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Editorial, Project News

No Format is the New Format: An Interview with Mod Mobilian Co-Founder Emily Hayes


I hop on my computer this morning. I need some tunes to get me through a really rough morning as I’m headed off for my 2nd day of third-year sophomore in collegedom. Barely any sleep. Morning radio on the dial won’t cut it today; not interested in hearing the drone of morning talk radio and not just any music I can find will work. No, this is a job for something with a kick, something diverse, something seemingly real for me, like an extension of my iPod…. or my own brain.

I turn on Mod Mobilian Radio.

Of course, the playlist is as diverse as they come. Yo La Tengo is blasting in my ear while I’m still groggy. Later on, JEFF the Brotherhood kicks me up out of bed to get dressed and ready to go. Between me getting dressed, I can hear TV on the Radio , the new one from local supergroup Willie Sugarcapps, my favorite reunited act The Replacements, and a slew of other great stuff and I’m finally free of my house with a big smile on my face.

This is one of the best pleasures that has come out for me in the last month. I have a whole slew of new music to try out and listen to. Blues, soul, rock, Americana, indie, jazz…. I mean, it’s unbelievable, and I had to get down to the bottom of it. So, I tracked down my favorite Mobilian and Mod Mo co-founder and Mod Mo radio DJ, the lovely Emily Hayes (who we last visited for a interview about SouthSound Music Festival) about Mod Mo and Mod Mo Radio, loving the south, and how everything about Mobile is generally awesome.

Canaan: Hello again, Emily! Okay Ms. Hayes, what is Mod Mobilian?

Emily Hayes:  It started off covering Mobile Bay arts and culture, then we expanded to the Gulf Coast, and now we’ve kinda taken over the Southeast, and it’s pretty much just exposing the new South to folks everywhere who think that we’re all still going muddin’ and deer hunting, and picking our banjos and got spitoons on every corner. We’re a little more cultured than that now, and we just want people to know about it, so we figured the best way is to showcase it thru an arts and entertainment blog, with a touch of politics just as it’s relevant, and we do a lot of our stuff thru editorial pieces and loads of video work so it can be shared with everybody, and it’s awesome.

C: What made you guys decide to start your own internet radio station?

Emily Hayes: That’s an idea that we’ve been kicking around for a very, very long time. There’s four owners of Mod Mobilian, if you will, and it’s something that we have all discussed for a while, and then opportunities presented itself to where certain members of staff would be able to give it the time it needed to build it and to help get it rolling, and once that opportunity presented itself we ran with it, and it’s been almost a month now of Mod Mobilian Radio. It’s amazing.

C: What separates Mod Mo Radio from other internet radio stations?

Emily Hayes: I think what separates Mod Mo Radio from other internet radio stations is that it’s just another facet of what we’re doing as far as multimedia. We’ve got the video stuff down, we’ve got your editorial pieces, we have your feel good pieces, your exposes and all that jazz and to just round it out to have a radio station that reflects everything Mod Mobilian is which is so immersed in Southern culture, it was kinda like the last card for a straight, it just kind of rounded out the perfect round of poker for us, to have the radio station, and what makes it different from other internet radio stations, it’s the only one I know of that is run by Mobilians that aren’t stuck in offices all day. Like, the people who contribute to Mod Mobilian radio are the ones out there who aren’t just seeing shows in Mobile, Pensacola, Biloxi and Pascagoula. They’re going to New Orleans, they’re going to Atlanta, they’re going to Nashville, Birmingham, Oxford, all those places. So, the contributors to Mod Mobilian radio are actually out there, living it, bringing it back to you saying, “I just saw this band at a hole in the wall, they are fantastic, you’re gonna dig them, let me play them for you,” which is kind of what Mod Mobilian has been from the beginning is exposing people to what’s happening down here for those who can’t always get away for a weekend and go to Atlanta and see a band. They’ll just know to keep an eye out for them when they come down here, and support them.

C: Do you guys focus on just a few different genres or is there a variety?

