Voidcast Transcripts

Episode 1

In My Room

Note: The VOIDCAST is produced and designed to be heard, not read. We highly recommend listening to the audio. The audio contains tone and emotion that are not included in the transcript. Transcripts are created using speech recognition software and human transcribers, but it may contain errors. Please verify with the audio before using any quotes in print.

Matt Shaw:
In 2018, “No Going Back” was arguably the song of the summer. A shimmering, bounc,y synth heavy atmospheric pop tune that dominated indie-tinged playlists on digital music services like Spotify. The song was the product of a 27-year-old, almost completely unknown artist who'd been toiling away in his home studio.

Yuno: 0:29
Instead of traveling around playing shows I could just like kind of travel around the internet sharing my music.

Matt Shaw: 0:34
He goes by YUNO, and that home studio, it was a bedroom in the Arlington neighborhood of Jacksonville.

Yuno’s efficacy with home recording and digital music production earned him a record contract with unimpeachably cool indie label Sub Pop, home at one time or another to Soundgarden,
Nirvana, Iron and Wine, Head and the Heart.

Yuno had never performed this music publicly. But the label soon had him on the road selling out clubs across the US and Europe. Though he's the most successful of the bunch, Yuno is but one of dozens of musicians plugging away in home studios across Northeast Florida. Creating approachable, sometimes even danceable, mostly electronic music for a broad audience.

Brian Squillace:
Yeah, I just I play everything on this keyboard.

Matt Shaw:
Today we'll enter the lo-fi, seemingly isolated, yet moderately connected world of DIY home recording, often referred to as bedroom pop.

This is the VOIDCAST from Void Magazine and WJCT Public Media, where we cut through the digital noise and subvert the algorithms taking you on a locals-only journey through the history and contemporary vibrancy of music from Northeast Florida. I'm your host, Matt Shaw, editor in chief of Northeast Florida culture and lifestyle magazine Void.

We live in a world where you have these infinite libraries of tunes right there available for streaming, plus a whole ecosystem of music publications on the internet. I don't read them all, but I feel like I'm pretty tapped in. So the first time I heard Yuno, or should I say heard of Yuno, was via a Sub Pop newsletter in my inbox that said something to the effect of ‘Sub Pop signs Jacksonville's own Yuno my first thought was “Huh, Jacksonville's own? Our Jacksonville?” So I listened to his most streamed song, “No Going Back,” which at that point had like two million plays on Spotify. It has 17 million now. And I had that feeling like maybe I've heard this before. Maybe I thought it was a Tame Impala song. but Maybe it's just so catchy that it just sounded familiar the way catchy songs do.

Glenn Van Dyke: 3:04
It's really reminiscent, like most good pop songs are, I think where they they stand out while blending in.

Matt Shaw: 3:11
A friend of mine Glen Van Dyke, she's the creator of the Jacksonville music festival Winterland and founding member of seminal New York garage rock band Boytoy, she had a similar experience with her discovery of Yuno.

Glenn Van Dyke: 3:22
All those synth pads with a leading melody that gets stuck in your head and it's like you hear it and you think you've heard it before we can't quite put your finger on it.

Matt Shaw: 3:32
When you hear bedroom pop, it was an underground term for a while and now it's like kind of come to the forefront. What, what do you think about when you hear bedroom pop?

Glenn Van Dyke: 3:42
It's I think that it's um it's, it's, it's making use of what's available to you within our consumer market of recording equipment. You can go and buy an interface. Recording your songs and getting down your ideas is so much more accessible than it ever used to be. And whenever I think bedroom pop, you think of something that's usually like a solo person, creating the beats, the music, being alone in a room, making songs that are evoked by those feelings of you know, being like by yourself. And that having a universal translation and connecting with people who have had similar feelings or have creative thoughts alone also.

Matt Shaw: 4:32
Yuno doesn't have a traditional musical background. He grew up skateboarding, and says he got turned on to a variety of genres: underground hip hop, punk, reggae from watching skate videos. His dad bought him a $20 guitar from a flea market. Then he started looking up guitar tabs online and learn songs along with his friends at school.

Yuno: 4:49
My cousin, he used to make beats in Fruity Loops, and I wanted to make a song for a school project. So I had him teach me how to make a beat. and helped me with that and all my friends liked it and thought it was funny. So I just kept making beats and like funny raps and stuff. And then eventually I realized I could make more serious music with it and kind of blend beat making with playing guitar.

So I'd make beats and then add some guitar on top of it and then kind of kept developing that. I just kind of stayed in my bedroom, worked on music, worked on like art and video editing and all that sort of stuff. But yeah, I didn't really go to many shows. I went to one show this rapper MC Lars.

And that was what really kickstarted me into making music and realizing like I could do things on my own just because I saw him on stage by himself. So I was like, “Oh, I can just make music in my bedroom by myself.” And yeah, just just stayed very isolated for a really long time.

Matt Shaw: 5:50
Until he was discovered by Sub Pop. Since the late 1980s, the Seattle-based record label has been synonymous with indie cool. With Mudhoney and Nirvana they ushered in the grunge era in the early 1990s, then played an outsized role in kicking off the neofolk revival in the early 2000s. Signing earnest singer songwriter acts like Fleet Foxes, they undeniably keep their proverbial fingers on the pulse of what's happening in music. So signing a seemingly obscure Jacksonville producer, while shocking to some, is also fitting.

Yuno: 6:21
Ish, who's in a group on Sub Pop called Shabazz Palaces. I guess he was just browsing through SoundCloud. He doesn't really remember exactly how he stumbled across me. But he did and he listened and he liked it a lot. And he emailed me and just told me he liked my music. We kept in touch for a while. Eventually he was just like, “Hey, if it's okay, I want to share your stuff with the rest of the people at Sub Pop and I was like, “Yes, that is okay. I, I am definitely okay with you showing Sub Pop my music.” And everybody else seemed to like it, and I ended up signing with them. And it was kind of like out of nowhere and definitely a dream come true for me because I've always been a really big Sub Pop fan. They reached out to me finding my music online, which is kind of how I made sure to get out my music,like get my music out to people. I figured instead of traveling around playing shows, I could just like kind of travel around the internet sharing my music.

Matt Shaw: 7:14
And this is what really makes the world of bedroom pop, a uniquely modern one. These forums and platforms where artists who are creating music on their computer at home, can share, communicate and collaborate on music. That's how Jacksonville electronic musician Brian Squillace, who also makes music from his home, first heard of Yuno, years before Sub Pop scooped him up.

Brian Squillace: 7:35
I think a friend shared his music with me. And then I sent him an email saying, “Hey, I think you're cool. If you ever play shows, like my band could play shows with you or whatever.” And I think he responded and was just like, “Thanks,” but like, he didn't really play shows or anything. And then I followed up years later, just saying like, what's up again, you know, just kind of like bugging the dude because I just knew like, “How is this guy so good?” Living here in Arlington. Never seen him. He just exists. And I know he's great. His music started coming together and he got signed to Sub Pop and he needed to tour, he needed a band. So I was one of those people that was just like pestering him. So he's like, “Hey, let's play” like, all right.

Yuno: 8:20
I was really nervous for the first show. We were touring with this band Twin Shadow. And we flew out to San Francisco to start a little, little mini tour. And yeah, I was really nervous for this like sold-out crowd.

Brian Squillace: 8:36
Uh, yeah, the first show sucked. Actually, I take it back. Our first show wasn't that bad. But we did have a bunch of disasters right afterwards because we were so new. I think that most bands get a chance to play their embarrassing shows in front of 10 people. But we are in this very unique situation of playing our embarrassing shows in front of 500 people

And then in Yuno’s case he had never played a show in his life, he may be played one.

I just remember being backstage just like had the like this tightness in my stomach, was in knots and then I finally did it and like felt OK about it. And I was really nervous for the next few shows but I think generally after that tour and especially towards the end of it I just realized everyone was there to have a good time, so I didn't need to like worry too much.

Brian Squillace:
It was a slow start, but you know, a fun one.

