On the occasion of Elvis Costello’s most recent birthday, Rolling Stone posted their 1982 cover story with the gentleman himself. This paragraph from the introduction made my jaw fall open.
In 1982, Elvis Costello remains known almost solely through his music – and the scandalous “Ray Charles” incident, which made the papers across the country and across the water. Aside from a 1981 appearance on Tom Snyder’s ‘Tomorrow’ show, Costello had not sat down for a comprehensive interview with an American journalist until this summer – and no interview has appeared in a U.K. publication since 1977.
Could you imagine any artist, any new artist at all in modern times doing that? It is unfathomable. An interesting statement both on technology and the ethos of Elvis Costello.
Hello! Let me just start off by saying that I'm a huge fan of your work and you're one of my role models. I admire what you've done in the music industry and I aspire to have a similar career like the one you've had so far. Do you have any advice/tips on where and how I should start? Thank you so much!
<p>Hey, hello thanks for the nice note! My advice is: intern. Intern a lot. Then intern some more. I started interning my sophomore year in college. I interned at MTV, several times. I interned at my local alt rock radio station. I wrote for my college paper. I got a summer job at my local NBC affiliate. When I wasn’t feeling so excited about the classes my college major offered, I made up independent study courses that were internships.</p>
<p>The more you do actual work while you’re in college the more people you’ll know. And the more experience you’ll have on your resume so you can get out of the crappy assistant position faster (in theory, in practice). So seriously: get to interning. If you can’t afford to go to NYC or LA, do it at your local radio or TV station. Get your feet wet and your face out there.</p>
<p>And when you’re doing it, be the best damn intern they’ve ever had. Be so great, go so far above and beyond that they literally won’t know what to do without you when you’re gone. (This will mean doing some crappy things too — don’t let on that you feel crappy about doing them.)</p>
<p>Good luck and reach out if you want a helping hand landing an internship.</p>
Reasons Riff Raff is an idiot savant: it was brilliant to release this complete piece of crap the week after Dolce and Gabbana went to jail in Italy for tax evasion. Like rappers do (looking at you Fat Joe). Taking that high brow to low brow y’all.
I wrote this piece for Radio.com over the course of a few months while conducting interviews with these three artists.
Foals really kicked the idea off for me. When I was thinking of what to ask them, back in February, I knew I wanted to talk about their perception of the press and that they’d have something interesting to say.
Then when I had Jessie Ware, I thought she’d take a much more positive view as a beneficiary of good press so I asked her as well.
And finally, Airborne Toxic Event — I was not planning to discuss the topic with them when our interview started, but they had very interesting points of view on the other things we talked about so I threw it out and they raised some good points that helped me get to my larger point.
Where do you stand on art criticism? Is it necessary in a world where consumers can access anything with the touch of a button? Do the artists themselves still need it to help evolve art? Or has the form devolved so badly that we should rip it up and start again?
Did an interview with Kate Nash for Radio.com — we talked about many things and there’s much more to come, but here’s a piece about feminism, how the music industry discriminates against women and media body snarking.
“I’ve had everything you can think of being said about a person, I’ve had it,” Nash said. “I’ve been called too fat, too ugly. I’ve had my spots highlighted and zoomed in on in magazines when I had acne as a teenager touring for the first time. I’ve had death threats on the Internet. I’ve had really mean stuff said about me. It makes you fearless, in a way.”
We’re making these mini rock docs at work now. It’s a fun thing. This is my first one, taking a look at the new wave of British soul and R&B acts in the wake of Amy Winehouse & Adele’s success.
This idea came to me after an interview with Conor Maynard, who put forward this assertion that the X Factor (with all it’s One Directions & Cher Lloyds & Little Mixes) in the UK is a big part of why the world is paying such close attention to British artists of late. I asked him if he thought that and other reality singing shows having all these old songs on them had anything to do with the on-going interest in younger generations of soul and R&B music. And then I couldn’t stop myself from asking all the other British artists we were having in — who all happened to classify themselves as soul or R&B artists.
So I talked to Emeli Sandé, Olly Murs, Jessie Ware and Daley about it. I got the effervescent Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly to crack jokes. I had the British expertise of Hazel Sheffield from NME. My co-workers at Radio.com, Brian and Erik, agreed to weigh in and do some narrative storytelling for me.
And voila. Here are my little theories about why the UK is all up on soul and R&B these days. And exporting it like a mother.
I interviewed Ben Gibbard last October, around the release of his solo record and when he was still insisting INSISTING there would be no Postal Service reunion.
It was an interesting conversation across the board, in part because I’ve known him for a decade and found the, “Ben is a sad person/I’m glad Ben got a divorce so maybe he can write some good songs because his best songs were written when he was unhappy!” diatribe of write-ups (and general sentiments) across the Internet to be interesting. And since I’ve known him awhile, I got him to talk about it a bit.
