Over the years, underground music has been synonymous with innovation, diversity, and freedom. It’s a safe space that defies traditional constraints, explores different sound, and provides a stage who have often been overlooked. This is a place that should never be underestimated, and this holds true internationally.
今天，我们将在这里聆听那些音乐行业的边缘人物的声音，了解Particle FM如何成为地下音乐的倡导者。Particle FM是一个在美国圣地亚哥建立地下音乐社区的互联网电台。在主流音乐遍布的喧闹世界中，它的存在只为赞美独一无二的声音。
Today, we’re here to listen to the voices struggling at the edges of the music industry and to understand how Particle FM has become their advocate. Meet Particle FM, an internet radio station aims to build an underground music community in San Diego. In a world where the mainstream often overshadows the unconventional, Particle FM is celebrating the unique.
Join us for this special interview with the founder of Particle FM, Christian, as we embrace cultural differences, break down cultural barriers, and build a bridge for communication among music enthusiasts.
▎Mixmag China (采访人：Jinqi) = J
▎Particle FM (嘉宾：Christian) = C
01 关于你自己 [About Yourself]
J: 可以简单分享一下个人背景以及创立Particle FM的原因吗?
Could you share a bit about your personal backgrounds and how they led you to found Particle FM?
I got into dance and electronic music during my last year of high school. I grew up in San Bernardino, in the desert, so my friends and I used to drive to LA on weekends to try and get into warehouse parties. Some of these parties didn’t require ID, so if we were lucky, we’d get in. I saw these DJs I really liked, and I loved the craziness of warehouse parties. I then started to get into Internet radio stations. For example, NTS radio was a bit inspiration for me. There were LA DJs on the radio, it was very international at that point.
我在大学期间开始在唱片店工作。这家店很喜欢Balearic音乐，这是一种融合了不同音乐流派的放松音乐。这个名字来源于西班牙的Balearic群岛（Ibiza就是Balearic的其中一个岛）。在 80年代末的英国，那里的人喜欢去Ibiza派对。这些英国DJ会从Disco放到chill House再放到晚上的Rave音乐。这种音乐有着非常浓厚的海滩和热带舞曲的氛围，因此非常符合San Diego的特色，在San Diego也相当受欢迎。这对我来说是一个重要的时期，我认识了很多唱片店里的人。在那里工作让我学到了很多音乐相关的知识。
I started working during college for a vinyl distributor and they loved Balearic music, which is a chill dance music where different genres blend. The name comes from the Balearic Islands in Spain (Ibiza is one of the Balearic Islands). In late ’80s UK, people would go to Ibiza for partying. These British DJs would play music from disco and chill music to late-night raves. It had a beach and tropical dance music vibe, sounds very San Diego. It was an influential period where I met people involved in running record labels. I learned a lot about music during my time there.
我在大学时也和朋友做了一个电台。也是在那个时候，我开始学着放黑胶，一边放一边学习这方面的历史和知识。大概直到两年前，我在去了一趟欧洲回来之后我才开始做现在这个电台（Particle FM）。当时我去葡萄牙找我的朋友，看到他在葡萄牙做一个电台，并且跟我说了一下电台的运营模式。于是我就觉得我也可以呀，然后我就开始了。 目前我在跟Laurie一起做Particle FM。我主要负责这个电台的技术和运营，Laurie主要负责网站的视觉和内容设计。Laurie一直对音乐以及其他艺术领域，比如电影和文学，都充满热情。她时不时的会跟我分享一些她近期阅读过的跟音乐有关的书籍，我觉得很有趣。
I hosted a radio show with a friend in college. I learned to DJ with vinyl and got deeply into it. It wasn’t until two years ago that I started the radio station after I went to Europe to visit a friend. My friend runs a radio station in Portugal and showed me how it’s done. I thought, “I can do this,” and that’s how I got the idea to start my own radio station. Currently, I’m working together with Laurie for Particle FM. I’m primarily responsible for the technical and operational aspects of the website, while Laurie focuses on the visual and content design. Laurie has always had a deep passion for music, and everything related to it, such as film and literature. She always shares some music-related books she’s read recently which I find very interesting.
Do you have any particular genres that you really like? Has your taste in electronic music evolved over the years?