Matt Shaw: 9:47
Squillace was uniquely suited for the task. He honed his stage shops as a founding member of the popular local electronic band Sea Cycles. In the last few years, he's become one of the most sought after producers and collaborators in this region. In this electronic pop duo LANNDS with fellow Producer Rania Woodard has a couple million plays on Spotify. And he's lately been releasing music under a solo project pseudonym Odd Relics, music, which he makes by himself in yep, a bedroom.

Brian Squillace: 10:20
So this is the master bedroom of a pretty standard house in Murray Hill. It's not huge, but it is bigger than the other bedrooms and recording equipment wise, it's really, really basic.

Matt Shaw: 10:44
It's fairly modest, and feels warm. It's got these chintzy maroon tapestries on the wall, an oriental rug of a similar palette, and a smattering of bear figurines that give it a kind of Pacific Northwest log cabin feel. The trappings of a musician space are evident: a couple guitars, some sound paneling, a piano. But if you're picturing Phil Spector’s Gold Star Studios, you’re lost. Squillace’s wall of sound is a desktop monitor and a couple speakers.

Brian Squillace: 11:12
I really just like soft lights and I like dark red and I like patterns. I just like things to feel cozy. But my studio has been an evolution. Like it started in like the breakfast nook area of a house I had and then was in a living room and it's been in my bedroom before. So but wherever it is, just the certain things follow it around like my little bear statues, they kind of go everywhere with me. It's just an easy way to make something feel at home like it's my place. You know?

Matt Shaw: 11:45
How many hours a day do you spend in this room?

Brian Squillace: 11:52
Uh, it depends on the day. But I would say between two and six hours a day.

Matt Shaw: 11:59
Within the Digital ether of the internet, there are entire networks of musicians like Squillace, sharing sounds or samples cribbed from all manner of sources: vintage musical equipment, old records, even nature.

Brian Squillace: 12:13
On Reddit there's a community called “We are the Music Makers” and people will post found sounds. so this guy went out into the woods and with a field recorder and just got a bunch of samples of all kind of sounds in the woods and then put it out for free for people to use. And so if you just hear what it sounds like with nothing, I can add a little delay to it or I can kind of manipulate the EQ.

It definitely sounds like drums when you listen to it but it's not necessarily like “Oh, that's a bunch of tree branches” but it is.

Every one of these sounds in this song specifically, other ones I use other instruments, but every one of these sounds can be performed on this keyboard. So this sound was performed right here. the same way that this sound was right here. Yeah, I just I play everything on this keyboard.

I went to Mexico last year and when we were in the cenotes ( It's like Ginnie Springs, but like in a cave) and I was really inspired by the way just water drops sounded and it sounds phenomenal. So obviously these are not recordings from that. But that's just my interpretation of what that might be like, if I could make it that way.

Matt Shaw: 14:20
You know, once an idea sparked just to be able to come in and dive into a project, it must feel freeing, because I know you've played in bands before where it's more collaborative. Can you just talk about working on music this way?

Brian Squillace: 14:33
It's so easy to come in here and work on something that I'll have moments that even yesterday, I didn't have a lot of time and I was watching a TV show and I was like, “I'm not gonna work on music this morning. I'm just gonna watch this TV show.” And something about the song in the TV show just got me really stoked. And I was like, maybe I should just work on music right now. And I just came right back here and I worked on something for let's say 15 minutes and just let it go. And what I ended up with was just like a chord progression and a series of synth textures I created.

And it's not a song. It's just more like a mood board. But I did it in 15 minutes. And that was that and I may not touch that thing for another year. I don't know. But like it got done. And I'd say the other benefit to working, at least working alone, is that I can go through really bad ideas without criticism. I think it's a big deal because I think that when you're in a group setting, unless you're really comfortable with your bandmates, you're going to be hesitant to throw out ideas that are a little more extreme or something that you know might not instantly be palatable because you might think someone else is just going to naysay that idea right away, which happens all the time in bands. Obviously, the flip side of that is that sometimes that's helpful, because somebody might stop you from going down a three-hour rabbit hole of crap. But I’ve felt more recently it's been really cool just to be weird and not worry if it sounds good.

Matt Shaw: 16:07
I wanted to ask you how you feel or what your relationship to the term bedroom pop is? How do you feel about that?

Brian Squillace: 16:14
That term? I love that term. I don't apply it to myself though because I think Bedroom Pop usually implies a little bit of an R&B feel. Like it's almost always just like you know, a pretty standard R&B chord progression on maybe like electric piano or electric guitar with chorus on it. And then, you know, it's just like, produced at home and sounds very lo- fi on purpose, but a lot of my favorite artists right now are that. Like Still Woozy is my top ones right now.

I have zero issues with the term. I think that I make music in that way. But I don't know if it ends up sounding like that.

Matt Shaw: 17:05
Right. And I think that music journalists or whoever will you know, a new genre of music or whatever, and they need a word to apply to it. And so bedroom pop has kind of become this all encompassing thing for somewhat electronic music that has like a lo-fi sort of tinge to it. Which I kind of see a direct through line between, like garage rock in the 60s, where you just have these bands of young kids getting together. They want to record some music. They hang a microphone in the garage. And then you have hip hop in the 80s, where, you know, cheap electronic equipment, and you put some samples together and then somebody raps over it. I guess the utility or the access that you have to the equipment that, that you're using and how that kind of inspires the music that comes out of it.

Brian Squillace: 17:55
Yeah, I think that, I think a lot of ways there are similarities to this world, like there is to photography. So the better technology gets, the easier it is for anyone to access. So there's two things that happen when that happens.

One is that the world gets saturated with a lot of music, like more than ever had because it's so easy just to do it. And a lot of that music is bad, sure. But the other side of it is that like if somebody recorded something in a professional studio, and somebody recorded something at home, and that quality gap is getting smaller, then it seems like the bar for entry is just like more open and like any anybody can do it.

And then what happens is it becomes less about like, “Oh, did you get great tones?” Or “Did you go get the coolest sounding, you know, vintage piano or whatever?” And it's more just about like, what was the message of your art and like, it almost makes things more pure. Like when someone makes it from their home with nothing and it's still a successful song, then it just means that it didn't need all these accessories to be real or to be relatable to people that want to hear it. And a lot of the best music right now is that way.

Yuno: 19:16
I feel like I fit in,

Matt Shaw: 19:17
Yuno again

Yuno: 19:19
I feel like it's a very broad term, so maybe not everyone would feel like they fit into it, but it's just like it's music I’m making in my bedroom so it's literally bedroom music. And I think I make pop music. So I'd say it's bedroom pop. Like that makes sense. It's still in my bedroom. I am working on music in my bedroom like right now pretty much. I just stopped.

[PROMO] 20:11
The VOIDCAST is part of WJCT’s Jacksonville Music Experience here to give music fans in Northeast Florida lots of ways to enjoy their favorite artists and discover new genres: on the air, online, on demand and in person. It's three streaming music stations, TV and online performances, and the WJCT Soundstage Series. Check it out now at WJCT.org/JAXMUSIC.

Matt Shaw: 21:00
Bedroom pop is kind of having a moment. Who are some examples of artists, sort of mainstream, contemporary pop artists from that world who are making music in the way that you know Brian Squillace from Odd Relics or Yuno?

Glenn Van Dyke: 21:14
Yeah, I mean Billie Eilish just swept the Grammys.

Matt Shaw: 21:20
What did she win, like five or something?

Glenn Van Dyke:
Yeah, all of them. Yeah, she comes from a bedroom pop background. you've got Lil Peep, R.I.P, Juice WRLD. There's this artist called Clairo, which I just heard about when doing some research on bedroom pop. She signed to Father/Daughter, or SALES from Orlando.

Matt Shaw: 21:46
Vagabond. The term lo-fi gets used when we talk about bedroom pop in and you know, any time you label music, sometimes it can be a term of endearment. But a lot of times like musicians, artists don't like labels. But lo fi is tied to bedroom pop and what is what does that mean when we say lo-fi?

