with yes. But this is a tricky one. What can philosophy substantially contribute to the outlook of problems other than politics, science, and religion? Can philosophy claim that it’s is indisputably necessary and gives a more coherent and conscious outlook? And it’s up to me to defend the marvellous discipline of philosophy. And if I fail… Damocles sword is right above my head. So much for no pressure felt. But let’s give it a try.
Philosophy searches for the bigger picture. Sciences are fragmented into specialisations. You can e.g. get a Ph.D. on the cilia on the right hind leg of a frog. But what about the frog itself or in relation to its environment? Inherent to philosophy is the search for a coherent view, looking for connections between the data. Another example is that neuroscience looks purely technically at the brain. This offers mere inputs and outputs. If you want to use only science then you can throw meaning away. Science becomes passionate when you start discussing the meaning of findings. That's always a leap to philosophy. Philosophy studies the relationship between the different fields of science and considers the possibility of uniting all fields of science into one. In the same way, it looks to the world and society.
Politics begin where self-interest ends. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of self-interest in politics nowadays. Narcissism and megalomania were 30 years ago psychological disorders but now they’re traits of success. Philosophy advocates the importance of others than yourself. It never stops giving a voice to unnoticed injustice, getting it out of the shadows, and promoting emancipation and justice. It’s for a good reason that Plato thought that philosophers should govern the city-states.
Philosophy is a self-critical discipline and thus promotes an ongoing investigation of who you are. Why do you think what you think? Why do you believe what you think? What values are important? What human traits are valuable? How do you deal with unpredictability? What is the nature of the problems? Philosophy always looks for clarification and for language that makes problems clear.
With all this philosophy claims that there’s no value-free knowledge. Truth always serves an interest. The critical stance of philosophy, never stop asking questions, is quite a pain in the ass. It’s for a good reason that the Islamic State, from their point of view, banned philosophy from schools immediately when they came to power.
So yes, it's justified to say that philosophy addresses problems with a more coherent and conscious societal philosophical outlook.
Your show centres around showcasing the underground and left-field music of earth for any extra-terrestrial life that may be out there. What distinguishable feature do you imagine they would have?
I think their favourite colour is Wernher von Braun.