On a drive with her daughter one morning, visiting UF faculty member Maggie Clifford, 36, paused and turned on her car radio, tuned to Gainesville’s 90.1 The Wombat.
The sound on the speaker felt familiar to the Gainesville-based folk artist. Only after a couple of seconds, she realized it was her song playing.
“To hear it on The Wombat … It was very surreal,” Clifford said. “The song started right as I turned on the radio.”
The Wombat released the first episode of its newest radio show, RadioGNV, Jan. 6 to highlight past, present and future local Gainesville artists’ work and host select premieres for new music.
Airing at 5 p.m. the first Friday of every month, the show features local bands and performers with a focus on only Gainesville-based artists. The lineup ranges from classic oldies like Charles Bradley to up-and-coming rappers like FARO.
One of multiple rotating hosts, RadioGNV producer Brandon Telg, 33, said the episodes will include a variety of contemporary Gainesville artists to introduce the underground music scene to outsiders who might not know how broad the local music scene is.
“We’ve got some real niche music, you'd be hard pressed to find a niche that isn't served in some way,” Telg said.
From country singer-songwriters to experimental electronic music, Gainesville boasts a host of local artists that redefine exploratory styles by breaking boundaries to fit the creative niche they want to fill.
Dylan O’Bryan, a 21-year-old UF music composition senior, also hosts RadioGNV. Most students, he said, aren’t familiar with the creative hub Gainesville has attracted in the underground music scene.
“There's a renaissance happening right now,” O’Bryan said. “I wouldn't say a ton of people at UF know about it, that’s why I think this would be an interesting story and I would love to change that.”
A founding member of the band The Housing Crisis, O’Bryan hopes his segment will inspire other small artists to take their craft more seriously and open themselves to more illustrious opportunities, he said. He recalled smaller promotions, such as interviews with GHQ-FM, feeling bigger at the moment because it was exciting to feel like his work was taken seriously.
RadioGNV co-host and 4Bits Records co-founder Emily Smith’s segment will focus more on the retro aspects of the city’s music scene. The 2006 UF alum plans on digging past only recognizing Tom Petty and Sister Hazel as the hallmarks of Gainesville’s music scene.
“I was very involved in the music scene back then,” Smith said. “I have a kind of historical knowledge of the underground music scene — bands that have left and gone on to do very well in the indie world.”
Smith’s DJ sets will feature Gainesville-based bands like Less Than Jake, Morningbell and Rumbleseat for an inside look at how Gainesville has consistently, though discreetly, been an epicenter for cultural musical expression.
The curators of The Wombat bought a “We Are MusicGNV” compilation from MusicGNV, of which 100% of proceeds generated from sales were split between all contributing artists.
The nonprofit discovered some of the featured artists in the compilation through MusicGNV’s recording grant awarded yearly. In its mission to grow Gainesville’s music scene, the nonprofit offers the winning artists time to record at a professional studio.
Most recipients will leave the experience with at least two professionally recorded and mixed tracks. For a smaller artist or band that may not have high-quality portfolio material to show future producers, the grant is a tremendous starting point for local artists to refine their material and distinguish themselves from other hopefuls, Telg said.
Previous grant winners include Gainesville favorites rugh and Madwoman. The grant acts as a launching pad for many of the winners, polishing their existing work and offering opportunities for further growth and connections within their community.
The grant is offered quarterly with the last cycle every year focusing on hip-hop and rap artists.
A previous MusicGNV grant winner herself, Clifford encourages artists who take advantage of the wealth of available music distribution services, no matter how successful they may be at the beginning of their journey.
Clifford’s most streamed song on Spotify, “Earth My Body,” was recorded in 30 minutes with her sleeping daughter on her chest, and she didn’t even intend to record it professionally, she said. Now, with over 1.3 million streams, Clifford emphasizes the importance of releasing music for the artists’ own sake, rather than recognition or profit.
“It's a beautiful thing to contribute with soul to that patchwork,” Clifford said. “I encourage young, aspiring artists and musicians to work on that craft.”
Contact Loren at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LorenMiranda13.
Loren Miranda is a second-year journalism major and a staff writer for the Avenue. She is also a copy editor for Rowdy Magazine. When she's not writing, she enjoys watching either critically acclaimed films or cheesy reality TV, no in-betweens.