Glenn Van Dyke: 22:09
It's funny because that word lo-fi, I feel like has been, it's been used so much at this point, kind of like how indie has been, where it's completely lost its its meaning. And it's like, meant to imply that someone's using equipment that is not its consumer-grade or it's not professional-grade.

And with those things come a certain sonic quality, like extra tape hiss or a really noisy guitar. And it's now you know, those are very indicative of bedroom pop I think because those are the equipment that is really accessible. And also the resurgence of people wanting to create that, you know, becomes a paradox. If it’s called lo-fi ,it was a degrading term in the 70s because you couldn't afford to be in a fancy studio, but now that's silver-toned tone is sought after.

Matt Shaw: 23:01
There's another artist here in Northeast Florida I think we both know and and like very much, Sailor Goon. Can you tell us about Kayla, AKA Sailor Goon?

Glenn Van Dyke: 23:12
Yeah, her vocal delivery is really striking to me. She has a really impressive range. She can evoke it with a really laissez faire attitude and it's just like, at one point she's kind of barely whispering and then she's hitting a vocal run. She leaves you with cliffhangers. She doesn't have a lot of repetition in our songs. It reminds me of like Frank Ocean and Solange have that same very linear style. Her her joints are real short.

Matt Shaw: 23:58
There's like a vulnerability to it. I've always sort of loved artists who display like a decent level of discomfort on stage like David Burns-discomfort.. Yeah, it was kind of quirky. And, and Kurt Cobain, I think genuinely seemed shy when he played live. I think in my mind that makes artists more approachable. Like they're, they're just you or I up there. Do you think there's an approachability factor to bedroom pop like the way these artists share their music through the internet, they connect in this way that's like, you know, this is the modern way of communication.

Glenn Van Dyke: 24:37
I totally do, yeah. I think it could go back to the fact that a lot of these artists are, you know, admittedly, by themselves writing these songs. And there's certain emotions that you can only evoke from being by yourself and and what those feelings put into the songs that they’re writing is something that is read I think by other people when they listen to it and it's a very common theme and common thread and it's, it's yeah. It's easy to like see yourself or identify feelings that you felt in you know someone else's moment of alone time. It seems like the songs are very personal or stem from a personal place.

Matt Shaw: 25:31
This is the VOIDCAST from Void magazine and WJCT Public Media. I'm the editor of Void Magazine Matt Shaw. This episode was produced by Lindsey Kilbride and recorded at the studio's of WJCT. You can check out an episode-inspired playlist at wjct.org/voidcast. Special thanks to LANNDS for letting us use their song Metanoia the theme of this episode

Episode 2

Please Call Home

Note: The VOIDCAST is produced and designed to be heard, not read. We highly recommend listening to the audio. The audio contains tone and emotion that are not included in the transcript. Transcripts are created using speech recognition software and human transcribers, but it may contain errors. Please verify with the audio before using any quotes in print.

Matt Shaw: 0:01
So we're at the Winterland Festival in the middle of five points, traditionally the Bohemian district of Jacksonville's Riverside area. There's over 40 local bands playing tonight and plus a bunch of out-of-town bands, so we're gonna see who knows anything about the Allman Brothers in Jacksonville.

Bobby: 0:23
A lot of denim and a lot of hair.

Ben: 0:25
How hard they rock?

Matt Shaw:
I wanted to ask you what you know about the Allman Brothers Band?

Ansley 0:32
You’re really going to ask me this question?

Matt Shaw:
Do you know where they're from?

Bobby: 0:37

Matt Shaw 0:38
Getting hotter.

A really formative period of their musical history took place right here in Riverside where you're standing right now.

No way.

Ansley 0:47
Yeah. And they have a house that's a historic landmark right now.

Ben 0:52
You know who else was formed in Jacksonville though?
My favorite Jacksonville band, Limp Bizkit.

Cherry Springer band members 0:58
We have Lived at the Fillmore and then what's the first album? Self titled The Allman Brothers?

Matt Shaw:
Yeah, Allman Brothers Band.

Cherry Springer band members:
Yeah with like “Not my Cross to Bear” and all that jazz on it. Love that album.

Matt Shaw:
Do you feel proud like a connection to them being that you guys are a Jacksonville band and they were?

Cherry Springer band members:
Of course, we love all the Jacksonville bands. Skynyrd baby. Freebird! They’re more of an inspiration to us than the Allman Brothers. I'm just kidding.

Matt Shaw:
Do you think Skynyrd or Limp Bizkit are more often associated with Jacksonvill than maybe the Allman Brothers are?

Tony: 1:32
I would say for sure. Yeah, I would say for sure, I think Allman Brothers, you gotta dig deep on the Allman Brothers.

[INTRO] Matt Shaw : 1:45
Today we're digging deep, diving into what was arguably the most formative period of the Allman Brothers Band — a span of roughly four passion-, drug- and kismat-fueled months, in which all the pieces of this legendary group came together. Right here, in Jacksonville, Florida.

This is the VOIDCAST from Void magazine and WJCT Public Media, where we cut through the digital noise and subvert the algorithms, taking you on a locals-only journey through the history and contemporary vibrancy of music from Northeast Florida. I'm your host Matt Shaw, editor in chief of Northeast Florida culture and lifestyle magazine Void.


If you don't know much about the Allman Brothers Band, here's a quick Foundation: The Allman Brothers Band remains one of the most critically admired groups of its era. They were commercially successful too, selling something like 10 million records. ABB songs like “Dreams” and “Revival,” many of which were written or came together during the band's time in Jacksonville turned the late ‘60s music scene on its ear.

The Allman Brothers third album At Fillmore East is widely considered one of the best live rock albums ever. The band had six original members, Berry Oakley on bass, Dickey Betts on guitar, two drummers: Jai Johanny Johanson and Butch Trucks, and two brothers raised in Daytona Beach named Gregory and Duane Allman on Hammond B3 and slide guitar respectively.

Each member is individually heralded as one of the best to play his instrument. For instance, both Dickey Betts and Duane Allman both made Rolling Stone magazine's list of “100 best Guitarists of All Time.” Betts at number 61, Allman at number nine. And if you were around Jacksonville in 1969, you could have met them, maybe at the Comic Book Club downtown, or seen them perform before any of this fame at a free concert in a park like Willow Branch park in the Riverside area.

Daniel Brown: 4:16
So the Allmans played here. They jammed for three months and they moved. non-stop jam. They jammed for the season.

Matt Shaw: 4:21
On a Monday morning I visited the park with my friend, musician and journalist Daniel Brown. He writes the Arts and Music column for Void magazine and he's a wealth of Jacksonville music history knowledge.

It’s a gray, what month is it? February day. So we're like roughly 50 years removed from when the Allman Brothers were jamming here.

We're here trying to sniff out any trace of a somewhat mythical and maybe mystical few months of activity that in many ways coalesced around this park in the late 1960s.

There's a you know, a swing set, not sure when that was built, and a slide, basketball court baseball field. I don't know if any of this stuff was here at the time of jam. But what I don't seeis a place to plug in.

Daniel Brown: 5:10
No, not at all.

Matt Shaw:
Yeah, looking around this park and thinking about like, how many people do you imagine where like?

Daniel Brown:
I've seen pictures. I don't think it was not like the dead in Haight-Ashbury. It was like a smaller... I can't believe that the city allowed this too which still kind of trips me up, that somehow these hippies were playing in Jacksonville in a park, that the cops weren't here with like, you know, baton swinging on hippie skull.

Matt Shaw: 5:34
Legendary as it would turn out to be the Allman Brothers’ time in Jacksonville, at least as the original sextet was short lived, less than four months in the spring of 1969, then poof, they were gone to Macon, Georgia, then on the road, playing famously at places like Piedmont Park in Atlanta, in the studio with Eric Clapton. [Layla] Yeah, that's Duane Allman. And of course for Bill Graham at the Fillmore both East and West. Also, fun fact: Greg Allman would marry Cher at one point. [Cher song] Yeah, that Cher.

