The American Revolutionary War took place several centuries ago, yet every Monday at 8 p.m. on WSUM, DJs American Andy and British Dan fight an adversarial battle in the name of British and American music. Their show “The Crown Jewels,” titled after the British monarchy, of course, serves up listeners with dashes of witticisms in-between songs the two DJs play from their respective countries. Andy Kristensen and Dan Parker sat down to discuss the role social media and listener participation play in creating their show.
Tell us about yourselves (name, DJ name, major, year).
Andy Kristensen, “American Andy,” English, history and political science major, “first-year” senior.
Dan Parker, “British Dan,” History major, junior.
The Badger Herald: What is the premise of “Crown Jewels?”
Andy: Back in September, we started a radio show where we would showcase the best music from each of our native countries (Andy is American, Dan is British) in a “dueling” format.
I would play an American song, Dan would play a British song, and then listeners would vote through a poll on our Facebook page over who played the better music. Whoever lost did some sort of on-air stunt, posted a “dare” video to our Facebook page or announced embarrassing stories over the airwaves. When we realized that the poll wasn’t the most accurate way of telling who played “better” music, we started to think of other ways to get people involved.
That’s how we came up with our current format. We both still play music by artists and bands from our respective home countries, but we pick music according to a certain theme that we’ve chosen for the week. Last week we did “One-Hit Wonders.” We tell our listeners a week in advance what the next theme will be and they send requests.
BH: You’ve prefaced your show before as a battle between British music and American music? How do songs “battle” one another?
Andy: They don’t. America always wins. Except for when my grandmother is listening. I get texts each show saying how much she loves Dan’s music choice,s and it’s disheartening. I cannot figure out how to win her over.
Dan: And his mother prefers me as well.
Andy: True. Thanks a lot, mom.
Dan: Based on feedback that we get, calls within the studio during the show or people texting us or commenting on our Facebook page, we determine who “wins” each week. We really want to expand the accessibility of the show to people and incorporate listener interactions into the show.
BH: What makes a song authentically British or American? Do you just look at the country of origin or do other considerations come into play?
Andy: Basically, it comes down to where the artist or band comes from. That’s literally how we choose who gets to play a certain song. At the same time, there are interesting examples like The Boxer Rebellion — the lead singer is originally from America but now lives in London. With bands like that, either of us can play their songs.
BH: The more you’ve researched for your show, have you come across any interesting sub-sets of music?
Dan: I guess each country has it’s own sub-genres or sub-sets of music. For example, we don’t have country music in Britain, but we have a thriving folk scene.
Andy: You can keep Mumford & Sons. All their songs sound the same.
Dan and I have grown up listening to music that is mostly rock-based and aimed toward a smaller audience that doesn’t crave the “mainstream sound,” so we knew about a lot of sub-genres of music before we even started the show.
Dan: There is one sub-set we’ve discovered: Chumbuwumba. Google it. Also, we played the Baha Men last week on our “One-Hit Wonder” show and they’re in a category of their own.
BH: What is the trick to witty banter?
Dan: To be honest, we don’t think of it as banter. We just take shots at each other.
Andy: Actually, it’s what most of our conversations sound like.
Dan: I wouldn’t call it particularly “witty.” We just hope people find it funny, even though we aren’t making a conscious effort to be funny.
Andy: The one challenge I’d say we both have each week is making sure what we say is FCC clean. I don’t have the cleanest mouth, and just the littlest slip of a swear word will get us kicked off the air. If anything, being forced to talk without vulgarities has expanded our insult range towards each other tremendously.
BH: Who are the British artists that Americans would be surprised to find out are British?
Dan: Personally, I don’t think I can answer that question because I’m British and pretty much knew every band that we’ve played so far are/were British. I’ll pass this one to Andy.
Andy: I was surprised Jesus Jones was British.
Dan: Oh wait. I just found out Seal is British. Even though we haven’t played him. Yet.
Andy: “Kiss From a Rose” always brings a tear to my eye.
BH: “British Dan,” how does London’s music scene compare to what you’ve seen thus far in the States?
Dan: Well, one of the awesome things about London is that the music scene there is so varied. There are bars that will have a rock band one night, followed by a dance band the next and a jazz band the night after. I love the variety; it’s fun experiencing new bands and styles. Then you also have the heavy-hitters, the huge bands who come and play Wembley Stadium, which is also cool.
I’ve yet to truly check out the music scene in a massive city comparable to London, but Madison seems to have a really cool music scene. Just looking at the upcoming events at the Orpheum and Majestic, you can see that there are a great variety of artists who are playing. Andy and I are actually heading to see The 1975 in May at the Orpheum, which should be pretty fantastic.
Andy: One of the few things that London has over any city in the U.S. is that Dan’s old band has played in London, but not here in the States. White Lines to Sunset. They were great. Go check them out on YouTube.
Dan: I hate you.
BH: Favorite music?
Andy: The Dangerous Summer, blink-182, Jimmy Buffett, Jack’s Mannequin and Bloc Party. And probably Zac Brown Band and The 1975, with the stuff they’ve been releasing recently.
Dan: The 1975, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Boxer Rebellion, blink-182, Don Broco, U2, a bunch of varied stuff. I’m pretty terrible at remembering what I like, yet I’ll hear a song and then think, “I love that song!” I’m into searching for old one-hit wonders at the moment. Doing the “One-Hit Wonder” show was great. We unearthed some old gems.
Andy: I have to add that old “Warped-Tour-obsessed Andy” would be horrified with my current music choices.
Back in high school I was so anti-mainstream and only listened to bands that played the Warped Tour. Taking Back Sunday, A Day To Remember (before they blew up), Motion City Soundtrack and Alkaline Trio were the only bands that saw the light of day on my iPod. As time has gone on, my musical horizons expanded tenfold, and I’ve found myself listening to bands that would’ve caused high school me to slap current me in the face.
And that’s what I think our show is all about—displaying the different kinds of music we listen to and hopefully exposing people to old classics that they’ll rediscover. I’m a humongous fan of The 1975, and they’re on the cusp of blowing up because they have found a way to mash six or seven different genres into one amazing rock band.
Dan: You should see Andy’s old high school photos on Facebook. That’ll validate his whole “non-mainstream” vibe.
Andy: True. I also like to come home after a long day and pour a big glass of Franzia wine and turn Owl City on.
Why should people listen to your show?
Andy: Can you remember the last time you heard “Stacy’s Mom” on the radio? Neither can we. Coming from deep musical backgrounds, we like music from all sides of the spectrum. We’ve played 1950s rockabilly, 1960s protest rock, 1980s techno, 1990s alternative and 2000s pop.
We also take requests from people, so why not request a song and tune in to see if it ends up being played over the airwaves?