Q&A with Edwin Poveda of El Vagon Alternativo
February 27th, 2012 • Interview
A few months back, we were very excited to learn that the songs released on our singles label were receiving airplay on a radio show called El Vagon Alternativo in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. Edwin Poveda, the man and DJ behind EVA, was was cropping up on many an indie band’s Facebook page, informing them of their new audience in South America’s second smallest nation.
EVA has to date been running for 14 years, and is currently Ecuador’s only radio show that specialises in alternative music – very much a niche in a Spanish speaking and traditionally Latin music loving country. The show has its roots in the shoegaze / Madchester scene of the late eighties and early nineties, and also plays a healthy dose of new / unsigned music from all over the world (we’ve seen everyone from Little Racer to Strangers to Red Kite on the playlist).
Intrigued about how this might happen, we began chatting to Edwin, exchanging various new musical discoveries. What struck us was Edwin’s passion for alternative music in a country with no discernible background or foundation for the genre, and also his insatiable appetite for new bands. It’s a classic example of how music, however unknown, is able to transcend cultural barriers, and to this end we thought the whole occurrence was fascinating enough to warrant an interview for this blog – the results of which are below.
LFC: How did you first become an alternative radio DJ and what inspired you to do so?
Edwin: It was always a dream of mine to do a radio show focused on indie and alternative music. When I was a child I would listen to DJs that inspired me. DJs like Rodney Bingenheimer and recorded tapes of John Peel’s shows that friends would mail to me. Here in Ecuador back in 1998 there were no alternative radio shows and it happened by chance that the radio station La Metro Station heard my idea and was keen on doing it. To this day I am practically the only alternative radio show that is on locally. It is good to be able to expand now through the internet and now the whole world can listen to the show. I have to thank a fellow local radio DJ, who sadly passed away two years ago, for helping put my foot in the door for the show, Edison Soto.
LFC: El Vagon Alternativo has been going for 14 years. What do you think is the secret behind its success?
Edwin: I think it’s the variety of music I play on my show and that every show is different from the last one and that keeps the listeners tuned in. It is cool that my show is set up by me. I follow no set list done by the radio. I have full control of what I play on my show which is pretty much rare nowadays on regular radio. Another reason would be is that my show has lasted so long that it’s pretty much the only show that plays all the new alternative indie music as well as the classic alternative bands and artists.
LFC: Do you know how many listeners you have?
Edwin: On average I have about 15,000 to 25,000 listeners just in Ecuador. Outside of Ecuador it is hard to tell. Though I have many listeners from all parts of the world.
LFC: Why do you think you are the only person to have an alternative radio show in Ecuador?
Edwin: Well I think the reason is that I come prepared for my shows. I spend my time researching and listening to all types of bands and artists. There have been other alternative music shows that have come and gone and what I heard was that they were not very prepared with the information that listeners want to know. I tell my listeners all the albums and singles that come out from artists and bands as well as up to date news.
LFC: What is the indie rock scene like in Ecuador, and are there any local artists to keep an eye out for?
Edwin: It is interesting to see what the local indie rock scene is here. It is slowly building but it is hard for a band or artist to break here for the reason that the Ecuadorian community is so interested in Latin music (salsa, merengue, reggaeton etc) but there is a scene and there are local clubs that hold indie rock concerts here but it is small. Bands that are great to see live and on record are Estereo Humanzee, Le Clean Cuts, Los Pescados, Los Alkaloides and La Ventana.
LFC: How do you find new bands and artists?
Edwin: Basically just researching, listening to indie radio shows and just fall upon bands and artists just by chance. I am a lover of music and basically I am listening to music all the time.
LFC: Who are some of your favourite acts, both old and new?
Edwin: I have always been a fanatic of the original shoegaze scene. Bands like Ride Lush, My Bloody Valentine, Pale Saints, Slowdive. I listen to punk and mod bands like The Jam, The Clash, Television etc and I also love bands like The Chameleons, Teardrop Explodes and I’m also into the C86 scene. New music, well there is so much to name. I have been listening to bands like Friends, Selebrities, Channel Cairo, Echotape, The Pale Fountains, The Brights, The Static Jacks, Field of Wolves, and a host of others.
LFC: BBC 6 Music recently announced that they would be having a vinyl-only day on 1 Jan. Do you play any of your records on vinyl?
Edwin: Actually I play vinyl at home but sadly at the station we do not have a record player so it is hard to do so.
LFC: Do you have any words of advice for someone looking to become a radio DJ?
Edwin: My advice for anyone looking to be a radio DJ is come up with a theme that you want your radio show to be about. Be aware of what your listeners want to hear. Research; investigate on bands and artists because the radio listener wants to know information about bands and artists.
You can tune into El Vagon Alternativo every Saturday night, at 20:00 Ecuadorian time (01:00 GMT), here. Further shows, during the week, are announced on EVA’s Facebook page. Follow Edwin on Twitter at @VagonAlt.