The CSRA is willing to support only so many genres of music — a fact most recently demonstrated by effectively aborting the only rock station in town. Among other less mainstream genres is electronic dance music, most often the soundtrack of raves and clubs and far removed from the twangy country sounds so loved by many music fans in Augusta.
Home to top pop hits, HD 98.3 is paving the way for more eclectic musical tastes and genres, including house, bass and trance. At the fore of this progressive programming is Alan Linhart, an experienced DJ who goes by the names DJ Zarbizarre and Cereal Killaz. Alan has been instrumental in helping the station reach a niche audience — those who love dance music.
Skeptics claim electronic dance music isn’t truly music. Alan would argue otherwise.
As a child, Alan learned to play several instruments including guitar, bass, trumpet and piano — it was the start of a lifetime of making music. Now a veteran of two decades of EDM, Alan says he started getting into the dance music scene and DJing so that he could hear what his music sounded like.
“It’s the best way to hear it — to hear what your music sounds like — just get out into a venue and play it loud.”
His first gig was in 2001 at a rave in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Alan ended up running the room for the entire night. As his popularity grew, Alan made a lot of contacts in the world of EDM, propelling him into the scene and leading to his first record with a UK label.
Released under the Cereal Killaz moniker, the single was reviewed by DJ Mag who called the track “innovative break beat” — an accolade noted by European EDM producers, particularly in Spain. The single was also picked up by the UK’s beloved Radio One radio DJ Annie Nightingale, who repeatedly listed Cereal Killaz as one of the top international breaks DJs.
Alan’s portfolio is extensive — he spins multiple genres of music, mixing with a style he calls “harmonic mixing”; focusing on the underlying key of the songs as well as the beats to smoothly blend otherwise diametrically opposing sounds and artists.
For instance, in one mix, Zarbizarre can transition from Bruce Springsteen to Pitbull to Coldplay without any disruption or jarring. With the help of an expansive catalogue and database spanning six decades of music, Alan uses the accessibility of international music to his advantage.
“The development of the world wide web has helped this genre so much,” he said. “You have a vast culmination of musical knowledge on your phone — it’s so accessible. Anybody can discover something fresh — it’s right there in your pocket.”
After years of traveling and DJing, Alan took a break from the scene and started focusing more on recording. His first foray into radio was with an internet radio station called Breaks FM, an award-winning station inspired by hip hop and UK rave music that can still be found online today.
Eventually, his path led him to Augusta, where he settled down and successfully applied for the job of webmaster with Beasley. It didn’t take long for his talents as a DJ to become recognized, and soon he became a strong part of HD’s team, helping them start their weekend kickoff mix Fridays at 5 p.m.
Alan also took on the Friday night spot FreQuency! — previously known as the Friday Night Megamix — which delivers top 40 remixes and “the hottest dance, Drum & Bass, breaks and EDM.” The show is from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. and says Kris Fisher, programming director for HD 98.3, “Alan is a huge asset to have. He is a very skilled DJ, and not many radio stations have their own in-house DJ. The response we have received has been very positive.”
Evidently, the listeners believe this DJ has chops. Zarbizarre is one of only three Georgia-based DJs selected by listeners to be awarded the title official Kidd Nation DJ. It’s an accolade Alan is proud to add to his resume.
It also validates his relevance in the scene — not that he really needs any help. Zarbizarre still fills up any venue that will have him.
“There just isn’t an outlet here,” he said. “That’s why I’m happy to be on the air introducing people to something they can’t hear anywhere else in Augusta. Every other town, there’s somewhere, a club or something that has dance music. The stuff in Atlanta is awesome, but Augusta is so crazy, it doesn’t have anything.”
Hopefully things will change. If venues in the CSRA will welcome the scene, Alan believes they will pull in the crowds who otherwise head out to Atlanta or Columbia for a night out. “There’s a pretty core underground scene here. A lot of it can be found in the people who are under 21.”
The under-21 argument has been raised time and time again. There is nowhere for underage adults to go since Sector 7 closed its doors a few years ago. Promoters, musicians and DJs are all crying out for an under-21 venue because they know a demand exists. Under-21 doesn’t have to mean children; it just means they cannot buy alcohol. However, if alcohol cannot be purchased, most venues don’t want to be bothered.
“When I try to get people to come to events, I get a lot of people telling me they can’t come because they aren’t yet 21,” he said. “We need an outlet for people to come enjoy dance music. Here they just put a new club in an old club and it doesn’t build up any hype — it doesn’t welcome the people who want to dance.”
In the meantime, Alan is staying focused on his audience.
“Sky City is great and I love playing there, but we need more club owners to be more open-minded and give EDM a chance,” he said. “We really need people to support our shows. That’s why 95 Rock is gone — all these people that were saying they wanted their rock. Well, where were you when rock was here? I don’t want to be saying that about dance music a year or two down the road.”