The following interview is by RFB volunteer Samantha Ding.
RFB: Your new show on Radio Free Brooklyn, “Martinis con Queso,” is about lounge music and exotica?
VR: It’s about 1960’s lounge and exotica, music that’s both good for early morning cleaning but also chilling with drinks in the evening. It’s a funny genre I fell into in college.
RFB: Where did lounge and exotica originate and how would you describe the sound of it?
VR: Lounge music includes artists such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., but also includes people like Herb Alpert and Antonio Carlos Jobim, who are famous but not really big household names. It’s music that sounds like the canned music that’s in any movie/TV show set in the sixties–Mad Men is an example. The music puts you in the mood, and definitely transports you into that time. It’s the kind of genre that will put you into a mindset whether it’s upbeat and lively, for dancing and partying, but also includes stuff that’s more mellow, suitable for hosting a dinner party. I call the show “Martinis can Queso” because it’s a combination of music you can have a cocktail with–but it also can get fairly cheesy.
RFB: Could you speak a little bit about the special episodes you might have in your show?
VR: What is cool about this type of show is that there’s so much to do with it. There’s so many different types of lounge music: I could do a whole bossa nova show or only music from Brazil. But I really like collectives. Sergio Mendes is from Brazil and is part of collectives. Throughout the years they had Brasil ’66, ’67, and ’76, which were different iterations of the same huge collective. Doing theme shows on collective musicians and the tangential people related to them, along with tracing the evolution and the web of musicians that interact and work together is definitely something I will do.
RFB: How did you first get interested in lounge and exotica?
VR: I grew up in an inter-generational household, so my grandparents listened to this music. When Frank Sinatra died, there was a two-year period where on Sundays my Dad listened to Sinatra for most of the day. So I just grew up around it, but not in the depth to which I ended up getting into it. When I was in college I worked at a radio station and an iteration of this show was on the radio. Once I started hosting, I just got deeper and deeper into it.
RFB: How do you plan on formatting your show?
VR: When I make a set, I definitely acknowledge a mood or an occasion, informing my sets with what feels right at the moment and in a way that during the course of the show you can get all you need. When I previously hosted the show it was on Saturdays from 8 to 10 am. Then, I would generally start out super mellow and build up to a more excited feeling. I’ll be on Radio Free Brooklyn on Sunday nights now, so it would probably be the opposite of that: helping people wind down from their weekend and get through the “Sunday scaries.”
RFB: What are you most excited about for the upcoming year with Radio Free Brooklyn or with music in general?
VR: I’m excited to be part of the Radio Free Brooklyn community, including both people who work there and interacting with listeners. With music in general, I’ve been listening to Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” over and over for the last couple of years since it came out, and the same with Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer.” What makes me most excited about this year is that there’s a lot of amazing female artists that have paved the road for this year’s music to be really good. We have so much good energy in the music world right now, it makes me excited for what’s to come. And I think we are back in a world where music is a form of protest and it’s getting back to being political without being too overt.
I’m from Atlanta, so I love trap music and shitty rap music, but the fact that we’re getting back to the world where people are using hip-hop and all genres of music as a form of talking about political unrest is really exciting to me. When D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” came out as a very subtle “F.U.” to the world, I loved that!
Music is really becoming a place for people to disseminate how they feel and what they want to do about it. The cool thing about Radio Free Brooklyn (and radio in general), is that folks working in radio stations and media get to be the people helping put those messages out into the world.
Listen to Victoria Rey’s “Martinis Con Queso” Sundays at 9pm, starting January 27!