interviews

Interview with Amateur Hour

AMATEUR HOUR are a newish, three-person experimental/psych act from Gothenburg,
Sweden whom I’ve been quite excited to stumble upon in recent months.
Their stuff’s not exactly easy to find; you may wish to try illicit means if you can’t come across the records.

I get the same sort of scratchy, lo-fi, intensely enveloping sense of distortion & spacelessness that we heard in Dadamah twenty-plus years ago from them. One track will include ethereal vocals much like Liz Fraser’s from Cocteau Twins; the next might be a formless instrumental that sounds like as if someone’s flipped on a 1940s-era generator & just let it hum in the background.

Someone needed to get to the bottom of the Amateur Hour conundrum, so I nominated myself and set to work. Interview conducted via email in December 2016.


Amateur Hour: Dan Johansson, Hugo Randulv, Julia Bjernelind

Dynamite Hemorrhage: The Amateur Hour album is a beautiful mix of murky, experimentally-tinged pop and a darker, more strange sort of electric folk that could probably be called “psych” for lack of a better term. When the three of you sat down to make music, how did you verbalize what you wanted to sound like?

Hugo: The way i see it, we want to make simple and beautiful pop music. But we
have never rehearsed or written any songs together, so all the music on
the album is either improvised or recorded on its own and then placed
together with other sounds to make it fit into the idea or thing that we
were going for. We rarely talk about how things should sound before we
meet. It’s all pretty much decided the very moment we start recording.

Dynamite Hemorrhage: Tracks like “Get Fucked” aren’t really music per se,
but that might be my favorite piece on the album. What were you going
for with that one, and how would you describe how it was made?

Julia: Hugo and Dan had made an instrumental piece they showed me, and they said I
could do anything i wanted with it. It was really dreamy and soothing, still very melancholic and sad. I wrote the lyrics and we just recorded it. That’s how we do with most songs. We try not to think about or talk too much about what we’re doing. I think the lyrics are about alcohol abuse in this one.

Dynamite Hemorrhage: There’s a “Garlands”-era Cocteau Twins feel to some of the tracks, such as “Paradise Lost”, with a lot of swirling synth & multi-tracked, sugary vocals. Is that band an intentional influence – and if not them, whom?

Hugo: Cocteau Twins is definitely a band that have had a big influence on me, at least. I think that kind of dreamy-sounding pop music from some of the bands on 4AD and artists like Julee Cruise and Virginia Astley has had an impact on our sound. Otherwise i guess we draw inspiration from all over the place. From early industrial music and noise to some indiepop music, like the bands on Sarah records.

Dynamite Hemorrhage: Julianna Barwick is another (significantly less smudgy/DIY) artist whose music slots in well next to yours (at least I think so), but I suspect you’re going for something a little less ear-friendly on most tracks. Would you agree with the comparison, and if not, who else currently making music would you prefer to align your approach with?

Hugo: I had never heard of Julianna Barwick before, i probably should have though, it sounds great! I totally get the comparison, but i think the thing we do is a little bit more focused on the improvisation and make up stuff as you go kind of work method. Our songs are not so much compositions as it is like a sonic collage made up of stuff we have recorded on different occasions, and then afterwards put into a context.

I wish I could namedrop a bunch of currently working artists that we feel have something in common with. but i honestly can’t think of one. One the other hand, I am not really too up to date with what’s out there…

Dynamite Hemorrhage: I get the sense from various things that are dribbling out & from fanzines like FÖRDÄMNING that there continues to be a pretty deep Swedish musical underground of DIY noisemakers, off-centered rock bands and artists of many strange colors. How true is that for you, living there, and are you content with what’s right there in Gothenburg?

Hugo: I feel that there is a pretty strong, although extremely small, scene in Gothenburg at the moment. But it’s hard to get an outsider’s perspective of it since I know most of the people very well, and play with a handful of the projects that could be tied to this scene. But it continues to inspire and a handful of really, really good releases tend to come out every year so I’m really glad about it.

Dynamite Hemorrhage: How much better or worse is it for you to be making music in Gothenburg as opposed to Stockholm?

Hugo: I don’t know actually, i have been living in Gothenburg for my entire
life and don’t know too much about the scene in over there. But
Gothenburg has always had a very healthy music scene. But the eyes are
mostly set on Stockholm so a lot of the stuff in Gothenburg remains
fairly underground, which is a both good and a bad thing.

