Last night at Barboza, everybody’s favorite listener powered radio station, KEXP, had a party to chat about their fancy new headquarters.
“With this new space, together we are going to lift Seattle up as what we know it already is: the greatest fucking music city in the world,” DJ El Toro said to a cheering crowd.
DJ El Toro’s hyperbole was more than merited. Slated to break ground a mere month from now in January 2014, the new Seattle Center KEXP HQ is unreasonably awesome—an incredible improvement over its current Dexter Ave location (the lease on which will expire in 2014, hence the move).
Let's take a look at the stats on this puppy:
The Gathering Space, or "Mixing Room"
"About ten years ago we started to think of ourselves less as just a radio station and more as an arts organization," DJ and program director Kevin Cole said.
"We are looking forward to having this space in particular as a way for people to engage with one another in a physical sense. People engage now either through our radio programming, the blog, or our videos. But now listeners can actually meet each other and hang out with artists."
The "Mixing Room" as Cole calls it, will function as a collective space age bachelor/bachelorette pad for the city. The 4,500 sq. ft. space will open up KEXP to the public, allowing people off the street to come in for "performances, dance parties, classes and lectures." This uber-lobby will also feature a cafe with free wifi and a "boutique record store."
"I imagine this as a place where we can mentor the next generation of musicians, DJ's, and artists by giving them a space to meet each other and attend workshops," Cole said.
"Right now at our current building we have a great space for workshops in the women's bathroom," DJ Cheryl Waters said. "You can have 5 or 6 people in there for a lecture or something. But I think this space will be a lot better."
The Performance Studio
"We've been able to reach a lot of people through our live in-studio videos," Kevin Cole said. "We've been doing a good job, but our current building isn't really designed for video. We've got a small room that we squeeze a bunch of artists and some cameramen in."
KEXP's new studio will be squeeze-free.
In fact, there'll be so much space that 50-75 people will be able to come in and watch the live performances from behind the glass as they're filmed. No word yet on whether or not admission to the performances will be first come first serve or raffle style.
The new facilities will also have a space for on site video editing, as well as a fancy new lighting rig and live video streaming capabilities.
"It'll take something we already are doing well, and just bring it to that next even higher level," Cole said.
Artist Recharging Station
Artists coming through the performance studio will also have access to a snazzy new artist room with "showers, laundry facilities, work stations, and a place to nap that isn’t on wheels."
"That way when artists come to play the city's venues after their performances at KEXP, they'll feel refreshed, recharged, and put on the best damn show of their tour," DJ El Toro said.
"Right now, their only option is to relax on our couch in the hallway. It's a nice couch... but it's just a couch."
KEXP's new music library is twice as big as the old one, meaning they can stuff all sorts of obscure NW musical artifacts in there. New listening booths will enable DJ's to get all scholarly when curating their shows as they peruse the shelves for vintage vinyl to spin on-air.
All this delicious goodness will be ready for the public when the HQ opens in the Summer of 2015. In the meantime, consider donating to KEXP to help out with the project. Pearl Jam Guitarist Mike McCready and his wife already gave $100,000. Barsuk Records reserved the first tile on the new HQ. Sub Pop made KEXP one of the main beneficiaries of its big Silver Jubilee celebration this past summer.
"Sub Pop did what KEXP is doing now," Sub Pop VP Megan Jasper said at the party last night. "They develop artists. And more than that, they continue to play so many of these artists and support and follow them as they evolve, which is so so important to making this city what it is."