On Valentine’s Day, a few weeks back, I had the privilege of meeting up with one of WRVU’s most articulate (I think you’ll agree) new DJs. Christopher Augustinos, a sophomore student from the Northeast, is rocking the Nashville airwaves with the likes of Kanye West, Hot Chip, and Röyksopp. When we sat down for the interview, I had never met Chris before. The first thing he said to me was “I hope I’ve prepared to answer your questions eloquently.” I knew we’d get along. Who doesn’t love it when DJs take their shows seriously?
I’m sure it’ll be great. For formality’s sake, what’s your name?
My name’s Christopher Augustinos and my show is Liquid Architecture
Liquid Architecture? Ok, that was my second question. You’re ahead of the game!
So, does your show have a theme?
Not exactly. I really like to explore different genres in a way that hopefully allows some, a good amount of, flow through each broadcast. So, I try not to be too jarring in the way I explore a little bit of everything but I do try to explore a little bit of everything.
I’m going to come back to that but how did you come up with your show’s name?
There’s a quote by a German philosopher named Goethe who claimed that music is liquid architecture and architecture is frozen music. Music and architecture are two things that I’m very interested in and I thought, “that’s kind of a beautiful way to compare sort of the immensity and the grandeur of the range you can get in either of them.” You know, and a brutalist building is very different from a beaux-arts one just as a classical piece is very different from a rap piece. But as you trace the lineage of what people try to do via music or architecture you can find that even though they might be superficially different, it’s easy to find a lot of similarities if you’re looking for them. So I think the way that you can think a lot about both architecture and music was really kind of guiding light for how I want to present music to my listeners.
Did you find that quote because you’re interested in those two things or are you a philosophy enthusiast too?
One of my brothers majored in philosophy so that’s always sort of in the back of my mind but I bumped into that quote, I think, in architecture book a couple years back and it kind of resonated with me.
What sort of genres do you find yourself leaning towards or, on the other end, avoiding?
That’s an interesting question. I grew up very much on classic rock and I was always hearing classic Byzantine chant in church every week; I’m Greek Orthodox. So, I grew up with a nice kind of contrast between the Rolling Stones and the old guys belting out these multiple hundred-year-old chants in church. I think that gave me a good foundation to be able to appreciate things that are very different from one another. Once I stopped only listening to whatever my parents put on in the car…yes, I still do listen to classic rock but I’ve branched out into…at this point it’s anything I can find. A lot of music that I originally didn’t like the first couple times I heard it have now become some of my favorites. Sufjan Stevens is an example. I couldn’t stand his music when I first heard it and now I really enjoy it. There is no genre that I will say I don’t like. I am a lot newer to metal and to rap music – that’s been my newest undertaking. I’ve fallen in love with Kanye West, thanks, in part, to Daft Punk. And I’ve fallen in love with Chance the Rapper. I think those are kind of good foots in the door – well, feet in the door – to kind of make my way deeper into rap music.
When you first deviated from your parents’ taste in classic rock and your church’s chanting, what was the first artist you remember falling in love with?
Well, I also have two older brothers and I’m really thankful for them. They recommended a lot of music to me so they helped shape my taste. But as far as the first music that I really got into before they did…and my first discovery… I think it’s Röyksopp which is kind of a down-tempo Norwegian electronic duo. I would definitely recommend them. They’re very good. Also I love Hot Chip who’s a British pop-rock, electronic, upbeat band. I think those two were my first two independent forays into my unique, independent taste in music
Have you ever seen either of them live?
I saw Hot Chip live about a year and a half ago. It was close to the summer after my senior year of high school. They put on a really fun show and I think being able to tie that back like, “Oh yeah! That’s what I was listening to when I started finding music on my own!” It was a really exciting experience and I was really glad that I got to see them
Back to your show really quick – if you had to pick three albums/songs to characterize your show, what would they be?
