Outgoing Local Shakedown host Amy Moore-Shipley on how to improve Denver's scene
Amy Moore-Shipley and Moki
Amy Moore-Shipley was the host of Radio 1190's Local Shakedown program from January 2012 through April 2014, but she's been in Colorado music a lot longer than that. She came to Colorado from her home state of Iowa as a music major at UNC before transferring to CU in Boulder. She had been raised on classical and jazz and was not necessarily the most knowledgeable person about popular music, but she got a job at Albums on the Hill and with it a crash course on multiple genres and styles of music. She became a DJ at 1190 and was quickly approached by the then program director Hannah Warner about filling the Local Shakedown slot vacated by Tiffanie Taylor. From there, Moore-Shipley was at the helm for a period where the show added an eclectic but carefully curated variety to its offerings as well as more in studio performances and compilations.
Moore-Shipley has become a fixture in the Denver music community. Her confident on-air personality continued the program's strong tradition of hosts. A few weeks after she handed the reins over to Bree Davies (who is also a Westword contributor), we spoke with her about her tie on the show, what bands struck `her as the most interesting and impressive, how the local scene could be improved and her future plans.
How did you go about selecting stuff to play outside of what was suggested to you?
It had to be good. I would listen, but I think it was also about learning the networks -- this band likes this band, and that band likes that band...I would give it a try, but also my quality standards were still there. I think I do have a good ear...I played things that deserved to be shared, and I tried to not get stuck in one genre at all.
I think I could have probably done a lot better at that and maybe spent less time on media darlings. I could have gone more experimental, but it's also radio and you can't do that too much.
I had a band on almost every week, and my knowledge grew a little bit more and I was finding out about someone else to check out or whatever.
Who was your first guest?
I didn't book them, but Carbon Choir was already booked and they played. When Carbon Choir's final album came out, they invited me to Silo Studios and that was my first time at a studio. The first band that I think I booked was Le Divorce. That's when I first met Mike King. And it snowed that day. I think classes were canceled, and the UMC was closed down and they still came.
You have at least a semi-well-maintained archive of shows.
I have a lot to catch up on. In the past they tried -- Keegan Warner had a website he designed. Tiffanie Taylor had a Tumblr. Attempts were made, but what I pushed was the performance. I really love the studio performances and the interviews, and [I worked to] make that something that was a product.
So you did an interview with Carbon Choir that first time?
Yeah, I remember being really nervous and being at Abo's on the hill and prepping for it and thinking, "Whatever!" Because one thing Hannah always told me was, "The less you care, the better you'll be." That's something that stuck with me, because a lot of times my attitude was, "No one's listening." We didn't really know how many people do listen, and it could literally be two people. I was kind of sloppy and not always very prepared. And to do something consistently? I missed only a handful of shows that whole time -- if I get sad I'll give up on something. It forced me to not do that each week. I felt this commitment to the station, and I felt a commitment to the bands.
What did you do that you felt you did especially well?
Artist hospitality. You know, being someone who is down to earth and just appreciating what they're doing. Showing them a good time and having fun. When I lived in Boulder, a lot of times there were beers, and there was a certain vibe, and it was fun. I wanted bands to feel like they were coming for a good purpose and for something that wasn't an inconvenience for them.
What were some of your favorite in-studio performances?
The Seven Hats, absolutely, because Julie Davis is an amazing vocalist, and that EP was a remarkable work. I was nervous before because of how much I love them and how respected they were. And they were so nice. They played a session that was so pure and from the heart and perfect. I had goose bumps the entire time. Someone else that really stuck out to me was Il Cattivo -- I was reminded that I love rock and roll.
Why do you love rock and roll? Some people seem very jaded about that sort of thing these days. As if they're over it.
Really? Over it? You're not over rock. It can be in so many things. It's a spirit. It inflicts a certain feeling that is understood by a lot of people who connect with it...it's a nice way to say, "Fuck it all" to anything if you're worried, sad or stressed about. It's like the party spirit. And it doesn't have to be happy or be about a party, but I think that was the type of rock I was connecting to.
Who are a few of the other artists that impressed you?
Patrick Dethlefs always blows me away, because I think he needs to be heard by a lot of people. He knows how to write a solid song. He's a singer-songwriter and he's amazing.