C: 我觉得我的口味从一开始接触电子音乐开始到现在的变化很大。我的搭档Laurie也有过类似的经历。之前有一档叫做“Big Sonic Chill”的栏目曾在San Diego的一个电台播放。这个节目通常在晚上放一些非常轻松和柔和的音乐。她的音乐品味从那个时候开始也慢慢发生变化了，渐渐开始尝试去听一些其他音乐风格。在音乐听的多了之后，有时候我们也会开始用另一种视角去看待年轻的时候听的音乐，比如说，我们回去重新开始欣赏当时没有办法被欣赏的音乐，或者换个角度去欣赏自己曾经喜欢过的音乐。
I feel like my taste has evolved significantly. It’s always in a state of flux. Laurie has some similar experiences. I think there was a radio program on a San Diego station called “Big Sonic Chill” that used to air at night. It showed some chill and mellow music. I believe it was around that time that her taste started to shift. After listening a lot of music, we sometimes begin to rediscover a different type of things from the music we used to listen. For instance, we might go back and start appreciating music that couldn’t be appreciated at the time, or we might take a different aspect in appreciating the music we once loved.
J: 是什么动力驱使着你创建了Particle FM呢？可否跟我们分享一下这个电台创立背后的故事？
What motivated you to contribute to the local electronic music scene by creating an internet radio station, and could you share the circumstances under which it was founded?
C: 可能是因为我刚搬来San Diego的时候，比起LA我对这里的音乐场景感到非常失望。我觉得这里很多俱乐部都太过于商业化了。对我来说，最大的问题之一是，这里的活动缺乏多样性，尤其是看到lineup全是白人男性的时候。
I guess when I first moved here, I was disappointed with the local scenes compared to what I had experienced in LA. I found that many of the nightclubs were overly commercialized. One of the most significant issues for me was the lack of diversity at these venues. It was particularly frustrating to see lineups dominated by white men.
I attended events and had a good time, but the homogeneity of the lineups influenced the crowd. You could predict what kind of people would show up.
I would go to events, but I never ran events. I wasn’t playing out venues either. It wasn’t until the past two years that I became more active and started organizing events. For us, the most important thing would be diversity.
That’s why when we host events, we make sure that they are not limited to a single group of people, but I even think it’s not enough. It’s not enough to just have, for example, women on the lineup. We should also support women who are organizing events. Women should have the opportunity to curate events independently. A man curates an event and includes women is not the same as women curating events on their own.
To answer your question, I would say it’s primarily about addressing the lack of diversity. The absence of diversity is what motivates me to contribute to the local electronic music scene.
02 关于Particle FM [About Particle FM]
J: “Particle FM”这个电台名字是怎么来的呢？
How did you come up with the name “Particle FM”?
Because for particles, sometimes they are spontaneous and sometimes they are random. They’re unpredictable. Actually it’s because, I wrote down a list of names that I thought sounded cool, and then I chose the one that had the available domain name.
J: 你在创立Particle FM的时候，有没有什么具体的目标？
Were there any specific goals you had in mind when creating Particle FM?
C: 与其说有其他什么目标，我认为更重要的是为初入茅庐的人们建立一个融入音乐场景的社区和支持体系。这包括创办record label、组建活动厂牌、或者寻求演出机会。我注意到一件事情，就是当你将人们聚集在一个社区中时，他们就会开始依赖彼此并寻求帮助，久而久之就会建立起一个庞大的社区关系网。比如，他们可以做一些像“我可以请这个人来我的活动放歌”，或者“我可以问问这个人是否可以借他的音响”类似的事情。我实际上是想要建立起一个跨足不同音乐领域的社区。
I think the primary goal, more than anything else, was to build a sense of community and a support system for those who want to break into doing things in the music industry. This includes starting a record label, performing at events, or organizing parties. What I’ve noticed is that when you bring people together in a community, they begin to rely on each other for assistance and build a network. For instance, they may do things like, “I can ask this person to perform at my event,” or “this person has speakers I could use.” It’s really about building a sense of community that spans across different music scenes.
J: 在我们上一期与Techniche创始人Myxzlplix的采访中，我们着重讨论了南加州的电子音乐场景。我们说到这里的音乐场景通常以不同的曲风进行划分，比如专门做House、Techno、Bass之类风格的派对厂牌和唱片厂牌。像Particle FM这样不专注于单一音乐流派的广播电台相对较少。是什么促使你创建了如此多元的平台呢？
In my previous interview with Myxzlplix, the owner of Techniche (a techno collective based in San Diego), we discussed the electronic music scene here in the States, particularly in Southern California. We talked about how the scenes here are often separated by genres, such as promoters and labels particularly specializing in House, Techno, Bass, etc. Radio stations that are not focused on one single-genre like Particle FM are relative rare. What motivated you to create such a diverse platform?
