Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Friday, August 13, 2010

Radio Riel Dieselpunk

Important! This is an old post and I've recently changed my views on this. Please visit my blog entry from July 12, 2016 for my current thoughts.

Not too long ago I came across an online radio service called Radio Riel The site describes itself as follows:

Radio Riel is an Internet-based public radio station supported by listeners and sponsors, with five audio streams providing a unique selection of music, spoken-word and other programming to inform, educate and entertain, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Being a big fan of radio in general, especially internet radio, I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of their streams was labeled Radio Riel Dieselpunk, which describes itself as playing, "music from 1920–1940, including Pop Standards, Big Band & Swing, Burlesque & Cabaret & a dash of Film Noir Soundtracks. Currently believed to be the world's only Dieselpunk station."

Also on the site I found that they play the following:

Oldies, covers, remixes and revival, today's programme features Swing and Jazz music from the 30s through to modern day. From the originals like Acker Bilk, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, through the crooners such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald to today's revival with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Royal Crown Revue there's a little something for everyone.

Seeing bands such as Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy listed made me hopeful. I decided to listen to Radio Riel Dieselpunk.

After two hours straight of listening to it I have to report that I’m very disappointed. While I did hear crooners such as Sinatra as well as Big Bands such as Benny Goodman I never heard a single retro-swing band such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or Royal Crown Revue as they claimed on their site. Nor did I hear dieselpunk artists such as The Puppini Sisters or LaVay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. I certainly never heard the edgier dieselpunk bands and musicians such as Diablo Swing Orchestra or Wolfgang Parker.

Unfortunately even their selections of diesel era classics left me cold. Most of the artists played I had never heard before and the choice of songs where rather bland. Another negative was that Radio Riel interrupted their programming with advertisements much more often than other internet radio providers, such as Pandora.

When one combines all of this there was nothing about Radio Riel Dieselpunk that earned the label "dieselpunk." The station owners seemed to have a misunderstanding of what dieselpunk is. Dieselpunk isn’t a reenactment of the diesel era, though many of us at times enjoy reenacting the era's style and fashion, nor is it nostalgia by just replaying the productions from that era. It’s a postmodern movement that draws on the diesel era for inspiration as part of creating something altogether new.

Radio Riel Dieselpunk proves that just because you label a product something doesn’t make it so.


FLAMEAPE said... and specifically-

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Thanks FLAMEAPE for the alternative URL for Radio Riel, though both addresses work the same. I did edit my post to include a link to the one you gave and included a link to the specific URL to the dieselpunk broadcast.

Unfortunately, the different URL resulted in the same stream, which failed change my opinion.

FLAMEAPE said...

I understand now what you mean, Larry. I am sooo into D.punk; and learning more about what is the philosophy behind it is exiting. I am embarking on a graphic novel project with a writing partner that has Dieselpunk as a major cornerstone of its themes so I look forward to seeing how our project will fit in with the movement.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

FLAMEAPE, your novel sounds great. I look forward to reading it someday. Please drop me a note when you're done so I can promote it.

It's always great to meet another dieselpunk. Thank you so much for reading my blog and posting your comments.

Dead Horse said...

That's a pretty useless post. As with your posts, you seem to be into calling out what doesn't fit your definition of a genre that's barely established. And with that in mind, perhaps time would be better spent creating a dieselpunk culture from the ground up than knocking other's attempts down from the high horse. These discussions of what is and what isn't are tiresome at best.

Anonymous said...

The station owners seemed to have a misunderstanding of what dieselpunk is.

This is a great comment and I'll tell you why: you complain that you didn't hear such bands as Diablo Swing Orchestra. Using them as an example, what do D.S.O. call themselves? "Diablo Swing Orchestra is a Swedish avant-garde metal band." So they don't themselves Dieselpunk and I'd guess they've not even heard the name. I know Vernian Process has included D.S.O. with their steampunk compilations.

Perhaps it's not that Radio Riel have misunderstood the Dieselpunk genre, but that there is no consensus of what Dieselpunk is yet. It hasn't even rated a dedicated entry in Wikipedia yet.

Steampunk has been around a lot longer than Dieselpunk and what does it have as its flagship sound? A group who dress steampunk and sound like an 80s goth band.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

You made some excellent observations. How we define dieselpunk music is important and it is fluid since the genre is so young as pointed out.

But I think we could all agree that dieselpunk is not nostalgia. The diesel era provides inspiration for dieselpunk, which is something original and new. I love the classics, which will be the topic of my next posts, but diesel era classics should not be confused with dieselpunk music.

