Option C 7-inch

wondering sound

A couple weeks back, Wondering Sound premiered the lead track off my band’s new single. If you don’t read Wondering Sound, you’re missing out—it’s chock full of some truly fantastic long form music writing and criticism. There is not a day where WS isn’t hitting a home run. If I had to pick a piece for you to read off the top of my head, it would be Charles Aaron’s article about country radio and songs about sexual assault.

Ask any person in a band—having a website premiere a stream of one’s work is an essential part of the publicity game these days, even if it doesn’t  translate necessarily into album sales.  A lot of music blogs are garbagey—churning out streams and copy culled straight from PR one-sheets—so we consider ourselves really fortunate that an esteemed site such as Wondering Sound wanted to premiere it. It means a lot to align ourselves with quality music writing in a time when music writing isn’t deeply valued. (Feel free to ask me about my other deeply cynical thoughts on music some time!)

This single was a real step forward for me and the band, and most importantly, I’m really proud of the music we’ve made. I think we picked the right place to record (Jeff/Uniform is the best!) and the packaging for our limited edition version of the single is stunning (thanks to Linnea & John for printing the sleeves & tote bags, respectively!).

Mid-year Recap

Whoa, I haven’t posted here in a while! That’s totally on me. There hasn’t been much I have wanted to publicly discuss. Anyway, I’m about to spend the next 2.5 weeks in Italy starting tomorrow, so maybe now is as good as time as any to catch up.

  • I spoke on a panel at SXSW Music and it was great! It was also my first experience with a packed-to-the-gills audience, and I think I did pretty OK. Hoping that the festival will upload the audio from the session in some kind of shareable form relatively soon.
  • My band, No Other, are releasing a 7-inch single on the Negative Fun label this September. The band recorded it at Uniform Recording and I couldn’t be prouder with the finished product. I can’t wait for y’all to hear it.
  • We also went on tour, and in Canada to boot. It went quite well, and we’re hoping we can make our way back there soon. Generally speaking, I’m hoping the band can continue to do more touring in the year to come.
  • I went on a bunch of job interviews and since I’m not in any rush to leave my current position any time soon (only for the right position, should it come along), but wow, do I have a lot of feelings about what I have experienced thus far. I think I’m going to dedicate some space to that.

Time to pack and get ready for an adventure!

Music From 2013 That I Liked A Whole Bunch

Basia Bulat, Tall Tall Shadow

Beaches, She Beats

Bettie Serveert, Oh, Mayhem!

Beyoncé, Beyoncé

Big Mouth, Sound

Bleeding Rainbow, Yeah Right

Body/Head, Coming Apart

Bottomless Pit, Shade Perennial

Brandy Clark, 12 Stories

Caitlin Rose, The Stand-In

Chris Forsyth, Solar Motel

Cough Cool, 29

Deveykus, Pillar Without Mercy

Eleventh Dream Day, New Moodio

Grooms, Infinity Caller

Hunx & His Punx, Street Punk

Janelle Monaé, The Electric Lady

Julia Holter, Loud City Song

Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park

Kinski, Cosy Moments

Kurt Vile, Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Lee Ranaldo and the Dust, Last Night On Earth

Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia

The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries, Mass. Grave

Medicine, To The Happy Few

Noveller, No Dreams

Obits, Bed & Bugs

Parasol, Not There

Pissed Jeans, Honeys

Pity Sex, Feast of Love

Polvo, Siberia

Positive No, Via Florum

Potty Mouth, Hell Bent

Psychic Ills, One Track Mind

Rhys Chatham, Harmonie Du Soir

Savages, Silence Yourself

Sky Larkin, Motto

Speedy Ortiz, Major Arcana

Superchunk, I Hate Music

Various Artists, Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound

Yo La Tengo, Fade

No Other Website

Introducing No Other

Today I’m really pleased to announce that my new band, No Other, has released its debut EP (or demo, if you prefer). It’s available on our website when you subscribe to our mailing list. (Which I hope you do.) I’m thrilled to be back in a band situation again, and also proud of the online presence I built for us. We’re big advocates of not having to rely upon Facebook and related social media services as our primary means of communicating with fans—a common mistake too many bands make—and as such it was important to us our website reflects our personal viewpoint.

The site is built with HTML (templated using PHP), CSS, and Javascript. The site, for the most part, is built on Zurb’s Foundation framework (I really like their UI elements; it’s a nice starting point), with some Mailchimp integration for the mailing list. We’ve also made the site CASHmusic-ready for some additional things we’ll be rolling out in the future. There are two specific elements of our site that I feel compelled to talk about. They’re small and kind of invisible to the user, but they are an enormous help with some administrative tasks.

First, our “About” page prints in a completely different layout than what is presented on the screen. This is controlled by using a @print media query in the CSS; some of this baked into Foundation itself, and the rest was written by me. This was done to eliminate the need for us to create an additional one-sheet.  As someone who deals with a lot of document management at work, version control can become an enormous pain. Since we plan on sending our release to some radio stations, this saves us the extra step of maintaining an additional document.

Second, our “Shows” page is powered by a Google Spreadsheet thanks to  Sheetsee.js. (Since we don’t have any shows at the moment, you won’t see it in action. But soon!) Since our site does not require the use of a traditional CMS (in fact, many places are moving away from these technologies), this allows us to add tourdates without having to do much heavy lifting. Moreover, it was a nice opportunity to learn the basics of Mustache.

