Interview with the host of The Big Come Down, the weekly avant-garde industrial electronic madness on CHLY 101.7
Navigator: Why The Big Come Down?
Devon Smirl: I started the show about a year and a half ago. It was just me doing DJ mixes with my co-host Jim Woods. I did it because there was nothing else on the radio like what I was doing, and I wasn’t able to play it in clubs. My music was a little too dark for the dance scene; I played a lot of trance or slowed down hip hop, but it wasn’t danceable and I got rejected from Spice Lounge because I wouldn’t play Top 40. So I got a radio show here. I started volunteering with Jim [James Wood, host of Paint a Vulgar Picture] on his metal show, but I’d play hard tech-house just to mix it up, and I decided that that’s what I wanted to do – I wanted my mixes to be heard on the radio.
N: How do you prepare for each episode?
DS: I talk a lot with DJs and producers online. I made a lot of contacts overseas – European stuff like the industrial music from Germany. Because music is so expensive, I look for opportunities to talk to the artists and ask permission to play their music rather than buying their CDs or going to Bandcamp [bandcamp.com], and that takes a lot of networking. The live events have been great for that. Karley [Kerpan, The Globe events co-host] and I have met some sixty DJs in six months.
N: Who do you hope to approach with your show?
DS: It’s more for people who are into electronica. I want people to listen to this because it’s obscure and they’ll probably never hear this outside of my radio show.
N: Which part of hosting do you enjoy the most?
DS: Probably the preparation. I’ve never been comfortable in front of the miic. It’s taken a lot of time to actually get used to speaking on air, so I don’t talk much on the radio, but I really enjoy doing my mixes. I try to take a different, fresh approach every week. It’s fun discovering new music. I always try to play something I’ve never heard before.
N: Where in Nanaimo do you go for inspiration?
DS: The Globe. The DJ sets I put on stage are, generally, where I find inspiration. I personally have not been on stage at The Globe, so I’m inspired when I see these guys that have never played in a club before go up on stage and do their thing. It’s pretty cool.
N: What was the most life-altering thing you’ve learned from hosting so far?
DS: Not everything goes as planned. I’ve always been kind of a control freak, and there are always these occurrences in the radio that will change your program. The idea is to just go with the flow. I’ve never been someone to just go with the flow, so when these things happened in the beginning it was kind of hard for me. I’d say to myself, ‘ah I really screwed this one up’, but I’ve learned patience and acceptance.
N: If you could host your dream show…
DS: I think I’ve already done it. I just need to improve upon what I’ve done. I have goal that I haven’t reached with the show production wise, but those are all just a matter of time. And getting used to the flow of doing live events is a totally different bowl of wax. To be quite honest, I was getting bored of doing the show before. I was doing all my mixes at home. Everything seemed very prepared and ready all the time, but now there are always these unexpected variables, so my dream show is what I’m doing right now.
N: When you aren’t hosting your show…
DS: I do a lot of art – graphic design, that sort of stuff. I also have a dog, so I spend a lot of time with her. A lot of my time is taken up by CHLY, to be quite honest. I do bookings for The Globe, and I bartend there. I run the gamut of what goes through there. I’m there most nights of the week. Other than that, I just enjoy my life, work…I’m pretty normal I guess.