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Pioneer Public – Dylan Kersten

Written By Lauren Clouser, Co-Features Editor

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Senior global cultural studies major Dylan Kersten became interested in music around the age of four or five, when his two older brothers made him a mixtape.

“It was Bon Jovi, Lil’ Bow Wow, Cher, Backstreet Boys, Limp Bizkit, all these great things,” Kersten said. “So that was my first piece of music that I would listen to a lot. And I would just listen to that all of the time…it explains a lot of why I like the music that I like.”

Music still has a strong hold on Kersten’s life. He is now in a band, a host of a WPPJ radio show and a DJ.

Kersten became a part of the experimental folk band String Machine about three years ago after being recruited by the band’s lead singer. Kersten plays synthesizer, and says the instrument is one of several that adds to the band’s unique sound.

“We’re not these geniuses that we have to plan a whole lot to make it sound different, because of the fact we have a trumpet, synthesizer and a cello we just already have that element of being a little different from most,” Kersten said.

Kersten said the band tours local venues, and largely plays in Oakland.

“There’s just a house music scene where we play basement shows a lot, and we’ve played a lot in Oakland,” Kersten said. “There’s a bunch of great bands that come out of Pitt; we play with those guys all the time.”

Kersten said his involvement with String Machine led him to discover local music, which he features in his weekly WPPJ radio show “Altar Crawl.”

His show combines two things that are of large importance to him: local music and his faith. For the first half of the show, Kersten plays music from local artists, and for the second half he plays indie worship
music.

“Those are two things I’m very passionate about, knowing Jesus and the local music scene,” Kersten said. “I wanted to find a way to combine them.”

Kersten explained that the show name “Altar Crawl” was a play off of the phrase “altar call,” where churches encourage new followers to come to the altar to pray.

“I have this idea that we’re all crawling towards an altar of sorts,” Kersten said. “We’re all trying to find our identity, we’re all making it through this life crawling…we’re trying to find something real.”

Kersten also works part time as a DJ, which he has been doing since he was a junior in high school.

“A friend was just like, ‘Hey, I’m turning 16 and I’m having a birthday party. Are you a DJ?’ Because I was just known as the music kid generally,” Kersten said. “And I was like: ‘I’m not a DJ, but I just have to rent the stuff and if you just pay for the rental stuff I’ll do it for free.’”

From there, he and a friend created Lost Boys DJ Services. They work at weddings, birthdays and school dances. Last semester Kersten performed as DJ at COPA prom.

Over the summer, Kersten worked as a camp counselor with a group of sixth grade boys for Urban Impact, a local, Christian-based
non-profit organization.

“It’s a really cool gospel-centered organization that is just trying to have this idea of holistic ministry of meeting people’s physical needs,” Kersten said. “And it’s more than just sharing the gospel with them… it’s about giving people opportunities.”

Although Kersten has no set plans for the future, he said his career will be centered around his faith and helping others.

“I want to be glorifying God in what I’m doing and bringing the message of truth and hope that I find in Jesus… that will have to be incorporated in whatever I do as a career,” Kersten said. “I want to just be helping people. I like work that’s relational. So social work, nonprofit work something like that.”

Kersten is also passionate about bringing about positive change now, and not just waiting until he graduates.

“I want to combine these two passions of following Christ and seeing justice in the world,” Kersten said, “I hope that I can start doing that now so it’s not just this thing in the future.”

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