Oliver Hatfield: KANM and blips + beats

The University Honors Program encourages our students to make the most of their undergraduate experience by finding activities that are challenging, personally meaningful, and a good foundation for lifelong learning. In this post, computer science major Oliver Hatfield ’13 describes how he discovered a way to tune in to his passion.

By Oliver Hatfield

I first learned about KANM through one of my old friends from freshman year. He hosted a show playing the influences of popular bands back through the ages, like a musical genealogy: Coldplay was inspired by U2 which was inspired by David Bowie who was inspired by The Beatles which were inspired by Elvis Presley, and so on. Since I had the preconception that college radio was either super avant-garde or just hooligans messing around, this sounded like a neat concept. I didn’t give it much thought though, given my class workload at the time.

Oliver Hatfield '13, DJ for the KANM radio show blips+beats
Oliver Hatfield ’13, DJ for the KANM radio show blips+beats

Music has probably been my longest love, besides my family and my church. I grew up listening to classical, acid house, singer-songwriter, classic rock, and everything in between. Hardly a day goes by without me playing some Steely Dan or Chemical Brothers. I even experimented with DJing as a hobby in high school and my freshman year of college. Unfortunately, the growing pressures of school and life kept me from devoting much time to DJing, and my accumulated gear gathered dust.

My final semester of college was looking to be relatively light, so I checked the KANM website and the process of applying for a show. The more I thought about it, the more it excited me: a chance to play music live for real people, to expose them to new artists, to share songs I love! I could dust off my old DJing skills and put them back to use. How could I get one of the few time-slots available, though? I specifically angled my application towards very niche source material: 90s electronica and chiptunes. And voila: I snagged a slot, and my radio show blips + beats was born.

Once a week, on Wednesdays around midday, I walk over to the KANM station in the basement of the MSC and get to host blips + beats live. Sometimes I have a certain theme or set of songs I want to play, and other days I just see where the flow takes us. I try to keep talking to a minimum, letting the music speak for itself, but occasionally I come on to share fun facts. 90s electronica (with artists like Orbital, The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and Massive Attack) is fairly well-known, but did you know that Norman Cook, Yum Yum Head Food, Mighty Dub Katz, and Fatboy Slim are all the same person? Or that Orbital was the first electronic band to headline Glastonbury, in 1994? I especially like to spread the word about chiptunes, which most people have only heard while playing Super Mario Bros. Chiptunes are original music made with old computer and video game hardware, from the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore Amiga to the Atari and the Sega Genesis. The limitations of old sound chips lead to a wide variety of styles, genres, and sound qualities, and I like to highlight that diversity with the songs I play.

Oliver adjusts levels on the sound board.
Oliver adjusts levels on the sound board.

DJing with KANM has been an awesome experience, and I truly regret not getting involved earlier. My fellow DJs and the station officers are all unique, interesting, and as passionate about music as I am. No matter what my mood is Wednesday morning, I can come in to the studio, turn up the monitors, and feel my problems fade away. (More than once I got so into it that I started dancing and jamming with the music, which everyone outside the studio windows could see. I didn’t care.) While my post-graduation plans are still in the air, one thing is certain: I want to keep the music spinning, either at my local public-access radio station or on the Internet with my own DJ gear.

Click here to listen to a 10-minutes sample of music from Oliver’s show blips + beats. The sample includes the following songs:

Linde’s “Forget him”

Blitz Lunar’s “Heavenly Spores”
This track is part of a compilation album Autumntunes (http://ubiktune.com/releases/ubi011-various-artists-autumntunes) which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

The Chemical Brothers “Got Glint?”
This track is sampled under fair use from the album Surrender, copyright 1999 Virgin Records Ltd., copyright 1999 Astralwerks.

We love sharing our students’ stories and demonstrating the impact that Honors Students are having across campus! If you are an Honors Student and would like to share your story with us, please contact honors@tamu.edu.

Oliver Hatfield '13 prepping for his KANM radio show blips+beats
Oliver Hatfield ’13 prepping for his KANM radio show blips+beats

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