Sundaze: Sun., Dec. 19, 9pm. Free. Johnny Brenda's, Girard and Frankford aves. 215.739.9684
There's an old proverb that says small men cast large shadows, but even at 6-foot-7, the huge shadow that follows Mike Walker is music. Just five minutes into our interview in Walker's Fishtown home, Jeff Bradbury from the avant-skronk group Need New Body walks into the house, picks up a guitar and plays us a song.
"I think about music from the minute I get up to the moment I go to sleep," Walker says. "And then sometimes I dream about it."
His love of music started early, via his father's collection of '60s rock vinyl and from his mother, who was a piano teacher. There wasn't even a CD player in their house until his midteens.
"Grilling and records go hand in hand to me," he says, remembering the music played at childhood barbecues in Virginia. "My dad gave me the record player he bought the same day he bought The White Album. I guess music is in my blood."
Walker's first gig as a DJ was the college radio station at James Madison University, where he studied media arts and took music industry classes. It was through the radio station that he met Kurt Heasley of the Lilys. Walker ended up moving to Philadelphia, where he performed on and engineered the Lilys' 2000 release Selected.
In addition to playing with the Lilys for three years, Mazarin for four, short stints with both the Swirlies and Will Oldham, and doing sound engineering for various rock venues around the city, Walker does an irregular DJ night called Higher Than the Sun, named after the Primal Scream song. A hodgepodge of Creation Records dreampop, Factory Records classics and anything from the Fall to Dylan to the Troggs to the Stooges, he describes DJing as a way to expose people to new music.
Still, Walker says, "at the same time you want to play things people are familiar with so they'll have a good time. If you're DJing a wedding, for example, you don't necessarily want to spin crazy freak-out psych-rock."
Then again, he says, "maybe it depends on who's getting married."
MIKE WALKER'S HOT LIST
The New Record by My Bloody Valentine EP<
"This record is pre-Creation Records, pre-Kevin Shields singing."
The Lost Weekend EP by Clientele
"'Kelvin Parade' is probably one of the Clientele's catchiest songs."
Creation Soup compilations vols. 1-5
"A five-volume comp of all the early Creation singles."
Early Moose records like Live a Little, Love a Lot
Areif Sless-Kitain's new paintings
"Areif made these really wild paintings on masonite that are somewhat inspired by the fire in his house."