DJ Woodtronic Knows a Good Oddity When He Sees One, and He Sees Plenty in DFW
Known for his sophistication as a DJ, Reid Robinson (a.k.a. Woodtronic) gets groovy, laid back gigs spinning at spots like the Perot Museum and outdoor shows in Dallas Arts District. Not to say he can't pump (and punk) it up if needed...you can also see him spinning pretty regularly at skate bouts for Assassination City Roller Derby. Even better known as a radio personality at KNON 89.3 FM, as part of Tuesday's Sonic Assembly Power Hour, Robinson has also worked as a recording engineer for some TV/film projects, played with a couple local bands, held a marketing gig at Apple for bit and grew up with a father who was a bit of a hotshot at Capitol Records back in the day. Even more fascinating are the things Robinson has seen in his local arts adventures about town. So, let's attempt to get to the bottom of the very non-boring DJ Woodtronic.
So much to pick your brain about. But I can't wait to ask you about some of the more odd and surreal things you've witnessed at all the gigs and shows you've been to. It's some of the most fascinating answers I've ever heard here. For starters, tell us about Mr. Peppermint's performance!
Well, Mark Ridlen and myself produced a Tiki-Meets-Texas compilation in 2003 called Texotica, and one of the most surreal moments I've ever witnessed was Mr. Peppermint [Of Captain Kangaroo fame, father to Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes] performing "Yellowbird" with a coconut-clad go-go dancer.
Wow. More, please. You've seriously got our attention.
Probably one of the oddest gigs I've played was the Flamingo Hotel with my old band Shanghai 5, between Wayne Newton and JJ "Dy-no-mite" Walker. Next on the bucket list would be spinning a party for David Lynch, who was in attendance for AFI Dallas Film Festival, and he stood there and talked with me about music for quite a while. Although it's not local, I highly recommend David Lynch's first solo record Crazy Clown Time!
Nice. So, one of my favorite questions to ask here is about musical background in your childhood. Your answer is, again, definitely one of the most interesting I've heard.
You mean my Dad? He was the Southwest marketing guy for Capitol Records from the late '60s to the mid 70's. He got to represent Brian Wilson, Lou Rawls, Buck Owens, Wings, Ike & Tina Turner Revue and Wayne Newton.
That's amazing for a kid to grow up around. It didn't stop there, did it? Mom played a lot of music at home?
Soundtracks, Exotica, jazz, funk and comedy records were always on the hi-fi console. And Soul Train was a Saturday afternoon staple with my mom! I was barely in big boy pants, and the dye was cast after staying up late with my dad watching The Midnight Special with bands like Blondie, The Cars, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Kraftwerk, War, ELO, and New York Dolls. We also went to a lot of live shows, jazz festivals, and local music concerts.
And you're carrying on the music bloodline to your own, I understand?
I am! I'm now the dad of a four-year old boy who loves music, who claims he's going to start a band called Toy Division when he's six or seven.
As a teenager, you started to absorb more local sounds? And play some music yourself?
In my early teens, I got into local music, punk, experimental, and hip-hop, listening to radio shows with George Gimarc, Liza Richardson, EZ Eddie D, and Reverend Ivan Stang. Before the internet the only way to hear local music was community radio, and near daily visits to Bill's Records. Partly due to being 6'3 at 15, I was able to get into a lot of great shows at Theatre Gallery, Club Clearview, Video Bar, and even Stark Club.
My first instrument was an old Fender Jaguar bass, and we always had a piano around the house, but took an early shine to recording, film, sampling, and "noise". Started out looping tape on my dads reel-to-reel, then bought my first Ensoniq EPS sampler in 1989. Brian Eno was one of my main influences, if that gives some insight.
Yes, you can really hear that influence in your style. It sounds like KNON is a perfect fit for you. I imagine they're very grateful to have you there for so long.
DJ Sista Whitenoise and myself host a Tuesday evening program called 'Sonic Assembly Power Hour', with our 4-year anniversary coming up this April. At least a quarter of our programming is local music, and we regularly feature artists, writers, politicians, chefs, film directors, scientists, and musicians as our guest DJ.
KNON really, truly is radio free America over there, yes?
KNON represents diversity in North Texas music. And for nearly 30 years! You'll hear everything. Local blues, soul, metal, jazz, punk, electronic, world, gospel and underground hip-hip. All curated by the on-air DJ's. KNON also host local views that don't get much representation with programs like Worker's Beat and Jim Schutze's Get Off My Lawn.
How many local favorites can you fire off before running out of breath? I imagine quite a list with you!
That's a loaded question, but some past and present favorites include; MC 900 Ft. Jesus, End Over End, Ten Hands, 66, Corn Mo, Bedhead, Sofa Kingdom, Lithium Xmas, Legendary Crystal Chandelier, Shelley Carrol, True Widow, PPT, Jamal Mohamed, Mount Righteous, The Paper Chase, Mind Spiders, The Singapore Slingers, Pinkish Black, Eyes Wings and Many Other Things, Yells At Eels, and Home by Hovercraft.
What would you change or improve about our local arts community?
I'd continue working on integrating local music into the DFW arts scene, further blurring the lines between music/film/art, and lobby civic leaders for continued and greater support of local artists.
Are we truly a community? Are we all looking out for each other like we should?
There is a sense of cooperation I'm really excited about, and even Dallas Arts District venues like the Dallas City Performance Hall, Nasher, and Perot Museum are supporting local talent of all genres. There's also an abundance of music, film, and arts festivals like Aurora 2013, that offer musicians some very intriguing opportunities.