Since last September, LA-based music blog Aquarium Drunkard has been releasing these mysterious and esoteric podcasts on a semiweekly basis called Sidecar. Each installment is a numbered “transmission,” and the series is a true experiment in aestheticism. Those familiar with AD’s weekly satellite radio show know their affinity for eclecticism, but each Sidecar podcast has its own distinct sound—they are the sum of its own parts. Suffice to say, these aren’t your everyday mixtapes; it’s a much more artistic endeavor. We spoke to Aquarium Drunkard’s Justin Gage about this latest project.
VICE: What was the motive or inspiration for you to start this podcast series?
Justin Gage: They originally began as sleep-deprived exercises to keep me awake shortly after we had our first baby in September.
Each podcast has its own distinct sound, complete with audio clips from various sources (films, spoken-word readings, radio, etc.). You’ve also labeled some of them with these kind of abstract, yet really evocative, descriptions, such as "astral blues," "buffalo print/winter width," and "alluvial plain blues." How do you go about figuring out the sound for each podcast? Where do they come from?
I've always been intrigued by radio waves… how they bounce around space and just continue infinitely. The idea behind the transmissions podcasts is that you've tuned into a slightly surreal, fucked up radio program not bound by era, language, and/or genre. Some are more straight than others, while some feel more like a collage. I personally prefer things a little bent and off-center. I'm interested in the juxtaposition of sounds and influences, and each (podcast) is a reflection of that.
The podcasts are relatively short, usually clocking in at about thirty minutes or less. Is there a virtue in this kind of brevity?
Yeah, I'm very much a believer in less is more. I appreciate strong and succinct, and the duration of each transmission is a reflection of that. Although, by design, I originally envisioned each one running into the next (hence the radio static, dial-changing, etc.), so if you've grabbed each one, that's a pretty long program. Also, everyone's attention spans are shot, including my own.
The series, as a whole, has a sort of vintage, late-night-radio vibe to it, like when you happen across a station playing amazing and mysterious music, hosted by an even more mysterious DJ. Is this something that you connect with?
Very much so. As mediums go, radio has been and remains my favorite. The fuzzy, late-night weird shit you happen upon out there (especially on road trips), can range from total trash to brilliance. It's a coin toss.
What kind of feedback have you gotten? Are the podcasts a hit?
Man, it's been really interesting. Last I checked, they've been downloaded 100,000 times from around the globe.
Do you plan on keeping the series going for the foreseeable future, or do you see it as more of a time-capsule thing, with a distinct beginning and end?
Yeah, I have an idea of how it will end, but that's still a ways off. I'm also interested in doing some "side trips" along the way that deviate from the overall lost-found transmissions arc. The idea behind last one I did (#11) was that of untarping an old Buick in a shed that had been locked up for 25+ years and popping in the cassette lying on the dash.