Dynamite Hemorrhage: Where has Amateur Hour played live so far, and what goes into a live Amateur Hour performance? Your first gig, which is on YouTube,
looks like you did everything from flip on some tapes and sing to play
together in a pretty “standard” guitar/guitar/drums lineup.

Julia: The one on YouTube is actually the only gig we’ve done so far. It was at Folk in Gothenburg; we were the opening act for Neil Hagerty. Since we’re not like a regular rock band that rehearses two times a week, we didn’t really have a repertoire, so we decided in what order we’d play the songs and how some of them could be played live. It was pretty hard with some of them, like Sprängd, that was improvised while we all were really drunk.

We tried not to make it too much like a singer/songwriter gig and not too noisy and wild. Somewhere in between, I guess.

Dynamite Hemorrhage: Online I’ve found that “Amateur Hour contains members from Enhet För Fri Musik, Makthaverskan and Westkust”. What can you tell me about those bands – and where does Amateur Hour fall in your lists of musical priorities?

Julia: Hugo has been playing in Makthaverskan since he was 16 I think, and me and
Hugo met during 2010 when we started playing in Westkust. We had always
been talking about making more experimental music together since we’re
both big fans to a lot of post-punk bands like Birthday Party etc, but
nothing really happened. Then Hugo and Dan got to know each other when
Hugo went to Sewer Election (Dan’s band) gigs and started talking. They
formed Enhet För FrI Musik and then they asked me if I wanted to do some
vocals on a new project. And Amateur Hour was created.

Hugo: Yeah, and since both Mathaverskan and Westkust are more traditional “rehearse
and write songs together” kinds of bands, both me and Julia really
enjoyed the freedom of writing songs the way we do in Amateur Hour.
Enhet för fri musik, which consists of me, Dan, Gustaf Dicksson, Sofie
Herner and Matthias Andersson, have a bit of the same working method as
Amateur Hour, but even more chaotic i think.

Dynamite Hemorrhage: You’ve got an album in an edition of 100, a “dub plate” single in an edition of 20, and a tape in an edition of 60. Is that really all you envisioned selling or giving away?

Hugo: Both the LP album and the cassette tape was released on labels closely connected to the band. I run the Forever United label with some friends, and me and Dan are
involved in the the Förlag För Fri Musik label with the rest of Enhet
för fri musik. The 7″ was released on Folk records. I guess we did such a
limited number of records just because it’s cheaper and more convenient
to not have a bunch of records that no one wants lying around your
place. i think there is also a beautiful thing in something that is not
available just through a click with your computer or whatever. It’s done
in a few copies, and that’s that!

Dynamite Hemorrhage: What else do the three of you do to get by and live life? Work, families etc.

Hugo: No one of us get any money at all from the various musical projects we are
involved in, so we have to get by with day jobs or studies…

Dynamite Hemorrhage: It’s only been half a year since your first gig and just a little over that since you started releasing material. Where do you intend to take this project in 2017?

Hugo: We have been doing some recordings  recently and hope to be finished with our second album in 2017.

Uncategorized

It’s time for the third in our series of interviews with the digital age’s most happening music curators. (Interview with Matt Thornton is here; interview with Layla Gibbon is here).

I wouldn’t have been able to enter polite company again nor sputter the word “curator” if I didn’t fire off some pithy questions to Erika Elizabeth, the hostess of the world-beating “Expressway To Yr Skull” radio show (now podcast), and one of the supreme musical tastemakers of the last decade, far as I’m and many other righteous folks are concerned.

It’s not really nepotism or anything – I mean, we had no idea of each other’s existence three years ago – but since discovering her show in 2011, we’ve recognized some like-mindedness in the musical realm, and she’s now Dynamite Hemorrhage fanzine’s contributing editor and largest contributor of content besides myself. (You can order #1 and see all the stuff she wrote here; more is coming in Issue #2 in a couple months).

I interviewed her once before as well, but this thing on curators would be useless without her informed and well-considered take. She’s successfully migrated her show from an analog curation medium (the college radio studio) into the digital age (her podcast, which is the same show, albeit less frequent), while also suffering the existential pathos that stems from trying to stay (somewhat) analog in a world increasingly defined by 0’s and 1’s.

I reckon we should let Erika speak for herself – what do you say?

DH: How do you balance buying new music on vinyl vs. downloading it, and what sort of trade-offs do you make in the process?