Thank you so much for reading my blog and posting your comments.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Dead Horse,
First, the opinions that I posted were consistent with those of others. Since you're obviously familiar with you probably read how Tome Wilson "was sorely disappointed" in Radio Riel's attempt at a tribute to HP Lovecraft.

In addition, Radio Riel's so-called "steampunk" station was equally criticized on the steampunk blog "Trial by Steam" by A.E. Flint.

I've emailed the General Director of Radio Riel, Gabrielle Riel, with a request for feedback on my post. As of yet she hasn't replied.

Second, all blogs are opinions. If you find my opinions tiresome and that I'm on my "high horse" that's fine. The simple solution for you is that you don't have to read my blog. If you have a problem with any of my comments on then you need to be expressing them there.

Finally, it should be obvious that I'm very active in "creating a dieselpunk culture." My blog, my very active participation at, my attempt in conjunction with others to have a Wikipedia article on dieselpunk created, along with my offline activity are all actions to help build a dieselpunk culture.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Hi, saw you were looking for feedback from Gabrielle Riel, and since I ended up here because of her blog post, thought I'd help you out.

To Escape Criticism: Do Nothing, Say Nothing, Be Nothing

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

It's a shame that Gabrielle Riel wasn't willing to post her comment directly to my blog.

I appreciate that you posted this comment so that my readers could see her response even if she's not willing to do it herself.

Unknown said...

It appears as if Gabi from RR is now deleting comments made regarding her radio station.

In all fairness, she can do whatever she wants with her blog. However, I find it rude to say "I'm open to opinions and feedback" only to have those very same opinions and feedback deleted if they aren't in full support of what she is doing.

I bare no ill will towards Gabi, so I'll leave my post here instead for your readers to decide whether it should have been deleted from RR.


Dieselpunks has left a new comment on the post "To Escape Criticism: Do Nothing, Say Nothing, Be N...":


I think the question needs to be asked, "what is dieselpunk?"

While we're doing our best to answer that question through our actions and writings, there are a few points that have crystallized over the years in the community. Those points usually point to what dieselpunk isn't.

Dieselpunk isn't Big Band, swing, ragtime, or jazz music from the '20s - '40s.


Because they are already "Big Band," "Swing," "Ragtime," and "Jazz."

Dieselpunk is a contemporary mashing of those classic aesthetics with something new, not a rebranding of the original.

Radio Reil is "music to inspire dieselpunks," or "music that may interest dieselpunks," but it isn't "dieselpunk music."

If the set list is entirely community driven, then where is the community for this channel? Is it entirely in SL?

I ask, because I am interested in helping, as my unanswered emails sent to you earlier this year prove.

This is not a critique of your other RR stations as you talk about in your post. Simply a critique of the "dieselpunk" station, which I think Larry and the other bloggers hit on the head.



Posted by Dieselpunks to Songs from The Nightingale at August 25, 2010 7:18 AM

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Thank you for this comment, Tome. I find her actions very interesting.

I hope that my readers noticed that I posted all feedback, even the comments of the critics.

Tome, your reputation as a leading voice in the dieselpunks community is well established so I'm very glad that you agree with my assessment of RR. I think you're description of "dieselpunk" music in your feedback was excellent.

Anonymous said...

Curiosity having got the better of me I thought I come back to see if there'd been any follow up. I see you and Tome are a happy couple with mutual backslapping and smokeblowing.

I'm confused by your thinking. In this post you criticised Radioriel for playing original 20s-40s music in with its Swing Revival, but in the very next blog entry you provided a long list of radio stations playing original 20s-40s music. Yes you prefaced the entry saying they weren't dieselpunk stations but if inclusion of the original era music is *bad* as you imply it is, why give people a list of stations that play it?

Still, I had a look at some of the other links you posted in the comments. While Tome (who I've never heard of before) was critical of the H.P. Lovecraft tribute, someone called John Watson (who I also don't know beyond the allusion to the Doyle character) left positive feedback.

I'll admit that I think the word dieselpunk is used by people who don't know any better in place of PULP. Which is funny considering Tome's complaint that dieselpunk "not a rebranding of the original."

Maybe it's as I pointed out in my original comment that there's no agreement on dieselpunk music. While you're welcome to your own opinion on the matter, it's no better than mine.

Perhaps as DeadHorse said, you should try building a community, rather than slapping down people who disagree with you.