I got a huge influence from Objekt, particularly the way he mixes tracks, like mixing Electro with a UK grime track. I learned a lot from his eccentric and experimental approach.
I think almost everyone on our station plays a wide range of music. It goes to crazy places. We always tried to do open format. We’re more interested in a tone or a vibe rather than a particular genre. We’ve had events where it started with techno and then transitioned into jungle. We even had one event with ambient music that flowed into house.
I believe one of the great things about music is the opportunity to expand and explore, not just focusing on one spot.
Last time, we also discussed how most DJs often have to choose a specific genre to focus on. Sometimes, it’s more of a business decision. Some may not even want to be pigeonholed, but they feel compelled to do so, or else promoters might not show interest.
C: 其实作为一个喜欢很多种音乐风格的DJ，我也遇到了这个问题。人们往往会根据他们看到我的表演来给我贴标签。如果我有一次演出放了Ambient，他们会说：“啊，原来你是个Ambient DJ。”如果我放Techno，他们会把我定义成一位Techno DJ。就像你提到的，有时候如果你想去外面放歌，你就必须给自己贴标签，这其实就相当于在这个音乐市场上把自己卖出去。
I’ve encountered that issue as someone who plays so many genres. People tend to label me based on what they’ve seen me perform. If I do an ambient set, they say, “Oh, you’re more of an ambient guy.” If I play techno, they assume I’m a techno DJ. As you mentioned, sometimes, if you want bookings, you have to define yourself. You’re basically selling yourself out on the market.
For me, since I have a full-time job and I’m not reliant on DJing for my livelihood, I can afford to be more selective about what I play. But I’ve observed friends who make a living through art, and they tend to focus on a single scene because they need those bookings to survive. I don’t blame them for doing that. However, personally, I want to have the freedom to play whatever I feel like playing.
J: 有没有过来的人和你原本活动调性的设想形成高度一致的经历？Are there any particular crossovers or fusions that have caught your attention that align with Particle FM’s mission?
C: 我觉得我们上一次的活动是迄今为止最成功的一次。我们邀请的DJ Josh Cheon，他是个受到了各种场景喜爱的人。House音乐爱好者很喜欢他，他在Dark Wave和Goth(哥特)社群中也很受欢迎。那次活动的观众非常多元化，很多酷儿、小众文化爱好者都在现场。
I believe our last event was our most successful to date, and the artist we booked, Josh Cheon, is appreciated by a wide range of music scenes. House music enthusiasts love him, and he’s also popular among the dark wave and goth communities. The audience at that event was incredibly diverse, including many queer individuals, goths, and arts enthusiasts.
J: 在Particle FM网站的“apply to be a host”页面上提到“我们不限制你播放的音乐类型，但我们鼓励你播放不属于当前主流的音乐”。你如何定义“主流音乐”这个词，以及为什么选择支持非主流音乐呢？
On the Particle FM Website – “apply to be a host” page, it mentioned that “there are no restrictions on what music you can play, but we encourage hosts to showcase music outside of the current mainstream.” How do you define the term “mainstream music”, and why did you choose to support non-mainstream music?
C: 这是一个很好的问题。对我来说，“主流”是一个不断演变的概念。即使是像House这样的风格，也有一段时间，比如Strictly Rhythm曾经也可以算作商业主流。我觉得它取决于流行程度。当某个事物变得越流行，你就越难定义它。如果Laurie在她自己的节目里放了比如Pitbull的歌，我会知道她这么做是因为这首歌跟整体效果比较搭。
That’s a great question. For me, I think the definition of “mainstream” is something that constantly evolves. Even genres like House music, for instance, Strictly Rhythm had periods where they were considered commercial mainstream. It really depends on the level of popularity. The more popular something becomes, the harder it is to define it. If Laurie played something like a Pitbull track in her radio show, I know she would do it tastefully.
我们没有严格的规定，你基本上可以放任何你喜欢的东西。只要不是从头到尾都像流行音乐广播电台那样放歌就行。我可能唯一有偏见的音乐风格是Tech House，你最好不要放Tech House。
There are no strict rules. You can essentially play whatever you like. Just avoid creating a show that sounds like something you’d hear on a regular FM radio. The one bias that I really have is no Tech House
What are some examples of music that you consider “non-mainstream” but believe should receive more recognition?
