Grabbing Some Air with Radio Wonderland


Joshua Fried cruises the radio dial while a construction crane groans and whines outside his window. An advertisement for a clothing sale comes on the air. He hurries to press the buttons on his mixer and his sampler grabs a phrase from the female announcer’s voice. Later, the Spinners’ “Rubber Band Man” appears. “I love that song! ” he exclaims, and again leans over his console to capture a random snippet of the chorus. From car commercials to DJ patter to frothy classics like “Help Me Rhonda” by the Beach Boys, whatever goes out over the airwaves is fair game for the Radio Wonderland machine.

Joshua Fried is Radio Wonderland, a long-time solo project in which Joshua has designed devious and danceable ways to chew up, process and re-pattern the various sounds of commercial radio into what he calls, “recombinant funk.” Nothing is pre-recorded, nothing is pre-sequenced, and the compositional results are different every single time. This kind of live, daredevil mashup shows off Joshua’s talents as a drummer, and his personal history as a pop music fan. But above all, it keeps his audiences wondering what in the world he’ll come up with next.

We took a road trip (OK, just a subway trip) to Joshua’s place to find out how he’s honed his singular craft, and he sat down to tell us how Radio Wonderland came to be. You can listen to what he said right here:

Afterward, Joshua showed us the unusual controllers he uses to trigger sound and manipulate the pitch and tempo: 2 pairs of old shoes and a Buick steering wheel. Who knew dumpster diving could be so funky? In the clip below, he builds his tracks by snatching audio off his boom-box and feeding it through the software and processors he designed himself.

Of course, you can check out Radio Wonderland LIVE at our MMiX Festival this October. In the meantime, I’m wondering what it would sound like if Joshua remixed the Howard Stern Show…