Michael Kucyk is the man behind one of the best musical websites and radioshows in the galaxy — NIMH. His podcasts and podcasts of his guests — it’s a bottomless pit of musical rarities, where you can take inspiration forever. We had fortune to talk with Michael about his new label, the dream job, the intricacies of living in Australia and other interesting things! Check it out!
How are you? Where are you at the moment?
I’m feeling good! The end of a satisfying weekend. Now sitting at my desk trying to punch out our Beppe Loda tour announcement for tomorrow morning. Leaving it to the last minute as usual.
Are you back to Sydney from tour? Where did you go? How it was?
It wasn’t a tour by any means. Just a two-week pleasure cruise through London, Hvar and Paris. Semi-work related. I did have music on me and played where I could but that wasn’t focus. You’re really boxed in a corner living in Australia so it’s always nice to travel.
Name some best moments from this trip.
It was actually my first time in London. For a while it was never an appealing destination but I was proven wrong — I loved every moment, especially presenting a live show on NTS. FOR Festival in Croatia was an unparalleled experience. I stocked up enough vitamin D for a generation and Maurice Fulton, Morgan Geist and Danny Wang smashed it on the last night. I finally met a lot of past NIMH contributors in Paris – Ron Morelli, Julien Dechery and the Antinote crew.
Tell about live show on NTS. What’s it, your new show? Or is it only occasional mix on someone’s show?
Noise In My Head has really had two chapters. The first six years were broadcast live on 3RRR FM, a community station in Melbourne. After relocating to Sydney, I’ve been pre-recording shows at home and airing them intermittently on NTS. The London show made me realise how much I’d missed live radio. I got lost in the chat room for a while, communicating with listeners about tracks and letting a few tracks run out.
Can you say radio is your passion?
Absolutely. Only my car has a Japanese stereo with an FM band that goes as high as 87.9, so I don’t listen to it as much. It’s definitely my foundation though and I romanticize with the idea of people accidently tuning into a frequency like 3RRR and stumbling upon this other world.
How long have you been listening to the radio? Name your favorite shows.
I guess I’ve been listening for as long as I can remember. Our national youth broadcaster used to have a show called the J-Files where they’d feature 2 hours of a particular artist, playing a lot of obscure selections, spliced with archival interview and listener testimonials. I found that really intriguing and treasured a tape of The Police special for a few years. 3RRR has always been loaded with interesting programs. Discovering that really opened the doors for me, I was obsessed. As for historical shows before my time, Liaisons Dangereuses, WBMX’s Hot Mix 5 and The Electrifying Mojo come to mind.
How did you know what was playing? Did hosts announce songs?
Exactly. You’d have to wait for the back announcement. Or if they missed it, I’d dial them up and ask. It’s strange that this is almost a foreign concept because it wasn’t that long ago.
What about John Peel?
I wasn’t listening to much online radio when he was alive and it wasn’t simulcast here. I only read about him in books or via Peel Sessions.
So work on radio was a job of your dream?
I’m yet to discover a way of making it a career. My involvement has been purely voluntary. A hobby.
How did it happen?
I was doing regular fills and graveyards (2AM-6AM) and eventually made a successful pitch to host a dedicated program.
What was the idea? What special did you want to bring into radio world?
It wasn’t a sophisticated pitch, just music that I was feeling at the time. Back then it was a little broader — krautrock, folk music, Eno, no-wave, Postcard singles, 60s garage. I guess it still is broad but all the pieces now make more sense. And we have guest DJs programming the second half.
I remember many shows where you played better than guests. Who are your favorites? Is it always guest mixes sent to you via email? Maybe there were live sometimes?
Oh thanks. Live mixes were a lot more common in Melbourne but Hunee, Ali Renault and Mudd have all came over to our Sydney house to do it in person. During the 3RRR years, Lovefingers’ 3 live shows were unbeatable, Tiny Pepperoni & Roman Dance DJ, Yamantaka Eye and Kenji Takimi. Of the ones submitted by correspondence – Ron Morelli’s is nuts, not at all what you would expect, Lexx, Raphael Top Secret, Beautiful Swimmers and PLENY more.
When did the show become more popular, bigger? Do you remember this moment?
Ha. Popular in a micro scene
We are all part of this world true musical community.
And a happy part of it!
It’s fun coincidence you announced the launch of the label right before our interview:) Tell about it.
I used to release punk and psychedelic records in my early 20s and I’ve recently been feeling this burning desire to do it again, in the form of NIMH Records. My partner commissioned Suzanne Kraft to score her choreography for a Sydney Fashion Week show so that’ll mark the first release. We’re also working towards a 4 track EP for local Sydney artist Lucy Cliche who makes mental tunneling techno abstractions. There are a few other irons in the fire but it’s going to be a slow and considered build.
So it’s new stuff! Cool. Vinyl? Who’s making artwork?
It won’t all be new recordings but I can’t resist all of this amazing music that’s floating about. Vinyl will be the initial format with staggered digital releases. For the Suzanne Kraft sleeve we’ve engaged Thomas Jeppe (http://www.thomasjeppe.com/) to develop a painting, which he’ll photograph and layout with Manuel Buerger (http://www.manuelbuerger.com/). Lucy will do her own. Steele Bonus designed the logo too.
It looks like Australian scene is hot at the moment. Andras Fox, Zanzibar Chanel, Bell Towers. Name the whole list and do you feel the time came for this music, why it’s so special?
Incredible music is coming from all corners of the globe and I’m buying more contemporary music than ever before. I’ve been trying to work out whether it’s always been there or if I’m only just paying attention now. On the producer front, Australia is out of control at the moment. Check out Zach from Zanzibar Chanel’s solo project Imhotep, Sleep D’s ‘Butter Sessions 002’, Michael Ozone, Retiree, Tuff Sherm, Harvey Sutherland and his PPU EP as ‘Mike Kay’, Tornado Wallace, Coober Pedy University Band, Canyons, Four Door, No Zu, Inkswel, Heart People and Holy Balm. I’m curious to hear some upcoming Hey Convict recording projects. The whole creative scene is healthy and very progressive, from fashion to architecture, visual art, graphic design and publishing. Everyone’s challenging each other.
How big is your collection?
No idea because they’re not well organized. Enough to fill 20 Ikea Expedit windows? Not that that means anything. There’s plenty of junk in there, doubles, one track LPs. After moving house a few too many times, I’d happily cull them down to 150 LPs and 150 12”s.
Name some last records you bought. Where are you buying music these days?
- A 90’s house 12” by Trinidad superstar Shadow (!)
- The Tamlins – Hang On To Your Love
- Delroy Edwards/Benedek’s new 45 from Earcave
- Kitty – Boyfriend from Invisible City
- Bell Towers’ edit disc from Public Possession.
Sydney’s got a great store called Revolve as well as regular record fairs. You’ll never walk out empty handed.
Tell us about Australia. What is it? What are you most attracted about it?
I can’t speak for everyone but I live a balanced life here in my bubble. Constantly surrounded by good people and never short of things to do. Occasionally it feels repetitive and the shortfall is being so geographically isolated. You can’t exactly go to Amsterdam for a weekend. Travel is time consuming and expensive. I would love to feel more free and mobile.
Thank you Michael, it was a pleaseure to chat with you) Good luck with label!
Thank you guys!
Words by Sasha Tessio & Artem Super Ikra
Cover drawing by Sasha Tessio