But, let's back up. In March of 1969, a burgeoning countercultural scene was reaching a kind of a critical mass here in the Riverside neighborhood of Jacksonville, as a group of crack musicians from varying musical backgrounds united here and set to jamming in houses around the neighborhood, on front porches, and on certain occasions, parks like this one.

Dan and I are of the opinion that the band is wildly under appreciated here. Only just recently, they were honored with a historical marker indicating Jacksonville as the birthplace of the Allman Brothers. It's about a half mile from this park in front of a two-story gray house where some of the band's members lived in jammed

Daniel Brown: 6:46
It's a pretty, it's a pretty intense history for a placard. I'm really impressed. It's like, based from Chicago...

Matt Shaw: 6:55
Is there a reason why maybe they're not as like celebrated here being like a, you know hometown band?

Daniel Brown: 7:05
Yeah, I mean I could cry skullduggery with the city is being you know, cultural killjoys. It took like 50 years to put a plaque in front of a house. To me, that's the city. there should be a bronze statue of Duane Allman at 5 Points because any other any other city would take advantage of this. I mean adminidally with Skynyrd. But the Allman Brothers were such a huge, huge and unique band for even for that era.

Matt Shaw: 7:32
The Allman Brothers Band is often lumped in with other JAX-exports, like Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special and labeled Southern rock. The term at least as far as ABB is concerned, is wholly inaccurate. Duane and Greg were reared on a heavy dose of r&b and rock and roll. Other members brought infatuations with folk, psychedelia and jazz. As a group they were famously improvisational. Performances could last three to four hours.

Do you remember the first time you heard the Allman Brothers Band or like when you really got into them?

Daniel Brown: 8:14
Well, I'm old. So I was a kid in the ‘70s. I had a friend who lived in Jax Beach and her mom was this like old hippie. And we’d go up there to her apartment and, and she had all these cool records. So while we were, like rebinding Bibles, we listened to the Allman Brothers and that's where I first heard what is my one of my favorite performances ever, which is “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” At Fillmore East. That was just a just a mind-blowing song and when I hear it today, it still kind of takes me back to that like apartment with the windows open. And
then she had like Felonious Monk records. It was like all this information to take in to be like, 13,14 years old. I was already into music playing, but to hear like the Allman Brothers and then hear like this Monk record, it was just like so much to process but like, in a good way, you know, in a very good way.

They were primarily a live band, you know, as far as that's what they're known for. People have strong memories of seeing these guys play through the alleged haze of the ‘60s, you know what I mean? Like people have specific memories of seeing them and then they really didn't play as a band for that long, but they also toured constantly. Like the time that they were that original lineup they were always playing. If you read about, it was like they played hundreds of dates a year. So obviously, they weren't worried about making hit records at all. They were trying to just play all the time, you know? The Allman Brothers have almost to me, this is like mystical lore about them, you know? Like, ‘Oh, I saw the band, you know, at the hardware store.” You know, that kind of thing. All these stories came up, it's like people felt obligated to create this mythology around them, which is interesting to me.

[PROMO] 10:15

The VOIDCAST is part of WJCT’s Jacksonville Music Experience, here to give music fans in Northeast Florida and beyond lots of ways to enjoy their favorite artists and discover new genres: on the air, online, on demand and in person. It's three streaming music stations, TV and online performances, and the WJCT Soundstage Series. Check it out now it at wjct.org/jaxmusic.


Matt Shaw: 10:47
A comprehensive and accurate historical account of the Allman Brothers Band has alluded even the most accomplished music journalists.

[Greeting] Hello, I’m Matt.

But if there's anyone who can give me the straight story on the Allman Brothers’ time here in Jacksonville, it's Linda Miller.

Linda Miller: 11:04
I wanted to marry George Harrison. I think I came pretty close.

Matt Shaw: 11:08
Linda didn't marry a Beatle, but she did marry an Allman brother. Well, I should say a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Berry Oakley, who would become the band's bassist.

Linda grew up in Murray Hill on Jacksonville’s westside. She remembers the scene well pretending to be a horse as a little girl, Beatlemania in middle school.

Linda Miller: 11:36
Through high school, music was just more and more happening, I became less interested in high school. We'd walk home to my girlfriend's house through all these beautiful neighborhoods, and we’d pick out our houses, you know, smoking cigarettes to be cool. And walk back to my one friend's house where we listen to music and, you know, dream and imagine. And this scene evolved. And you know, there were more and more concerts on the weekends like at the Riverside Woman's Club, that was, you know that joint was jumping. Various other venues, you know, clubs, anywhere where there was a stage and chaperones. We went one night and there was this, you know, band that looked like they were right out of San Francisco, the dance floor is lighting up, and there's Dickie, Rhino, the drummer John Meeks, and Berry,

Matt Shaw: 12:34
Her future husband.

Linda Miller: 12:38
He did a lot of the singing. But, you know, I noticed him right away. He just had this charm about him and these sparkling eyes. And he came over, somebody introduced us. And, you know, we struck up a friendship which later became, you know, a very sweet, innocent romance.

We’d sit out on the porch and watch dragons crawling through the the palm tree in front of the yard and everything is sparkling and colorful. You know what I mean? Then we’d walk down the street to Willow Branch Park, and we were just running around on all fours in the grass. There were little creeks running through the park, you know, and hills, sort of running around. He's going, “You’re my mate,” you know, and like we're tigers or lions. And he runs on all fours and jumps across this creek. And he says, “Come on, Linda. You're my mate. You have to do this too. You have to follow, you know, follow your mate.” So I jumped over the creek on all fours. You know how we kind of put out our vibes and soaked up the vibes of Willow branch.

Matt Shaw: 13:51
This was the 1960s when rock and roll was becoming a worldwide phenomenon. The Beatles and Rolling Stones led British Invasion and made an incalculable number of kids pick up electric guitars and start rock bands. Meanwhile, there was a seemingly insatiable desire for bands who could perform in the style de rigueur.

Linda Miller: 14:10
There were the girls who stood around and danced together, just so they could dance. And there were the other girls who'd stand there at the front of the stage you know, just goo goo-eyed. I sort of became one of those. And they were, you know, there’d be some young men up there too, and a lot of them became future local bands like the 1 Percent, which, you know, became a Van Zandt crew.

Matt Shaw: 14:39
That would be Ronnie Van Zant, who'd found Lynyrd Skynyrd a short while later. Bands like the 31st of February and the Allman Joys, which featured future members of the Allman Brothers Band, were catering to the merging youth culture, gigging clubs around the southeast, including in Jacksonville. Linda remembers the first night she saw Duane and Greg Allman play. It was at a club in downtown Jacksonville called the Beachcomber Lounge.

Linda Miller: 15:08
A lot of guys from the Navy come in, in fact, the waitresses all had these Navy outfits, but they were high midriff with a little collar and a low-cut bell bottoms. And they were all you know, drooling after bands that would come in there and play.

But I’ll tell you, Duane, just there was like there was fire around him. He emitted these vibes that just sucked the air out of the room and the melodies were just right on it. The rhythms you know, they were just incredible. So the next night I told my girlfriends we have to go to the Beachcomber Lounge. Are they’re going “The Beachcomber? Downtown? I don't know my parents will let me go.” But you know, we didn't fill in any details. “We're gonna go to a dance.” My mother gave me a quarter to call home in case anything happen. And I took them to see the Allman Joys. We were all smitten, you know. So they came over and hung out. They invited us to come see them at their little court motel up on Philips Highway. “Come by tomorrow afternoon.” And then they invited us to stay for the bottle club which started at 2am where all the kids had leave and you know, everybody bought their bottle and had their mixers and the Allman Joys just played all this old blues. They just cut loose and played what they wanted to play.

Matt Shaw: 16:42
A short while later she would introduce the Allmans to Berry Oakley, her then-boyfriend. It was around this time that Oakley began assembling groups of musicians in the middle of Willow Branch Park and diving into hours long jams. Oakley’s impromptu sessions through a rotating cast of characters, including Betts and Trucks. Some time in the wee hours of the morning in March of 1969, a wild-eyed and bearded slide guitar player with flowing red hair, Duane Allman, who'd recently been given the nickname Sky Dog came knocking on the front door of a house in Riverside dubbed the green house where Oakley lived. He’d come back to Jax with a record contract and a vision. Now all he needed was a band.

