Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Although in-person interviews are definitely the way to go, sometimes phone interviews certainly have their perks. This is definitely true for singer/songwriter and DIY pioneer Ari Hest. I had the pleasure of speaking with Hest twice this year, first in February for Stereo Subversion, and again in late October for the Sound Bites Dog E-zine and both times his surroundings made for some interesting conversation.

Ari Hest, rockin' DIY | Photo by Reid Rolls 
For the SBD interview, which recently went live, Hest called me up from one of my favorite places: The Container Store. Details, such as where the interviewee is calling from, can give a bit of a glimpse into that person’s life. Hest is obviously the type of guy who shops at The Container Store, a fun detail I was sad to leave out from the article.

Storage chatter aside, the real reason for the interview was to discuss his year-long project, entitled 52. One of my favorite stories from 2008, Hest sought to record and release one song for every week in the year. For those of you counting, that’s 52 songs for 52 weeks. Songs were then sold in a variety of formats via his website, either as a subscription, per song or in seasonal clusters. The best tracks from the year-long endeavor will be compiled for a proper album in 2009.

In some ways a continuation of the conversation he and I began earlier in 2008 over at Stereo Subversion, catching up with Hest for a Q&A for the Sound Bites Dog E-zine sated my curiosity for how well one of the year’s most interesting projects fared. Read all about it, here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fan Funded

No band or artist can survive for long making music without fans. It’s kind of a given. However, some bands are finding a new way to incorporate their fans into the recording process. Beyond studio diaries or exclusive studio videos, some independent artists are taking matters into their own hands: asking their fans to help fund their records.

It makes perfect sense. Who wants a band to put out a new album more than the fans? Nobody. Fans can “donate” money in exchange for prizes, which can include anything from a digital or physical copy of the CD, a thank you in the liner notes, or even a chance for the artist to play your living room.

Although joke-metal band Psychostick and pop singer/songwriter Jill Sobule (“Supermodel” from the Clueless soundtrack) raised funds via their own specially set up websites, Bandstocks.com offers artists, such as Patrick Wolf, the chance to, well, basically do the same thing..

The site is set up on a three-tier system. In the first stage fans can vote for bands they would like to have the opportunity to donate money towards. Fans (or “investors”) then donate money to bands or artists, like Wolf, who make it to round two. Then, once the needed amount is raised, albums get put into production and, in addition to getting a copy of the album and other perks, investors can even make a little bit of extra cash if the album does well.

The coolest thing about this new trend is that artists with a loyal fan base don’t have to wait for record labels to take interest anymore. Instead of depending on the labels to put up money for the album upfront, bands and artists can take their needs to the fans. Labels are very quickly becoming a thing of the past, and this is just one more option for struggling musicians to get their music heard.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Spectacular Accident

The new issue of Athens Blur magazine hit stands last week, with my article on MGMT gracing the cover. Check it out:

The issue also features pieces I did on both the soft voiced Denison Witmer and long-lost pop punkers Sugarcult as well as a slurry of other awesomeness.  It's pretty, it's free and it's all over the Classic City. There's no excuse not to pick it up if you're in the area. 

I spoke with Ben Goldwasser for the article. He's a super fellow and much more down to earth than you might expect from one of the year's biggest buzzed bands (need proof? They topped Filter's Top 10 of 2008!).  It's rare to find musicians as shocked at success as Goldwasser and partner-in-crime Andrew Vanwyngarden. 

In other news, the January issue of Blur is shaping up to be great as well.  Just finished up a Q&A with Mike Kennerty of the All-American Rejects and should be chatting up The Bird and The Bee later this week.

Until next time, stay classy, blogosphere.