This week we continue our Friends of LITA Series with dublab co-founder Mark “Frosty” McNeill. Frosty, along with some friends, started the non-profit internet radio station back in 1999 when online radio was still in its awkward teenage years. Since then, dublab has evolved into a global collective with more than 30 resident DJs. They have also expanded their reach into art exhibition, film projects, event production, and record releases. We have always been a big supporter of what Frosty and dublab have been doing. LITA’s own Matt Sullivan was featured as a guest DJ during their last Proton Drive (a bi-annual fundraiser). Likewise, Frosty has been a good friend and supporter of LITA since its inception, and for that we would like to give him a big thanks! Below you can read our interview with Frosty where he tells us the origins of his nickname, stories of his travels and the history of dublab.
1. Your real name is Mark, but most know you as Frosty. How did that name come about?
I used to tell people I was dubbed “Frosty” the moment my Momma gave birth to me in an igloo while in the field recording Inuit tribes for Folkways Records, but that’s not true. I wish I had a better back story but it really only came about as a clever disguise. I started using the DJ name Frosty about a year into my college radio career because I discovered the power an alias can provide. My secret radio identity allowed me to play whatever weirdo noise I wanted while maintaining my mild-mannered cover as Mark McNeill.
2. You are an experienced traveler and have been to so many incredible spots. I’ve heard that you’ve got a great story about buying a wig in India. Can you tell us about it?
Oh man! That’s pretty close to the way the story goes. My friend who I had been traveling with in India stuck around after our trip because she got a gig working on Wes Anderson’s film “The Darjeeling Limited.” She called me a month after I had returned home and asked if I could come back to India two days later to deliver a wig for the film. I gladly offered my unproven courier services and packed the desired wig in a backpack. Upon arrival at the Delhi airport the single wig was joined by a few extras mounted on styrofoam heads and I continued onto my destination. After dropping the hairy goods I made sure to hit a tried and true Bombay record spot to score another batch of Bollywood wax. You can read the whole story, “The Wig Curryer” here.
*Photo by Nara
3. Through your endless travels you’ve come across some talented musicians, heavy collectors, and pretty sweet record stores like Thailand’s ZudRangMa and Mexico’s DJ Tropicaza (both of whom you kindly introduced us to). What are some of your favorite stores and most memorable finds?
I feel totally blessed to have the opportunity to travel widely, especially when it allows me to cross paths with fellow kind-hearted record freaks. I always approach new lands with a humble, open mind and am excited to soak up unknown cultures through their music. I love connecting with regional music champions like Maft Sai in Bangkok, Tropicaza in Mexico City and DJ Nuts in Brazil who have helped unveil secret record stashes and overlooked, native masterpieces. I really like sidewalk spots and flea markets. If I have the opportunity to buy a record in the street I’d much rather do that than step in a store. The prices are cheaper and you can pick up the local dialect, street smells and vibe of the city while shopping. You can catch some of my international travel stories and accompanying mixes here.
4. For people who might not be familiar with dublab, can you tell us a little about the station and how you guys got started?
dublab started webcasting in 1999. I was running the University of Southern California college radio station, and had a desire to continue building on my musical explorations there so I gathered a crew of like-minded DJs from our radio station, KXLU, KPFK and local DJ collectives to join together and start a new entity. dublab’s mission has always been to share creative, Future Roots music with the world and 14 years later I’m thrilled we’re able to continue that journey daily.
5. Thanks again Frosty for answering my questions, but before you take off, can you tell us what’s been on your stereo these days?
Thank you! Infinite love to Light in the Attic!!! Now here are some ear tickling oooooh-la-las I’m especially liking right now…
Sun Ra “The Second Stop is Jupiter” Norton
Michael Hurley “Hi Fi Snock Uptown” Racoon/Warner
Clara Mondshine “Luna Africana” Innovative Communication
Alton & Hortense Ellis “S/T” Studio One
Colin Newman “It Seems” Crammed Discs
Cleaners from Venus “Midnight Cleaners” Captured Tracks
Yukihiro Takahashi “Neuromantic” Alfa Records
Harafin So “Bollywood Inspired Film Music from Hausa Nigeria” Sahel Sounds
Julia Holter “Loud City Song” Domino
Secret Circuit “Tactile Galactics” Beats in Space
You can stream live and archived mixes, as well as learn more about dublab by heading over to dublab.com.