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Labor of love: Luxuria Music spins with all volunteers

January 18, 2013|By Steve Appleford, steve.appleford@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

In a small studio on the far edge of Glendale, a worldwide flow of music is in a moment of transition. On the turntable is a 45rpm disc of spectral, hypnotic sounds from 1980, as radio DJ Lee Joseph begins winding down his two-hour show on LuxuriaMusic.com. The record is “I’m Sorry,” a vinyl artifact of outsider music by the all-female art-punk band the Inflatable Boy Clams, a quartet as obscure as the music is exotic.

Standing just outside the doorway is Kat Griffin, whose “Madly Cocktail” show is up next. She’s brought about 200 jazz CDs with her. “Hey, Lee! Felacity played that on Saturday,” Griffin says with a laugh, mentioning Friday host Felacity Dickman. “Yeah, we were cracking up. It’s awesome.”

The studio at Luxuria Music is a one-room operation, in the corner of a suite of creative office space in the old Tropico neighborhood of Glendale. One soundproofed wall is covered in a black-and-white leopard print, and station banners designed by a pair of Disney artists (both fans of the station) hang nearby. The look and vibe of the space match the music being broadcast: mid-century sounds ready for the chill-out room, ranging from jazz and exotica to pop and early punk.

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“We’re preserving and presenting music to people that we’re all passionate about — we’re record collectors, historians, music geeks,” says Joseph, with black sideburns down to his chin and a necklace of stars dangling over his chest. He is also owner of the Burbank indie label Dionysus Records, and his radio playlist today was dedicated to female-fronted acts. “All of us believe it’s really important to preserve this music and keep it going. You always get new people hearing this old stuff.”

The move into this shiny studio three weeks ago represents a step-up for the all-volunteer station. Luxuria’s last studio was in a century-old apartment building near Dodger Stadium at the crossroads of the 5 and 2 Freeways and the Los Angeles River, an area known in some circles as a favorite spot to dump a body. In the next bedroom was a roommate and his dog.

“Nobody is getting paid here and they do it out of a labor of love,” says station owner Cliff Chase. “They give a lot of their time and they donate equipment because the station is so important to them.”

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