International Fountain DJ from the Seattle Center reveals the fountain’s secret passages
Pass under the iconic monument. #k5evening
SEATTLE – It’s been the center of Seattle since 1962. And this man has been making his soundtrack since 1996.
“My name is James Whetzel and I’m the DJ at the International Fountain.”
Every morning at 10 a.m., the Seattle Center’s International Fountain wakes up with music mixed by Whetzel.
“I watch the kids, I watch people interact with the water, and I just try to create an inviting atmosphere for people to interact with the fountain,” Whetzel said.
The fountain was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and was designed to reflect the era’s enthusiasm for space exploration.
Even though the original spikey-rocky design wasn’t very user-friendly, it’s always been a gathering place to play and share collective grief.
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“It was probably of Kurt Cobain, his memorial being here, it kind of became a place for memorials,” Whetzel said.
It wasn’t there when it happened in 1994, but on 9/11 people still made a memorial of it. And Whetzel was there so he made a mix to help them grieve.
But the music mostly reflects the fun side of the fountain.
“It’s an inviting place, it’s nice to hang out, and you know, relax and play with the water, you know.”
After decades with the Fountain, Whetzel knows his secrets. Like the underpass to his control room.
“It’s a big booming room where all the pumps are working…and they’re physically changing the music,” he said.
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He took our team under the iconic fountain to see the mix of vintage and modern equipment that keeps the water flowing. This may be his last time there. Because after a quarter of a century the Fountain DJ is retiring.
“He’s Seattle Center’s best-kept secret,” said Chelsea Riddick-Most, director of programs and events. “And we’re going to be hard pressed to find someone who can step into his shoes.”
For now his tunes still play when the water sprays. You can also find Whetzel Fountain music on Mixcloud.
And the fountain that’s cool enough to have its own DJ continues to be Seattle’s biggest summer sprinkler…and the best mix of underground music.
“It’s been a pleasure to love doing my job for the people of Seattle,” Whetzel said.
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