When it comes to the ups and downs of Dallas' electronic music scene, DJ Cyberina Flux, host of KNON-89.3 FM's "Rocket Radio," has seen it all.
Her industrial/gothic/electronica show has graced the KNON airwaves every Friday from midnight until 4 a.m. for a decade now.
And, hey, 10 years on the air is a long time in this town, where many commercial radio stations change formats every couple years. This feat is certainly a cause for celebration, and the KNON folks are throwing quite the party tomorrow night at Club Dada in Cyberina's honor.
Headlining the show are jam-masters Spoonfed Tribe. Cyberina will DJ, too, along with DJ 4D, plus a plethora of genre-spanning artists on the patio.
This afternoon, we sat down with Cyberina to chat about the past decade in the industry -- her most interesting on-air moments, and how she's seen the industrial genre change over the years. Click on the jump for the Q&A.
Congratulations on 10 years at KNON! Does it seem like it's been 10 years?
Yes and no. It depends on how I look at it. If I look at it like, "Hey, this is what I've been doing," it doesn't seem like 10 years, but when I think, "Wow, I've spent every Friday night of my adult life in a radio studio," suddenly it feels like 10 years.
How have you seen industrial music change in the past decade?
There's been more of an influence from genres that are generally thought of as "rave scene." It used to be very, very, very much a rock-oriented genre, and it still is in a lot of ways, but you'll find a lot more influences from drum and bass, trance, house... if you weren't familiar with the electronic genres, you might not pick it out as that, but if you listen to those genres, you can definitely pick out specific elements. What I find interesting about it is that they don't really have the genre elitism that a trance fan, or a house fan, or a drum 'n' bass fan might have. So you might find a song that pulls equally from progressive trance and dubstep into one track.
Do you think that there's been more of an interest in industrial music at one time as opposed to another, or does interest in the genre wax and wane over the years?
It's definitely been wax and wane -- even before "Rocket Radio," or even the show before mine, "The Grey Zone," that existed going back to the '70s. It was almost all experimental music, and it picked up, in a popularity sense, in the '80s. Then it waned a little bit, then it picked back up in the mid-'90s. Then it waned a little bit. It goes through phases, to be sure. I think a lot of it has to do with whether or not there are a lot of new and fresh sounds coming out of the genre, new ideas. It's a very political, angst-based genre, and a lot of that might have to do with how people feel about the state of things at the moment, whether they have a passion for that kind of aggression or not.
How did you get started doing this show. What was the impetus for you getting started on the radio?
In the mid '90s, I was doing some warehouse parties that were electronic music-oriented and dance-music oriented with some friends. I had a relationship dissolve, so I took that idea, and I thought, "Well I always dug industrial music, and it's very similar stuff, and there's so much coming out in industrial music these days, so why don't I do an industrial warehouse party?" I did it for about two or three months, and it really took off. I got an email from [DJ Stereotype,] the Friday night DJat KNON, and he said, "Hey, I like what you're doing! My show is based on a blend of dance music and industrial music. Would you like to come assist me up at the radio station? You and I seem to have the same kind of mindset when it comes to a wide scope of electronic music." So I did, and I was there for about two and a half years when he passed away, and I took over the show. That would make it the week before last as 10 years since Stereotype passed away. There was a memorial show, and last Friday night's show marked my 520th show.
When you first started out, did you have any grand plans or goals for where this was going to go, or did you just kind of wing it?
When I was helping Rob -- or, Stereotype, I should say -- I was content helping him. Within about six months, there was an opening on Sunday nights, and he was trying to convince me to take it. I was like, "You know what? I'm fine here. I'll just help you." So when he passed away, it was kind of a surprise. It was one of those things where I knew that if I didn't [do it], everything would change. Electronic music may or may not even exist in that slot any more if I didn't take over the show. I kind of ran with it -- I didn't really have a master plan. I didn't have time to think of one. I hadn't even thought, "Hey, I'm going to do a radio show soon." It was kind of like, "Oh. Well, I guess you have a radio show now!"
So it kind of got dropped in your lap?
Yeah, and it was weird. My best friend had just passed away, and, at the funeral, there legendary musicians and DJs from all over Dallas and a billion different subgenres, talking about how much he meant to them, and I thought, "How am I ever going to live up to that?" [Laughs.]