Linda Miller: 17:21
So Dunane went to Muscle Shoals and he's doing these sessions and starting to record on his own.

Matt Shaw: 17:26
That's Muscle Shoals, Alabama, home to the renowned Fame Studios.

Linda Miller: 17:30
And that’s where he got together with Jai Johnny. Jai Johnny was his drummer.

Matt Shaw: 17:34
But you probably know him as Jaimoe.

Linda Miller: 17:35
So he came back to Jacksonville and they're sitting in all these different jams. And one particular night he came over. Everybody had gone to bed. He came up came over with his acoustic and he and Berry got together in this dining room, you know where we had amps and stuff stored and they sat up all night just playing you know, very mellow and working out these tunes all night long. I went upstairs and went to bed after a while because I was tired. And I also as it turns out, was pregnant. I don't know how that happened. But you know, I'm in the room above them and it was just like, you know, I'm hearing this magic being born. This sort of love affair growing,

Matt Shaw: 18:24
With Oakley, Betts, Trucks and Jaimoe in place, Allman called on his brother Greg, who was still in LA and told him, “Come to Jacksonville.”

Linda Miller: 18:32
Duane got Greg back in town. He's what completed, with his voice and his keyboards, you know, his B3.

Matt Shaw: 18:39
Now there are conflicting stories about how Greg Allman got to Jacksonville to complete the band's lineup. He says he hitchhiked, others say Duane bought him a plane ticket. Regardless, he did arrive in Jacksonville in March of ‘69. And the group even played a show together, all six pieces, at the Jacksonville Armory. Several members of the group moved into a large multiplex house off Riverside Avenue, dubbed the gray house -- the one that now has a plaque outside, perhaps as much for the exterior color as the foggy recollections related to everything from the jams that took place there, to who actually paid rent. The gray house became Allman Brothers HQ.

Linda Miller: 19:17
So we moved out of the green house down to the gray house, Dickie and Dale moved in across from Hop upstairs. Berry and I moved in downstairs. We painted and put up all our posters and, you know, beaded curtains. And Rhino and his wife moved down across the hall from us into these small apartments. And I remember going in and hearing the first, after they worked on the new song, hearing it played there. You know, it's, I get to witness this. This is my life and look what's... You know, it just seemed like of course, this is what happens next,

Matt Shaw: 19:53
But by May of 1969, just a few months after Skydog’s arrival, much of the band had relocated to Macon, Georgia. With a record label that had signed them. Capricorn, was setting up shop. Members came and went for some time. And when they finally went for good, they didn't go quietly.

Linda Miller: 20:10
One night we were up in Dickie’s apartment. Duane was there with Donna, his girlfriend. And, you know, just everybody who could fit in there. Dickie, crazy as he was, is, you know, he was so intense. He has gone up there. And he's, you know, getting all buzzed and they're having a few beers. He points his gun out the back window and shoots it through the screen. Wild west.

And there's a knock on the door. And Dale goes to answer it. And there's these two very large policemen at the door. “We had reports of disturbance up here.” And they walk in and here's this pile of reefer on the table. Dickie goes in. “Hey, man, nice to see you. Well, you know, I'm sorry about the noise. You know, we're just kind of having a party up here. Our friend’s are here from out of town.” And he goes, “Why don't you let my wife fix you some coffee.” And the meantime he goes, “We were just trimming up some flowers here. Let me clear this off.” And he's like, sweeping into his hand and into his t shirt. They're going “What's that?” He runs through the front room of the house and punches the other screen out in the front. He's trying to throw this stuff out the window.

So you had mentioned something about what you know, influenced the band moving to Macon. Well, this was kind of the, the last straw. They took Dickie to jail. Phil, in the meantime had gotten these two apartments on Cotton Avenue in this you know, old district with these two huge old, you know, southern mansions. And they’d go up periodically and you know, do a little jamming, get to know each other. But Dickie, you know, got a lawyer, and he was advised -- Don't even try to fight this. Don't go to court. Move to Macon and, you know, take your wife and your child and just get out of town, which is what he did.

Matt Shaw: 22:27
Was it something about the culture in Jacksonville in general that push them out? Or was it more specific to that incident?

Linda Miller:
It was that incident.

Matt Shaw:
Though they were only in Jacksonville for a short time as a full band, the Allman Brothers’ time here was highly productive. They arrived in Macon as both a well-oiled live band, and artists with a plethora of material, ready to record. In retrospect, it's rather fitting that they packed so much into their short stint in Jacksonville. Just two years later, they'd achieved their commercial breakthrough with the live album At Fillmore East. A few months after that record came out, Duane Allman would die in a motorcycle accident. A year later, Berry Oakley met a similar fate. In ‘76, in-fighting would sever ties between the remaining members. But in roughly seven years as a band, they accomplished quite a lot.

Linda Miller: 23:16
This was the road that we were taking, you know. I was being taken along on this adventure, and it was my life, you know, all tangled up and these other lives and it was also one life. You know, they really became brothers. And it was not that, you know, the hippie environment or that Jacksonville decided they didn't want anything to do with this, because it was growing and growing. People were being attracted to this good energy. You know, as Berry created this phrase, “hittin’ the note.” He wanted everybody to hit the note.

And, you know, their playing would feed off of this good energy. The day that he died. I came home from the hospital where he'd been taken and fell asleep. And dreamed that I was riding my horse out on the farm down these clay roads and out in the woods. And I'm so happy. Riding my horse was one of my happiest pastimes. And the sky turned really dark like before storm, that kind of electric gray. And you know, the green trees look electric, just that pre storm thing. And it was like what I used to call an instant bummer. I became very sad and I realized that Berry had died. And then I feel this hand on my leg. And I looked down and Berry's walking beside me. And his face is just glowing and he's smiling at me.

This thing about, I don't know if there's a band in heaven. I think our spirits do greet each other, that you know there's this energy. You can't destroy energy, it just takes a new form and so much energy was created you know during this short lifetime of, you know our family.

Matt Shaw: 26:03
Despite, or perhaps because of its short time together, the Allman Brothers Band continue to inspire distinctive kind of fandom.

Melody trucks has played her fair share of Allman Brothers covers with her group, The Melody Trucks Band. She's the daughter of late Allman Brothers Band member Butch trucks. And his picture is actually the centerpiece of a sentimental collection of heirlooms attached to her necklaces. Today, she's just finishing up band practice in our living room.

Melody Trucks: 26:51
My mom and dad separated when I was very young, so I actually grew up more with my mother.

Matt Shaw: 26:56
Do you have a first memory that sticks out in your mind? If when you were like kind of became aware of the Allman Brothers Band and, and sort of their influence on, on music?

Melody Trucks: 27:08
well, the memory that I have, it's not necessarily the influence that they had. But I remember the first time that as a child, I put two and two together. I probably was two or three years old, maybe and I remember, you know, being the toddler and you know, you get that tagline in your head of something you know of a song and you just sing it over and over and over again because that's what toddlers do. And I can remember actually singing the song and dancing around in my my kitchen and I'm sure I was driving my mom crazy, but I just kept singing the same line over and over again. And my mom had this incredible long brown hair that kind of came down to her waist and I remember her leaning over and that curtain of hair, just kind of flowing over her shoulder and, and she looked at me, she's like, “You know, that's Daddy, right?” I can remember thinking about it and she had to say it again, she's like, “That's your daddy who plays that song.” And from that day on, I knew my dad played the “silver dollar song.”

Matt Shaw: 28:25
Melody's got music in her blood, obviously. Her older brother Vaylor is an accomplished guitarist. Her younger brother is a talented percussionist, her sister, a dancer. One of Melody's cousins is the drummer for the beloved jam band Widespread Panic.

Oh, and our other cousin, Derek trucks, you may have heard of him. He's considered one of the greatest living guitarists.

