CALVIN JOHNSON
OLYMPIA, WA - USA

One of the most crucial figures in the DIY and independant music world with all the bands he's been associated with (Beat Happening, The Halo Benders, Selector Dub Narcotic - to name a few) and with his record label, K Records, Calvin Johnson has always lived in Olympia, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
We talked to Calvin about Olympia of the past and of today.

// Can you describe Olympia to us ?

Olympia is a pleasant seaside town with a commercial port located in a rural county (Thurston) with an ever changing agricultural base.
Cattle are the main "crop".

// You are from Olympia originally. What kept you here ?
Is there something making it different from other places ?

Needs some good thrift stores, but otherwise it has the basics : good bakeries, food cooperative, community, low power and pirate radio, immigrant communities from all over.

// And music wise, why did you choose not to move to Seattle or Portland for example ?

A music scene in any town is as "strong" as you make it, as weak as you let it be.
It is all relative and terribly ephemeral.

// You started K Records in 1982, the Dub Narcotic Studio in 1993 - how were the city and the music community at that time ?

Shizz be bumpin' in '93, even more so nowadays.
Impossible to keep up with all the grand musical entities, venues, labels, house shows, websites, cassettes, fanzines, book clubs, folklore collage parties, philatelic societies.
Life's a hoot.


// Was KAOS (the local college radio you had a show on) a meeting place for musicians and music lovers ?

Definitively some freaky mofos hangin' around the station.
Probably still are. They're hard to get rid of.

// And what were the oppportunities for making music ?

They are so many venues now in Olympia : bars, galleries, theaters.
Eagle Hall Capitol theater; and yet, people still complain there's nowhere to have a show.

// How has Olympia changed since the 80's and how do you like it now ?

Olympia right now is the best !
Except for all the cars.

// What would you do if you had someone from out of town visiting you?

Submarine Races out at Black Lake
Bumpin' combos include CC Dust

// What are your favorite places ?

Downtown Olympia Library

// Are there some good new local / PNW bands to check out ?

CC Dust, The Moving Pictures

// Where would you go if you had to move out of Olympia ?

Florence, Alabama.

photos : stills from Indian Summer and Hotter Than Hott videos
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K Records