Emily Hayes: Our tagline is “No Format is the New Format”, because I don’t know, with the exception of my stepmom who absolutely loves psychedelic rock, I don’t know one person that listens to just one type of music. I was listening to The Green Seed on the way over, which is a hip hop act out of Birmingham, and after the Green Seed went off, Centro-matic came on, which is very reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain, and then God knows if I had driven further I’d probably be listening to Chopin since it’s raining. I don’t listen to one type of music, you don’t listen to one type of music, and I don’t know anybody that does, and this radio station reflects that. It’s not where we’re gonna play Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like A Hole” and follow it up with “Steal My Sunshine” by LEN. It’s not gonna be that wild of a jump, but I can tell you in my show, I’ve played everything from Nancy Sinatra to Bell Biv Devoe, but I’ve made the progression to it. Kinda like wading into a pool. It’s funny when you’re jamming out to things like Duquette Johnston, and then you hear Remy Zero, and then Dead Fingers, and then eventually you end up hearing Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step”, and it’s just like, “ I remember that, I was this old and this is when I first heard it and I thought it was hilarious” and it’s just like a palate cleanser.

C: And that goes back to us being more than just bunch of rednecks.

Emily Hayes: Yeah, and what’s so great and unique about Mod Mobilian radio is that, while there are safe guards in place to make sure certain things are done the right way, when you are hearing my shows, or Trey Lane’s Sack Lunch, or Skoda Pop, or Dan Anderson’s Are You Not Entertained?, we have creative control over our shows. There’s no one telling us, “you have to play this artist once every four hours”, because a lot of radio can be like that, when you saying something is in a “current rotation”, it says to play X amount of times a day. So, no one is telling us that. I got into a little tiff with Trey Lane because the best “earworm” song ever, “Keep Feeling Fascination” by The Human League, I was playing that during both of my shows every day. I didn’t think it was a big deal, because that song is great and it makes you wanna dance around like a crazy person, but with those safety checks there, Trey was like, “Hey, you wanna ease up on Human League, cause you’re playing it all the time,” and I was like, “No! That’s my jam! I’m gonna play it!” It’s that kind of stuff. I did eventually ease up on playing it,because while I can listen to it a million times in a row, not everyone wants to hear it at eight in the morning or four in the afternoon, but it happens. That’s what I’m talking about though. If I wanna play it that many times, I will. If Trey gets on an artist he wants to see succeed, he’ll make sure he plays them enough to make sure people are familiar with them, and it’s all about having that perfect mix of familiar and unfamiliar. If you don’t give folks something familiar to hold on to and play too much unfamiliar stuff, they might go try another station to have something they know. They’ll come back for the unfamiliar, but it’s nice to make a sandwich, if you will, where your bread is the familiar and you’re meat is unfamiliar.

C: What is the programming on Mod Mo Radio? What’s your show about or Sack Lunch about? Is there running things or focus on certain things?

Emily Hayes: I think every show on Mod Mobilian radio really does reflect on whoever is the DJ, because we have complete control over our shows. My show is from 8-12 and 4-8. My stuff is like if we were sitting in a car, and I’m like, “Hey! Do you like this? If you like this, then listen to it, snd then listen to this band that is influenced by them.” I think the best example of that is Remy Zero and The Great Book of John. If you listen to stuff off of Villa Elaine by Remy Zero, and then listen to Great Book of John, a track like “Brown Frown”, that would be the ideal opening of the show. “Hey, welcome to the show, here’s a song by Remy Zero, you know them. Now here’s a song by Great Book of John. You may not know them, but if you like Remy, you might like them too.” Those are two fantastic bands that I absolutely adore, and anyone that knows me knows that. That’s what I do with mine. Trey’s tastes are all over the place. We rarely agree on things. However, he has the prefect lunchtime show. One minute is an ambient jam and then you’ll hear the new Pixies. It’s like being on a road trip and someone playing you a mixtape. It’s a mix of everything. No format is the new format.

C: What are some of the upcoming events that you guys are involved with?

Emily Hayes: Woo, Mod Mobilian has a lot of stuff going on. Hurray For the Riff Raff is coming back to the Alabama Music Box. We just had Great Peacock in town, the weekend before was St. Paul and the Broken Bones. I say we, but it’s not necessarily us  bringing those artists to town, but through SouthSounds Music Festival,  which is affiliated with Mod Mobilian, we brought a lot of those acts down to be seen by folks for the first time. The only way you can be booked at SouthSounds is if you’re a Southern band. We get a lot of people who ask, “Well, I’m just right outside of the South, do I count?”, and I’m like, “Well, where are you?” If you have a team that plays in the SEC, you’re eligible for SouthSounds, that’s the easiest way I can put it. I know it seems funny and elitist to only book Southern bands, however, I feel like we get passed over a lot in the South because people expect just country from us, and there are a multitude of great hip hop acts and experimental stuff,our folk is amazing….. I consider Americana and folk what country should be, because country is pop now and that’s just whatever, but there’s so many great Southern bands, it’s just hard to get them in front of the right people, and what really helps a band in my opinion is a strong touring schedule, and if we can get them down here for a weekend and have them in front as many people as possible, it’ll encourage folks to go see them when they come back to town and play Callaghan’s or Soul Kitchen or Blind Mule or the Music Box. The best experience I had last year, when I knew we were doing it right, was a very kind fellow named Brian from Pascagoula, he’s the owner of East Bank Pub, they heard about the festival, he bought VIP passes, which is awesome, and caught as many shows as possible, and then next thing I know, I see events popping up like, “Great Book of John at East Bank Pub” or “Banditos at East Bank Pub” and stuff like that, and one of the kindest things ever told to me was him telling me, “You doing this, as a business owner, you’re bringing in all the this stuff from the South, it’s like, You like this? It’s a showcase. You want those people, book them. Get their contact information,” and that brings more music thru Mobile, because if a band can route shows along the Gulf Coast, like an I-10 jaunt, where it’s Pensacola-Mobile-Biloxi/Pascagoula all the way into New Orleans, that fills up dead space for bands and that gets them down here more, and everybody wins!

C: Especially for Mobile, because we’re stuck between New Orleans and Jacksonville, and you have Birmingham and Atlanta up north, and smaller gigs will go thru Pensacola and the casino circuit in Biloxi, and Mobile is just kinda there, even though we have the capability.

Emily Hayes: What people don’t realize about Mobile is that I-10 runs right thru here and I-65 starts here. You can do a run of I-65 (North and South) or I-10 (East and West), it’s not hard, but once bands realize you can book a show here and not lose money, and there will be a crowd because not only do you have a website behind them in Mod Mobilian, not only do they have an amazing videos we film, we have an amazing film crew, so they can share those videos of when they pack out Callaghan’s or they do a show at the Mule and everyone’s jumping so hard you’re afraid you’ll fall thru the floor, they have that stuff to share, and now they have an internet radio station behind them saying, “Hey, here’s where you can hear our music, no one else in town is playing us except these folks, and it’s free to listen to them, in your car, on your phone, in the shower if you have one of those water resistant phones…. but to have something with a great rep behind it saying “We care about yall and we want you to succeed”, it makes Mobile way more attractive for them to come down here, and we always take care of our bands, God bless it.

C: What are the most important things you want people to know about Mod Mo and the radio station and everything that you do?

Emily Hayes: We do it because we love it. It’s not glamorous by any means. It’s a lot of hard work. We do it because we love it and somebody has to do it. We could have sat around and just whined and hawed and been like “Why can’t we be like New Orleans?” or “Why can’t we be like Birmingham?”, which is going thru a great revitalization right now, I am so happy for them, but Mobile has all these great things, it’s just one giant secret, and if we need to be the megaphone to tell that secret, then we will. We all do it because we love it. We love the city, we believe in the city, and we want to see the city succeed for all the right reasons. At the end of the day, that’s the main drive. Sometimes we don’t sleep. Sometimes we drink a lot, but God knows we deserve it. On that same note, and in a serious matter, we’ve had a lot of support from local business owners, people established and people who are just starting, who believe in what we’re doing because we believe in the city. When the city works together, everyone benefits. There’s no time to be like, “This is my turf” or “you’re cutting into what I’m doing”, we’re all working together to make the city succeed putting forth our best efforts, whether it’s another publication or radio station, we can all make this city great, and we can’t have egos about it…. and Roll Tide.

C: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Emily Hayes:  Just check out Mod Mobilian radio, it’s totally free, and support local artists wherever you are, because every band was someone’s local band. Bon Jovi was a local band. So, there’s that.


Mod Mobilianhttp://modmobilian.com/

Mod Mobilian Radiohttp://www.live365.com/stations/modmobilian?play=1


The Green Seed:


Duquette Johnston:

Remy Zero:

The Great Book of John:

Hurray for the Riff Raff:

And for earworm’s sake, The Human League:


About Canaan Lamp

Writer/Philosopher/Music Lover/Festival Goer/Friend to Everyone.


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