Do you have people come up to you often when you're playing out that asks you about the Allman Brothers too? And is that a common occurrence in your life as a musician?

Melody Trucks: 29:01
Extremely common. And, and I appreciate it because it really reminds me just the breadth of, of their influence and how many people they touched it with their music. Actually, one of one of the guys was talking to me, one of the guys in the band Westbrook was talking to me at one point, he’s like, you know, when I wrote this song, you know, people come up and ask me about it all the time about what I meant when I you know, he said, “We sing this together, do people talk to you about it?” And I was like, “No.”: It's because every time that someone comes and talks to me, they're talking about my family, which, like I said, I embrace because it's pretty humbling to realize just how many people they actually touched.

Matt Shaw: 29:48
What do you think is the legacy of the Allman Brothers Band? What did they do for music or to change music?

Melody Trucks: 29:58
They didn't bind themselves by genre. They didn't bind themselves by, you know, musical structure. They didn't bind themselves to anything that was quote unquote, you know, the norm. They pulled in jazz, they pulled in blues, they pulled in, you know, soul, they pulled in country and rock and roll and all of these different genres, and they made it into something that was so completely new and so completely different. They broke ground in a way that I don't think anybody's really been able to do, since

Matt Shaw: 30:28
There's kind of a lack of awareness, maybe that the band was formed here in Jacksonville. Is that something that you've noticed too? A like, sort of a lack of people sort of embracing them as a Jacksonville band because they were here for such a short time or what are your thoughts on that?

Melody Trucks: 30:47
Well, because their quote, unquote, big break or whatever you want to call it was out of Macon. Everyone associates them with Macon, which,I was born there. I love Macon, don't get me wrong. You know, people have kind of embraced the Lynyrd Skynyrd team here in Jacksonville, which I think is fantastic. I mean, they came from the same city, but you know, I mean it really just has to do with the history of the way that the bands really first presented themselves. So you know, I don't have any you know, there's no like ill will or anything like “Darn it they’re from here.” But you know, I also associate with both you know, I associate with Macon and with Jacksonville. Do I wish that more people knew they were here? Probably, but you know.

Matt Shaw: 31:46
true to her Allman Brothers Band heritage, Melody retains an individualistic spirit as an artist, bent on charting our own path.

Melody Trucks: 31:56
We have intentionally not dug too deep into the Allman Brothers catalogue because we don't want to ever be seen as an Allman Brothers tribute band. The ones we actually are really digging into, it's not so much Allman Brothers music, but it's another band that my father played, it’s a band called Frog Wings. And we've actually kind of adopted the frog with wings as our little totem because it's my way of paying homage to my dad.

Matt Shaw: 32:34
But she can't help it keep the band's music alive, sure to plug in a cover of a classic or obscure ABB tuned to each set, a tribute to those who came before her, which is something the Allman Brothers, a band who is known to jam on a litany of classic blues tunes, would surely appreciate.

This is the VOIDCAST from Void Magazine and WJCT Public Media. I'm the editor of Void Magazine, Matt Shaw. This episode was produced by Lindsey Kilbride and recorded at the studios of WJCT. Check out an episode-inspired playlist at wjct.org/voidcast.

Episode 3

Space To Spit

Note: The VOIDCAST is produced and designed to be heard, not read. We highly recommend listening to the audio. The audio contains tone and emotion that are not included in the transcript. Transcripts are created using speech recognition software and human transcribers, but it may contain errors. Please verify with the audio before using any quotes in print.

Matt Shaw: 0:01
Jacksonville or Duval, as it's known in the hip hop world has had an outsized presence in the global hip hop scene, from popular hitmakers the Quad City DJs, to those that vibrated the underground like Asomav and current genre-benders, like the collective LO.V.E Culture,
hip hop has been the lifeblood of the city's music scene for decades.

It's a deep well, and I wasn't exactly sure where to dive in. So I reached out to one of the region's contemporary movers and shakers, the multi hyphenate GeeXella.

Matt: 0:44
Aside from being a standout mc, whose mic skills have earned praise from members of Duval hip hop's vanguard, GeeXella’s a singer, educator, activist, DJ and empresario. And what Gee told me is that Duval hip hop is in a kind of state of transition right now. More FemC’s are taking center stage,

GeeXella: 1:04
We kind of were tokenized to kind of be like the openers.

Matt Shaw: 1:11
And queer folks.

BeBe Deluxe: 1:13
There are lots of gay clubs where they have a rule for the drag queens where they can't do rap.

Matt Shaw: 1:17
But as you can probably guess, while many are making space and creating new ones to spit, big challenges remain.

Ebony Payne English: 1:23
We can't even make this space, we have to take it because they they will try to erase you.

[INTRO] Matt Shaw: 1:33
Today we'll meet some of the artists who are not just kicking down doors and challenging the region's gatekeepers, but opening up new entryways to some truly distinctive spaces. This is the VOIDCAST from Void Magazine and WJCT Public Media, where we cut through the digital noise and subvert the algorithms, taking you on a vocals-only journey through the history and contemporary vibrancy of music from Northeast Florida. I'm your host Matt Shaw, editor in chief of Northeast Florida culture and lifestyle magazine Void.

Matt Shaw: 2:40
The Duval hip hop scene is as spirited as ever. Not only are young solo acts emerging as prolific and unique songwriters, a kind of collaborative energy seems to be drawing these artists together. L.O.V.E Culture exemplifies that energy.

So Iwent to check in on them at their home recording studio on the southside. It's about 8 p.m. and all five members are getting ready to add versus to some new tracks. They're splitting a Little Caesars’ cheese pizza first and catching up. This group is made up of four guys: Spirit, Easy in 2D, Flash the Samurai and Rob Mari. And one woman Che. They've been collaborating for almost four years

Matt Shaw: 3:45
Let’s talk about Northeast Florida or Jacksonville's hip hop scene in general. It seems like your group has been embraced by the scene lately, but has it always felt like an inclusive scene where anybody could come in? Or is it has it ever felt closed off?

Easy: 4:11
When I started doing this,

Matt Shaw: 4:14
This is easy.

Easy: 4:15
it felt like if you weren't making a certain style of music, you know, then you weren't really going to be looked at or shown support, you know. Maybe like eight, nine years ago, the popular thing was more I guess you could say more trap, more gangster looking more, you know stuff like that. So maybe not as lyrical, whatever, whatever the case may be, it was a little bit different. But I think now it's changed like it's more open. I just think that's in a way it is kind of being more open to different different sounds and different, different personalities.

Matt Shaw: 4:46
The members of L.O.V.E Culture cite Kid cudi and J. Cole as their biggest influences.
Artists who seem to express authenticity, even vulnerability while still maintaining their street cred.

A standout track from love culture’s most recent album is “Shade.” The song typifies the group's sound which leans towards the progressive and open minded. The mix digs deep into electronics as the rhymes roll with each member taking center stage.

Easy: 5:19
We can all go do solo shows, do solo projects, but then at the same time, we can you know, click up like the Avengers or something like do something really powerful.

Matt Shaw: 5:48
The act of making space for one another seems to come naturally.

As a collective, how do you make sure that there's space for every person?

Che: 6:02
There's always one person that feels it harder than everybody else. And you can tell, that’s their song to get off cheaper and so we all kind of like OK, we goin’ to cosign on this.

Matt Shaw:
This is Rob.

Rob: 6:12
Like, trust me, we had the issue where everybody, it’ll be like a track and everybody will be like “Man, I wanted to be on that song.” And you just have to be like, “No, you, you can't, you can't you can't be on every song”. At the end of the day, like we were saying just checking our egos at the side. Even though we might want to be on that song, we're we're not afraid to step back and be like “OK, I wanted to be on that song, but basically, you know, it's for the greater good, basically for the greater good of L.O.V.E Culture.

Matt Shaw: 6:56
As they’ve made waves in Duval, they've earned a following outside the region. The group was recently picked up to serve as ambassadors for major soda brand Sprite’s foray into music. And the company has been promoting the group of late nights. As they receive positive energy from the universe, they want to be sure to push it out as well.

