KPSU Spotlight feat. PDX Mandem
Written by Station Manager on April 25, 2016
PDX Mandem has become a household name in the Portland music scene, but that hasn’t always been the case. The music collective founded by Ian Milhollen and Gabe Owsley has experienced a rapid rise in the local ranks in the past two years. You may know deejay’s Em V Kush and Skelli Skel as the college radio host/co-host duo of PDX to London Town, but as Ian Milhollen explains “the PDX Mandem is much larger than just the two of us.”
It all began back in the year 2003 when its two co-founders, Ian and Gabe started playing in a progressive jazz death metal band as high school freshmen. Reconnecting in 2014, their love of music has inspired them to create PDX Mandem (mandem is British slang for “crew or “posse”). This collective of musicians, producers and deejays began by freestyling on “Mandem Mondays” over home-made beats inspired primarily from European dub, hip hop, UK Grime, reggae, footwork/juke, dubstep, and sound system music.
As they found their roots in this foreign music, they simultaneously began building a scene in Portland Oregon resembling these sounds. While the Mandem is still mainly run by Gabe and Ian out of their home studio, they have also been called to radio to spread the gospel of the work that inspires them. Influenced by deejays J:Kenzo, Skream, N-Type, Mary Anne Hobbs and others from Rinse FM and BBC Radio 1, Ian and Gabe are known today as deejays Em V Kush (Ian) and Skelli Skel (Gabe), and they have managed to take the same ingredients that have created PDX Mandem and present it through the aptly named PDX to London Town streaming live every Wednesday night from 11pm to 1am on KPSU.ORG. As Ian explains “KPSU means the freedom to really dive deep into the things that you are passionate about.” Their show will sometimes feature other Mandem members freestyling live on-air, bringing the raw sounds of their studio to the rest of the world.
As the duo continues to grow along with the Portland area by pushing their radio presence, releasing new music and collaborating with other Mandem artists, they also continue to draw new ideas and inspirations from the city that gave rise to them, collaborating with local labels ZamZam Sounds, PDXINDUBTING! and Boomarm Nation to further grow the local dub sound system scene.
When the duo aren’t working as PDX Mandem (which is hardly ever) they like to travel, skateboard, hike, record shop and indulge in the flourishing cannabis scene. In some ways, these two Portlanders embody a larger ethos within the city’s artistic and music scene, promoting their passion with non-stop DIY tactics, collaborations and fearlessness. To them, “music is an every day thing, the work never seems to stop but that’s the only way we like it.”
To listen to their show, follow this link.