How a nobody from nowhere began writing about somebodies from somewhere (relatively) Pt. 2

Catch-up: For those who may not be aware or want a refresher to where I left off in this story, go check out Pt. 1 here: https://wp.me/p8pLKi-cc

I had just discovered the perfect band to interview and now it was time to gear up for it.

My advisor helped me write a professional-looking email to send them the next day and the response came back shockingly quick. I can’t remember the exact narrative and times but the drummer of the band, London Van Rooy, agreed to a phone interview that weekend during the afternoon before a show they had later that evening.

With a time set and everything, I started googling up information and taking notes wildly as I went. I listened through every one of the projects chronologically spending extra time on their most recent LP and most popular EP. I was a regular junior reporter with my notebook full of questions and important facts like album titles and band members names/roles.

At this point, I had only ever done two or so interviews ever and the few people I did talk to before were nowhere as cool sounding as these guys were to me. And to top it all off, I had never done an interview over the phone.

The whole dynamic of not being able to use non-verbal cues to help communicatepepe silvia.jpg had me on edge. To cope, I began writing all of my notes and questions on to sticky notes and hanging them all over the wall of my dorm room, sorting them by color and type. I remember my roommate walking in to find me looking like Charlie from “Sunny.”

I’ve found that nerves like these never quite go away and the best way for me to deal with them is to just prepare.

When the time finally came to call London, I felt more exhilarated than nervous and I actually abandoned my plans a little bit as we started talking. I explained to London that this was my first time doing an interview like this and he was very understanding and patient with me. He’d cut up and we were able to joke a little bit.

Had I talked to someone that wasn’t as relaxed as London I may have shut down and failed the interview completely. I was comfortable knowing that London got butterflies in his stomach before shows still and that it was normal to be nervous about what you cared about. He even offered to send me a free T-shirt.

I’ll link the article I wrote with the interview down below but the take away for me was to not take yourself so seriously and let loose a little or else you lose a valuable human element.

You should take the job seriously and make sure you prepare but don’t forget the absurdity of the situation you are in. Another important take away is to always make sure you get complete quotes!

I was so nervous and focused on writing everything that I didn’t get a single complete quote in my interview, only bits, and pieces. The lesson learned there was to prioritize note-taking, record interviews and ask your interviewee to repeat themselves if necessary.

So ya, embrace the inevitable screws up and learn from them. My first taste of true music journalism and it was bitter-sweet but I was ready to do more.

I’d like to continue writing more about my descent into the madness that is music journalism as I feel this one interview wasn’t the only thing that got me hooked. It was just the first time I was truly exposed to it. With that said, I’ll be turning this into a reflective series that I can have a little fun with.

But anyway, thank you Small Leaks Sink Ships for being awesome and I promise to do a proper spotlight or album review on them soon.

Here’s a link to the interview published in The Stallion back in April 2016.

https://www.abacstallion.com/single-post/2016/04/13/Getting-personal-with-Small-Leaks-Sink-Ships

Check out this Small Leaks track off their newest album.

 

How a nobody from nowhere began writing about somebodies from somewhere (relatively) Pt. 1

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I first started musing with the idea of becoming a writer after my podunk colleges’ newspaper let me write a couple album reviews and news items for them. My confidence was growing as well as my addiction to music journalism, but what set my mind on music journalism as a career came when the paper’s advisor approached me about setting up an interview with a band of my choice.

Of course, my naive self could only think to say “I can do that?” in response.

Now I understand the possibilities college press opens up for you and manipulative nature of newspapers recruiting strategies. It’s all part of a ruse to reel in young and usually sucky writers such as myself into doing more for the paper to keep it afloat until real talent shows up. But it was also more than that.

It was a call to try something new. It was a chance to get out of my comfort zone and experiment; and what better time to do that than freshman year of college?

I remember going back to my dorm that night and searching for hours on Spotify for a band with fewer than 10,000 monthly listeners. I was looking for a band I knew would likely say “yes” to any and all publicity they could get and also a band I could pretend to enjoy enough to actually get through the assignment.

Finding that level of obscurity and talent in a band was a struggle (who would’ve guessed, right?). I eventually checked out the discovery playlist Spotify curates for subscribers and landed on this little gem here.

This four-person, avant-garde troupe based out of Portland fit the target listening count I was looking for at the time and I guessed they were a laid-back group from their star wars t-shirts and unassuming looks (sorry guys if y’all read this. You looked cool to me!). I wasn’t expecting to check every box I set so confidently but I knew I had the band.

Cliff-hanger time: I know most people won’t read on to the second part of this (it’s a silly expectation to have that people would want to read this anyway) but I’d rather split this into two shorter pieces I can give more attention two than one long piece with a rushed conclusion.

Also, I’d like to post more consistently and this seems like a better way to work it. Anyway, to my couple of regular readers and other readers who I also appreciate greatly, thank you for the time and be on the look-out for the part 2 where I get into the interview as well as the final result.

Feature photo courtesy of Shelby Evans: Check her work out here

http://acquiringthetaste.blogspot.com/

 

Dwight Yoakam to perform in Tifton, Nov. 2

Grammy-winning and multi-platinum country music artist Dwight Yoakam will be performing live on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the UGA Campus Conference Center in Tifton. The show is being produced by the same companies (Six String Southern Productions and Mcalpin Entertainment) responsible for bringing in talents like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, and Travis Tritt.

