The new year is only two days old, and WUSC seems utterly deserted. It’s winter break, and most of the staff of the University of South Carolina’s student radio station is still on vacation. Throughout most of the cramped and sticker-strewn office, it’s dark and quiet. But inside the broadcast booth Greg Slattery and Alex Strickland are serving up a diverse selection of local rock tunes: Eager prog from Trees on Mars shares airspace with the crushing punk of No. It’s a jarring contrast, but one that energizes these avid music lovers.
Such diversity is the lifeblood of Stereofly, the music magazine and artist collective that Slattery and Strickland help lead. Along with Brett Kent, they are the editors and managers of this unusual operation. Every month, they produce pages filled with words on their favorite bands from the Southeast, sending 500 copies to 10 cities across the region. And they commemorate the occasion by having some of those groups play a release party in town.
But Stereofly is also one of the more active promoters in Columbia, presenting frequent concerts in various clubs covering a wide array of genres. In March, it’ll present its first showcases at South By Southwest, Austin’s annual indie hullabaloo. For these guys, showing up on an off day to spin a few tunes is the least extent of their fierce dedication.
“The foundation of the music industry is really in shambles, but now we have this opportunity to build it up,” Slattery says, glancing up from an iPad displaying Stereofly’s lengthy mission statement. “Record labels are fighting for ways to stay afloat, but we’ve decided that it’s something that we don’t necessarily need. If we all collectively, as a region and as art appreciators, come together and support our own local artists, we can provide them with everything that they need to live a satisfying and fruitful life. It all pays forward and creates the community that we all want.”
Slattery’s interest in supporting indie music in the Southeast is informed by more than mere fandom. He founded Stereofly four years ago after stints in Greenville, Charleston and down in Athens, Ga., striving to create something that might unify the various scenes he had come to love. But he’s also an active participant. He guides Shallow Palace, an energetic ensemble breeding rough distortion and theatrical melodies from pianos and voices. His Stereofly cohorts play in other groups: Strickland screams for burly punk outfit Abacus, while Kent plays bass in Stagbriar and The Mazloom Empire, among other tuneful outfits. Balancing their various roles hasn’t always been easy.
“At the very, very beginning of Stereofly — just because I didn’t know as many people — events would be Shallow Palace plus other bands,” Slattery recalls. “Those would be the bands that I would be talking about and promoting. But in the last couple of years, I’ve been doing at least a monthly release show, and Shallow Palace hardly ever plays those. It can be a little strange, particularly with a radio show. I would love Shallow Place to get tons of radio play, just like I want Abacus to get a ton of radio play.”
“It took me a while to kind of get over the fact that I’m talking about and announcing the band that I’m in,” Strickland adds, laughing, having just played Abacus during his turn at the mic.
Shallow Palace plays a release show this week for the magazine’s new issue, but it’ll be joined by Charleston’s Carnaval and Zonaea and Greenville’s Long Canes, groups that Stereofly is keen to promote. On Thursday, the guys will co-present an acoustic showcase with local blog SceneSC. For next week, they have a rap show at Conundrum Music Hall, headlined by the indomitable Fat Rat Dda Czar. They make their own music, but these editors have little interest in giving their bands preferential treatment.
They’ve gone so far as to forgo genre terms to promote diversity. Instead, they break music into four categories: aggressive, fluid, saturated and rustic. Each classification gets a section in every issue with a page at the front defining each term. Saturated, for instance, signifies music that is “thoroughly soaked, charged, or brought to a state of complete saturation,” and refers to the more popular strains of indie rock.
“If nothing else, it’s something else to talk about and another way to describe music,” Slattery says. “Using adjectives appeals more to the emotion and the feeling that music has, which I think is maybe a better way to describe music than hard-line genres.”
In keeping with Stereofly’s relentless ambition, they hope their two SXSW showcases can do more than draw audiences in Austin. They have a Kickstarter page with a goal of $8,000, a measure to recoup the costs of reserving the club. Their primary rewards are starter packs of regional music, one for each of the magazine’s categories. If you donate $25, you get to pick a pack. If you donate $100, you get the entire collection, comprising 32 albums, one from each act they will bring to Texas. In addition, they’re planning shows for these artists all over the region. That Fat Rat bill, for instance, will also hit Greenville and Asheville.
“It’s going to be a great year,” Slattery smiles. “We finally feel pretty solid in our format in print. It feels good to be at a place where I feel like we understand what we’re doing and have a more focused and therefore more effective promotion ability.”
Stereofly releases a new issue at Art Bar on Saturday, Jan. 11. Shallow Palace, The Long Canes, Carnaval and Zonaea all play. Art Bar is at 1211 Park St. Music begins at 9 p.m.; Admission is $5. Visit artbarsc.com for more information.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Not Your Typical Greek Restaurant
Ariana’s in West Columbia serves up delicious all-natural, low carb dishes, as well as homemade bread and baklava. Come try the best salad dressing in town! Location info and hours here.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com