Not to be cliché, SlowdiveMusic Blog has been and continues to be a labor of love. From as far back as I can remember, I have spent hours listening to music; not just the kind of listening that we all do as background noise, but quite literally playing an album in the dark and just listening. Starting the blog, though I had a bit of internal resistance, was one of my best decisions, because it really has reconnected me with my love of music and forced me to listen to some music I may never have come across otherwise. And after three years, and the support of many like you reading this at the moment, I am willing and able to stare down 2012 and continue to grow SlowdiveMusic Blog. But I must take a moment to thank a few individuals who have helped/inspired me in one way or another: Mirage (for sticking around this long), Painted Bird (for challenging my musical tastes), Candyman (for being the best damn editor ever), Candyman’s less likable other half (for telling me my musical tastes suck, which means I am on the right track!), and my dear friend and fellow commuter (for always giving me perspective, now it’s time for you to write as well). And of course, DJ Chauncey D, who is well aware of the mayhem going on in my life at the moment; he reached out to me and suggested I do something different – instead of any ole editorial for the third anniversary, that he would interview me. I thought, “Why not?” and took the time to Answer 5. Enjoy!
1. What band or artist that you have not interviewed yet would be your dream interview?
Well, I would love to interview Robert Smith [of The Cure fame] and Annie Lennox. And since I am curious as all hell, there are tons of others – Damon Albarn, Eva Amaral, Brett Anderson, Andy Bell, Matthew Bellamy, Bjork, David Bowie, Vincent Clarke, Ray Davies, PJ Harvey, Madonna, Martin Gore, Stefan Olsdal, Roland Orzabal, Trent Reznor, Siouxsie Sioux, Tom Smith, Alan Wilder, etc… And of course anyone we review on the blog has an open invitation for an interview. So feel free to reach out!
2. If you were to write a song, what band or artist would you want to record/perform it?
I am not sure I would want to write a song for another person or band to perform; I am usually attracted to artists who compose their own music and pen their own lyrics, as opposed to being producer driven. With that said, I would love to be in the studio as one of my favorite artists are recording to give the thumbs up or down.
3. What is your major motivation for creating and maintaining this blog?
I have always been bothered by bad reviews that are based on misguided personal or corporate expectations, as opposed at listening to an album without prejudice. And then most of these reviews are trite and full of bad one-liners. I thought that there should be better quality, both in reviewing and writing, and I thought I could help fill that void somehow. But the real motivation has always been to sing the “unsung” heroes. Whether nascent bands that garner little coverage or veterans that are ignored and passed over in favor of new, corporately sponsored young faces, I wanted to put out there some great music that is often ignored.
As time goes on, I am writing more and more about indie artists, indie in the sense of being truly independent, such as The Android Angel (as opposed to the kind of “indie” band that really is a euphemism for festival bands). There is just so much out there that never really gets noticed. That is part of the reason why I have never written a negative review – there is just so much out there, that I don’t want to waste time telling anyone why I simply don’t like one title or other. (Believe me there is a ton of shit that I hate out there!)
I release that the decision of not sharing music or posting videos that are only from official sources (musician, label, director, etc…) makes SlowdiveMusic Blog less appealing. These decisions have been made and upheld in order to create a blog where artists would come to be interviewed, keep us in the loop of what they were doing, and share music for the sole purpose of reviewing (and only shared when they request it). The lack of downloadable music may make me less competitive than most sites, but it proves SlowdiveMusic Blog’s integrity and journalistic standard. But, as we are a blog, there is one thing that we must always do and that is to disclose any and all exchange of music for reviews. We always do this by writing in red texts before the post, the cue to our readers that there in fact has been some exchange. Regardless, we continue to only review music that we believe in.
But I really would like to point out something a bit political at this time: we are currently facing the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) as major legislation in the USA. As a person, a blogger, and, yes, a journalist, freedom of expression is very important to me, and I hope that everyone realizes the importance of this freedom – something that I think we will all be more focused on in the coming months. Educate yourselves on these legislation and others like them internationally; where we want to preserve the rights of all artists and entrepreneurs, we do not want any government potentially having the ability to strangle our freedom of expression.
4. Here's a two-parter: Which present day musician/band do you think is grossly overrated? Underrated?
This is indeed a hard question to answer. Where do I start?
Overrated in the pop world: Lady Gaga. I want to state for the record (again), I do not think she is talentless; I just think that her eye is more on making faux-statements and lowest common denominator music to appeal to the masses. I think that like Madonna, when she is no longer part of the hype machine and MTV and other mainstream outlets start to favor younger, fresher artists, Lady Gaga will write and produce her best music – her own “Ray of Light.”
Outside of the pop world, I would say White Stripes – should I run for shelter and hide after saying that? Perhaps it is because I could never connect to the majority of their music; I know they were talented, but I just never got it.
As for the underrated, let me answer this in three parts: foreign, indie, and major.
I think that most Americans and Brits tend to listen only to music that hails from English-speaking country, though Australian, Canadian, and New Zealander music is often ignored. Furthermore, I have always said that there is something to be said about French, German, and Scandinavian musicians, who not only have access to American and British music, but also their own national, continental, and even international music. The rise of bands like Abba is not the rule, but rather the exception to the rule of bands that rise to international prominence that do not hail from English speaking countries. So current bands I think are underrated include Destronics, Kent, Northern Portraits, and Second to name a few.
In terms of indie bands, the list could go on forever, but Murder By Death, Microfilm, and Kyte comes to mind immediately. Then there is Diego Garcia, whose album “Laura” we thought was the best album of the year. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Clara Engel – beyond brilliant and talented.
In terms of “major” artists, there are many veterans that are often underrated, like Duran Duran or Erasure in their later years. But if there is one band that I really think is underrated, it is Editors – every time I listen to them again, I like them more and more.
5. What is one of the most amazing situations that has occurred in your life that you can completely thank your creation of SlowdiveMusic for?
Well, my highlight came very early on, when I interviewed Steven Severin [of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ fame]. His music filled and continues to fill hours of my life. But I have also gotten to interact with many musicians that I admire, like Christophe of Transbeauce who is brilliant.
But what I really want to say is that at the end of it all, this is an arduous process; people are usually impressed that I have kept a blog going for this long, though we hit a rough patch with consistency last year. As any avid blogger will tell you, this is like having a second job that does not pay – and the investment in time, financially, and emotionally can really take a toll. What I am most amazed at is that I am stubborn enough to keep going at it, with some new ideas to unfurl.
Eurythmics’ “When Tomorrow Comes” from the EurythmicsVEVO YouTube Channel.
Kent’s “Hjäta” [“Heart”] from the KentVEVO YouTube Channel.
Murder By Death’s “White Noise” from vagrantrecords YouTube Channel.
Editors’ “Bullets” from the EditorsVEVO YouTube Channel.
Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Dazzle” from the bansheesofficial YouTube Channel.