"There is an infinite Kaleidoscope of music and sounds, explore some of them with me." That's how photographer Kristin Cofer describes her show The Infinite Kaleidoscope, airing Wednesdays 4-6pm. And once you get to know Kristin you'll find that her approach to life has her viewing things through many lenses, both literally and figuratively. Here's our conversation:
Your involvement at BFF.fm started at the intersection of photography and music...
Jaime Borschuk, my friend and fellow photographer, invited me to be her guest on her BFF.fm show, B-Side Dreams. We had a really good time together that day at the Ferry Building and before the show, I loved making my own playlist.
Having grown up in the Bay Area, when I learned about BFF.fm, my first thought was, “This is like old San Francisco,” which for me is the idea of this city being full of artists and weirdos all creating together.
When we first met you told me DJing was something you'd always wanted to try, but hadn't had the chance, which is one of my favorite things to hear! Tell me about where that desire to DJ first came from.
I've always loved music. I have memories of my dad watching MTV and playing music and I remember “DJing” with the family stereo during parties. It was always a fight with my other siblings for who got to sit in the front seat of the car and “DJ” the radio.
A little while back, I was with one of my long-time musician friends, Chelsea Wolfe, at a church where her band was performing, and she asked me to "DJ” with my iPod. I remember it was such a thrill to hear my music selections being played through the PA and see people enjoying and dancing to the music before the show.
And now here you are...a community radio DJ! How does it feel?
When I do my show, I like to imagine it’s the end of most people’s work day and they have the show on quietly in the background. Maybe they are fully engaged and listening to it, or maybe they just have it on to help them through the last couple of hours. I think anyone who has an interest in independent local music should support BFF.fm because listening might mean discovering their new favorite songs or bands. The thought of anything I put out here inspiring anyone else is always what keeps me going forward.
So, I always call you a "rock photographer" because that's how I see you (you just have a very cool vibe) but that's not all you do...
I photograph all kinds of artists, models, small businesses, and I do portraits.
I really love lighting and am constantly trying to push myself to get better at it. During this pandemic, I’ve been doing virtual portraits, where people from all over the world (mostly musicians) call in with zoom and I use a projector, gels, and crystals to make interesting images. I feel so grateful that I’ve been able to continue my craft this way.
How did you first get into photography?
I’ve been taking photos most of my life, starting with my four siblings being my first models. I played trumpet for most of my childhood and even into college at UC Davis. That’s where I started taking photographs of other musicians and friends who were also in bands outside of school. This has continued into my adult life because I just feel more like myself behind a camera. I often call myself an “honorary musician” because it just feels so good to be around musicians.
DJing has that same feeling. You're expressing yourself and creating through the lens of someone else's music. What is it about music that you find inspires your creativity?
Music inspires me because it is never ending, it’s everywhere, and it brings people together. You can hear a song that can transport you to a different time, or remind you of a past friend. Music’s been happening all over the world since the beginning of humans. I love finding new music, sharing music, and listening to music!
Being a BFF.fm DJ has reactivated the mix CD/tape part of my brain and it’s been so fun listening to music again. Not that I ever stopped, but there is something about sitting down and trying to create a series of songs that flow together that feels wonderful.
And I think the listeners appreciate that feeling of flow, too!
I think that anyone who likes underground music can find value with BFF.fm. It’s fun to listen to it and hear every genre imaginable.
You mentioned being friends with Chelsea Wolfe. Is she representative of the kind of music you like the most? Who are your favorite artists?
I love so many artists!
Here’s a small sampling: Chelsea Wolfe (she is my long-time friend and collaborator who I’ve done a lot of growing with both as artists and humans), Emma Ruth Rundle, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Choir Boy, Emily Jane White, Kennedy Ashlyn (SRSQ/Them Are Us Too).
I often tell people that The Cure is my favorite band of all time. I also adore Patti Smith, John and Alice Coltraine, The Cocteau Twins (most all 4AD artists), and so many others!
Do you remember who your first favorite band or musician was?
My dad used to make me mix tapes and I still have one with “Krissy Loves Bruce” written on it because Bruce Springsteen was one of my first little kid crushes!
Any cool shows, films or books you’ve checked out recently?
I’ve watched three Patti Smith live streams during this last year and they have all been inspiring. She will read poetry, play songs, and talk about her career. Those shows have inspired me on how I format my radio show!
I just finished reading the Octavia Butler “Parable” series and they were so good, I read them very quickly. It’s amazing how she wrote them in the early 90s, but they are so relatable to what the world is experiencing right now.
I have been trying to support The Roxie in San Francisco and have seen a lot of good films through them. Recently I watched “Days of the Bagnold Summer”, which features one of Nick Cave’s sons, Earl Cave. He’s playing a moody teenager and the film is about his relationship with his librarian mom during a summer. It was very cute—I highly recommend watching it.
Now that it at long last feels like things are starting to come back to life again,what are your favorite things about living in San Francisco?
I’ve always loved walking on the Embarcadero and seeing the Bay Bridge at night. I also love North Beach: City Lights Books, Cafe Trieste, and having a drink in the window on the top floor of Vesuvio (I can’t wait until we can fully enjoy doing all these things again!)
Okay, last question. Now that you're a DJ you have to admit: DJs are some of the most idiosyncratic people on the planet. So, I always ask: what are your idiosyncrasies?
Friends tell me that I’m constantly fussing with my bangs!