School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies, 2017
Geoff Stahl is a senior lecturer in Media Studies at Victoria University. He’s a bit of a hoarder, a “collector of urban images, eater of vegetarian foodstuffs, lover and player of vinyl records” (Stahl 2017)
TV DiSKO is the host of “Music without Subtitles”, a Saturday night radio show broadcast on Radioactive. He’s a bit decadent, maybe even cheesy ... giving you a nudge to think outside yourself as you listen to Finnish Bowie covers and think, "Hey, do I know this song?"
The following story is written and curated by Geoff Stahl in consultation with Theatre student, Lisa Kiyomoto-Fink.
When I was at high school, there was this radio station that was like a college, alternative radio station but it played on mainstream FM. Their style was what later evolved into modern rock radio.
They played new-wave post-punk: this is where you’d first hear The Smiths in 1983. We were the nerds and the geeks and the outsiders ... the music geeks ... and we had this radio station.
I always tell my students never to have any hopes, dreams or aspirations (tongue-in-cheek of course), simply to recognise a situation or opportunity for what it is and navigate it then. In the same way, I've never really had a plan.
Music is the prism through which I understand a city. I joke that I pick which conferences to attend based on the strength of the record shops in that area.
Photography, it’s a way of recording how I experience the city, as someone who likes to walk. I like my cities on a human scale. I don’t go out at night and get on a bus to take photos. All my photographs are limited in the sense that they’re of places I can walk to.
I revel in the kaleidoscopic possibilities of cities … You can find anything in a city. You just have to take the time to look.
Something I’m working on now is the idea of urban melancholy. There are no people in my photos. I don’t like people … The photographs are inspired by Eugène Atget, an early French photographer.
He often took pictures of Paris in the very early morning, at night, no people. The very idea of a photograph is implying a loss: whatever’s in that picture will one day decay and disappear.
It’s a very romantic, very solitary view of the city, devoid of people.
Photography is just a hobby, an amateur thing of mine, but along the way I’ve become somehow good at it. I have perhaps an eye for detail … I guess my collections, my photos, are a way of pointing to things and saying, "Hey, maybe you didn’t see that there before".
I don’t do earnest very well. That’s something I’ve learnt from David Bowie. The careful construction of a character, mask, persona ... slightly reframing things.
David Bowie for me was a prompt to think about the world a little bit differently: about music a little bit differently.
There’s a big emphasis on making the familiar unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar familiar for me. As a DJ, I’m playful … I want people to have fun, but I also want them to be aware of what’s going on.
Getting the individual to reflect on themselves in some way, to step outside themselves, to be a little bit uncomfortable. I like that as a way of experiencing the world. I’m not looking to push people to their limits, just give them a nudge in that direction.
Montreal is very rich and saucy, they have a lot of good restaurants, a very rich food culture … Something that’s bad for you but so good. The iconic Poutine: cheese curd and gravy over French fries.
Berlin ... there are many terrible restaurants there … and finding good coffee is difficult, though it’s gotten easier, perhaps with all the New Zealanders that are living there! It’s a bit ‘cool’.
Traditional German food is very stodgy though, so a doner kebab. My experience of Berlin was eating Turkish food.
Wellington …It’s difficult for me to pick a dish because you can get so much here. For me, it’s the laksa at Aunty Mena’s or something like that.
Although personally I’d recommend the vegan pulled pork at Laundry, but that’s just because it’s my recipe.
Those that know me know that I have one guilty pleasure: Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.
But there’s that difficulty in talking about it, something that’s so contrary to our usual tastes yet affects us so profoundly. Why? In Media Studies we often personalise [our teaching] by talking about our own relationships to media. I always try to make it a conversation, a safe space.
To think about media reflexively, you need to talk out loud about it.
But students are often quite hesitant to talk about things they like ... It’s easy to talk about things you hate, but it’s almost a trick to get them to talk about what they care about.
It’s so personal. So I talk about my own experiences first.
Serge Gainsbourg: an iconic figure in the French pop landscape, Jewish, which was important at the time. He was a hedonist, very decadent, loves his word play.
As well as writing his own songs he wrote songs for Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve.
For a gig at Watusi, where LBQ is now, I just used that image. I think that’s kind of the spirit in which I think about my radio show and my DJing. Decadent, just edging towards cheesy. Well, if I get you to cheesy, I get you there.
Serge also gives you that slight provocative push to your thoughts, is [like Bowie] also important for my thinking around pop music … thinking about the gap between the image of something and the actual experience.
Those I know with genuine artistic creativity, they give you a different sort of encounter with the world through their work.
They get you to think a little bit differently about the world. A prompt to take you somewhere else.