C: 我想应该是那种对许多商业电子音乐产生了重大影响的音乐。例如，Daft Punk就从Chicago House音乐的采样技术中吸取了许多创意。但令人遗憾的是，像Paul Johnson这样的先驱并没有因对Daft Punk的成功作出的贡献而获得商业认可。
For me, it’s the music that heavily influenced a lot of commercial electronic music. For example, Daft Punk drew many ideas from Chicago House sample techniques. It’s sad and disappointing that pioneers like Paul Johnson never received commercial recognition for their contributions to Daft Punk’s success.
When you hear House music on the radio, you’re hearing the influence of Chicago’s music and artists, but it often goes unnoticed.
一个类似的情况也出现在 ’Amen Break’ 采样中。每个人都听过Amen Break，但只有少数人知道它的来源（来自1969年美国灵魂乐团the Winston的曲目“Amen, Brother”）
A similar situation happened with the famous “Amen Break” sample. Everyone has been listening to Amen Break, but only a few know where it originates (from the 1969 track “Amen, Brother” by the American soul group the Winstons).
Sometimes, I think if we have a platform to share music, it’s our responsibility to educate people about the origins of this music. When we host our radio shows and encounter people who are truly passionate and nerdy about the music, we have the opportunity to teach and inform others.
03 关于音乐和社区 [About Music and Community]
How is non-mainstream (or underground) music closely associated with minority groups?
The music industry is predominantly controlled by white individuals, particularly white men. When they see the opportunity to make money off a type of music, it’s often taken by the majority culture, which in America is primarily composed of white people.
In terms of the influences behind the radio station, they stem from the pirate radio culture. Many of the pirate radios in the UK were operated by individuals who come from immigrant backgrounds, often working-class people from the Caribbean and Jamaica. I see so much of rave culture and electronic music culture comes from black culture. If you’re an artist making money from these types of music, it’s ethically responsible to acknowledge and give credit to those who originated these.
In San Diego, I haven’t seen that. But the people on the radio station, the individuals we bring on, are all passionate about the same mission of educating people and acknowledging the contributions of the originators.
J: 你觉得地下音乐与少数族裔之间有哪些特别有趣的文化联系？Are there any cultural aspects tied to non-mainstream music that you find particularly fascinating?
When you don’t have access to resources or equipment, you might encounter certain limitations. In such situations, you make the most of what you have, which can lead to more opportunities for experimentation and innovation. I believe this is why the underground music scene is often so forward-thinking.
J: 你认为少数族裔在音乐行业获得认可和流量面临哪些困难，Particle FM想要如何解决这些困难呢？
What challenges do you think minorities face in gaining recognition and exposure in the music industry, and how does Particle FM address these challenges?
I’ve been networking extensively with artists for the radio station, and one observation I’ve made is that individuals who come from wealthier neighborhoods tend to receive more encouragement to pursue art. I read an article stating that 80% of people with art degrees in America are white. It’s a clear indication that having more resources often translates to more creative opportunities.
Conversely, people from working-class backgrounds and people of color often have fewer resources. They might not be able to afford an art degree. However, there’s an advantage in that when individuals from less privileged backgrounds come together, they tend to build exciting things by pooling their resources together and forming a community.
I believe that independently wealthy artists might not have the same sense of community. They could simply pay a promoter for a gig if they wanted one. The music industry has a lot of nepotism, where booking a relative or a friend might take precedence.
Particle FM wants to address these problems by building a community to support minorities who want to be part of the scene.
J: 你觉得Particle FM未来将要推出的workshop课程有什么重要性？这些workshop课程将会提供哪些内容的讲解呢？
Can you discuss the importance of workshops and classes that Particle FM is planning to offer? Any topics or skills that will be covered in these workshops/classes that you believe are particularly valuable?
I have many ideas regarding workshops. One of them is about how to negotiate fees as a DJ. This is because there are many situations where you’re unsure about how much to ask for as a DJ. Many people may not even realize you need to consider factors like the venue’s capacity and the price of drinks when determining your fee.
Another topic I’m very interested is how to start a record label. I want to explore the steps involved in launching a DIY record label, even if it’s just a digital Bandcamp label. How can you distribute your music digitally? How do you go about getting your music mastered? And how do you determine pay structures to compensate the artists signed to your label?
These workshops and classes aren’t just about learning new skills but also about creating a community, where knowledge is shared, voices are heard, and unconventional is celebrated.
In an industry that frequently clings to conformity and commercialism, Particle FM aims to be different.
It’s more than just a radio station, it’s a movement.
It challenges the norm, supports marginalized voices, and propels the underground to the forefront.
Underground is where innovation thrives.