Fault Radio Opens Music Clubhouse in San Francisco Chinatown – KQED | Candle Made Easy

Kohli became involved with Fault after losing his job as a booker at nightclub Public Works during the initial COVID-19 shutdowns of 2020. As the pandemic began, Fault Radio kept its momentum alive by streaming DJs spinning records in their homes. When some small businesses were able to reopen due to public health restrictions, they organized broadcasts from record shops and restaurants. The list eventually grew to around 120 locations in the Bay Area, Portland, Los Angeles, and even a few international locations.

Since then, Fault Radio’s programming has expanded from five or six regular streams to a busy schedule of 30 shows covering genres like G-funk, drum and bass, footwork, and soulful house. “When you come to play at Fault, we bring you here to express yourself artistically and creatively,” says Kohli.

Station manager Mohit Kohli (left) speaks with DJ partners April Garcia and Veronica Garcia during a live video streaming session at Fault Radio’s new physical location in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood July 13, 2022. April and Veronica go Mami during Motown and Vero G. over her set, Stoned Soul. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

All of Fault Radio’s DJ sets are archived on its website, which also includes articles featuring local artists and labels. The station doesn’t measure success by numbers or views, giving DJs the freedom to dig deep into niche genres and shine a spotlight on specific subcultures.

For Vero G., who grew up listening to oldies in San Francisco’s lowrider scene, stoned soul is a way of passing on the music and culture of her parents and grandparents. “We keep the music alive, we keep it going,” says Vero G., whose real name is Julia Veronica Garcia. “And it’s for the next generation. That’s how I see it. I am leaving a small piece for my grandchildren.”

Given the changes and displacement in her hometown, Vero G. says she appreciates Fault Radio’s inclusivity. “It’s something new that brings a lot of people together, a lot of different cultures, a lot of different music, different people,” she says. “It’s for everyone.”

Veronica Garcia takes a record off the turntable during a live video stream at Fault Radio’s new physical location in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood. She and friend April Garcia walk past Vero G. and Motown Mami during their set Stoned Soul. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

For Vero’s DJ partner Motown Mami, Fault Radio provided a much-needed sense of community. “During the pandemic it was isolating. Especially as a single person,” says the artist, whose real name is April Garcia. “It was really nice that we could still connect with soul music. So I’m really happy to be here in the flesh. … It’s the music; it’s the food and the people to see, the laughter; it’s the beers – it’s everything. It’s definitely a vibe.”

This unpretentious atmosphere is exactly what Fault Radio’s founders, Dor Wand and Dundee Maghen, wanted to create when they launched the station four years ago. Both originally from Israel, Wand lived in London for 9 years where he worked for influential independent label Ninja Tune, whose artists include Bonobo and Kelis. When Wand arrived in San Francisco, he was surprised to find a music scene that had been marginalized despite the city’s turbulent arts and counterculture history.

“We asked ourselves, how can we change that narrative from ‘The artist is the victim of the bay’ to ‘The heroic artists of the bay’?” he says. “Because if you can make art in the Bay Area — it’s such an expensive place, so you need a damn medal.” It’s hard work. It’s actually a lot easier to be an artist in LA or New York because there’s a supportive environment.”

Taewook Lucas Kang, also known by his DJ name 3kelves, watches a record during a DJ set at Fault Radio in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Fault has played its part in building this support network. Taewook Lucas Kang, aka disco and house DJ/producer 3kelves, says he’s found it difficult to break into electronic music without connections. His luck turned when he coldly emailed Fault Radio, which got him his first show in just two weeks. In the three years since, he’s secured local and international bookings, made contacts with labels and collaborators, and eventually quit his job to focus on music full-time.

“Fault Radio really opened everything up for me,” he says. “I keep telling everyone Fault Radio is the best thing that’s happened to the Bay Area, period.”

Fault Radio founders Wand and Maghen have since left the Bay Area. Maghen moved back to Israel but still helps with writing grants. Based in Los Angeles, Wand is still involved in operations, with station manager Kohli and art director Ryan Ormsby assuming on-site responsibility. Now that the space is open, they want to turn it into a community center with educational workshops, panels, and other events.

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