We also touched on nostalgia. I took a piece of the interview I hadn’t written up before and did an article for Radio.com (the CBS site I write for these days) around it because all the things he said about Death Cab fandom applied pretty well to Postal Service fandom, given that we’re looking at it a solid decade after the fact.
What I didn’t expect was to feel so nostalgic myself when I watched their Coachella performance. That little dance move Ben & Jenny Lewis did in “The District Sleeps Alone”? So cute. So the exact move I saw them do at Bowery Ballroom in 2004 on tour supporting Give Up. Now I really want to go to Barclay’s and get my Postal Service on.
Excited for the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album? Me too.
I did this lovely interview with Karen O’s longtime designer, Christian Joy. She gave some fun insight into her process and why she’s putting Karen in pantsuits for the new album. Oh and tells you what to wear to a music festival.
But really, the part that was most interesting to me, was the stuff about the politics of dressing like a man/androgynous on stage.
I really love Foals. So when I heard about their new album Holy Fire (which came out in Feb), I thought…hm. Making moves? Upstreaming to Warner from Sub Pop? Getting Flood & Moulder to produce? Signing to Q Prime management? Are Foals on the road to being the next Black Keys? You know, that midlevel band who burst into the upper echelon of rock?
So I sat them down for an interview. And then I talked to people from Rolling Stone, Spinner and NME about it. I talked to my lovely friend Ultragrrrl. And…it seems the journalists said one thing while Foals said another.
Check it out. The band will be spending some more time in the US starting with their Coachella performance this weekend.
Not a list I usually make, but in moving back to NYC and getting back on the subway commute I found my reading time rocket back up this year. These are five books I enjoyed immensely, although three of them were not released in 2012. In fact, the first is nearly 100 years old.
Only 94 years late to the party on this book. It’s been sitting on my shelf, unread, for at least five years and after I finished it I was annoyed at myself for not reading it sooner. This 1919 Pulitzer Prize winner stands the test of time. While some of the social constructs are outdated, the basic idea behind the book is hyper relevant in our times of fiscal crisis and moral uncertainty. I would recommend it to any and all readers — what impressed me most was the style of Tarkington’s prose. The man is simply a beautiful writer.
A fellow New Yorker whose book was released by my publisher — and yet I only heard about it when a friend loaned me a copy, swearing I’d love it. She was right, I absolutely adored it. Miller creates complex characters who drive a very simple story. An impressive fiction debut, worth picking up.
Think you know a lot about music? So do I, but every second of reading this book made me think I didn’t actually know anything at all. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Too many music books are a straight retelling of history we already know or pontificating in the manner of mental masturbation. Wald lays out the facts of music, from the time of jazz before Prohibition and the evolution of music history — including how consumption and technology have always influenced the music industry. Especially recommended for anyone not sure what to think about the kerfuffle around streaming service revenue because the parallel fight over jukebox revenue before people had hifis in their home feels like a good thing to learn from.
A friend gave me this last Christmas and I read it early in the year. Bryson takes science and puts it in layman’s terms in a way I haven’t read since Carl Sagan. For a big paperback it’s a surprisingly quick and easy read as Bryson’s words flow nicely and the book’s conceit, explaining our evolution from nothing to life, is endlessly fascinating.
When I first heard about this book, I had a split second of doubt about there being enough here for a full book. It took about 10 seconds of walking myself through the history of “Hallelujah” to change my mind. Light handles the topic beautifully, although some of the quotes from musicians who’ve brushed up against the song feel superflous. By the mid-point of the book it becomes obvious that this song’s ascent was utterly unlikely. For any sort of music fan, this is a phenomenon worth examining.
I usually contribute my top 10 albums of the year list to several sites, listservs, emails, whathaveyou — but this year I thought it over and realized there weren’t a lot of full albums that grabbed me and shook me all night long. I’ve officially returned to the 1950s and singles culture. The world before the Beatles and their damn double LP concept albums.
Found this one in a press email from Beth Martinez at Danger Village. The woman has exceptional taste in music, in my opinion, and I listen to as much of what she sends as I can. This song was my spring into summer jam. One of the most listened of the year. Actually the most listened for me according to last.fm, behind track #3 on this list.
This is possibly the one thing I was in sync with Pitchfork on this year. Best New Track and Best New Album, even though reviews were mixed. This track in particular features guitar as played by Beck. I think the lyrics here really stand out as well.
As a Chris Brown hater, this is a controversial choice for me. All the reasons I have for insisting the public not forgive Brown can also apply to Womack’s past choices. And this song gets at the public forgiveness that Brown would never seek. It’s an amazing, heartbreaking track. Beautifully produced and deeply poignant.
