DJ of the Week – Max Rose Gawin

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Max Gawin

DJ: Max Rose Gawin

Genre: Specialty

Show: “Hey, Listen!” on Saturdays from 1-3pm

Year: Junior

Major: History with a minor in GQS

Hometown: Chicago


Tell me a little bit about your show.

I play videogame soundtracks, and each week is a different genre of soundtrack, for example these past two weeks I have had shows that are centered around “Spoopy” music, and “Spooky” music. I differentiate those with one [Spoopy] being about “Luigi’s Mansion”, so it’s more kid friendly and ambient, whereas “Spooky” is more heart-pounding, oh-my-god-when’s-the-next-jump-scare-gonna happen, lost, terrified, music. Then there will be days when I’m more focused on Legend of Zelda, and I go through the evolution of how the main theme has changed over the different iterations of the game.


Are you more interested in playing music from traditional video games, or more recent games?

I definitely play a lot of music from games that I have played in the last couple of years, but then there are some games that I know I will never play, because of some to the content in it, but I love the music regardless, so I find a lot of the music through my sister, who plays a lot of video games. She’ll be like “Hey, you should never ever play this game, because you won’t like it, because of various reasons BUT  the music is bomb and you need it on your show”. So then that’s how I play a lot of music from different representations, and games, instead of just playing Persona’s music over and over again.


When did you get into playing video games?

I think as a little kid, I followed my older sibling around a lot, and because she was gifted with all these older games, because she is two years older, I would sit an watch with her. I’m actually more into watching people play video games, than actually playing the games myself, and I don’t know what that says about me, but if I sit down and play a game, it has to be a very easygoing game. Anyways, I started playing my own games when I was given the Wii, and then the really old DS.


An underrated gaming system.

So underrated.


What was the game that sparked your interest in video game soundtracks?

I have to say, I think that was Persona 3, because that was the first time, my friend took the controller from me, because I was borrowing his game, and he said “I want you to listen to this music”, and the character sat in this classroom, and we just sat on his bed jamming out to the music, and that was the first time I was like “Huh, soundtracks are pretty cool”, and I wouldn’t have noticed this, but it makes the school much more lively. Like, the school is school, and it makes the setting much more realistic, and it makes you connect more with the character. That was senior year of high school, and after that I started paying much more attention to the soundtracks in movies, and TV shows, and videogames, and paying attention to how the subtlety makes a really big difference, like when a chord is stuck in the background, when someone is like “Everything is hopeful!”, it just made that emotion come much more alive, and so Persona 3 is the game that started all that, which is why I have such a connection to it.


So earlier, you were talking about the themes of your shows, how do you choose a theme?

So, the way I go around picking a theme is essentially, I wait until Friday night, and then I think “Hm, what do I feel like this week?”, or I ask friends like “If you have any suggestions, hand them off to me”, but like, one of the first shows I did, I ended up having it be called “Coffee Shop”. I don’t know how my  brain made the connection of electro-swing remixes of video game soundtracks equals coffee shop, but it happened and my brain was having it, and was like “YES I LIKE THIS”. So I was like, “Cool”, and I found so many cool artists just by searching “Electro-swing” or like jazz remixes of these songs from soundtracks or whatnot, and so I played a few variants from Undertale. It was interesting to see, though it was still electro-swing, how the original soundtrack was still kept, and the meaning of the song, and what was happening at that moment, so that was really cool.

Anyways, with themes I usually allow myself a show that has all my favorite songs, doesn’t matter what genre they are, doesn’t matter if they are 16-bit or electronic, or if its orchestra, I’m just gonna play everything I want. But I also try to do shows like “Boss-Battle Music”, so it will have music from Kirby and Bloodborne, or “Rainy Day Music”, or “Hard Electronic” or “Ambient”, which actually has been part of my “Spooky” theme these past two weeks.

Also, what I have been listening to in the past week, because I still listen to a lot of the soundtracks in my own time, and I just kinda see what I’m feeling, what I’m gravitating towards, and from there I’ll build a playlist off of like, one song, or two or three songs with the same feeling, and I’ll just think “How can I put this into a playlist, and how do I make it all make sense?”


So, what’s your favorite game right now?

Night in the Woods. You play as Mae, who is this anthropomorphic cat girl, and you find out through various storytelling that she comes home, from college, because she dropped out since she couldn’t handle the stress, and so she assumes things are going to go back to the way that they were. Anyways, there’s this underlying mystery, and something is off about the town, but it’s mostly about coming to terms with yourself, and coming to terms with how the universe works, and how other people function, and how you grow up, and what happens when you go off to college, and then come back and your friends have changed, like they’ve all gotten jobs, and grown up, and moved out. And learning to just live and to be an adult, and exist. It’s really fun because it’s interspersed with this whole mystery of a cult, and you, as the character, experience these weird nightmares and dreams, and it is beautiful storytelling. I also like the soundtrack, the soundtracks good.


What is your favorite thing about being a DJ for KUPS?

I think it’s moments like this, where you sit down with another DJ, or even going in and out of the booth, and you say “How did your show go?”, and they say “Oh we talked about this” or “Oh I played this music”. And it’s nothing big, nothing major, just little discussions, and you kinda get to see their inspirations, and you can see them around and talk to them about their show, or be like “Hey I got a suggestion for you!”, and you talk about it. And it’s this nice little community that can happen. Also, I like the blacklight in the booth. I like the booth. I like the people and I like the booth.


It was really awesome to get to talk to Max this week about her show, and even after the interview ended, speak a little bit about her interest in videogames and music. I’m really excited to listen to “Hey, Listen!” this week on Saturday at 1, and I hope you are too!

(Interview by Liv Sage, Social Media Director)