MD of the MONTH

Omar Husain

CJLO Montreal

How did you first hear about CJLO?

I got into public and campus/community radio when I was in high school while trying to find cool and different things to listen to so by the time I got to Concordia University I basically searched out what was affiliated with where I was studying.

How long have you been at CJLO? What is your history there?

I’ve been here for a very long time ago, from a galaxy far away.

What are you most proud of accomplishing/changing at CJLO?

Before I became the music director, there was a guy on air before me who’d play Mark Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”, Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had a Million Dollars”, and Van Halen’s “Right Now” – WEEKLY (real current/forward thinking picks there…). I pushed to change the entire music programming mandate for the station as a whole to ensure that we supported new music from non-commercial artists. Other neato things: I got to introduce Superchunk to the stage at a show CJLO put on, and I was one of two CJLOers invited to represent Canada at the inaugural International Radio Festival in Zurich, both of those were huge honours.

How does CJLO make itself known throughout Montreal? What sort of things do you do to connect with the community?

Aside from the usual ways like promoting local musicians and their music, we have a show that specifically is there to do just that as well as feature local businesses, artists, and community organizations and initiatives. We also regularly host fundraisers and events for local food depots and charities. We also try to stay active with what’s going on with the arts scene and music community by being visible at events, shows, and festivals. Being involved with and supporting our community is a very important part of what CJLO does.

What do you love most/dislike most about Montreal?

Like: Low cost of living, arts friendly community, excellent food, an abundance of culture, another primary language, and it’s pretty nice to look at. There’s always a lot of things to do here, especially in the summer during festival season.
Dislike: The absurd politics of this province, and the harsh freezing grasp of our winters.

What artist/band have you heard for the first time this year that has impressed you the most?

Bleach Bath is a new band from Toronto that plays a Hum-meets-Nothing-style post-hardcore bludgeoning of shoegaze that I adore. They’ve got a couple things up on their bandcamp right now that are massive sounding spacey songs that still manage to be hooky – check out their single “Galaxie 420” or the track “Worse” from their Demo EP. And I recently stumbled on an ambient/drone/electronic artist named Brock Van Wey who put out a 4xLP set called White Clouds Drift On and On in 2013 unbeknownst to me, and who also puts out (a lot of) stuff under the name bvdub, which he recently released a new record under called Heartless. It’s really dense yet airy, atmospheric stuff that has a strong sense of melody and drama to it. All highly recommended stuff.

Do you have a favorite artist or album you never get tired of listening to?

Drive Like Jehu’s “Yank Crime”. All day, all night, forever. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

What is your favorite live show you have ever attended?

I can’t really narrow this down, but a few ones that stick out are: Seeing the Afghan Whigs at the legendary Apollo in NYC was a real special night; enjoying a sonic pounding from My Bloody Valentine followed by waiting in the rain like total nerds to meet them with Chad Peck of Kestrels/We Need Secrets/Noyes Records who flew in for basically 12 hours just for the show; Spiritualized at Massey Hall in Toronto was absolutely beautiful, and catching Failure at Irving Plaza in NYC for an insanely cheap price (I think we paid like $2 off of Stub Hub) on their first bout of reunion dates, and then later again in Boston with Hum were all shows that really stick out. But if I had to pick a show that really had a profound effect on me, it’d probably be seeing Rhys Chatham perform “Guitar Trio” in Montreal on a lark when a friend suggested I join him saying that it ‘would totally be your kind of thing”. He was right, it 100% was.

What’s the best gift anyone has ever given you?

My dad got me a Nintendo when I was very young that my sister said elicited tears of joy, so that was pretty rad. My friend Tenni recently gave me an old guitar that was signed by the Pixies back in the day, that was pretty insane. The best though was from my wife, who gave me “her hand in marriage”…AWWWWWWWW

If you could choose, what time period in the past would you most want to travel back to and visit?

Maybe the 30s cuz people dressed really nicely back then and now people don’t even iron their clothes, shine their shoes, or wear a belt. What the hell, people, WEAR A DAMN BELT. I dunno really…I’d probably go back and give Young Omar some insider information

Do you have a favorite restaurant in town you always make sure to take guests/visitors to?

Not necessarily my fave, but I do tend to always take out-of-towners to this great vegan place called Aux Vivres. It’s basically delicious for anyone regardless of your dietary restrictions, even for the skeptics who hate vegan food, so it’s a pretty easy catch-all to take a bunch of out-of-towners to and ensure everyone has a satisfying meal. They did get rid of my fave sammich there though, and that still bums me out…

What’s the one thing you can’t do without?

Oxygen. That’s pretty high on the list. I’d say food and water, but I keep it pretty real during Ramadan, sooooo….

Lightning Round:

Dog or Cat?
I am a friend to the entire animal kingdom.
Coke or Pepsi?
I am a friend to the entire sodee kingdom.
Morning Person or Night Owl?
I am what is needed of me.
City or Country?
Depends, but city mostly – I’m a city boy. Unless animals are involved. I go where the animals are. We have a park here in the summer that has sheep grazing, I LOVE sheep.
Watch TV or Read A Book?
Both, depending on my mood, but lately I’ve been zoning out in front of the TV vs tackling the stack of books I’ve been making my way through.
Sunny or Rainy?
Sunny, I HATE the rain. I’d even go so far to say that I prefer snow to rain. Sunny > Snow > Rain. Seriously, rain sucks. Big-time.
Dine or Delivery?
Dine. Or better yet, fine dining. Let’s class this up, my babies.
Beard or Clean Shaven?
Depends on A) how lazy I am, B) how cold I am, or C) a combination of A and B.
Pants or Shorts?
Pants. What kinda man wears shorts, amirite!?

Do you have any current favorite TV show obsessions?

The Leftovers – Carrie Coon is a national treasure; Mr. Robot has been doing wonders for my technological paranoid worldview; the unfortunately now dearly departed Carmichael Show; and I tend to watch the news daily which is getting increasingly depressing with every day so I should probably stop doing that, right?

And finally, and most importantly, Coconut: Tasty? Disgusting? Discuss.

Coconut is alright, depending on how it’s prepared. My mom would make this amazing Indian dessert with coconut that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of except that I’d call it “Coconut Candy” when I was a kid (I was apparently very literal as a child with my descriptions…). Coconut water however is pretty gross. But when you break that name down you get two things I REALLY love: cocoa and nuts. I am pretty much addicted to chocolate, and I do love me some almonds and cashews. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate? And nuts are a good source of protein which is good for your body and I am trying (and failing) these days to eat healthier. So I guess you could say I think cocoa and nuts are very tasty. I literally just ate some almonds and I think I’m going to go pour myself a mug o’ chocolate milk right now, thank you very much. Sorry, what was the question?