Zak Paskak Sled Island Festival founder + Broken City, The Biltmore Cabaret owner
Music writing, especially at a local level, is often dull. Many writers who start with music seem to be lazy or at worst dumb. They sometimes get their info from previous writing and don’t do much to challenge it or interact with the subject.
In music writing one can find miserably bad writers who haven’t done much with their own lives trying to sum up the merits of other people. Getting the last word detracts from making the story interesting.
Music writers especially seem to want to prove that they are smart- so even if you can explain a concept or if you answer a criticism well they may want to still jam their point into the story. I think it causes a person to be very guarded with writers, which adds to the cycle of boring writing.
I admire a writer who uses few words and understands the difference between reporting and op/ed writing.
I think people need to figure out what they are writing about and ask questions about that. If it’s an album, listen to the album and ask some real questions about it. It’s frustrating to be interviewed by someone who hasn’t paid any attention to what they are supposed to be writing about.
Come up with some good questions and listen to the answers. It’s not about you, unless you are very interesting.
Chuck Klosterman is interesting to read, although more on the editorial side. He’s a good enough writer/thinker to get away with it.
When writers have their opinion made up and the story structured before they talk to you. It feels like a waste of time doing interviews. Also, when they misquote or lie it can be frustrating.
(Do you think music journalism is a necessary practice?)
I think it’s usually useless. When it’s good though it can give a rich back-story that deepens people’s appreciation for art, and their understanding of the world.
My experience with music journalism has unfortunately often been people wanting to analyze my character and come up with points and counter points about my nature. It’s very weird and can be frustrating.
(photo by thowattphoto.com)
*Ed. note interview was sent in by e-mail