Apple’s latest does make my albums of the year list, as one of the few examples this year of a comprehensive album and not simply a series of songs. And she continues hitting her mark with songs that are too close to the way I feel about life. We’ve both gotten older and, if not smarter, more experienced. This is my break up jam.
Written by the Civil Wars (and performed in 2010 but not recorded), this song was in the first episode of ABC’s Nashville. It shot right to the top of the iTunes sales chart because the world realized it’s amazing. It’s the kind of song that casts a spell on you. T-Bone Burnett’s production is apparent on the sparse arrangement he gives the show version, paired with hesitant vocals.
Magic Wands finally release their long awaited first album and among the songs that have been kicking around since 2010 was this jam. It’s like a delicious mix of outer space and Hawaii, in a very nice way.
The Guardian: You recently said women should be able to sing about the same things as men.
KE$HA: Absolutely. Women can sing about the same things as men but we shouldn’t have to be put through such scrutiny and hellfire. Men sing about strippers, sex and drugs and it’s praised and glorified. When women sing about these things, we’re automatically demonised as sluts and drunks. It’s not true. Women can drink and get laid occasionally and it is equally as badass as if a man is doing it.
Nashville fans: may I just point out that Universal Republic Records is the label that released The Hunger Games soundtrack, which T. Bone Burnett music directed. The soundtrack generated Rayna James and Juliette Barnes on Nashville is also distributed by Big Machine Records, whose backbone/distribution arm is Universal Republic. That soundtrack is also helmed by T. Bone Burnett. And the show is written, based on quite a few real life experiences, by Burnett’s wife.
So…how real is the president of Edgehill Republic Records? What real life person might he be based on? Let’s speculate!
This is really good advice. When my head is on straight I can be pretty fun to date, but when things hit the skids and my bullshit melodramatic anxiety/panic stuff hits I am a complete nightmare.
In general, yes, avoid dating Smiths fans. For me personally? My advice is you should date me up until the point that I try to play you the live version of “I Know It’s Over” off of Rank. At that point you should run for the hills.
Dedicated to the first week of September, expected to be warm and humid. Summer doesn’t end until the summer solstice kids.
Barbara Streisand “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today”
Representatives of Daryl Hall and John Oates have been in contact with the founders of the Hall and Oates Fans For America Super PAC and are pleased to report that the group’s concerns regarding the unauthorized use of their names for fundraising purposes by the Super PAC have been amicably resolved and that the Super PAC is being dissolved by the founders. The spokesperson for the founders advised that no funds have been raised by the PAC.
It’s all fun and games, talking politics on Twitter, until someone invokes Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Bored, Bieber started a game, playfully jabbing everyone in the crotch with his fist. First, he jabbed at [manager Scooter] Braun, who, without looking up from the script, dropped his hands to block. [Carson] Daly did the same. When Bieber jabbed at Siva Kaneswaran, a member of the Wanted, he connected. He called out, “Got you, bro.” Kaneswaran balled his fist but seemed unsure how to respond. “I don’t want to hurt his pretty face,” he said.
Braun said, “Just get him in the pretty balls. It’s fair game.”
“No, it’s not,” Bieber said.
Braun took a firm tone. “Justin, it is—fair game,” he said. “You hit him in the balls, fair game.”
Bieber was peeved. “Where’re we going?” he asked. “Where’s my dressing room?”
Why the shift? Speculatively, because it’s lucrative and low-commitment. Imagine you’re in a band, oh and your two bandmates live in NYC while you live in LA. But you guys write and record an album. Then you’re committed for at least a year to do promo for it, make videos, go on tour. Going on tour sucks. It’s fun for the first few dates and in some cities but by and large it’s a slog. Doing press also sucks. People ask you the same questions over and over again, because every outlet needs the same sound bites. Now and then you have an interesting conversation but by and large, it’s tedious.
Writing a few songs for soundtracks though — high return money-wise because the synch licenses for movies are quite high and returns come every time it goes to a new format. I mean, you get paid thousands every time that movie is on TV. No touring. Press still if it’s a Wild Things situation, but not as much and you can opt out if you’re just contributing a track.
It’s a smart move for Karen. It’s neat that so many directors and studio music folks have embraced her for the medium, because she’s not an obvious choice.
I just wanted to drop a quick note to tell you that I read "Record Collecting For Girls" awhile back, and it became one of my favorite books about music! Thanks so much for writing such a kickass and thoughtful book. I'm really glad I found you on Tumblr too! xx
<p>Thanks, I’m so glad you liked it! And I’m glad you found me on Tumblr also so I could follow back — your taste in music is right up my alley. Keep posting stuff, I use bits and pieces from everyone for an almost daily Tumblr playlist on Spotify.</p>