I've been a lover of music my entire life; I became obsessed with my first musician (David Bowie) at the tender age of four. In 2008, I wrote my first music piece for Westword. The music editor was in dire need of a review of Roger Waters' Dark Side of the Moon tour performance the morning after, and since I'd been to the show, he asked me to write it up. I hadn't taken any notes, so I hashed out which songs had been played with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, and a friend who'd also been there. Then I wrote it.
Since that initial music review, I've written many more. Although I mostly listen to (and cover) electronic music, some of my personal favorite reviews are of the musicians I don't listen to very often. My review of Robert Plant with Band of Joy at the Fillmore in 2011 is one example; another is my review of Widespread Panic at Red Rocks in 2008. I've also reviewed many, many electronic musicians, including mainstream artists like Deadmau5 and more underground and massive raves than I can count.
My first music feature story emerged when I was introduced to a band of talented gypsy-rock musicians and dancers and artists that put on a spectacular performance; they call themselves Lunar Fire. By "introduced to," I mean that I was attending a camping festival in May of 2010. It was a cold and rainy weekend, and my husband and I had packed it in early on Saturday night; we were fast asleep in our tent when this amazing, haunting, visceral music woke us both up. It was still cold and rainy, but we got up and got dressed to venture out and see what on earth had woken us up in such a beautiful way. It was Lunar Fire.
I mentioned how much I enjoyed their show in a write-up about the music that weekend, and one of Lunar Fire's two drummers asked if I would be interested in writing a feature story about the band. They had a show coming up later that year, and there was room for a feature story that particular week in the music section. I had a great conversation with the artists, and my story was published in July 2010. (Incidentally, my connection with Lunar Fire dropped my first news feature story for Westword in my lap, too — but that's a different tale.)
Later in 2010, I wrote a music feature piece about Mark Farina, one of my favorite house set-spinners, delving into how he selects the tunes he puts together for his sets. And my 2011 interview with Lyrics Born revealed him to be a perfectionist.
I've been lucky enough to experiment with my music features; in 2013, I wrote a piece about a collaboration between promoters bringing in big-name commercial acts and promoters focusing on underground artists. And in May of 2014, I wrote an essay about what it means to be a music fan in the face of changing life priorities and situations that was also printed as a music feature story in Westword.
SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
I write a little column almost every week for Westword that runs in print, in the music section in the concert listings. I didn't pioneer the concept by any means, but when Scratching the Surface needed a new writer in late 2010, I took over the duty and have been penning the little corner ever since. I try to stay focused on underground shows that readers might not otherwise hear about, although every once in a while, there will be a mainstream artist who's worth sneaking into Scratching.
Several interviews I've conducted with an array of musicians (mostly electronic) have made it onto the Westword blog; here are a few of my favorites:
- 11.4.13: "Claude VonStroke: 'If you just try to do what everyone else is doing, that never works out'"
- 6.26.13: "Blond:ish on how gender doesn't matter: If you make good music, you make good music"
- 5.24.13: "Thievery Corporation's Rob Garza on remixing and the endless possibilities in the digital realm"
- 1.16.13: "Pan-Pot on pushing boundaries and how prepared DJ sets are boring and unflexible"
- 11.6.12: "Paul Kalkbrenner on how he keeps his sound pure by not listening to anybody else's music"
- 10.12.12: "Guy Gerber on his scorching Fabric mix and how Facebook affects the electronic scene"
- 1.19.12: "Ziggy Marley: 'I don't want to put anything into my body that's not natural'"
- 10.12.11: "Pete Tong on twenty years at the BBC, relaunching FFRR and returning to Pacha"
- 8.2.11: "John Digweed on Structures 2, being a superstar and his upcoming set at Beta"
- 11.26.10: "Michael Franti on touring with John Mayer, social justice and more"
ESSAYS AND THINK PIECES
Lately, I've been experimenting with music writing that's less objective (or at least transparently subjective) and more introspective. The first example is a rant that was building for years before I penned it in April of 2014, "Why I can't take 'EDM' seriously." A couple of days later, I wrote up a piece about discovering that my six-week-old recognized a song I sang to him in utero. That was followed by an essay in May 2014 about what it means to be a music fan in the face of changing life priorities and situations that was printed as a music feature story in Westword.