Spirit: 7:18
We could either assume the position of the new gatekeepers, but that's something that we're just not going to do. We just became of age and now if we can get if we get put onto something, we're putting other people on we're not going to shield you from good information or good opportunities. If you ask us, we’re going to give it.

Matt Shaw 7:37
Flash tells me that welcoming other local acts in a way pushes the norms locally.

Yellow Steve. Black Toilets.
Once you've built a platform, you can put people on that platform so that they can get that look.

Matt: 8:08
Is there a leader of this group? You’re all pointing to che.Who wants to speak on that? And why?

Flash: 8:24
I think when, when we all point to Che it's for a reason. Like it's not like, you know, because she’s the girl. it's more of the energy that she brings. And she's like the glue to this like if that makes sense.

Matt Shaw: 8:40
That's really interesting because I thought that question was almost like a trick question. I thought because you're talking about being a collective I thought like that you'd say “No, there's no leader.” But is that is that rare in hip hop to to be you know, pointing to a female leader of a group in hip hop?

Easy: 9:03
Yeah, she is the most experienced but also like, as far as being able to, like, you know, when there's a decision to be made, and I, you know, I feel like there's four male egos here and we all kind of, we might all think the same. So her perspective is so valuable.

Matt Shaw: 9:21
Even though there have been a fair amount of successful female hip hop artists, is hip hop a particularly masculine art form? Has it been in the past. And do you think that's changing?

Che: 9:35
Yeah, man, let's be real. Let's be real, like, yes, yes, because but also you got to understand like hip hop is, one it’s the number one genre in the world. And also, hip hop came from the jungle. You know what I'm saying, like, hip hop is where you beat your chest. Hip Hop is where you say, “I'm great.” It has been masculine in the sense -- and I don't necessarily affiliated masculinity or femininity with gender, because there's a lot of masculine women too. Queen Latifah had a great balance with that. Roxanne had a great balance with that. You know what I'm saying? And I mean that with beating their chest and hip hop. However, masculinity and misogyny and a lot of those elements obviously have have existed for a long time but it's existed period.

I think the breakaway from like major labels to independent music is helping us to see like the underground and like where everybody lives, you know? And like what everybody's doing. Women always have had to find our ways and make our spaces. But that's not something that we can't overcome and that we're not

Ebony Payne English: 10:54
The most successfu,l like most accolades, like most history-making figures in hip hop are the women. We got to take it we can't even make the space we have to take it because they will try to erase you.

Matt Shaw: 11:12
At 35, Ebony Payne English is already an elder states person of Duval hip hop, an accomplished poet and educator who has designed hip hop curriculum for public schools. She's also a historian of the genre.

Ebony Payne English: 11:24
Cindy Campbell was the person who threw that party that is credited with being the first hip hop party ever. Kool Herc is credited with being the godfather of hip hop, when it was his sister Cindy who threw the party.

Matt Shaw: 11:41
That's DJ Kool Herc, whose real name is Clive Campbell. He's known as the father of hip hop. The party Ebony's talking about was a back-to-school jam his sister Cindy planned to earn some extra cash. As Ebony points out, Kool Herc was the DJ.

Ebony Payne English: 11:55
He was the hired help. She booked him to DJ at her party. It was her party. She rented the space. She hired the DJ. She handed out the invitations. She was the first hip hop promoter, and her name is Cindy Campbell.

Matt Shaw: 12:12
Another milestone in the formative years of hip hop was the song “Rapper’s Delight,” released in 1979 and performed by the Sugar Hill Gang, which was not an actual group but rather a trio of men handpicked to record the versus. The track was the first hip hop tune to top the charts. And as Bbony notes, it was produced by a woman, Sylvia Robinson, who owns Sugar Hill Records, the first hip hop label.

Ebony Payne English: 12:51
I feel like the women shouldn't have to be the ones to remind you. Missy Elliott is in the songwriting Hall of Fame. And all of these women, not that it matters, were fully clothed while they were rapping. So when, when they speak of women in hip hop, they speak of the Cardi B's they speak of the Lil Kim's, which bless her. But it's like, it saddens me that these women, these business women who handled their business and still are, you know, because what they've done has transcended generations are not mentioned.

Matt Shaw: 13:31
Ebony grew up in Jacksonville, Southern Pentecostal. For her hip hop is life and death.

Ebony Payne English: 13:36
Both of my parents are pastors. And, um, I was not allowed to listen to secular music in my household. But when I was 10, my cousin's moved from Chicago. He asked me why I was so sad all the time because I struggled with depression at a very young age and then he threw a Tupac Shakur 2apocalypse Now tape at me and was like here listen to this, he’s just as sad as you are. Like he was trying to be sarcastic. But I did listen to it. And I fell in love. And that's how hip hop found me.

Brenda's got a baby, I heard and received as like my calling. I felt like I found something I found a place to fit. I was always a very peculiar child. I was already writing poetry. And when I heard that song, it was like, it explained my sadness, because I was just very affected by my surroundings, and in my environment, and it just landed on me different

I wasn't ever able to adjust to poverty. I was never able to adjust to the crack cocaine epidemic and the way it was affecting the world around me, my community and my family and police. I felt terrorized by the police. Even at 10 years old, I felt terrorized. And so when I heard Tupac’s first album, it changed my life. It gave voice to things that I was dealing with internally, that made me want to kill myself. And specifically, he was talking about the struggle of growing up black and fem in a community that is so sick with oppression, poverty and drugs and how sometimes you don't make it out. Sometimes there is no happy story. And like, the kids know that, like Brenda knew that. And nobody's doing anything. The adults aren't doing anything for their mental health or emotional health. And so that's how I started rapping. And I've been doing it ever since. So, of course, Tupac is one of my greatest influences, but also Queen Latifah.

Matt Shaw: 16:27
Lil Kim, Da Brat.

Ebony Payne English: 16:28
Missy Elliott. Just Ah, it was just such a beautiful time for the elders. The femC’s in hip hop to actually make space on their platforms. And it to be love. Like that's what I miss. And that's the relationship I have with the FemCs in Duvall specifically.

Matt Shaw: 17:00
If you haven't figured it out FemC is a play on MC or master of ceremonies, the front person really in any hip hop act.

Anyway, as an educator Ebony's developed curriculum that touches on everything from the historical importance to the artistic influence of hip hop, which like jazz is a truly American art form. Beyond that, she's long served as the connective tissue among local FemCs, putting together all-female lineups everywhere, from main stages at local clubs, to her living room.

Absent a space where she felt comfortable artistically in her chosen art form. Ebony was forced to create one for herself. Something so important to her: hip hop, the thing that lifted her from a deep depression, didn't accept her when she tried to take the old fashioned route.

Ebony Payne English: 17:44
After school I went to Atlanta and I was like in working in the industry and able to like meet so many people I only dreamed of. Busta Rhymes played in my hair. You know, when he first cut his locks, you know he put his hand in my hair and was like “You make me miss my locks.” That was a moment, all kinds of things. But what I remember most was nobody was who I thought they were. It's all fake, like, everything is fake, like nothing is real. You see, it was like, I was working so hard. And I was so dedicated, and I was so dependable, and I was so honest and real. And I had bars and, you know, I looked the part in all of these things. And none of it mattered. None of it mattered, because I didn't know the right person. They didn't owe me a favor.

You know what I'm saying? I didn't subscribe to drug culture. I didn't use drugs so I didn't talk about that. You know, I didn't feel comfortable objectifying myself, nor having other people objectify me, so I didn't use my sexuality to make my music. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with a woman owning her sensuality, but I just didn't want to take that path that wasn't for me. And they tried to like put me in that box. And when I was like “No,” you know, they rejected me. Broke my heart, and I stopped rapping. It broke my heart.

[PROMO] 9:24
The VOIDCAST is part of WJCT’s Jacksonville Music Experience, here to give music fans in Northeast Florida and beyond lots of ways to enjoy their favorite artists and discover new genres: on the air, online, on demand and in person. It's three streaming music stations, TV and online performances, and theWJCT Soundstage Series. Check it out now wjct.org/jaxmusic.