Thu 9/12: Double Decker Music Series featuring Birdie Busch, Charles Cohen

Double Decker Music SeriesTime to get personal: My boyfriend is a tour guide. He spends his days giving visitors to Philadelphia a glimpse of what our fair city can offer. Sebastian does this mostly on a bus (like the one pictured on the left), but sometimes he’ll give walking tours, dressed up in colonial garb. Last summer I had the privilege of taking his tour on my birthday and you know what? He’s pretty great at his job.

Now he’s taking his love of music and combining it with his day job, with something he’s calling the Double Decker Music Series. The first installment features local musicians Birdie Busch and Charles Cohen, in addition to a guided tour of the city. There will also be ice cream (courtesy of Little Baby’s) and fun times will be had all around. Even if you’re a lifelong Philadelphian, you’ll find this tour totally enjoyable and one of the most unique experiences you’ll have in this city.

Here’s how he describes it:

The Double Decker Music series is a unique, intimate mobile concert experience on an open-top double-decker bus. It features live performances in an urban setting paired with a guided tour of Philadelphia’s attractions.

Consider picking up a ticket now before it’s too late!

Girls Rock Philly Camp Wrap-Up

Maps
A very simplified version of “Maps” for my younger campers. They rocked it!

I spent the past week as a volunteer guitar instructor at Girls Rock Philly’s Summer Rock Camp, and it was literally the best way to spend my paid vacation. I have admired GRP’s work for a long time and was excited when I realized I could participate in the week-long summer camp. Talk about an emotionally gratifying week, where I was lucky enough to teach young girls how to play the guitar. In addition to learning about music and related topics, the campers form bands and spend the week writing music together. The week culminates in a live performance (featuring music created by the campers) and recorded in a studio for posterity.

Though I’ve adjuncted at a university, this was my first foray into teaching young kids, and I didn’t know what to expect. Nor did I think I could handle teaching anyone anything musical. But it turned out pretty OK! My 10-12 class was taught fingering exercises (important for building dexterity & familiarity with the fretboard), basic music theory (the chromatic scale in C major), some power chords (for fun!), and two songs (The Ramones’ “Sheena is A Punk Rocker” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”). My 13-14 group focused on similar things, but slightly more challenging by learning major and minor pentatonic scale patterns, plus “Ask the Angels” (Patti Smith), “Gold Lion” (YYYs), “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1″ (The Flaming Lips), “Punk Rock Girl” (Dead Milkmen), and “Gold Guns Girls” (Metric) — all of which were requests by the students themselves. All in all, action-packed.

There really aren’t any words to express how exhilarating and empowering this week was, and all the amazing people I’ve come to know in such a short few days. In some ways, it was just as much camp for me as it was for the kids. If you have as little as 5 dollars to spare a month, you can help sustain camp plus the year-round programming GRP provides at its headquarters in Fishtown by joining the 2013 Sustainer Blast-Off! campaign.

Show GRP how much you rock by making a donation right now!

A Short, Sweet WWC Recap

As the person pretty much responsible for booking 75% of this year’s Wharton Web Conference, I have lots of feelings and infinite space to express those feelings, so I’ll keep it short. I had a blast.

Putting together events is second-nature to me — having spent 6 years booking DIY shows — but this is the first seriously huge event I’ve had my fingerprints all over. I spent a lot of time making sure that the 9 sessions we presented over the course of the day were interesting on their own and together. Based on the comments I’ve heard so far, it seems to have worked. Even though I have thanked them a jillion times, I just want to give our speakers another shout out, because they’re all so goddamned brilliant.

For me, this year was a way to re-affirm the idea that the Internet is society writ large, and that even when we’re siloed off in our worlds of code and design, the work that we do has massive implications. I take this idea rather seriously and keep it in mind as I navigate my own projects.

Handpicked

image

You’ll never hear me call myself a “curator”, or listen to me talk about how I “curate” something. Because I am not those things. I’m writing about this because last week at the <Write/Speak/Code> conference, a couple people asked me about this, or bandied about these phrases to describe what I do as an events booker. My short was response was that calling myself this would be disingenuous.

I have friends who are bona fide curators, who are employed by large and small cultural institutions. Their job isn’t merely picking an object and placing it on a wall or pedestal. Their work involves endless hours of research, project management, and thoughtful care of the belongings they’ve been charged with. This is of course, a very shallow description of their duties compared to the real work they put behind their projects.

I respect their livelihoods, which is why I do not consider my activities befitting of the same name. In my life as a booker, radio host, and so on, I’ve gotten really good at picking things, simply put. I have built up a good set of skills and honed my intuition to figure out what works and make decisions. And like a curator, I think about the care and feeding of my interests. I like finding ways to help bands/creative types remain sustainable. That’s like a curator, except that there’s no catalog for that experience, no talks given, and so on.

Moreover “curation” and other terms that have been parlayed into industries (lookin’ at you, “disruption”) speak to a larger cultural problem of lacking intention. I’m a believer in the old phrase “Say what you mean, mean what you say” and to use these terms fails to encompass what I’m actually doing. As a UX/CS strategist, I strive for clarity in my tasks and accomplishments, and as such, I make sure I’m thoughtful and careful about the language in the process.