UCI at midnight is a quiet place. Hardly anyone remains on campus this late, save the custodial staff. There is one building, though, that is occupied 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Walk over the footbridge from UTC, through the moonlit Aldrich Park.
Once you are past the Ayala Science Library, you wander into a deserted parking lot, and then stop and just listen. In the night air, you may just barely hear the faint sound of music you’ve most likely never heard before, playing out of a small speaker positioned outside the trailer that houses KUCI studios.
Inside, the stillness of night fades away. The main room of the trailer is lined from wall-to-wall with records, resting on wooden shelves, which are coated in a single, decaying layer of black paint. These look to be constructed by college students, but they do their job and hold hundreds if not thousands of records from a variety of genres. Jazz, world music, soundtracks, reggae, country, rock, funk soul, hip hop, RPM, classical; these are just a small sampling of genres at the disposal of a KUCI DJ. In a corner of the room is a small table, upon which rests a dog-eared copy of Rolling Stone, dated November 2013 with Lou Reed on its cover.
On the right side of the room, a hallway leads to a bathroom and a storage room and is lined with countless CDs. These genres are more extensive and feature everything from country to industrial goth. In fact, there are 11 shelves of CDs dedicated solely to the industrial goth genre, a genre which includes bands with names like Judgment of Paris and Faith and Disease.
At 12:00 a.m., DJ Mudbone is signing off.
“This is DJ Mudbone, a.k.a the smoothest voice on the radio.”
DJ See is up next, and after signing off, Mudbone exits the studio booth and the two meet for the first time.
“How you doin,’” says DJ Mudbone.
“Rock n’ rollin,” says DJ See.
These two DJs could not be more different, and watching them meet is like watching the very essence of college radio manifest itself in human form. DJ Mudbone looks like a college student with a developed sense of style, a confident step in his walk and a warm presence. DJ See walks into the studio dressed like it’s 1998. He’s wearing a pair of beat up skate shoes, shorts that hang past his knees with a wallet chain dangling from his pocket.
He sports a zip up hoodie, and large glasses. He has long but thinning black hair. DJ See is a UCI alumnus who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2003, and has returned to his alma mater to DJ in the dead of night, something he wouldn’t change if he could.
“At night, it’s a more intense environment. People are more apt to soak in the mood of the music,” he says.
DJ See hosts “The Radio Chimichanga Three Hour Special,” which he promotes as featuring “everything random,” a promise that he absolutely keeps. His “playlist” is the product of him selecting “shuffle all” on his iTunes and seeing what happens. The results are mixed.
“Hey, I’m DJ See, this is ‘The Radio Chimichanga Three Hour Special,’ some of these songs might suck, but they probably won’t. But if they do … I don’t know, just roll with it.”
One of the most interesting aspects of his playlist is that it includes many songs that he has never heard before. The first track is “Alienation” by Crisis, which sounds like a British punk band. Second is “All Wounds” by Canadian Electric Ensemble, which is a 14 minute track, essentially opera singing over a dark and ominous piano track. Even DJ See admits this one is “really weird.” One is the soundtrack from an episode of Crank Yankers.
The results are mixed. DJ See’s favorite kind of music is “outsider” music, which, he says, is music performed by people who do not know how to play musical instruments or sing. He attributes his love for this music to a more intimate and real relationship with the artists.
“Why would you fake being a weirdo? Why would you do that?” he says of the outsider musicians.
DJ See acquired his position as a DJ during the 2013 fall quarter. He was listening at home and made a $100 donation to the station, and was then offered a DJ position, and says he DJ’s because “I love art, and I love music,” and it is very apparent that he truly does.
Even to songs he doesn’t know and has never heard, he plays air drums, bobs his head, taps his foot and really soaks in the mood of the music in a way that is only possible in the dead of night.