Concrete Park Co-creators Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander took to the airwaves of Karachi, Pakistan this week with a groundbreaking interview on CityFM89’s “89 Chapters” with host Mahvesh Murad.
The two-hour interview on Pakistan’s premiere radio station covered a wide range of topics from creator-owned comics to to screenwriting to racism in Hollywood. Mahvesh, whose show features books and authors from around the world, spun a custom Concrete Park playlist of classic tunes hand-picked by Tony and Erika, including “Spanish Harlem” by Aretha Franklin and “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto. Click the link below to hear the show in its entirety.
“We were thrilled to be asked to do this prestigious show” said Tony Puryear. “Mahvesh’s show reaches an audience of more than a million in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Concrete Park may not be widely available in print in these cities, but with digital downloads from the Dark Horse website, anyone, anywhere in the world can buy our book. This chance to get the word out to 89 Chapters listeners, whom we know to be motivated readers, was very important to us”. Erika Alexander said “Getting to spin some great songs and talk about them with Mahvesh and her listeners was icing on the cake. She’s a book and music lover with great taste. Her questions were incisive and we really enjoyed talking about our book with her, but just as importantly, together, for a couple of hours one afternoon, we hosted a dance party Karachi will remember for a long time.”
Songs played on the show by the Concrete Park co-creators included “Funky Nassau” by The Beginning Of The End, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” by Pete Rock and C.L.Smooth. All of the songs played had a connection to Concrete Park. Some, like “Sukiyaki”, might actually be heard on Radio Gigante, the gang-controlled radio station of Scare City featured in the Concrete Park graphic novel. Some, like “Funky Nassau”, are just the kind of ageless, hard-core jams someone might spin at a Scare City dance party.
Other songs, like “Spanish Harlem”, were inspirations for the story. Tony Puryear said: “The image of a rose ‘growing in the street/right up through the concrete’, of something beautiful blooming in an unexpected place, was key to all of our work on this project. In addition to being a dystopian hell, the world of Concrete park is also a place where the miraculous can happen.” Another touchstone song for the show was Santana’s cover of Tito Puente’s monster 50s latin dance hit, “Oye Como Va”. In this song, the singers invite you to check out their cool rhythm, “Oye como va/mi ritmo”. They boast that it is a “mulata” rhythm, neither all black nor all white but something new and mixed. The idea that the more famous, Santana version is being played by a skinny kid from Jalisco, Mexico who grew up in San Francisco listening to Tito Puente’s Puerto-Rican cha-cha-cha (and now being grooved to somewhere in Karachi) is just a testament to the world-spanning power of this crazy mixed up rhythm.
The Concrete Park team looks forward to doing more international radio in the future. Said Puryear: “It’s all about reaching people where they are. Radio is unique in that we think of it as ‘broadcasting’, but for the listener, it’s remarkably intimate and personal.”
About Mahvesh Murad:
Mahvesh reads a lot of books. She loves dystopian fiction and lives in Karachi, Pakistan, sometimes pretending the two aren’t related. She writes book reviews and hosts two shows on Pakistan’s largest English radio station CityFM89. You can hear her talking about books on 89 Chapters, and indulging in the blues on Voodoo Nights. You can hear archived shows here: