DJ Names: St. Cyprian & Pryscilla Atropine
Show: The Unquiet Meadow
When?: Sundays, from 12 am–2 am
Contact info: The Unquiet Meadow on Facebook.
Every few months we highlight a different show on Asheville FM, from the music-focused to all talk. Check out our last post, which spotlighted Sounds Like Food!
The Unquiet Meadow is St. Cyprian and Pryscilla Atropine’s first show together. Cyprian’s long-time hobby has been to compile playlists while the couple worked on projects and spent time at home. Pryscilla suggested to Cyprian that they bring this “compulsory creative enterprise” (per Cyprian) to the radio. The rest is history.
Pryscilla heard about Asheville FM personally from Kim Roney, former Asheville FM station manager with whom Pryscilla worked on the Foundation Spot Fundraiser in 2015. Pryscilla and Cyprian officially began volunteering in the summer of 2016, and were added to the fall show schedule this year. Pryscilla (in her daytime avatar) is chair of the station’s Development Committee, and Cyprian completed several odd jobs (mostly light carpentry) before joining the station’s Music Review team.
We chatted with the couple about their inspirations for The Unquiet Meadow and why they love creating it.
Q. Your show is described as experimental/atmospheric/acid/spook/baroque-folk/psychedelia. Can you tell me a bit about what draws you to these sounds?
A: As mountain-dwelling artists, amateur historians, folklorists, nature enthusiasts, and folk-horror revivalists, we’re basically interested in the “wyrd” as an aesthetic, and in what we’ve affectionately come to call “twisted pastoral.” While more traditional forms of folk from across the globe are certainly of interest, the show’s musical focus revolves around our signature mix of experimental, analog, and vintage baroque folk/pop sounds with a healthy dose of rural psychedelia, film soundtracks and “production” or “library music.” This is due to our love of hauntology and memoradelia, sub-genres of psychedelic art that incorporate cultural—but, more specifically, production—elements from the ’60s through the ’80s, thus drawing heavily on nostalgia. Both sub-genres are also famous for containing sprinklings of the occult and esoteric subjects that accompanied the rise of psychedelic counter-culture, making them even more attractive to us.
On the whole, we’re more concerned with exploring things of like aesthetic than we are with confining ourselves to genres. This is because we think of genres as existing for the sole purpose of marketing, and think they, in the coming post-capitalist environment, will be reduced to irrelevancies. For Cyprian, the “experimental” aspect is perhaps the most important, as our playlists are designed to be sonic journeys of a sort, and are themselves experimental in their playful use of segues and juxtapositions – sound-art, basically. Besides that, we maintain that all music is born of some level of experimentation so, very often, instruments as varied as banjos, harps, bodhrans (traditional Celtic frame drums), drum machines, hurdy-gurdies, and analog synthesizers have found equal favor on the Meadow.
As for Pryscilla, her heart lies in the 16th century, and the myths, fables, and tales of the poor and the gentry echo through her choices, as some woes and wrongs are as meaningful today as they ever were, as is the magic (and the mayhem).
Q: How did your show get its name?
A: We cycled through a few titles for the show before eventually settling on The Unquiet Meadow. Mostly because of its folkloric (and fundamentally psychogeographical*) implications, and the fact that it evoked the kind of timeless, haunted, otherworldly atmosphere we set out to create.
*Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Situationist Guy Debord as “the study of the specific effects of a given geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”
Q: What is your favorite part about hosting this show?
A: That would absolutely be the international community that’s been growing out of it since its inception. We’ve made it our mission to feature lesser known musicians/labels who are vastly underrepresented in the marketplace, mostly due to the fact that they’re artists (and in the case of labels, run by artists) and not professional business people—many of whom also lack the time and/or funds to promote themselves in the way that bigger indie bands and labels do. Most are also producing music that is considered too esoteric, or challenging, for mainstream audiences. In this sense, we’ve discovered that vestiges of a vibrant musical underground are very much alive and thriving, often in the hinterlands and “less traveled” places around the web. So you have to actively go looking for them, rather than waiting for promoters to pick them up and bring them to you. Just having the opportunity to connect these folks with more listeners makes getting out of bed to go to work (or, in our case, leaving the house at 11 pm on a Saturday night) pretty darn satisfying.
Q: How do you find new music to play?
A: It all started with a Soundcloud account, which still exists. When we first started amassing music for the show, Cyprian would spend long hours on the web just turning over rocks, under which he’d discover many of the artists/labels we now feature on the regular. Recently, as more underground artists/promoters (US and abroad) have heard of us through word of mouth and social media, we’ve been in contact with them, and are being sent new material and helpful suggestions on a weekly basis. This discourse has become the cornerstone of our process, and has added a whole other dimension to “community” radio—for us, our listeners, and the fabulous and underrepresented talent we’re fortunate enough to showcase (sometimes before anyone else does).
Recently, one of our artists (who also runs a small independent label out of Liverpool, England) referred to “his neck of the Meadow” in conversation with Cyprian, which delighted us, for obvious reasons. It’s always a treat to watch borders coming down, however geographically distant they may be. We also follow several great blogs, receive newsletters, and listen to the multiple (but surprisingly few) radio shows that, like us, probe the global psychedelic and radiophonic underground, weekly.