Fellow travelers, allow us to introduce you to KMHD’s mysterious new host: Mr. Wriff! Your DJ tour guide on an all-vinyl adventure through the trippier reaches of the jazz spectrum, his show Altered State focuses on the pivotal late ‘60s through the ‘80s — when synthesized waveforms, drum machines and effects pedals transformed straight-ahead sounds into something otherworldly. Here, we talk with him about world travel, vinyl collecting, and his life off the mic.
What was the music you first got into growing up, and when did you first start listening to the music you play on KMHD?
My parents came of age in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, so as a kid I was surrounded by their records from that same era. I remember flipping through their stacks at home when I was really young, pulling out the LPs with the most interesting covers; The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s and War’s Why Can’t We Be Friends were two of my early favorites, and looking back now probably shaped my love of psych and funk music more than anything else.
Your KMHD buds know you as an avid traveler who loves to collect obscure sounds from around the world while you’re out adventuring. Could you tell us about a favorite trip of yours and the records you found along the way?
Digging in Lima, Peru a few years ago was the first experience I’ve had where it felt like I had discovered a secret trove of sounds not a lot of foreigners had found. There’s a strip of record stalls near downtown in a neighborhood called Quilca with maybe a dozen or so vendors, each specializing in certain genres of Peruvian music. I ended up spending a good day and a half going through all the stalls, speaking broken Spanish to the vendors about what kinds of sounds I was looking for and listening to a few thousand records. In all, I think I pulled some 150 - 200 records or so out of there, including an amazing assortment of Peruvian psychedelic cumbia and folk-huayno sounds.
What would surprise people most about what you do in your personal life?
I studied Product Design in college and have spent the better part of my adult life learning about how and why people use the tools they do, as well as designing and making things I think are worth having in our lives. In a way I think of myself more as an abstract anthropologist of sorts, and I think that my interest in people, culture and history has informed my love of music along the way. It’s also given me a deeper understanding of the roots of niche genres from around the world.
When you aren’t listening to the music you play on KMHD, what are you tuned into?
I was also fed a steady diet of MTV as a kid, and Yo! MTV Raps was my favorite program…so hip-hop has also been a constant musical companion of mine throughout my life. One of my favorite radio programs, WeFunk, has been broadcasting out of Montreal for a couple decades now — they play a solid selection of classic and underground hip-hop, along with funk, jazz and soul sounds of all pedigrees. I’ve been tuning into that program for a good 15 years now.
Any interesting hobbies or talents?
I’m an avid (albeit amateur) film photographer and writer. I’ve been using my opportunities traveling around the world to document the things that inspire me along the way and share them with friends and family when I return. I recently started a magazine called Good Trip that I produce with a handful of friends, and the first issue was dedicated to my time in Peru. I produced a couple mixtape companion pieces for it as well. My next one is on Mexico, so stay tuned!
Where do you live and what are some of your favorite neighborhood spots?
My wife and I recently moved to St. Johns, and we absolutely love it. It’s still a little slice of quiet in our rapidly evolving city. Cathedral is a great little coffee shop on Willamette that makes some bonkers pastries. The Portway Tavern is our local pub and has quite a cast of characters in there every night. Blue Moon Camera and Bernstein’s Bagels are regular stops of mine as well.
If you could bring someone back to life from jazz history and hang out with them for an afternoon, who would it be and why?
I’m going to cheat on this one and pick a person who isn’t dead, but at the same time he isn’t 100% there anymore: George Clinton. And while I’m at it, I’m going to cheat a second time and not bring them to me in the present, but hop in a time machine and go back and hang with George in studio back in the late ‘70s. I think the work that P-Funk produced back then was some of the most interesting, ground-breaking music I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. I’d love nothing more than to see the genesis of their music with George, Bernie, Bootsy and the rest of the crew vibing together and making some magic. *