Do you have any plans going into the future?
I do. I would very much like to start doing a podcast. KNON being a nonprofit station, they don't have the gear around there, per se, to do that easily, so I'm gonna have to buy a digital recorder out of pocket. I just came out of three months of unemployment, so that probably won't be too far down the road. Prior to volunteering at KNON, even in the first year or so that I was helping Stereotype, I was editor of a goth-industrial music magazine - a web-based one - and so I'm thinking I'd kind of like to start, basically, a website that's just a blog with a stream of reviews, articles and interviews, depending on my time and availability because it is my hobby, as opposed to my job.
We talked about how you've seen a shift in the music. Have you seen a shift in the audience as well, the people listening to what you play?
That depends on whether you mean people who go out actively to enjoy it or people who enjoy it at home, or in their cars. It's not uncommon for me to get in the car of someone very young, or someone who is 10 years my senior, and hear them listening to old or newer industrial material. The crowds that have been going out -- sure, there have been people who have been going out for 15 years, but for the most part, the crowds are completely different. I spent a brief moment working at the Lizard Lounge several years back, and when I walk in there now, I might recognize two dozen people at the very most. It's only been since the time it took for me to go to college, since I was around there regularly. A lot of them started going to Panoptikon and Malice, and some of them moved away, but there's a lot of quote-unquote "new blood." Even in Denton, there are people who, at the time I worked there, were too young to go out, that don't go out there now, but they're totally into the music.
Do you have any favorite stories about interesting interviews or weird on-air moments?
I did get to interview Kevin Key of Skinny Puppy as we were moving into the new studio. It was my first show in the new studio, interviewing him. That was exclusive, when they were first reuniting. I also got to do an exclusive interview with Danny Hyde. He had produced a lot of Coil's music but he wasn't one of the two that are commonly thought of as Coil members. I got to do that for my five-year anniversary. He came in for an interview and did a guest DJ set. Those two were both pretty darn exciting! A third moment came -- Douglas [Pearce], the lead singer of Death in June. He was in the middle of a tour. Death in June has a reputation. They get up onstage and... their music isn't shock rock, but they pull a lot of shock-rock tactics with their stage shows, in the sense of trying to shock people into freaking out, to make them think about something, basically. One of their big things is to wear Nazi uniforms, and they're very involved with making a lot of political statements about the late '90s, even into today, in Eastern Europe. I brought that up towards the end of the interview, and he described that, on this tour, they were also wearing pig masks with their Nazi uniforms. The whole point was to not judge a book by its cover, but to think about things a little bit more in-depth. The very next night, they went to play their Chicago show, and there were riots. The police had to shut their entire show down before they ever got to play.
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And you got to talk to them right before that?
About that very topic. It was very interesting.
Spoonfed Tribe is headlining your show tomorrow night, and I have to ask: Why Spoonfed Tribe? They're a sort of jam-band thing, and you do industrial.
I do industrial, but I do a lot of forms. The whole goal of "Rocket Radio" is the greater scope of electronic music. There is a lot of industrial in that. In a lot of ways, though not exclusively, that's one of the original genres of electronic music. But I do play a lot of, like, SPS9. They're another example of a jam band that incorporates electronic elements. I also grew up around Spoonfed Tribe. I grew up in Arlington, and they're a band that I've had some involvement with for literally half my life, directly or indirectly. I'd like to mention the genres of the artist [at Saturday's show] are a lot of the genres that get covered on Rocket Radio. Spoonfed Tribe you're familiar with. Twin Shape -- he does a very trance-inspired downtempo act. Dead Skeleton is probably the best industrial band around -- not to knock on other industrial bands, because there are some great ones, but they're one of the best industrial bands I've encountered in the past decade in Texas. Then, MicroD does eight-bit stuff. He programs his music on a Nintendo DS and plays drums along with it.
Yeah, it's really neat! Which makes for an interesting live show, especially for electronic music, where you have to incorporate something into it to make it interesting to watch. Outside, I have DJs covering everything from house to drum and bass to dubstep to psychedelic trance to EBM.
You're really spanning the genres with this one.
It's my ten year anniversary. I felt I couldn't leave out any of the genres I've covered in the past 10 years. It's my best attempt to cover it all in one night!