Thursday, November 03, 2011

Better Know a DJ: Billy Marinello

Welcome to the first in a series of posts in my Better Know a DJ series. I have a feeling many listeners (and a good number of DJs) don’t know who the people spinning throughout the day are. In this series, I aim to explore the lives behind your favourite self-confident disembodied voices. These are all based on interviews. Trust me.

First up, our business manager and regular DJ, Billy Marinello:

Billy Marinello was prancing along the brick walkways of campus in the direction of the Student Union carelessly pondering life’s big questions. How much popcorn should I buy at the grocery for the next episode of Doctor Who? How does my hair look? Whatever happened to plug-in love? In his careless wandering, he bumped into something and soon realize he’d gone far off-course. He had ended up in the middle of the woods. He’d bumped into things before. He’d been in forests. However, these trees seemed almost omnipresent, shivering with an intensity he’d never seen before. The mirage of woods seemed to give way to a shadowy figure directly in front of him. Billy unfortunately did not run into a tree. Billy had crossed paths with a witch.

She was a standard image of a witch – dull skin, flowing black shadowy clothes, etc. She had been out in the woods, picking herbs for her next magical concoction, when she had sensed an especially misanthropic aura nearby. This aura was Billy’s. Billy had spent a good chunk of his young life under a policy hating everyone. No one really knows why. Spastic declarations “I hate everyone” or “I hate everything” would escape him regularly like taglines. No one ever really took him seriously, but that probably only made him more strangely vengeful. Anyway, the witch was disturbed by Billy’s bubbling evil, and decided to coax a change in Billy’s demeanor. To learn to accept and integrate himself with the world, he would need to first be closer to nature. This intimacy is lost on most human beings, so she turned Billy into an antelope.

A hazy sequence of what seemed like stage pyrotechnics accompanied the awkward morphing of his bones accommodating his new lithe, quadrupedal body. Billy was rightfully confused. “This strange lady is probably going to be added to my hate-list,” he thought. Eventually, the billows of fog cleared and Billy found himself inhabiting the body of an antelope on a savannah underneath an ominous grey and furiously storming sky. He wanted shelter.

Billy pranced among the slippery grasses of this savannah until he found a cave which he then dashed towards. Inside, he was relieved for only a moment. Viscous, muddy runoff that had accumulated on the edge of the terrace overlooking the cave had decided that it needed a change of scenery. The thick clay fell over the entrance, and Billy had found himself trapped by the mudslide. Billy turned from the former exit and saw in the dimming light an large furry figure rising groggily, likely disturbed by the events happening outside the cave. Their eyes met, and Billy could sense within the pair a violent, carnal desire. Billy was trapped in a cave with a steadily approaching hungry bear.

Without many options, Billy pranced to the edge of the cave and cowered in fear. In a less pressing situation, he would have pondered the logic of a bear living in a savannah, but these are times when one reflects back on one’s life, so that’s what Billy did.
Billy recalled his youth. He grew up in a Navy family and dabbled his childish feet in many parts of the world. He had experienced many cultures and met many people until he had settled in Charlotte some five or six years ago. It suddenly hit him that all the people he had met and all of the scenes he had been privy to, in some strangely mechanical way were all beautiful.

Billy recalled his times as a DJ for WXYC. He was hired in Fall 2010, and had enjoyed it on multiple levels. When asked why being a DJ was so appealing to him, his response was, “It feels great to be in the control room and to assert your reign of music, imposing your will on the unsuspecting masses.” In the cave, the dominating bear was inching closer. Was I doing this for the wrong reasons?

Through his ambition, he became the business manager of XYC, managing the budget and pocketing a few bucks on the side to feed his concert, electronics, and effects pedal addictions. These toys and these experience seemed to make his now rapidly shortening life worth living.

He then reevaluated his love of and taste for music. No doubt, it was a great, fond foundation in his life, but why?
When asked what he looks for in music, he would have said, “I want to feel pain”
“No, take that back,” antelope Billy rejected. He could see now see through his misguided thoughts. “No, I look for integrity and sincerity and people who actually care and put some amount of life and emotion in their music.” Artists such as
Ben Frost, Jónsi, James Brown, William Basinski, Swans, Flipper and Diamanda Galas came to mind

Care, emotion, life…these seemed like ingredients to something, something greater than its parts, the force behind everything. Words came to him. Albert’s words. He too wanted to join the army with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. He wanted to fight for love.

The ravenous bear was just a few inches away, and as he was cowering still, for some reason, the only song that came to mind was Barbara Streisand's Papa, Can You Hear Me?

Papa, can you hear me?

Papa, can you see me?

Papa can you find me in the night…?

And as the jaws of death were descending upon his limp frame, a revelation came to him. He exclaimed in his own antelope language,

“I DON'T hate everyone.”

The bear and the dubious night dissolved into a cold mist lifting itself towards a clear sky. Billy looked up and watched his fears fly aimlessly away. Then, he looked down. His two feet were were planted solidly on the floor of the Student Union. He had a show to do.

Catch Billy M. 5-7 PM every Saturday this semester.


  1. Anonymous11:45 PM

    I like this glam shot in the top of lenoir

  2. Anonymous11:56 AM

    WXYC fan fiction? keep it up!

  3. Anonymous1:06 AM

    I wish this was a short film. I loved when Billy busted out singing, "Papa can you hear me." hahaha