Credited as a genre-bending country artist, Dwight Yoakam drew in music fans of all different tastes with his blend of honky-tonk and bluegrass sound. He has 12 gold albums and 9 platinum or multiplatinum albums with five of those albums topping the Billboard Country Albums chart with 14 songs peaking in the Top 10.

Yoakam has also been featured in many publications like the Rolling Stone, where he made their Top 100 Country Songs of All Time list.  In addition to his prestigious music career, Yoakam built a successful career as a film and television actor rubbing elbows with thespians like Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Jared Leto, and Matthew McConaughey.

Doors open at 6 p.m. with performances starting at 7:30 p.m. opening with the Craig Brown Band of the Detroit, described as the city’s most beloved bartender, cook, and ping-pong champion. Tickets are still available for purchase at ticketalternative.com or by phone at 877-725-8849.

Tickets are still available here: https://www.ticketalternative.com/event/dwight-yoakam

 

Smarter Playlists: Curating Your Spotify

Every time a new year rolls around, I look forward to Spotify’s “Your Top Songs of Whatever Year.” I have my pet artists I can listen to everyday and having all of my favorite songs in one place is a real treat. It never made sense to me why Spotify didn’t have a simple way to track your listening like this Top Songs playlist did. They obviously keep track of these statistics around so why don’t we have access?

Well, Smarter Playlists doesn’t give you those statistics but it does give you tools to make these playlists and download them directly on your account. Just like “Boil the Frog,” this program was made by Spotify Programmer Paul Lamere and it’s a program made specifically for non-programmers. The commands are separated into different components neatly coming together into a circuit of awesomeness.

It’s all fairly simple and you can import circuits other users have created if you don’t want to make your own. As far as “Your Top Songs” go, there is a specific component for this that can be decided based off how far back you’d like to go, like best of the month, the year or all-time.COOOL STUFFOne of the circuits I threw together took my largest playlist containing pretty much everything I listen to and filtered in down by BPM and “danceability.” The skill-ceiling for this site is higher than what I can demonstrate but it’s a simple way to create and customize playlists. I suggest playing around with it some and share what you create!

 

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Boiling the Frog: Asking what a cross between Taylor Swift and Kanye West would sound like?

A frog thrown into a pot of boiling water will jump right back out, but if it’s heated gradually the frog will have no idea it’s boiling alive. This is what the Spotify program, “Boil the Frog” aims to achieve by boiling the listener from artist to artist, genre to genre in a seamless stew of discovery. What it does is generate a playlist between two artists you select and runs you through a chain of artists with snippets of tracks from each one.


“If I took artist X and combined them with artist Y, what would it sound like?”


What “Boil the Frog” does better than most other generic programs powered by Spotify is it gives you control over new music you’d like to find. It’s like asking the question, “If I took artist X and combined them with artist Y, what would it sound like?” Fulfill your heart’s greatest desires by finding abominations of music like Miley Cyrus/Miles Davis crossovers or explore your favorite controversy by tracking Taylor Swift all the way to her career-maker, Kanye West (JK, DON’T HATE ME). Sometimes, it’ll find the perfect go-between artist but at its worst it may give you new music related to your favorite artists. It’s fun to play-around on and if you build a chain you like you can save the playlist directly to your Spotify by logging in, free of charge.

The program curates a diverse selection between artists with the lengths of the chain varying. I’ve found that if you select artists from separate genres, it will be a much longer chain than if you select artists from the same genre. Also, playlists between artists of differing genres seem to require the most manual polishing, like the in between of Frank Ocean (R&B) and The Flaming Lips (psychedelic rock) which was very awkward and polarizing. It took a couple toggles with the bypass button to make it work, sort of.

But between artists of different sub-genres it’s much more palatable on the first go, like between Jeff Rosenstock (punk) and Brand New (emo). Punk and emo are very different but have many similar characteristics making them sister genres. However, Brand New is much more popular and the results around the band were also much more popular. The more obscure the artist or genre the more obscure the in between, which can be important if you are looking for new music. If you’re bored at work and need a new kick-ass playlist for your road trip, try curating your own playlist with “Boil the Frog!”21908823_1850190718626873_244509029_o

Weezer announces 11th studio album

Weezer’s “Pacific Daydream” has finally been announced for release on October 27 and is shaping up to be a make-or-break album for critics and fans alike moving forward.

The band’s frontman, Rivers Cuomo, hinted at the forthcoming album calling it the “Black Album” in contrast to the previously release “White Album,” acclaimed for it’s fun, surf-rock vibes and a welcome turning-point in their discography. But Cuomo wants to do his own thing on “Pacific Daydream” rather than trying to meet the expectation of nostalgic fans, and rightfully so.

He is calling this album a mix of “The Beach Boys and The Clash” which sounds like a rough combination. If they stick with the surf-rock vibes that worked so well on the “White Album” over “The Clash” then it may be another classic Weezer album and not another 00s throwaway. But if Weezer has proven anything in their 25 year-long career it’s that they have a tendency mess good things up. Let’s see what happens!