DJ Showcase: Ambient Cats

This month, AMP interviewed RadioUTD’s blog editor Demir Candas about his show Ambient Cats and his goals in curating RadioUTD’s website.


What kind of music do you play on your show, Ambient Cats?

I would say my music is electronic music, but that’s a little too vague. My show, quite in the literal sense, is dance music mostly. I also play a lot of beats in the vein of hip-hop, funk, soul, and some pop, but I have to clarify what “dance music” means because of its broad association with EDM. Artists like Deadmau5, Marshmello, David Guetta, they’re all there and fine in their own respects, but that’s not what my show is about. The music I like to play has deep roots in communities across the world where club/dance culture, visual and performance art, and the hybridization of genres take shape, and this really progressive sound makes the music. It isn’t all buildups and drops.

What motivates your music selections?

My motivation is really the feeling I get when I listen to new or old tracks. I follow a lot of the up-and-coming and trending DJs in the techno circuits, like Peggy Gou or The Black Madonna, because they are really making an impact in the dance community in their own way. I admire that. I have a dream to emulate that impact on my show, because essentially I’m this curator of music, not putting out anything original besides promo graphics for my show, and my show is a large percentage new, trending music. It goes back to that feeling of discovery. The coolest thing is looking back on a year of music I faved, saved, and discussed, and saying “Damn I loved that one.”

How did you first develop an interest in dance music?

I didn’t even like music a whole lot until I was about 14 maybe, although I listened to old rock which I tried to learn on the electric guitar like any other tween boy — that guitar phase, lol, we all had one. But something sparked around my early adolescence. My dad and sister were playing music in the car like The Fashion, Friendly Fires, and Daft Punk, and those are pretty rhythm intensive bands. My dad is Turkish and can never escape that Euro-dance craze and likes hearing it in the new music he finds. At some point unclear to me, I just started loving that so much. And then I went online and found classic EDM artists, experienced all phases of electronic, and just made this journey to where I am today. I think my taste changes gradually every year, to be honest, because I used to despise pop music, but there are some real bops out there from pop artists. I used to die for Chillwave releases, but we all know how that genre turned out.

What songs and artists would you suggest for someone listening to Ambient Cats for the first time?

Ambient Cats has many faces. But truly, Kaytranada, Disclosure, Javelin, Jessy Lanza, The Chemical Brothers, !!! (ChkChkChk), these are my bread and butter. The most accessible, catchy, groundbreaking, beat wrecking, booty-popping artist out there that I would call for any day would be Kaytranada — songs including LEAVE ME ALONE, LITE SPOTS, and DESPITE THE WEATHER. Others songs are So Much To Me by French Kiwi Juice (FKJ), I Love… That You Know and Just Your Type by Disclosure, and Cell by Falcons.

As the main editor for RadioUTD’s blog (radioutd.com), what are your priorities in curating its content and style?

There’s been a lot of talk among our people about the blog, because that’s how important it is. We are a group of young adults who love music and love talking about music. Our blog has the opportunity to extend that discussion in a public way. Being an internet-only station makes all of our content that much more critical. If we aren’t talking music, and talking often, we’re essentially obsolete. We literally talk about music on a daily basis among our peers, in the station, and at home, but we need to write about it. That was my first initiative when I reassumed this role Fall 2016. After that, my contingency plan was fairly simple: assemble the blog team, prime them for critical, analytical thinking about music, and organize a system where all of these elements come together. We have finally just gotten to this point, and I’m feeling pretty happy about it.

How do you see RadioUTD expanding its blogging and online presence?

It’s funny, because when I first joined there was a “blog team”, but there were no bloggers. We solely relied on DJs to write up album reviews and event reviews for the site, and the rest were just pieces that DJs did on their own volition. I took charge when I got the application for bloggers, or DJs who had to step back from their positions, and motioned for this overhaul on pushing content. We are college radio, an alternative broadcasting team, so we have to keep our reviews to the lesser known. But following music as closely as the collective RadioUTD does, we push for some nice, popular releases, and that’s what expands our fan base as well. The combination is what is really going to make the RadioUTD site a better spot for reading about music. Our blog team, as well as the DJs, are all writers, content creators, and judges of music, which is all I can ask of them when it comes to the blog. But it shouldn’t be all work and no play. These albums that come out every week, from artists we either love or are strangers to, are works of art and for our entertainment and provocation of thought. I want anyone writing for the blog to remember this so they can collect it all and establish their voice. But the hardest part is balancing that with objective review.

Is there anything else you’d like new or current listeners to know about you or Ambient Cats?

So, AmbientCats is this seemingly ancient idea of a show because it’s been around for so long. I can’t offer anything I haven’t already done, so I’ll continue to do more of the same, just better and with just as much fun and ambition as when I started. In my final semester at RadioUTD, I really just want anyone who has ever cared enough to listen to us to continue the support. It sounds dumb but we have this acronym, YORF, You Only Radio Forever, so I’ll never forget this program, and I’ll never stop with music.