Matt Shaw: 20:03
This brings me back to GeeXella, who gave me the idea for this episode. If anyone knows about putting together an inclusive hip hop show, it's Gee.

GeeXella: 20:21
We kind of were tokenized to kind of be like the openers. Like OK, we're just gonna put the girl on the bill and she's gonna be the opener. And that kind of started just being very frustrating and kind of like, how you say just like, I just felt that like tokenizing and it was kind of like. And when I started seeing more people come to just see me play, then I kind of was like, all right, this is wack. Like, I need to start creating spaces are like just all women lineups, you know? Because I never saw that in like any of the shows that I ever went to whether that was hip hop, or rock or anything like that.

Matt Shaw: 20:59
Beyond Making space for women, there's another layer to this for Gee, who identifies as nonbinary, meaning Gee doesn't identify exclusively as a man or a woman.

GeeXella: 21:08
I use they/them pronouns.

BeBe Deluxe: 21:11
Hi, y'all. My name is BeBe Deluxe. My pronouns are she/her, and Sheeziiz.

Matt Shaw 21:19
Gee and BeBe are friends and sometime-collaborators. They’;ve both been on the forefront of LGBTQ activism in the city for years now. And though musically, they might sound different, there's a lot of overlap in the ways in which they've had to kick down doors to local venues, or use their platforms to open up new spaces.

GeeXella: 21:36
Once I started DJing and being in, you know, queer spaces, it was cool, but then also, you know, still having that gatekeeping aspect, you know, when club owners are telling me like, “Hey, like, you can't play hip hop, like, we don't play hip hop here.” I

BeBe Deluxe: 21:51
There are lots of gay clubs, where they have a rule for the drag queens where they can't do rap or quote, aggressive music.

GeeXella 21:58
You know Cardi B was OK, you know Migos was OK. But it's like if we're real, like hip hop music is pop music right now.

Matt Shaw:
BeBe is transgender and also known for her drag shows. In this video, she's onstage at the San Marco music venue Jackrabbits to perform a sampling of songs from her debut album, the Deluxxe Enterprise. Though she's been a staple at another club, The Metro, with blue-streaked hair and eyeshadow that matches her blue beard, BeBe looks like she was born for the Jackrabbit’s stage as she dances her way to the microphone, and launches into a set of radio-ready tunes, replete with electronic influences, drum samples, sugary hooks and true to her 21st century pop bonafides: rap.

BeBe doesn't consider yourself a rapper. As a contemporary pop artists, hip hop was bound to influence the mix. And as an artist who was raised in Jacksonville, that influence was inescapable.

BeBe: 23:16
Twinki was just the greatest rapper I'd ever met like, they just could write something in like 10 minutes full of pop culture references and had this amazing flow and just this energy and was not afraid of anyone and would perform were like three bras, and the night gown.

Geexella: 23:34
I mean killing, like killing, attacking the floor

BeBe Deluxe: 23:37
Like there was like there was no one else in the field like Twinki. I was trained in jazz and I really liked singing and it was like it was always kind of tough lip synching because it was like I was hiding the thing that I had like practiced and exercised and trained for years. And just seeing Twinkie just being so unabashed, but their talents made me want to do the same.

I can't really say that I have too much of a relationship with the hip hop community. I love hip hop. FemCs are my favorite. My influences are Missy “misdemeanor” Elliot, Lisa Left Eye Lopez. I mean if you want to throw it back, Salt-N-Pepa. I've just always enjoyed the perspective of women in hip hop and that's where a lot of you know, my influences come from.

Geexella: 24:51
I feel like you do have like hip hop undertones and the music that you do because you are inspired by that. You're very like vocal and aware of like your privilege in that community as well, which I definitely respect.

BeBe Deluxe: 25:04
Gee, what are your influences?

Geexella 25:07
As far as like DJing, I Love New Jersey club house music. There's this DJ in New Jersey, her name is Uniqu3 and I love, love, love, her. I just love fast, upbeat like you know house music. I don't know, I'm just like obsessed with house music. I think like because it's when you listen to it live in you know, huge like monitors and stuff. You know, all you hear is like the bass and then it's like super fast.

Matt Shaw: 25:51
While carving their own paths, Gee and BeBe have had somewhat parallel journeys, art school kids who both graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, they're both creating spaces for folks who are neglected or not traditionally catered to. BeBe started this off the wall thematic variety show Glitter Bomb, which was intended to break down barriers from inception,

BeBe Deluxe: 26:12
You just get a lot of gatekeeping in the drag community. I was told when I started, I wasn't going to have a career because I wouldn't shave my face. And because I wasn't like found of shaving my armpits and my legs and stuff. So it's interesting to hear that from the hip hop community. I started with a need of filling a niche and we needed to make a spot for all the gender variant. You know, people got leg hair, people are doing things with more concept. You're not just doing a number and then that's that. My favorite night we've ever done was Night of 1000 John Cusack and we all dressed up like John Cusack.

Matt Shaw: 26:42
And GeeXella. who cut her teeth singing and rapping, has taken on the role of both DJ and impresario for the all-ages, inclusive dance night. Duval Folx, currently the most talked about party in the city.

GeeXella: 26:55
So Duval Folx is a queer, trans, people of color like dance night. So I call it QT POC, centered around black and brown bodies, meaning that like we want the space to be respected by those folks when you see them in the room, so not like fetishizing them or touching them. Also asking people for pronouns and just having it be like an all inclusive space for just like a dance night. The next phase for this year is having more facilitated dialogues, and then bringing black and brown femmes up here to do all DJ nights.

Matt Shaw: 27:36
What became really apparent from Gee and BeBe’s conversation, is that gatekeepers literal or metaphorical, remain a repressive force in both the hip hop and queer community. Both artists feel like they've been treated like novelty acts.

BeBe Deluxe: 27:51
You know, it's like interviews or meeting new people, the conversation is never about the music. And, and that's tough. It's really tough. Because, you know, even I made the conscious effort to pivot into music away from drag last year. I'm pigeon holed constantly. It's like sometimes I would really just like it to be asked questions like, what are your influences? What's the dream collab? Where's your music going? You know, because I think people want to get wrapped up in the story. It's not treated like music. It's treated like, “Oh, look, this drag queen sings” and the reality is I'm I am just a trans femme, with a really impeccable sense of style. But that's the least interesting thing about me.

Geexella: 28:38
You know, I think it was hard when when I started to DJ more, because like, people will be like, “Oh, you're the female DJ, we're gonna put you on” you know, I think and I played into that, you know, when I first started DJing because that got me the gig. And especially when I started being like in clubs and stuff. But then I kind of started feeling like weird because I was like, I don't know if this is like really my place or this is like where I want to like be, you know?

Matt Shaw 29:07
Is there a need to to bring those spaces like to, I guess like a broader audience and have like more crossover?Just thinking about a way forward ,like so more of these spaces? But does there need to be like more of these artists involved in, more eclectic lineups?

Geexella: 29:25
Yeah. I think if it's done intentionally, yes. You know, if it's like, more folks using their platform, to bring awareness to a lot of the things that, you know, our communities like go through, I think, yes, if it's done right, it could happen. I think collaborating is good. But because our nights are catered to a specific cause, I think if it's just done like intentionally, I think a crossover would be dope like collaborating would be dope.

BeBe Deluxe: 29:59
There's a lot of people know the language but they don't learn the lesson.

Matt Shaw: 30:02
It shouldn't be the responsibility of the artist to teach these lessons. Certainly their music, their art, drawn from emotions and experiences can move us in the right direction, but only if we listen.

This is the VOIDCAST from Void Magazine and WJCT Public Media. I'm the editor of Void Magazine, Matt Shaw. This episode was produced by Lindsey Kilbride and recorded at the studios of WJCT. Check out a playlist of music from this episode wjct.org/voidcast. Special thanks to GeeXella for letting us use their song “She Trippin” to bring us into this episode and taking us out.