At first glance, Drew Wilson seems like a pretty normal guy.
Most of the time Wilson is a friendly cashier/sandwich maker at Lee Street Deli in East Campus. He chats with customers, gives treats to the dogs that venture by with their owners, watches the Cardinals play baseball on the TV in the seating area and of course, makes food, all with a smile on his face the whole time. But if you take more than a passing glance at Wilson, you’ll notice he has much more to offer than his culinary skills.
When night falls, he becomes Drew Wilson no more, transforming into a mix-master DJ, better known as Alpaca Radio. Alpaca Radio takes songs from indie bands across the country and mixes them into one long, hour-plus track.
“I started out a year ago, since March,” Wilson says. “I just put out digital mixtapes. There’s no actual copies or units to move.”
Because he’s young, only 25, all of Wilson’s music is pretty low budget. His newest mix, “LoFi Gluttony” is available on his MySpace page. Wilson seems a little embarrassed that to download his track you actually have to copy and paste the download link to your Web browser, instead of just pressing “download.” But the song is free, and anyone with basic computer skills can figure it out.
“I want people to get off of commercial music,” he says.
Along with his mix, Wilson provides links to all of the bands whose music is featured in the track Web sites, so listeners can go to the artists’ site and see what else they have to offer.
“I’m giving away music people need to hear, things they never would have heard,” Wilson says. “It’s a vehicle for musicians.”
Wilson has provided music for people ever since he was in middle school. Back in those awkward years, he was a little more low-tech than he is now. He used to make mixed cassette tapes and give them to girlfriends and other friends. Wilson remembers a kind of embarrassing time in eighth grade, when his music gave him a reputation. A fellow student came up to Wilson and asked him if he would make him a mix tape. Wilson was pretty excited to do it, so he spent time perfecting this mix before handing it over. The next week in school, the student came up to him to thank him for the tape and to tell him that everyone loved it.
At first, Wilson was confused about what this fellow was talking about. But then realization hit.
“He had me make a tape for his party and didn’t even invite me,” Wilson says with mock sadness.
He holds no grudges and understands that middle schoolers sometimes do silly things.
Some may consider his DJ name to be equally silly, but not if you consider his the previous name. Wilson believes that to be a “real” DJ, you have got to have a fun name. One of his friends uses the name “Bruce Banner,” after The Hulk’s alter-ego.
“I needed a suitable cartoon name to battle him, so I came up with ‘Jon Arbuckle,’” he says.
Arbuckle is the guy in the Garfield comic strips, and right now he’s regaining fame on the hilarious site www.garfieldminusgarfield.com. Wilson soon decided the name was just too silly, though, so he later decided on “Alpaca Radio.”
The name is a combination of two things he loves. Wilson thinks alpacas are awesome because he they look like a fuzzy mixture of a sheep and a giraffe, and the radio part is in the name because his dream is to have a radio channel that streams online, much like www.pandora.com.
Wilson has come a long way from being the guy in class with kick-ass music tastes.
“I started off with live shows, the first at an open-mic night at Sapphire Lounge,” Wilson says. “Since then it’s been Mojo’s, The Blue Fugue and house parties.”