By Daniel Kohn
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By Nate Jackson
KUCI DJ Ashley Eliot keeps it in OC, no matter what
When Ashley Eliot is awake—which is 17 to 18 hours per day—she’s taking classes in public relations at Cal State Fullerton, working at OC Metro or OC Family magazine, interning at O’Neill, or brewing up some green tea to get her through another 5 a.m. installment of her KUCI radio show, Press Pass Music, which plays all (and only) OC bands all the time to an audience of early-rising surfers and late-collapsing partiers.
How do you cope with the 5 a.m. time slot?
I don’t go out on Friday nights anymore! I tried an all-nighter once—on Halloween. I ended up being in costume when the next DJ came in. Wonder Woman! I don’t know what he thought. I go to school, and I work full-time, and I have to go to sleep early, and it sucks. There are so many great shows on Friday, and all the bands want me to come out and see them.
What local bands sound best at 5 in the morning?
Every local band sounds frickin’ amazing! I mix it up. At 5 a.m., I’m thinking there are some people still awake, so I’ll keep it a lot more poppy. Then, in the middle, I’ll calm it down with folk and softer sounds, and then some harder rock because some people are waking up! I get a bunch of surfers who call me on Saturdays—two locals call every week! So now I do the surf report.
Do they make you play more Japanese Motors?
A heck of a lot more! I promised them I’d do my research and find more surf music that’s local.
Who are your favorite local band as of 8:14 tonight?
I knew you were going to ask this, and I was gonna tell you I can’t play favorites! But there are bands I really think are taking off right now—Venus Infers, the Jakes, Aushua, the Living Suns, the Union Line. And there are a lot of other bands that are going unnoticed: the Fling, the New Limb, Yellow Red Sparks—so many! There’s a band I discovered the other day from a co-worker, Oliver Jane—led by a female vocalist, and they incorporate piano and violin. It’s very diverse. That’s what I love in OC—our music is very diverse! Everyone thinks we have a huge punk rock scene—No Doubt, the Offspring, Thrice—but we haven’t found a certain genre or sound that represents us. Everyone is doing their own thing—I think that’s great!
What’s the most exciting development you’ve seen in OC music recently?
I’m happy to see that there are a couple of venues sprouting up. World Gallery Garage—one of the guys from eVocal, and he opened a new venue. And you know Ashley Eckenweiler—she’s done so much! She and Luke Allen are trying to revive the OC Music Awards.
If you broke your own rule and played a non-local band, who would it be?
I don’t break the rules because that would not be good! And I love my show because it’s about OC music, and it’s awesome! But there are so many independent bands that get more play on KROQ and Indie 103.1. Like Black Kids. Right now, I’m a fan, and if I had an eclectic show, I’d probably play them. And also Vampire Weekend and CSS. But again, I wouldn’t want my show to be any different. I can’t get enough of my local music!
How do you stay so disciplined?
Because I’m in love with Orange County music! I get the best adrenalin rush from this stuff! People probably think I’m crazy, but I get so excited about local music! It’s right in your own back yard, and it’s so easy to check out what’s going on in your community. There are tons of shows and tons of artists!
What local band would you most want to record a song with?
That would be amazing! I’ve thought about that! I’d have to say, there’s a few, but Venus Infers. Davis—the lead singer—his vocals have so much power in them! And when I do karaoke, I have power in my vocals! I do Pat Benatar—I’m known for “Heartbreaker” and “Love Is a Battlefield.” I’m a nerd! It’d probably be a very entertaining and embarrassing song. I’m not a very good singer. But I got the power!
What would the title be? “I’m a Something-Something for You, Baby”?