I think the albums that I would use would be The Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens. And I pick it because that is an electronic album from a folk artist and I think that sort of encapsulates the diversity that I look to emulate on my show. Because people who listened to his older stuff… it’s sort of like 22, A Million in that it’s not exactly what you would expect from Bon Iver…so that would definitely be one of the albums. I think another one would be actually a very recent album I heard and I started listening to this last week. Currents by Tame Impala. They’re very new to me but I started enjoying them very quickly and I look forward to playing some of their music on my show. But that album just seems like they draw from so many different influences that I really enjoy so I think that’s in the same vein of what I try to achieve. And then I would say probably Dark Side of the Moon – kind of tying back to my old school rock upbringing…the ability of that album to explore a lot of different interesting themes, build such great atmospheres through their instrumentation and it’s just a cohesive, beautiful work of art. I can’t leave that one out.
How do you discover music?
I’ve had a lot of different sources of music discovery depending on where I am in life so obviously I started with my parents’ tapes and CDs in the car then when my brothers started to branch out their music I started listening to them. In middle school, I started getting some friends who were really into music. We started burning CD-Rs and giving each other mixtapes and that sort of made me realize how important it is to share music with people and that’s probably part of why I have a radio show subconsciously. That was part of it and now I’ve just got so many great friends out here in Nashville who are so interested in so many different kinds of music and I’ve tried to be very conscious about opening my big ears to pretty much anything anyone will recommend to. I will give anything a listen. And obviously I can’t guarantee ill like it immediately but as I’ve discovered with a lot of the music I do like, sometimes things are acquired tastes. So, yeah, a lot of [my music discovery] is through friends. Actually, the “discover” playlists on Spotify … I’ve found a lot of great music through those. And also programming for WRVU! I’ve liked pretty much every album I’ve programmed…Agnes Obel, Citizen of Glass was one album that I was just astounded by when I programmed it. And to an extent it almost makes me sad knowing that if there’s so much music I like on the first listen I just think about all the music I’ll never hear. I feel like I’m almost going to miss something that I might really enjoy
When is your show?
Wednesday nights at 11pm – central time for my east coast listeners
You don’t have a cohost do you?
I do not.
Do you ever invite people to come in?
I’m thinking about it – because tonight will by my first broadcast ever I’m still kind of trying to get into my own rhythm but I’m hoping within the next couple of weeks I’ll bring some of my friends on to co-DJ every once in a while
So this is your first semester with a show?
How’s it been going?
I’ve really loved it. I think the multitasking of making sure I’ve got all my tracks queued up and ready to go…you know, my first broadcast during training wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked it to be. Fade ins and outs and that sort of thing were taking me some effort but I think with practice I’ll sort of get my rhythm down and hopefully I’ll make a show that feels like it runs very smoothly – because that’s what I would want to hear as a listener so that’s what I’d like to give my audience
More about you – where are you from?
I’m from Hartford, Connecticut. Connecticut is a very small state so I’m two hours from Boston and two hours from New York. Connecticut is a little bit boring but it’s a nice place to live and the autumns are beautiful. So…it was a fairly homogenous group of people with whom I lived but we had a kind of spunky music scene I guess. We had coffeehouses and that sort of thing where all the local suburban punk rock bands would get together and play music — so actually I might mention that I think pop punk is the final frontier for me, that’s the one genre I haven’t gotten into quite yet – but yes, so that’s sort of my geographic background
Would you move back there?
I would. I’m an engineering major and there are plenty of engineering opportunities in Connecticut. I think that’s a big part of the economy there. So, definitely, it’s a nice place to live and there are opportunities there so I would [move back]. But I’d also keep my eyes open for other even more exciting opportunities
What do you think of Nashville?
I love Nashville. There’s always so much stuff going on in Nashville. I would love to move here. I’ll definitely try to make contacts in both places and see where I end up
Have you been to any concerts here yet?
Oh, I have. I’ve been to so many concerts here.
What was the best one?
