DJ Showcase: Benji Lunday

This month, AMP interviewed The Pickup’s DJ about his show, his music exploration history, and the relationship between music, math, and science.

Can you elaborate on the name of your show?

It’s a combination of my love for guitar and also letting my nerd flag fly. The pickup on the guitar is the line or row of those metal dots that you see, so it’s really what brings the sound and what makes a guitar a guitar. It brings the electric element and the distortion, but also there’s a lot of physics behind it. As a physics major, it kind of blended all that together. It really summed up how my show is a hard, alt-rock, guitar-driven show, so it brought everything together.

So is the premise of your show bands and songs with hard guitars, then?

It’s really a lot about the instrument and how to use it. I always try to think of a different technique each week and bring music that shows that, highlighting songs that I feel really bring that out. A song doesn’t have to have a guitar to be on the show, but if it does, it’s probably going to be there.

So is the format of your show that you pick a different style of guitar playing and showcase that?

I definitely try to do that. Usually it leans toward the hard rock side of things. But if something else comes up, occasionally I’ll have something like an alt-country song that I feel really works, like showing good finger-picking. But usually it falls into a genre style.

What do you play on your show that you feel captures the different types of hard rock?

I tend to lean toward a more distorted sound. I also lean toward songs that have a good bass element, because as a bass player I’m of course biased toward that. I also tend toward songs that show a good technical element. I do like a bit of punk, but of course if you’re just ramming out the same three chords over and over, that’s not really good technical playing. So I like to bring in songs that show creativity, originality, use of the instrument, and all that.

For someone coming to your show for the first time, what are bands they can expect to hear?

I always play Wavves, some Fidlar, Royal Blood, some Muse every once in a while. I do add a little bit of electronic through Justice. Queens of the Stone Age is a huge influence. It always changes week to week. I love to move around and listen to a lot of different music.

How did you first get into the genre, going into music?

So I played trumpet for five years. I’ve always enjoyed music, but while I was at UNT, I picked up the guitar, because it’s very hard to continue trumpet outside of a rigid orchestra environment because you can’t find trumpet tabs on the internet. So I picked up guitar because I wanted to be musical again; I wanted to have an instrument. From working with that, and looking up how to play different techniques, I started being pulled to these kinds of harder genres that involve guitar. My playing style kind of went that way, so it was a natural progression toward heavier music.

Your fascination with music comes from the more technical side, then?

Definitely. I almost never listen to the lyrics. I really like lyrics, but I mainly listen to the instrumentals because I like to hear what’s going on underneath and how it works. In a nerdy sense, music is the unison of math and science, because you’ve got your counting, your music theory, all of that working together. There’s also a little bit of physics, and I just love wave physics and how that works in the sound.

So that’s why you like Wavves so much, then?

Haha, yeah.

You’re basically the typical UTD student getting into music, then, coming at it from the science edge?

I mean that feeds into it but I also like it from a general artistic standpoint. While I am kind of a hard sciences guy, I really like… I don’t want to say nebulous, but how it allows people to express their emotions in a specific and auditory sense.

Do you have any recommendations for somebody interested in joining RadioUTD, or possible fears you want to alleviate?

I was always worried about talking on air, like what I was going to talk about every week or who would want to listen to me. But I find it to be very cathartic. While you don’t have an in-person audience to respond and react to, it’s very soothing to be able to talk on air about what’s been going on in your week, cool new things you found, and things going on around campus, and just get that out there. So I found it a great way to kind of open up myself and be comfortable talking about what I do as a person.

Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like potential listeners to know about you or your show?

I’m hoping at some point… I bought an audio interface, and I’m hoping to actually get a guitar and hook it into the mixer and have guitar on-air. I have to get a system admin to work on that. I’m trying to make it a very much more interactive show, one that has an actual physical component. I’m not just playing guitar music for you, anyone can do that, but also a “Here’s what’s going on behind the scenes. When you hear this, this is what’s happening, and this is how you can replicate it.” So maybe trying to bring a more listener-focused outlook where people can say, “Oh, this is what’s going on.”