Electric Kingdom Live on WVUM Turns 20

Everyone, including Miami's own DJ Hottpants, has visited the Electric Kingdom.
Everyone, including Miami's own DJ Hottpants, has visited the Electric Kingdom.
Photo by Monica McGivern

Electronic music is the sound of the future, so it makes sense that one of WVUM's longest-running weekly radio programs is Electric Kingdom Live.

"Most specialty shows are focused on a specific genre, but Electric Kingdom is focused on a format," says Kunal Chohan, 20. He currently hosts the 20-year University of Miami program, having inherited it a year ago from his predecessor, Ashley G. He's also the WVUM station manager and a pre-med student.

"Electronic music in general has been evolving steadily this entire time, so the shows been evolving with it," he continues. "It is where the future is. It's where all the technology and development is going towards, and it's where a lot of musicians are moving their focus. The format has just remained so fresh that the show's remained relevant."

See also: Miami's 25 Best Electronic Music Acts

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Since its inception in the winter semester of 1994-'95, EKL has been focused on expanding listeners' electronic horizons. The brainchild of Miami music scene mainstay Alex Caso, the program was originally called Outlands, and it began as a casual underground mix that followed a more mainstream show called Mary's House. Caso was spinning breakbeat, IDM, and ambient tracks from the likes of Aphex Twin and Autechre. He worked closely with local IDM kings Schematic Records, and changed the name to Electric Kingdom, after a Twilight 22 track of the same name, before handing the show off to his protégé.

Around 2011, a student named Amber Robertson took over. She tweaked EKL to be broader and more eclectic than ever, a move that proved to be perfectly timed for the EDM explosion. In the years that followed, the show hosted mixes from Diplo, Digitalism, MK, Trentemøller, and other dance music stars. It also conducted interviews with artists like Wave Racer, Bonobo, and Viceroy. Of course, though, whenever it's not hyping global EDM celebs, the Electric Kingdom crew turns its attention to the wealth of talent in our own backyard.

"We're an institution in the city of Miami," current host Chohan says. "And a large focus of our show is discovering new talent in the city and providing an outlet for people who are making different electronic music."

To that end, EKL has welcomed Miami favorites like Lazaro Casanova, Dude Skywalker, and DJ Hottpants, just to name a few. And during his tenure, Chohan has worked to bring an eclectic selection of artists to the Electric Kingdom studios. Take recent guest Austin Paul -- the local singer-songwriter is more R&B than dance, but with heavy electronic instrumentation and textures, the current host sees him as a perfect fit.

"There's so much to be had," he says. "Bringing in other artists lends really cool perspectives and points of view, every time."

But when Electric Kingdom Live isn't playing host, the show provides its own soundtrack. Chohan tries to keep it as varied as possible. He's partial to future garage, Jersey club, and future bass, but he's spun sets of drum 'n' bass, downtempo, even experimental hip-hop. The only thing you won't hear is Beatport's Top 40. After all, EKL is about breaking records, not wearing them out.

As the program approaches its 20-year mark, the Electric Kingdom crew isn't slowing down. Chohan's got big plans for Winter Music Conference 2015, as well as anniversary celebration surprises.

"Expect huge things during WMC. We're also going to have an interesting special for our 20th anniversary," the EKL host says. "Other than that, we'll just keep on keeping on, and continue to find new music, put interesting artists on air, and keep an ear to local talent."

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Electric Kingdom Live. Every Thursday. (WVUM returns from holiday hiatus in mid January.) The show airs from 7 to 9 p.m on 90.5 FM or online at wvum.org/stream. Follow facebook.com/ElectricKingdomLive and twitter.com/EKLMiami.

Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.


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