David Barsanti is a Santa Fe-based musician, drummer, DJ and GIS analyst and has lived in the City Different since the early 1990s. When not playing in various bands around town, he is actively DJing around Santa Fe and northern New Mexico under the moniker Spinifex. He and I created theTwisted Groove radio show that aired in the midnight slot on community station KSFR back in 2000. Although I left Santa Fe for the Bay Area, David has continued the show, going from strength to strength, and in the process, gaining a more sleep-friendly 10pm timeslot. Following up on the 16th anniversary of the show, I recently chatted to David about the Twisted Groove, the Santa Fe music scene and how music and radio has changed in the intervening years.
Tell us about how you got to Santa Fe
I first came to Santa Fe after getting a sociology degree with an anthropology focus from Keene State College where I’m originally from. After college I was still working in New England in archeology, but really looking for a change in environment. I was also really struggling to find work in archeology during the winter – you couldn’t find just work everywhere – it’s definitely hard to excavate then! So in November 1991, my girlfriend at the time had contacts here and we planned to come here together but that didn’t work out but I needed winter work so I was driven to find work here in SF. I was hired to do field work in the winter, and I stayed. Now by day I work as a GIS analyst for the City of Santa Fe.
What got you into music?
I have always been into music, it was a big part of the family growing up. My oldest brother grew up in the Woodstock era so I always heard a lot of music from that time. And although my parent’s weren’t musicians themselves there was always music around the house, my Dad had worked for Sylvania, an early TV manufacturer that was eventually acquired by General Telephone and Electronics. So we always had TVs and radio stereo of the best quality around the house, which was another way I really got into sound and music.
There’s quiet, but steady, drumbeat of pushing children and college students into narrow STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, and away from anything that doesn’t contribute to the (narrowly defined) “economy”. The UK Education Secretary said in 2014 that choosing to study arts or humanities could “hold them back for the rest of their lives”. Being trained in both science and engineering, I’m the first to agree that a well-informed scientific and technically literate citizenry is of utmost importance, but it doesn’t follow that we should be just shovelling people into STEM. It’s short-term thinking at it’s worst and is born of the idea that the purpose of education is to train people to contribute to the global neoliberal corporate state, rather than a process of becoming a complete, well-rounded human being.
Having started seeing some more live music again recently, I was inspired to repost some music-related stories from the vault (originally on my old, now defunct, website). The first is an interview from back in the 1990s with the then Brisbane-based electronica act, Boxcar (they since changed their line-up and moved to Sydney). Boxcar went on to release a follow-up album Algorhythm in 1996 and reformed around 2007 for some live dates. Boxcar’s current activities can be found at their website. It’s interesting to see how much has changed, back then there was a real divide between “dance music” and “rock” in popular music, which seems to have been entirely erased.
Techno grooves downunder
An Australian dance band? That actually play live? I don’t believe it! A common reaction when people hear about Boxcar. Alex Lancaster recently spoke with vocalist and guitarist David Smith and keyboardist Brett Mitchell.
This Brisbane four-piece (Carol Rohde and Crispin Trist complete the line up) are making a niche for themselves in a genre that has spawned a host of sound-a-like, fly-by-night acts and they certainly don’t fit into that moribund format of “Oz rock”. This a point which Brett Mitchell brings up: “You can see rock bands getting desperate by those Choirboys posters.” “Have you seen those posters?”, adds Smith, “Classic. ‘Fuck Dance, Let’s Rock’. I mean how many dance acts do you see saying ‘Fuck Rock, Let’s Dance’? They don’t seem to feel threatened by rock music.”
we were saying things like ‘you like AC-DC?’, ‘yaaah’, ‘well we’re not going to play any crap like that’ – and there were threats at the mixing desk”