Tune in to Hollow Earth Radio, and your ears could happen upon anything from a squealing free-jazz saxophone solo to an interview with Pete Best, your favorite local surf band to a block of obscure Northwest hiphop, and everything in between. And I do mean everything. You can even call the voice-mail line and record your troubles, drunk dials, paranormal encounters, and public service announcements to be aired.
Founded by Garrett Kelly and Amber Kai Morgan in 2007, the online-only, free-form, nonprofit, all-volunteer-all-the-time operation's commitment to weird and wonderful sounds culminates every March with a month of weekend shows called Magma Festival. Offering hiphop, hardcore, garage, pop, experimental, punk, loud, quiet, young, old—it's a sonic buffet for every taste imaginable, and they never book the same band twice.
Six years of Magma has resulted in spectacular shows, appearances from hard-to-track-down outsider celebrities, insane dreams that came true, and the time that even cops surrounding the building could not stop the dance party. I interviewed Kelly about what makes Magma and how it's only getting more out-there.
When did Magma Festival start? What was the first one like?
The first Magma Festival was in 2008. At the time, Hollow Earth Radio had zero dollars, so we were looking for a way to have the radio station start paying for itself. We threw a bunch of benefit shows over the course of one month to cover the costs. We were incredibly overzealous. I think we had something like 15 shows every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and maybe a Sunday, too. It was crazy. We almost died. Magma is no longer a benefit or fundraiser, but we do collect donations at the door, and we'd love to give folks a nice little receipt for a tax write-off. A substantial amount of the money the radio station uses to get by—rent, web hosting, basic equipment, toilet paper—comes from donations at events.