Erika Elizabeth: It’s a Sisyphean struggle for me to even try to keep up with buying all of the new music on vinyl that I would like to possess, for a multitude of reasons (my lack of a wealthy benefactor & the record collection that is already monopolizing my studio apartment are but two of them). Waiting to buy records from bands at shows when they play in Portland has been a good way for me to moderate that a little bit – I get to put some money directly into their pockets when they really need it & it forces me to be more deliberate about what music I bring home. But obviously, not every active band with new records that I would like to obtain will be passing through here, so I’m also always picking stuff up via record stores or mail order whenever I can. As much as I love the record stores here in Portland, they’re heavily slanted toward used vinyl, so I usually end up dropping a chunk of change on newer releases every couple of months when I go visit friends in Seattle, since the shops there actually seem to consistently stock new vinyl on smaller labels & working at a tiny vintage/record store doesn’t afford me the big bucks to pay for shipping on a bunch of new singles from Australia or the UK on a regular basis.

Downloads certainly are convenient now that I’m doing a podcast scraped together entirely from my laptop, as opposed to the years I spent doing a show in a fully-equipped radio studio with access to multiple turntables & cassette decks & the like, but since I’d rather save my money to get ahold of new music in a tangible format, any downloading I do is limited to what I can track down for free. So with those limitations in mind, digital music becomes a placeholder of sorts until I can get my hands on physical media, which sometimes might not actually happen (records with ridiculously small runs that immediately go out of print, things that get lost in the shuffle as a new avalanche of releases gets added to my wishlist, etc). If you’re compelled to be an evangelist for all things new & weird & wonderful (as I am), there’s bound to be some trade-offs in how much you can financially support all of the things that you’re hoping to turn other people onto & that’s a dilemma that I face on a constant basis.

DH: What sort of impact does putting together a regular radio show or podcast have on your imperative to scour for new music – or would you be just as curious even without the drive to share your discoveries w/ your listeners?

Erika Elizabeth: Honestly, it’s sort of a chicken-or-egg situation. Let’s just say that there’s a really good reason why I went to graduate school to become a librarian; namely that I absolutely love doing research & digging up information from all sorts of places about things that interest me. I’ve absolutely always been curious about (some would say unhealthily obsessed with) tracking down new/unfamiliar music & that dogged fixation is what ultimately pushed me toward doing college radio/podcasting – it was an opportunity to actually put all of those discoveries that I had culled to good use (meaning, beyond playing records too loudly in my bedroom by myself) & hopefully have a domino effect of turning other people onto music that I felt needed to reach a wider audience. At the same time, knowing in the back of my mind that I have another radio show coming up definitely pushes me to put in a little extra effort to track down a few more new-to-me musical finds than I might have otherwise stumbled across in my typical day-to-day research. And that’s mostly a consequence of me being unreasonably hung up on not repeating myself too much in my playlists – luckily, there’s always a chance for me to dig deeper into the history of all-female Swiss punk bands from the late 1970s or try to find something out there from a band on Harriet Records that’s not already in my personal collection or what have you.

I will say that not being on a fixed, weekly broadcasting schedule has been a huge improvement for my mental health when it comes to putting a show together, because I have way more time in between episodes to really pursue those paths of musical discovery as far as I want to, without the panic of needing to pull together one hundred & twenty minutes of new material in under a week.

DH: What current online or offline resources do you favor in trying to find the music you listen to and recommend to other vis-a-vis your show?

Erika Elizabeth: Well, for someone who does a podcast & (sort of) maintains a blog, I’m really not very digitally-inclined. A substantial amount of the accumulation & pursuit of music that I do utilizes the internet as a secondary source, rather than a primary source. A big part of why I moved to Portland last year is because it’s a total record store town – it’s sort of unreal for a mid-sized city like this to have a dozen or so record shops, most of which at least have their moments of brilliance & one of which I’m fortunate to work at (which means that I literally have hours where I get paid to sort through piles of records looking for things that might be of interest to me).

One of my favorite new-to-me finds from the past few months was an EP from 1982 by this female-fronted band from Seattle called the Visible Targets, which I stumbled across in the bins at a local shop & brought to the listening station based solely on the fact that the sleeve design had an almost textbook early ‘80s post-punk aesthetic, which if reflected in the music would mean that they totally had my number (it was & they did). After I brought it home, I did some research online to see what I could find out about them, which led to finding, among other things, some really great archival video footage, which garnered a really enthusiastic response when I reposted it on the Facebook page for my show. But I don’t have a smartphone, so I’m not going to be Googling from the little screen in my hand as a means of doing some investigating while I flip through record stacks & I kind of like doing online research after my instincts have already guided me toward something offline – I feel like it forces me to be a little more adventurous & take more chances.

