Lance Robertson is better known as DJ Lance Rock from the hugely popular children's show Yo Gabba Gabba! For his Guest DJ set, he shies away from the hits in favor of deeper album tracks and edgier material from Iggy Pop, the Isley Brothers, Skinny Puppy and more. Lance curated the upcoming BEDROCKtoberfest, taking place on September 19 in Echo Park.
- Eddie Gale - "The Rain"
- The Isley Brothers - "So You Wanna Stay Down"
- Add N To (X) - "Metal Fingers in My Body"
- Iggy Pop - "New Values"
- Skinny Puppy - "Smothered Hope"
Raul Campos: Hey I'm Raul Campos from KCRW and I'm here with Lance Robertson better known as DJ Lance Rock on the hugely popular children's show Yo Gabba Gabba!. Today we're here to talk about songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Lance, welcome to KCRW, how are you?
Lance Robertson: I'm doing awesome, thanks a lot for having me Raul.
RC: What is the first song that you brought in?
LR: First song that I brought is a track called "The Rain" by Eddie Gale and he is a free jazz trumpeter who played with Sun-Ra back in the day.
This is something from his 1968 debut album on Blue Note called Ghetto Music.
I picked the title track because it's kind of like his opening salvo and it's just really a fascinating song when you hear it, because it has this kind of strong black consciousness mixed with this cosmic consciousness that was going on at the time, you know. Hair came out and all of that kind of stuff and it's just a really amazing track that takes you an incredible journey.
Song: Eddie Gale – “The Rain”
RC: So, has music always been a big part of your life?
LR: Music is like the universal language, it always brings people together and that’s one of the things that’s really exciting about Gabba, and they've always tried to stay true to that. Scott Schultz and Christian Jacobs, the guys who created it, were like "we want to have a show that we can watch with our kids." And they're both musicians as well, so they started working on this and it just struck a chord because kids grow up in households where we hear punk music, we hear hip hop, there's video games, break dancing, surfing, skate boarding. It’s a little disingenuous to think everything has to sound like Barney. Not that there is anything wrong with Barney, but there's all this other stuff. This is a show where kids can respond to something and then their parents can respond to something and they can share that experience together.
RC: That was free jazz trumpeter Eddie Gale. So whats the next thing on your list?
LR: The next song is a track by the Isley Brothers and there’s a bit of an interesting story behind this.
When I was a little kid, we lived in Leavenworth, Kansas. Every now and then we would get to go to Kansas City, Missouri and go to the mall. There was a music store there and there was a contest to win a Wurlitzer Jukebox.
Even back then I was getting into music, so I wanted to win and I signed up a lot of forms and entered but I didn't win. I came in third place and the third place prize was the catalog of the Isley Brothers.
I want to play a track off of Harvest for the World called "So You Wanna Stay Down" from 1976. This is just a track that doesn't get as much play and it's just got a really great message.
On a track like "That Lady", Ernie Isley has searing guitar. This is more like an acoustic thing, I think he's a real underrated guitar play and I really like to hear him play a lot. This one is more of an understated affair.
Song: Isley Brothers – “So You Wanna Stay Down”
LR: Even though it doesn't sound like a gospel song, it has its roots in it with the message of uplift. Especially since the 70's were kind of tumultuous, and it seems like "just keep believing and keep on trying"… it had that very positive message of you might have some adversity, but you can overcome it.
RC: The Isley Brothers on KCRW with "So You Wanna Stay Down." Our Guest DJ Project is in effect and Lance Robertson is here just picking tunes. What is the next song we're going to get into?
LR: This group is one of my personal favorites, they are a group out of London called Add N To (X).
They were an electronic trio and this is from their second album called Avant Hard. This is a track entitled "Metal Fingers in My Body."
The late 90’s, that whole kind of electronica scene that was burgeoning and this was completely different. This was a lot of analog electronics mixed with live drums and like a dissonant noisy vibe. It definitely seems like they probably listened to the band Suicide or something like that.
It's something that really resonated with me because most of the tracks are instrumental -- this one has a little vocoder in it -- but it just shows you how heavy electronica music can be. It also has that same sort of primal urgency, like some of the early blues or rock'n'roll definitely has, that undercurrent of sex and tension. It has that kind of energy to it. A lot of electronic music is wallpaper background and this is something more aggressive and it has a visceral punch to it.
Song: Add N To (X) – “Metal Fingers in My Body”
RC: Add N To (X) with "Metal Fingers in My Body." So now we're going into a different direction, what do you have for us?
LR: This next track is the title track from Iggy Pop's third solo album called "New Values."
I picked this one because everybody knows the two, David Bowie-produced ones – Lust for Life and The Idiot. Those are great records but for me this record is like when Iggy gets funky. It's definitely got a different vibe to it, Iggy is in fine form. His lyrics are pretty awesome, I lived in St. Louis and one of the first punk stores out there - it was like a punk clothing, music, memorabilia store -- and it was called New Values. Maybe that’s why it's ingrained in me. I like a lot of his stuff but, out of the solo stuff, I listen to this album all the time.
Song: Iggy Pop – “New Vaues”
RC: Iggy Pop with "New Values" from 1979. So we reached our final selection, ending with some industrial music, some pioneers.
LR: Skinny Puppy. I lived in St. Louis for a long time before I moved out to LA. Industrial is one of the few genres that took root in the Midwest before it hit the coast.
Chicago at Wax Tracks is kind of ground zero so we would go up there pretty much, at one point, every weekend and see shows. I remember driving the first time I actually drove up there, it was with some people I worked with at this record store, and we saw Echo and the Bunnymen. Hadn't even really left home and like, hey, we're going to take a road trip. I was just hooked after that. We would go back and see all these cool bands and hear all this great music.
If you were into anything a little different in St. Louis at the time, they would call you “Devo”, they thought it was an insult. I just got into that and gravitated that way.
RC: That was Skinny Puppy's "Smothered Hope" right here at KCRW.com. Lance, thank you for coming through man and playing some music for us.
LR: I had great time Raul, thanks for giving me the opportunity.