Snow­boarder-run ra­dio

A group of Burling­ton artists are putting con­ver­sa­tion back into mu­sic dis­cov­ery.

Transworld Snowboarding - - CON­TENTS - WORDS JUSTIN CAFIERO

Long be­fore Spo­tify or Pan­dora, we found new tunes an­other way: by pop­ping a snow­board flick into the VCR. For many of us who grew up dur­ing these ana­log times, snow­board films were one of the ways, if not the way, we ma­tured our mu­si­cal taste buds. Con­tained in those VHS tapes were the lat­est and great­est an­tics, tricks, trips and cul­ture, all bridged to­gether by a care­fully cu­rated sound­track.

This col­lec­tion of songs could, and of­ten did, span en­tire eras and gen­res within a sin­gle film. Those an­tholo­gies ul­ti­mately helped form the mu­si­cal tastes of count­less snow­board­ers, in­clud­ing my­self. Be­fore the mod­ern in­ter­net age, when mu­sic li­cens­ing was a bit more law­less, you could find the likes of the Souls of Mis­chief, Queen, Mod­est Mouse, NOFX, Iron Maiden, Ar­chi­tec­ture in Helsinki and many more, all con­tained within 20 to 30 min­utes of grainy snow­board­ing footage.

When you think about it, mu­sic is still a com­mon thread that ties a large por­tion of the snow­board­ing com­mu­nity to­gether. So it seems quite nat­u­ral that from that same com­mu­nity, an­other mu­si­cally in­spired cre­ation would spring forth.

In­spi­ra­tional United is an al­liance of DJs, mu­si­cians, and artists who, for the most part, re­side in the East Coast snow­board­ing hub that is Burling­ton, Ver­mont.

Cre­ated in the fall of 2017 by graphic de­signer Lucy Prouty, mu­si­cian, DJ and sound en­gi­neer Ross Travis, and web de­signer and sound en­gi­neer Nick Cam­polo, In­spi­ra­tional United takes a nos­tal­gic ap­proach to on­line broad­cast­ing with the goal of bring­ing friends, mu­sic en­thu­si­asts and cre­ative types all to­gether with one col­lec­tive goal: to share mu­sic.

“Be­ing a de­signer, it was nat­u­ral that I work on the de­sign and so­cial me­dia,” Lucy ex­plains. “Ross man­ages the sound and gear, and Nick took charge of the web­site and test­ing dif­fer­ent stream­ing meth­ods. Col­lec­tively, the three of us worked to­gether to get the vi­su­als and au­dio on­line, to cre­ate an in­ter­est­ing lineup, and get peo­ple’s at­ten­tion.” Burling­ton has been a hub for snow­board­ing for decades, so it’s no sur­prise that a large part of the DJs from In­spi­ra­tional United are ei­ther snow­board­ers them­selves, or are some­how in­volved with ac­tion sports to a cer­tain de­gree. Fea­tured artists range from le­gendary pho­tog­ra­pher Blotto, to snow­board­ing jour­nal­ist Stan Leveille, to the owner of Skida headwear who DJs un­der the name Mil­lenial Toast, to the VP of Cre­ative at Bur­ton, Evan Rose, of East In­fec­tion fame. The list of those in­volved is seem­ingly end­less and var­ied, the ma­jor­ity of whom are linked to snow­board­ing through busi­ness or plea­sure, and typ­i­cally both. The cast and crew are thor­oughly mixed be­tween sea­soned mu­si­cal per­for­mance pros and to­tal new­com­ers, with some get­ting in­volved sim­ply through email or via DM.

The live stream­ing as­pect of IU grants au­di­ences a back­stage pass to ev­ery per­for­mance—each one unique and var­ied by fea­tur­ing new lo­cales and artists with ev­ery episode.

As for the name? “We re­ally didn’t over­think nam­ing it; it just came about,” ad­mits Prouty. “But as it’s evolved, it’s turned into this thing that’s ac­tu­ally ex­tremely in­spir­ing and unit­ing for our com­mu­nity. I love it.”

“It’s an ad­vanced take on ‘pass the aux cord,’” she con­tin­ues. “What we’re doing is giv­ing peo­ple who are tal­ented at DJ’ing, or who have never DJ’ed but are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about mu­sic, an op­por­tu­nity to share their col­lec­tion with the world.”

In this mod­ern age of mu­si­cal dis­cov­ery, it’s hard to ar­gue that the in­ter­net hasn’t made find­ing new bands or ob­scure gen­res sig­nif­i­cantly eas­ier. But si­mul­ta­ne­ously, as Prouty points out, it’s also made the dis­cov­ery a bit more iso­lat­ing and less con­ver­sa­tional. “What we’re doing is start­ing a dis­cus­sion about our mu­si­cal tastes and finds,” she con­tin­ues.

The goal is sim­ple: to share mu­sic with friends. Many estab­lished lo­cal and global ra­dio sta­tions are tough to be­come in­volved with. So by tak­ing ad­van­tage of the ac­ces­si­bil­ity that comes with live in­ter­net stream­ing, IU al­lows any­one who is pas­sion­ate about their mu­si­cal tastes an out­let to share their col­lec­tion with the world.

“We’re not con­cerned with fol­low­ing the rules of tra­di­tional broad­cast­ing, mar­ket­ing, or de­sign,” says Prouty. “I think that’s what peo­ple have been lik­ing about what we’ve cre­ated. The thought is to ex­pe­ri­ence it all in the mo­ment – as if you were at a con­cert or fes­ti­val.”

“We also like to have fun, so throw­ing a 10-hour party ev­ery once in a while isn’t bad.”

Check out a Spo­tify playlist of snow­board­ing sound­tracks cu­rated by IU Artists: tws­now.com/spo­tify

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