It’s a new era for KCRW, as our epic music show Morning Becomes Eclectic gains not one, but TWO new hosts: Novena Carmel and Anthony Valadez. The longtime friends and music world tastemakers are familiar voices on LA airwaves and global streams.
And now the two seasoned DJs face their toughest interview yet.
Discover more about MBE's new dynamic duo — including Anthony's pro-wrestling dream and Novena's epiphany with Chopin — in their Q&As below.
NOVENA INTERVIEWS ANTHONY
Novena: You have a very busy schedule, Anthony. But you still manage to keep an overall sense of Zen in your life. What are some of your routines or practices for keeping your inner Buddha flourishing?
Anthony: Surfing and yoga have been two major activities in my life for the past two years. I live walking distance from the ocean so it makes it easy to do. Also dog walks have been really zen for me. It's a great place (in addition to the ocean) to leave behind all the emails and stresses of the day.
Novena: We’ve all heard the saying, “it takes a village…” Who/what stands out to you as the village that has contributed to who you are now?
Anthony: My grandfather who raised me for most of my life. He was a single guy in his mid-50’s who loved road trips, the beach, and adventure. Part of his therapy from post WWII in the Marines was to build things. He loved carpentry and theater. He was a blend of David Lynch meets Bukowski. He was also a fan of KCRW and we would listen during car rides. He loved the news and I loved the music.
Novena: What’s a “go-to” song that you just KNOW will be a hit at any party?
Anthony: Sister Nancy’s 1982 classic, “Bam Bam.” Hits every time no matter the mood or energy — and it’s at such a sexy tempo. It’s easy to blend out of something with a bit more hype but at the same tempo, but it’s just that jam you don’t have to fade or blend in, you just drop it and you see the bodies run to the dance floor. A staple at the Townhouse Del Monte Speakeasy (pre-COVID) on a Friday night.
Novena: I hear that you’re an avid fan of wrestling. Which wrestler do you relate to the most and why?
Anthony: Kenny Omega, who just recently won the AEW title. He spent time in Japan to build his skills. I felt like I had to spend time outside of KCRW to build my own skills as well. He is very much a technical wrestler. A lot of what I do as a DJ in the club or at the station is technical. It’s about telling a story. Wrestlers tell a story in the ring and I try to do the same with the music. I find myself sometimes emulating Kenny Omega in the studio when I’m all alone. (Don’t tell anyone).
Novena: Favorite hair products? Go!
Anthony: It was all about the shine, the matte and the hold. But since attempting to enter bodybuilding competitions and following my dream of becoming a pro wrestler, I personally love a good shave of the head. Wiping the sweat of your shiny head is the ultimate reward. And being in the water with a clean fresh shave really makes me a much better surfer. Perhaps I’m superstitious?
ANTHONY INTERVIEWS NOVENA
Anthony: Congrats on MBE, Novena! Are you generally a morning person? Any morning routines?
Novena: Thanks! You too! I’m kind of a “whatever time we gotta do what we gotta do” person although I do have a fondness for the freshness of the early morning, shortly after the sun has risen. My current morning routine is to have a glass of warm water with lime juice, 10-min “wake up” yoga, get dressed, walk and feed my dog and then have a little breakfast. I’ve just quit coffee too. Wish me luck!
Anthony: We both paid dues as after midnight djs on KCRW. Any takeaways from late night programming that you may bring with you in the morning slot?
Novena: KCRW is a local station, but we also have a global audience. Therefore time can also be considered irrelevant, as we’re connecting with the ears of listeners across various time zones. Knowing this challenges me to think more deeply about choosing songs or curating a set that will work at any time and any place. Being on late at night at a time when I might ordinarily feel sleepy, also challenged me to harness the same energy that I would have at my most awake points in the day, knowing that I had a duty to deliver myself at 100% over the airwaves.
Anthony: Name one of the first songs that punched you in the gut and made you stop in your tracks. And why that song?
Novena “Prelude N20 in C Minor: Op. 28” by Chopin. I took piano lessons from around age 6 and plenty of the songs were fine and good and fun to play. Then my teacher felt I was good enough to learn Chopin and had me begin learning songs from a book of Chopin’s Preludes. The prelude I mentioned was in that book and when I got to it, my preteen heart started doing something funny. Certain chords made me think I might cry. Music had never done this to me before. How could something with no words sound like so much tender hope and despair… to an 11 year old?!
Anthony: Any new exciting trends in music that you are excited to spotlight in 2021?
Novena: I’m excited to see what artists have come up with and how they’ve expanded during “lockdown.” I’ve seen a number of vocalists state that they’ve started learning to produce their own music. And certainly the deep soul diving many of us have been journeying into will continue to shape into beautiful songs and innovative ways of performing these songs.
Anthony: 2020 was a tough year. How was it for you personally to soundtrack people's weekends with music? And what album got you through the year?
Novena: Being on-air has been simultaneously a saving grace for myself and listeners. Regardless of what mood I walk into the studio with, when I’m on-air sharing music I love with open listeners, and telling stories, jokes, etc., I can feel a life-force being activated in me. And I get so many messages that in one way or another say “thank you. I needed that.” And I’m always thinking “honey, then we both needed that.” It’s poetry in motion for us to be healing together with music as the catalyst.
This year I discovered an album that was released in 2017: Melanie Charles' “The Girl with The Green Shoes.” It’s sort of lo-fi, thoughtful, creative, intimate, and has an air of open improvisation with subtle homages to iconic soul and jazz artists. Earlier this year as lockdown happened, the spirit of this album felt like the exact vibrational space I wanted to be in at home. Lo-fi, thoughtful, inspired, and listening to a lot of jazz and soul. I came to find out later that Melanie actually recorded this whole album in her small room on a cruise ship that she was working on as a performing artist. Similar in so many ways to the solitude of “lockdown.” I believe we always find the music we need at the right time for ourselves.