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Magpies Mix Tape: Big Ears

Music has always been a major factor in my life. When I was a kid I tried to learn to play an instrument. I just couldn’t do the practice. There was never much competition between drawing + playing music. Drawing came easy. It didn’t require practice. (future self has a hardy laugh)

I did acquire big ears. I listened to music as much as I could. I really got into prog rock in my teens. also, was exposed to jazz and contemporary composers. 

The Aimless Ones

In college, punk rock saved me from bands like Foreigner, Charlie Daniels Band, Boston, Kansas, etc. I was inspired by the DYI aspect of punk. I fronted a band. I wrote lyrics, sang (if you could call it that), and generally jumped around a lot. Music, much like visual arts, didn’t have rules, or if they did you could smash them. 

In graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, we had a multi-track recording studio. more opportunities to mess about with sound and formed another band with a friend.

We went to see a ton of bands – mostly in small clubs. We saw the Ramones on their first US tour. Probably the single best show I have ever been to was the Stiff Records tour with Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Nick Lowe & Rockpile, and Mink DeVille all on the same bill!

After graduate school my musical aspirations withered. I got serious about being a visual artist with punk sensibilities. Everything focused on the work and getting people’s eyeballs in front of it. I didn’t care about sales. I’m not much of a “careerest” but my younger self would be shocked at who I’ve become (Gallery representation? What is wrong with you? You’re part of the system!).


Fast forward a couple of decades. Still going out to see live bands in small clubs (pre-covid). Seems like everyone is still the same age except for me. Now I’m one of the “old guys” that stands at the back of the room. No moshing no more.

The big ears have always been of service. I have a gigantic music collection. I even dabbled a bit with recording some of my own audio works (check out the two works by Shark Bait). I was a volunteer at KFJC, Foothill College’s radio station. You can listen to them online at KFJC.org. They’re terrific 100% listener supported and all volunteer radio. I cannot recommend them enough. 

I wanted to put together a playlist that was a bit of what you might hear if you had tuned into one of my broadcasts. I always tried to do something jarring and random at the station. easy to do with access to so much music. This mix is coming from my collection of music and I have nowhere near that many recordings in my collection. I hope you find a few things you’ve not heard before – maybe a surprise or two.

Foothill College owns the broadcasting license. Our only requirement was that 35% of the music we played had to be from the current (newly added to the music library) during the shift and three PSA’s an hour. The station’s library consists of over 70,000 recordings on CD’s,7,10, & 12 inch vinyl, cassettes and video. 

Looking forward to going out to live music again someday. In the meantime I keep my ears wide open.


Karl x Hauser was born in Michigan City, on a small farm in northwest Indiana. He played in the dirt, drew pictures, and learned to swim in Lake Michigan. He attended the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis where he studied sculpture, learned to make neon signs, and was first exposed to video art. He received his MFA in video and performance art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1981. Simultaneously figurative and expressionistic, his work weaves together humor and the horrific. See more of his work at karlxhauser.com and on Instagram.

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