Echo Beds, also -- I was learning about contact mics, and I had never experienced an industrial band, or whatever label you would give to that. Again, they brought a certain spirit, a vibe, not the rock vibe, but whatever it is that makes a good performer and musician. Instantly, I sat down and I was quieted and my attention was demanded. Then we talked about really radical shit on air and that's important to me.
Scatter Gather I had never seen live, and I listened to that album they put out. They were completely different live. They had made this violin-heavy, produced experience and then they were playing really loud and noisy and messy. But they're jazz-trained people and they're great musicians...It reminded me how much I appreciate a classically-trained player or a jazz-trained player, because you're going to make better music if you have better tools to execute it with. I really wish they would do a house show at my new place.
Did you find anything in local music particularly interesting or noteworthy?
This is not just with Denver, it's anywhere, but when people buzz about shit and then they ignore it a little bit later, that's annoying to me because you should support someone long term and not just because it's what's hip right now. I've heard musicians talk about how it's very difficult to keep people coming.
But I think it's even more important that the music should be good. If you're getting on that folk bandwagon thing like Mumford and Sons, sure you'll be able to buy a house with the money you made, but I guess I'm just interested more in new sounds, things that aren't trends. When someone like Rubedo [comes along], because they're their own thing. There's no one like Rubedo.
What's an example of a band flaring up and then people ignoring it?
I didn't identify it, but other people talked about that. If you play too much, you can over-saturate and no one wants that. I understand why musicians want to play shows all the time, but it should be more strategic than maybe what I witness sometimes. Playing every week, you're going to burn people out. Don't do that.
During your tenure, you learned about some older stuff too. Is there something that you found you liked but could never go see live?
Ideal Fathers I really loved. I freaked out about Ultra Boyz, Volplane. Also, I played from a Colonial Excess album a lot.
Who would you say are your favorite newer bands? 2013 to 2014.
Natalie Tate, I think, is doing great things. Cop Circles, for sure. He's not like anything else. He's a complete individual creating something that's loosely based on other things. I don't know what it is, there's a lot of heart there. That whole thing is just great. Inner Oceans for sure. Griff's just good. You, Me & Apollo really has their shit together. That's not always what I want to go see, but I respect them so much. They deserve all the attention they get. Not all bands have their shit together, and you can tell in the quality of their product. The quality of their product is a mix of talent and how they're able to execute it.
What do you think could be improved about how things could be done better or what would be good for people to know in local music?
More DIY spaces. They are important, because it sucks when venues limit what people can experience because they're under twenty-one. How much beer you sell shouldn't be the biggest part of your venue plan. It should be getting people in to experience music that should be experienced. Obviously, sales matter too, but being all ages is important. And to make sure that if someone is in power that is not doing artists or the people right, you have a way to rebel against it. Let's say AEG or whatever corporate entities are booking shows and creating that experience. If they suck, you need to have a counter to it. If you don't, the bad wins. If they're bad.
They don't have to be bad. You or the artist or both have to be dissatisfied with that dynamic and that experience for whatever reason.
Right. There should always be alternatives. There should never be one sweeping entity. A few people shouldn't run everything. But that's one aspect of globalization.
What role do you think 1190 and the Local Shakedown played in local music or music in general?
It's the college radio format, so you get the ability to play things that no other market will touch, just because it's not about a market. There needs to be avenues of that exploration and expression and sharing that comes from a place that isn't just about what can sell. It's about what's out there. That's why 1190 should forever be supported by Denver, because you're not going to get that with any other station. Even with community radio, stakeholders are always going to be a consideration. But with college radio, the idea is that education is being funded, not the ability to keep stakeholders or to keep the market going. So it's a really special format that all music people should rally behind, because you're going to lose content without it.
Also, it's a comfortable environment. It's a supportive community, hopefully. I found it to be one. Those were my best college friends. Even at twenty-eight.
In your role as a host of the Local Shakedown, and also separate from that role, do you feel like you became part of a local music community?
Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, I got my house because of Ned Garthe and Stuart Confer. I got my job at the Colorado Symphony because of Colfax Speed Queen. Those are huge things.
When did you feel like that became a thing for you rather than feeling like a bit of an outsider?
I guess as soon as I started recognizing enough people out rather than feeling like a weirdo being there alone. There was this obligation to network, but I feel like that's really hard to do when you don't have a little circle of friends with you to go back to.
If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.
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