Stuff Music Critics Like

What Music Do Immigrant Janitors Listen To? And Other Questions at L.A.'s EMP Conference

Comments (0)


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM

click to enlarge The legendary venue Jabberjaw will be the subject of the opening roundtable at the conference
  • The legendary venue Jabberjaw will be the subject of the opening roundtable at the conference
The Seattle-based EMP Pop Conference -- Shangri-La for music nerds -- has this year split into five regional ones, and the Los Angeles incarnation starts tonight. Musicians, scholars, and music writers from all over Southern California will discuss and debate, with specific focus on everything from Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city to the Long Beach Music scene. The conference is free and open to the public.

The theme this year is "Pop & Politics In This Town," and co-chair Oliver Wang notes that pop music is defined broadly at the conference -- not so much Top 40 as music popular within any segment of the population. (Another homie, Drew Tewksbury, will also be in effect.)

This includes Spanish-language music, which is under-represented in Los Angeles music writing, though we try our best. On Friday morning, Jose Anguiano will be presenting a paper on custodians who listen to Spanish radio at work. As part of a his dissertation at UC Santa Barbara, Anguiano followed over 20 custodians for about six months, documenting what they listened to at their "brown-collar" jobs, and how it gave them a sense of identity.

See also: What's Wrong With Los Angeles' Latin Music Scene?

Anguiano found that these workers, immigrants working graveyard shifts, listened primarily to Top 40 Spanish hits on a small chain of radio stations that operate out of the Central Valley. The stations play older, romantic music: slow-tempo mariachi music and ballads.

"Besides entertainment," Anguiano says, "it was also about claiming that workspace for themselves, and it was also about their ethnic identity, it was a way to showcase how proud they were of that identity. An English language dominant space during the day became Spanish language dominant at night."

As soon as the office workers left and the custodians came in, the language being spoken switched, both in the room and coming from the radio.

Other interesting L.A. subculture panel subjects at EMPLA include Los Angeles' Black Disco Queers, "Porn Funk" -- the music that scored pornos in the 1970s -- and a lecture on krumpin, the subject of Dave LaChapelle's 2005 documentary Rize.

See also: Know Your L.A. Hip-Hop Dances: The Evolution Of Krumping

The EMPLA features a wide array of talks and panel discussions, starting tonight and continuing Friday and Saturday, at the USC- Ronald Tutor Campus Center and the Redcat Theater. A full schedule can be found here

Related Content

Now Trending

  • The Best Los Angeles Metal Shows to See in August

    Saturday, August 2nd Morbid Saint The Black CastleWhen the beer ran out at last year’s Thrasho De Mayo festival, hundreds of metalheads were incensed. But their anger subsided when Wisconsin thrashers Morbid Saint hit the stage, unleashing a relentless fury in their first SoCal appearance after a 20 year hiatus...
  • Fanatics! Rock the Omar

    RADIO BROADCAST #279 08–03–14 Fanatics! Good radio is what it’s all about on this show and tonight, we again deliver the goods. You will notice the slightest of concepts here as we rock Omar Souleyman on both hours. He will be in LA on Sunday night. I will be interviewing...
  • The 10 Best Rock 'n' Roll Pinball Machines

    I am a devoted video-game fan and a constant cheerleader for them to be considered art, but honestly I would give up most of the compelling stories and high-definition graphics in the world for the simple pinball machines. They're crafted and mechanical, and when done with a loving hand can...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets