John Richards: My idea was to treat [Midnight in a Perfect World] like a live-band session and give [DJs] a chance to create on the air.
  • KEXP
  • John Richards: "My idea was to treat [Midnight in a Perfect World] like a live-band session and give [DJs] a chance to create on the air."

KEXP is launching a new weekly show February 21 called Midnight in a Perfect World (yes, it’s Richards's homage to the dreamily funky DJ Shadow track). Slated to air every Friday at midnight, the program will feature a different guest DJ each week spinning a one-hour set. KEXP associate program director/The Morning Show DJ John Richards, who conceived the idea, will select the DJs. The plan is for both local and out-of-town musicians and DJs to appear on Midnight in a Perfect World. (Some sets will be prerecorded; some will be done live.) Decibel Festival founder Sean Horton—aka Nordic Soul—will be the first guest DJ. After the jump, I talk to Richards and Horton about how Midnight in a Perfect World came to be and what's on the horizon for this intriguing concept.

When asked what was the impetus for the show was, Richards says, "I came up with the idea because I'm always trying to think of ways to get more voices, more music and more mixes on the air. I was also inspired by Michele Myers, who does our Friday night show and just how perfect her vibe is for a Friday night, followed by Alex [Ruder] who does the show after. They are completely different shows and mixes, but I think just define a Friday night/Saturday morning. The other inspiration was all the live sessions we have here. We have over 500 a year from artists and bands, but not many DJs, so my idea was to treat it like a live-band session and give them a chance to create on the air and in this case for at least an hour instead of 20 minutes or so for a band." Ruder will host "Midnight" and he is credited as co-producer with Richards.

What are the guidelines for DJs doing this show? Is it anything goes, stylistically? "The guideline for who does the show are DJs, musicians, artists that are out mixing music in front of people," Richards says. "Be it an established international DJ, a local DJ or a musician who DJs out, we want these different creative mixes to be heard. One of the only guidelines for the sound is that it's live on a Friday night, so we want it to fit that vibe, but it is not genre-specific, and like our other shows, all songs picked by the DJ so, yeah, anything goes!"

Richards thinks that Midnight in a Perfect World will complement KEXP's other in-studio sessions. "It's another new and creative voice that you wouldn't hear otherwise on the station. It’s great to look outside of not just KEXP but Seattle and beyond to hear what other people are mixing and what they want people to hear. So a DJ in Iceland is going to be vastly different then one here in Seattle and another in London, etc."

So far, KEXP has booked DJs through early May. After Nordic Soul, the lineup includes Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard (2/28), Sophisticated Mama resident DJ Nitty Gritty (3/7), Portland producer DJ Gigs/Natasha Kmeto (3/14), Scottish JD Twitch of Optimo (3/21), President Bongo of Icelandic group Gus Gus (3/28), +Plus resident DJ Miss Shelrawka (4/3), Seattle producer Lusine (4/18), New York's Ursula 1000/Alex Gimeno, and Long Beach, California's Yppah/Joe Corrales Jr. (5/8). "We plan on having local DJs on at least once a month, if not more," says Richards, "and continue to reach out around the world to get the best voices out there on the air. Later, these will all be posted on KEXP so people can hear each session."

Pondering Midnight in a Perfect World's long-range plans, Richards says that the station will continue "to expand who we have come in, as I don't have plans to have resident DJs on the show right now, and we also hope to expand these mixes live on the air and live out in public. One way we know we can do that is in the new space. Just imagine in our open gathering space of having Michele rock your Friday night and then one of our midnight DJs coming in for another hour live on the air followed by Alex to finish the night off... all within the KEXP home."

Sean Horton is planning a set of unconventional, obscure, love-oriented music for the
  • Kelly O
  • Sean Horton is planning a set of unconventional, obscure, love-oriented music for the Midnight in a Perfect Worldd debut.

As for Horton, he discovered KEXP (then KCMU) during a 1995 road trip and became hooked while listening to Larry Rose's show. "I remember him playing Portishead," Horton recalls, "which immediately caught my attention. I've been a fan of the station ever since."

For "Midnight"'s inaugural broadcast, the veteran DJ/producer's planned a special 20-30-track set. "I honestly don't recall ever contemplating what to play more than I am for this Midnight in a Perfect World kick-off show," Horton relates. "After much deliberation, I've decided to try something I've never done before and go with a theme of 'love.' It's a subject I have grappled with greatly over the past year. Though it's quite common in popular music, I'm going to attempt to mine for more obscure artists. I've also elected to perform live on the air and improvise across a wide selection of genres, ranging from soul to ambient to techno to house, to hiphop."

Midnight in a Perfect World will be available on-demand from the archive at You can also tune in to KEXP in the Seattle area at 90.3FM.