Radio magic

Into the Magic Soundbox builds atmosphere and raises CFRC’s profile in the community

Aleks Bragoszewska began Into the Magic Soundbox this past summer to encourage people to tune into CFRC.
Aleks Bragoszewska began Into the Magic Soundbox this past summer to encourage people to tune into CFRC.

Back in the 80s, Freddie Mercury and the boys of Queen threw down a track entitled “Radio Ga Ga.” The tune went to number one in Europe with the power line “Radio, someone still loves you.” Today, that someone is Aleksandra Bragoszewska, the business manager of CFRC. Bragoszewska, along with local artists and CFRC volunteers, is putting together the third instalment of Into the Magic Soundbox, an unlikely brainchild of an event. The aural experience invites listeners into a space where they’re cut off visually from a myriad of performers—poets, astronomers, composers, sound collage DJs to name a few. Bragoszewska explained the magic and motivation behind the live, radio-inspired mixed-bag of sound.

“I was frustrated with all the noise around us all the time. There aren’t spaces where you can just sit and listen so [with the Magic Soundbox] we’re falsely fabricating that space,” she said.

Bragoszewska’s vision with Magic Soundbox is to create an intimate, meditative zone in which audience members focus on listening—and only listening—for 45 minutes to an hour. Listeners sit inside a small room constructed of screens. Around the outside of the screens, performers play instruments, shuffling around audibly so blurring the line between audience and performer, all of which is to create a bit of a surreal feeling, Bragoszewska said.

“Some people get it and some people don’t.”

The first Magic Soundbox performance took the idea of having five radio channels—one with whale sounds, one with spoken word performance, among others—and flipped through them with static sound space in between each of the channels.

The second event incorporated both live musical performance and previously collected sound bytes from people telling stories about their experiences with radio. All of this was melded together to create some seriously sweeping soundscapes.

The third Into the Magic Soundbox seeks to relieve some of the audience discomfort experienced in the first and second Soundboxes. Bragoszewska said that some people didn’t know what to look at when there was no visual input.

“We’re moving away from just audio, building on the atmosphere. There’s going to be announcers narrating and performers bringing the visual element with shadow stories,” she said.

A big reason Into the Magic Soundbox is becoming such a success story is because of the people who work at and are associated with CFRC.

“CFRC is a place where a lot of creative people weave through, creative people who know other creative people,” Bragoszewska said.

And it’s in this way that the Soundbox has spread.

The idea initially came into being during a brainstorming session Bragoszewska had with a friend to find a new way to promote CFRC, to get the creativity at the station out of the basement of Carruther’s Hall and into the outside world.

“My interest in CFRC and Kingston is because of the communities that exist here and the crossovers in communities. A daring vision is to get the Soundbox to be a community that really crosses over, a place where the poets and musicians and puppeteers meet and interact with their art.”

When asked, in the words of Freddie Mercury, if radio really has yet to have its finest hour, Bragoszewska said she tries not to think about it.

“My interest is in community radio because it serves a minority of the population. I’m convinced that there will always be people interested in community radio.”

To keep the rad in radio, Bragoszewska and the folks at CFRC have kicked off the fourth annual funding drive. The game plan is to raise $18,000 in the 10 days between January 30 and February 8. While incorporating traditional fundraising methods such as phone-in pledges, the station is also hosting a Funding Drive Festival at the Grad Club tonight. The show will include performances by all-local acts such as False Face, the Gertrudes and Magic Jordan, as well as other bands from Apple Crisp Records. Proceeds from the Soundbox will also go toward the station’s fundraising efforts. The drive culminates next Saturday, Feb. 7, with a Soul Shakedown at Time to Laugh Comedy Club.

So when you—as the ever-prophetic Queen predicts—grow tired of all this visual overload, tune into CFRC and check out Into the Magic Soundbox for a dose of radio made new.

The CFRC funding drive is going on all week. Check out cfrcradio.com for more information.

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