Mixtape No. 36
Life design is a luxury afforded only to those brave enough to choose their own adventure and Wesley Herron does that quite well. A quick look around the Silver Lake space he shares with his gal Annie will give you the sense that every totem, book, photograph and record tells a story.
Like any good cultural ambassador, sharing those experiences is something he wants beyond a handshake. A common denominator can be found in his mixes on Reverberation Radio or on the off chance you catch him DJing selections from his stacks of rare wax. Here he talks about the roots of his passions and other footnotes of a life well lived.
Can you remember the first time a certain sound resonated with you?
My dad passed down all his records to me and I wore them all out. It wasn’t until I discovered some of the mystery and darkness behind The Beach Boys — an otherwise pop-harmony group — that I began an endless search of consuming archives of music.
What records did you have on heavy rotation?
I think Bobby Brown LIVE, an artist from California who traveled up and down the coast in his van with a couple Golden Retrievers performing as a one-man band. At least that’s the album I have played, purchased and gifted the most.
With music being the most emotive art form, is there a particular feeling it gives you?
Nostalgia. It can bring back anything, take you to a time or place and evoke scenes so minute.
How would you describe your role with Reverberation Radio to someone discovering it for the first time?
I’m one of about seven creators of those mixes. My personal role in the ones I contribute lately involves trying to persuade contemporary listeners to explore the world of jazz. I try to incorporate a few pop tracks with a lot of jazz. Everyone on the roster has different tastes and although at first it was frustrating it now seems to be the most cohesive or beneficial thing we have to offer.
With so many songs to choose from how do you pick a starting point?
It definitely starts from coming back from a trip, where someone turns you on to a new song and you get inspired to go back in your own personal brain search and find songs that relate to that. I will send them a similar related song as a form of gratitude and start compiling a few newly discovered tracks with some old related favorites and then the one new track, which is usually an instant favorite. It’s one large matrix comprised of everyone who loves sounds.
My dad passed down all his records to me and I wore them all out...
Rediscovering a new genre will definitely make any audiophile go down a rabbit hole.
Yes, my darkest fear is to walk into the jazz section of a new record store.
Are you at any particular place right now in music history that you find exciting?
I've been really getting into the imitators from Japan who were influenced by the great jazz players back in the day. A lot of it was recorded in the late 70s and early 80s. I guess calling them "imitators" isn't really correct because I think they almost do it better. They had access to the entire library and better studio equipment. They kept a similar vibe but at the same time were able to mix in different influences and take out the parts that were almost unlistenable to the commercial ear.
How did they accomplish that?
I think they took a step back from how deep jazz got and did their own versions of something they were passionate about.
Have there been any other significant memories in music history for you?
I think growing up and hearing The Rolling Stones’ "Cocksucker Blues” and seeing the documentary with Jagger shouting "When am I going to get my cock sucked?!" I felt music for me could get way deeper than just commercial Stones.
How did you land in LA and why do you choose to call it home?
I was born in Inglewood. Los Angeles has always been home. I’ve spent 30 years compiling a virtual map of people, places and nature. Any given day I could be up at dawn surfing and chart out my day from there on the fly. With LA being so wide and diverse geographically, it only gives the day more opportunity. Being a surf head on the Eastside might seem restricting but it opens everything else up socially. You could surf Topanga, check the traffic and decide if you want to take the canyon up and eat at Froggies or take the coast and grab a drink at Chez Jay. Jeffrey Lee Pierce really had LA wired down. In "Go Tell The Mountain" he lays out his plotted map of Los Angeles that changed hourly: where to play, drink, score, or hide. It’s a beautiful thing.
You can make your experience whatever you want just by virtue of where you live. How does that relate to where you live now?
I grew up on the Westside and moved out east after high school because I found myself out there at night. I’ve moved back and forth ever since. I can’t exactly relate with Silver Lake today because it’s not what it meant to me growing up. I live across the street from Spaceland, a club I grew up going to. Sadly, in the last three years I’ve lived across the street there have only been a few shows worth stepping in on, further reflecting the mature pop tastes of the current neighborhood.
How do you navigate around surfing some of the busiest waves in the world?
I’ve given up on trying to surf with friends when a swell is hitting. I will sacrifice almost any condition, wind or tide to get a few empty or open faces. I will usually find myself on a good swell at Malibu before dawn (if tide permits) catching a few waves in the dark as the crowd starts to paddle out. I do love Mike Black and Matteo Plummer's "Invasion From Planet C." They created their own galactic world in which there were no other surfers. If you want to survive surfing in LA — or any other overpopulated wave — you better have quite an imagination sitting in a line up full of sharks.
How would you like people to know you?
Just an observer of the daily life of cultures here in Los Angeles — a human geographer.
HAVE A LISTEN
Check out more of Wesley's mixes at www.reverberationradio.com.