That’s hard to say. Concerts can be so different. Comparing Sufjan Stevens at the Ryman Auditorium to Kanye West at Bridgestone – it’s just apples and oranges
Most memorable was probably the Kanye West concert. It was parents’ weekend as I’m sure everyone remembers and I didn’t even bring the concert up to my parents… actually, I did once, like several months before when they were booking their flights here, because I really wanted to go to this concert. At that point I was really starting to get into Kanye’s music. But I didn’t want my parents to feel like I was going to rush them, you know. We were planning on having a nice dinner and that sort of thing. But when they realized that there wasn’t a football game that weekend and we had finished up our dinner earlier than we’d expected and they didn’t have anything specific in mind to do next and we had spent the whole day together and that sort of thing so I got a Facetime call from my friends who were at the concert who were BEGGING me to go and I think it was about a third of the way through the concert. And so they Facetimed me and my parents noticed and then they remembered like, “Oh, isn’t there a concert tonight?” and I said something like, “Yeah but you’re here and I’m so glad to have you here and I don’t want to ditch you.” And they essentially said, “You need to go to this concert.” So I took off my dress shirt from the dinner. I was wearing my undershirt. They drove me over to Bridgestone. I went in there. I bought a ticket. I met up with my pals. You know, everyone was crammed in there so it didn’t matter that I wasn’t in the right seat. I was in the right section and I ended up standing with them [my friends] and they were so happy to have me there and I was so happy to be there with them. And it was a GREAT show.
He did everything. He did this, like, rant about how you need to help the creatives and that sort of thing and he started going on this sort of vocoder almost like a speech. It was really incredible. And it went on for like ten to fifteen minutes. I think a lot of people think he’s crazy – which I think is true too – but I think a lot of people lose sight of the fact that he’s crazy because he cares so much about a lot of stuff. And I don’t have to defend him too much right now… but getting to experience his candid thoughts and hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth was really interesting. And musically the show was just incredible. That’s how Kanye’s music should be listened to… very loud and with a lot of people who are really excited to be listening to it. That was a really great experience. But I’ve been SO happy with every concert here – whether it’s free on live on the green to spending more money than I’m proud of at Bridgestone. They’ve all been really exciting
Would you say that qualifies as one of your most memorable concerts of all time? Do you have one out of Nashville that you remember?
I’ve got a bunch…I will remember all the concerts I’ve been to. I hope. But I’d say Kanye’s was probably the most memorable concert experience I’ve been to. And that’s saying something because I’ve been happy with every show I’ve gone to.
Ok so here comes my trickiest question.
So later tonight you’re in a car full of people you don’t know very well. And someone hands you the aux cord. You want to impress everyone. What do you play first?
I don’t know. That’s difficult. Well, I feel like when you’re handed the aux cord there’s so much of a responsibility. Even if it’s a great song, if they don’t know it, they’re not going to respond well. So I tend to get them warmed up with something that they’re familiar with. I would say if we’re going out to a party or something and we’re in the car it’s likely going to be something by Kanye West. Probably Touch the Sky off of Late Registration. I think that’s what I would play. Then I would get more into Hot Chip and stuff like that because that’s like fun for the going out environment but I think you have to start with what the people want.
You’re the first person to ever say something as tactful as that. And I think that’s such a valid tactic. I do think that’s true.
Who do you think should listen to your show?
Well, I think people who want to learn new music should listen to my show. Because it’s so likely in each broadcast that I’m going to play some music you know and some music you don’t know – and some music I don’t know thanks to the rotation requirements – people who want to learn new music definitely should listen to my show because I’ll cover a little bit of everything. Every once in a while, I’ll do a classical piece. It’s going to happen.
Maybe you should also listen if you like my voice! That might be an incentive to listen to my show. But because, again going back to the diversity, there is going to be something in each broadcast, I think, that any given person will like. So based on that, I’m going to make the bold claim that I think everyone should listen to my show. Now, I was sort of hoping that I would get the timeslot that I did which was 11 on a Wednesday night. You’re probably going through the study grind and you might need something refreshing. I’m going to refresh you with some liquid architecture. Hopefully that’ll be enough to get you over the hump if you’re doing your thermodynamics work or writing an essay for one of your courses. I hope that I can give you the motivation you need to make it through. So I think everyone should listen
Is there anything else you want to say?
Well, I really liked these questions. This interview actually caused me to think about a lot of things that hadn’t occurred to me like why I listen to the music I listen to and that sort of thing.
Again, it’s Liquid Architecture at 11pm on Wednesdays and thank you in advance for tuning in.
All attached photos were provided by Christopher.
Here’s a playlist from his Spotify profile. Check it out!