This story is featured in CityBeat's Nov. 15 print edition.
In 2017, Multimagic founder Coran Stetter created indie internet radio station Inhailer (90.9 HD-3 on the radio) to fill the void WOXY and WNKU left behind.
“At that time we really didn't have a business plan or anything,” Stetter said. “It was very DIY and it still is, but it was just very general.”
Comprised of volunteer DJs and staff, Inhailer has to fundraise in order to support its infrastructure. In 2019 they hosted their first benefit, in the fall. Inspired took place at the Southgate House Revival and had 15 local bands play on three different stages. The bands played songs that “inspired” them, but also original songs. Unlike WNKU’s annual Catfish Ball — which inspired the Inspired event — Stetter was adamant about adding original songs to the set lists.
“What I noticed was all the local bands that played, it was fun that they dressed up as another band and played as another band,” he said. “There was a fair amount of people, maybe 600, 700 people, and the local bands didn't get to play any of their great original music to that big of a crowd,” he said. “Most of those bands, if not all of those bands, don't usually get to play to that size of the audience. Although it was a fun event and it was good for the radio station, I felt like as someone who's in a band and looks through it from both perspectives — even though I didn't play that event — I felt like when we were thinking about doing an event in 2019, it was like, well, I want this to be primarily an original music event.”
The money raised in 2019 kept them afloat through the pandemic. But in order to nurture the station, they’d like to raise $10,000 by the end of November. “We felt like it was time to bring the event back,” he said. “We have written a two-year plan to move from just our shoestring budget to trying to actually grow and build into an actual sustainable model.”
This year’s Inspired fundraiser will take place at Woodward Theater on Nov. 24 and 25.
Donuts N’ Akahol founder Graval Baehr will MC both nights, and several vendors will be on hand. Bands will play a couple of covers and also their own music. For instance, TasteFull might play an Alice in Chains song. Boy Bandicoot will play “Reptilia” by the Strokes. Multimagic plans on covering L.A. band Surf Curse’s viral hit “Disco.”
“It's a really emotional song, but the lyrics have this, really, sweetness to them,” Stetter said. “The song is very catchy. The aesthetic — it just feels very like something Multimagic would aspire to write. It's a very anthemic song, but the lyrics have an emotional quality to it. My goal when I'm writing music is always to either move people emotionally or move them physically by dancing or nodding their head. And this song does both.”
Each night will feature a headliner playing a full set. Coastal Club, a local band that now lives in Nashville, will headline the first night.
“They had some success in 2020,” Stetter said. “They have a song called ‘Honey’ that blew up on Spotify. It’s approaching 10 million streams. It's insane. And what's crazy is they've not released new music since then and they've not really played live or done a tour to support that success. They really are in this kind of interesting moment where they're preparing new music, and they really are trying to dive into the analytics and figure out they actually have legitimate fans.”
The Yugos will headline the next night, which will be a full-circle moment for them.
“Two weeks before WNKU announced that they were going to be sold, the Yugos had their album release show at the Woodward,” he said. “I'm pretty sure they’re the only band that's not a Heartless Bastards or higher band that can claim that they've sold out the Woodward. That show was largely a combination of WNKU from 2015 to 2017. And so to find out two weeks later we were going to be losing WNKU, that was honestly the big inspiration for starting Inhailer Radio. We couldn’t let what happened with WOXY and then have this void for several years happen again with WNKU.”
Diversity is also important to Inhailer.
“No one on this lineup is token, but we are excited about the diverse voices and fans that we've got here,” he said. “If nothing else, Inhailer is a community of like-minded people. There's diversity of thought, but there's this understanding of humanity and art and culture are important.”
Bucking the banality of corporate radio is also important.
“I think it's mostly obvious to people that if you listen to corporate radio, it's pretty bland,” he said. “That doesn't mean that there's not a lot of great music being made, but it definitely can feel formulaic. It definitely can get tiresome, whereas with independent or indie radio, you're going to get more interesting music and smaller artists. You're going to get stuff that is sometimes a little more challenging to listen to. It might not hit you right away, but upon a few repeat listens, you might start to get it.”
Inhailer continues the tradition of extinct fests like MidPoint Music Festival and Bunbury, which focused on local artists alongside national acts. Like the radio station, Inspired Indie Fest wants to uplift the ever-changing local music scene.
“For me, this event is kind of trying to bring a bunch of these bands together and support each other and play together, hopefully to cross-pollinate friendships and audiences and kind of go into 2024 with, alright, let's keep it going,” Stetter said. “Moonbeau just released a new EP. It's fantastic. Like I said, the Coastal Club's preparing new music. I think 2024 will be a really interesting time to see where everything grows.”
Inhailer Music Fest Nov. 24 lineup:
This Pine Box
Inspired Music Fest takes place Nov. 24 and 25 at Woodward Theater. Info: woodwardtheater.com.
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