26 September 2010

My Other Love: Musings on Music Journalism

Music. Words. Both are things that define me to the core.

I've been music-obsessed from the start. My mom tells that as a toddler, I'd teeter up to the record player (one of those massive, furniture-piece consoles with turntable + speakers + storage) and bob along to Lou Rawls. I apparently had a penchant for "Groovy People."

When MTV launched in 1981, I was there. I can't prove that I remember tuning in on the very first airing of Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star," but it couldn't have been long after. That old MTV moon man intro, played between actual videos (back when the "M" actually stood for "music"), still gives me the chills.

I started piano lessons in my single-digit years, then transitioned to the more portable flute in fifth grade. I toted that tin whistle around through to my early twenties when I graduated from college with a Minor in Music.

My other love, words, started just as early. I'm a talker, insisting on the last word. At some point my smart parents must have realized they could hand me a pen and paper and have me channel some of my Chatty Cathy into written words.

And so, for much of my elementary school years, you'd find me passing my free time by creating books and having them bound and "published" at our school library's own printing press.

It wasn't until about age 14 that I put two and two together, realizing I could marry my love of music and writing into a career as a magazine journalist. And so, my hobby of poring over music rags like Rolling Stone and SPIN become dually focused: I read the articles to learn about the bands + to see how the journalists crafted their stories.

About this time, my hometown of Seattle spiked the nationwide radar as an emerging hotbed of cool. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden were suddenly household names. When we'd travel out of state, we'd see fewer and fewer blank stares when we described where we called home. Seattle, and its gritty music, was on the map.

I couldn't have dreamed up a better place to be. Right place, right time.

Those years solidified my goal to be a music journalist. I rapidly set forth my path, eying journalism colleges with strong music programs, finally enrolling in the University of Oregon to study magazine journalism + minor in music. While in school, I landed an internship at the renowned Seattle music mag The Rocket. My senior thesis investigated Girl Zines (which, inevitably, centered mostly around boys in bands). I covered the music & entertainment beat at the university newspapers, continued to freelance at The Rocket until it folded, and found a longstanding home as a contributor to ThreeImaginaryGirls.com (a Seattle-based music website). I was living the dream.

Until I fizzled. I'd had enough of reviewing CD after CD, trying to come up with witty ways to describe what felt like the same ol' thing, over and over. I tired of going to live gigs, staying out late and cramming to wrap a review before the next day's publication. My swan song was covering a two-day megafest celebrating Sub Pop's 20 years as a Seattle music label. It was exhilarating and exhausting.

And so, as you know, I switched my focus to the kitchen. For the last couple of years, my creative energy has been directed at all things food. Yet, in the back of my mind, the wheels always cranked around What I Might Do Next. I knew music would return.

For the past couple of months, I've been putting on that old hat. The details are nascent, but I should be sharing more soon. Suffice it to say you may start to see more musical references in my recipe reviews...perhaps more posts as we get closer to the big reveal. I'm also hinting at a few things over on Twitter.

One thing I'd like to know: Do you care if I write about music here? Or, would you prefer to see that on a different site? Leave me a comment to let me know.

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