When I was an underground music-obsessed teenager stuck in the suburbs before the internet had become fully ubiquitous & I was desperately trying to find new sounds that challenged me, a lot of my methods were simply based on connecting dots from the limited information I did have access to – reading record reviews in zines that mention one band including former members of another band, making note of who was touring with or opening up for bands I liked, working my way through the back catalogs of labels that seemed to put out a lot of records that I already had, etc. I’m very much still in that mindset, although now that it’s 2014 instead of 1999, I can dig up that information much more quickly online. I stumble upon a lot of newer music that I incorporate into my podcast via those sorts of “six degrees of separation” methods – “oh, this band just put out a tape that I really like & there’s like three or four other things on their label’s Bandcamp page that I should probably check out”, that sort of thing.

I’m always looking at local show listings to see if there’s anything on the horizon that I want to hit up, which has led to being unexpectedly charmed by an unknown-to-me band who happened to be on a bill opening for another band I was already planning to go see, or who I checked out after noticing that they were going to be playing one of the venues here in town that fairly consistently hosts the sorts of shows that I’m inclined to go to, not to mention all of the bands that I’ve looked into after noticing (via the miracle of Facebook news feeds) that they were playing shows with my friends in various other corners of the country. I actually don’t keep up with blogs as consistently as I should, but I have a fair number of reliable standbys bookmarked on my laptop & I’ll scroll through those when I’m getting ready to put together a new podcast, to see if there’s anything new & up my alley that isn’t on my radar yet.

DH: Are you pleased with the abundance of music available to you within minutes online, or has something been lost in the process – and by buying vinyl, are you potentially seeking to hold onto a meaningful part what brought you into music obsession in the first place?

Erika Elizabeth: Of course, as a confirmed music obsessive, the convenience of having so much music so readily available to me online is incredible, but at the same time, I do think that something has been lost in the process – namely, a more immediate sense of community & connection. Maybe I’m romanticizing the era of the internet when blog culture hadn’t completely blown up yet, but that was also a time when my music discovery facilitated through online channels was mostly based around trading mixtapes with people from all over the place, which allowed me to find out about music that has profoundly influenced my life in ways that I can’t even begin to quantify; music that I likely never would have stumbled upon on my own if I had been forced to keep relying solely on hearing something by chance on the local college radio station or reading a review of a record in a zine & then actually being able to find a copy of it in the strip mall CD chain stores that I had access to as a teenager in Houston, Texas. I’m still friends with some of those people who sent me tapes in the mail fifteen years ago, which is the sort of connection that is so much harder to make when you’re, say, just downloading something that someone posted on their blog – it becomes more of a one-way transaction. Obviously, there’s exceptions to that (you & I wouldn’t be zine collaborators if you hadn’t emailed me as a result of finding my radio show online!), but so much of the current online exchange of information seems to be this cycle of forwarding & reblogging or whatever, without more personal conversations entering the picture.

My preference for buying vinyl certainly has roots in that community-oriented mindset, not in small part because I’ve been working in record stores for most of the past decade & having face-to-face conversations about music with someone from either side of the record counter gives me a joy like few other things in this world. My media consumption habits were something that I thought of often while I was working on my masters degree, where my entire academic motivation was based around a desire to help make resources more widely accessible to people & to preserve them for future generations. I took an archives course that was really eye-opening as far as the role that technology has on long-term preservation of archival materials goes, specifically the amount of work & resources that it takes to convert information stored on now-archaic file formats (think files & data saved on floppy disks, or increasingly, films that only exist on VHS) into something that can still be accessed & maintained using current technology, which is a never-ending cycle as older formats are continuously phased out & newer formats inevitably become dominant.

So while the internet is a wonderful place for having easy access to all sorts of music & exposing that music to a wider audience, I think having a physical artifact (i.e. vinyl) gives me a greater sense of security & permanence. How often do we lament a once active blog going dormant as the links to mp3s it once provided turn into virtual dead ends, or seeing videos pulled from Youtube for copyright violations, or what have you? Plus, it’s just way more exciting to DJ when you get to dig through a box of singles to throw on the turntable, as opposed to just standing over a table while you scroll through your iTunes library.

DH: How has the state of music accumulation and curation evolved in the last few years? What’s different about, say, 2014 than even 2012 or 2010?

Erika Elizabeth: The sphere of online music curation has obviously expanded exponentially in just the past few years & the one thing that I find myself lamenting is the sort of constant one-upping culture that has emerged now that music blogs are a dime a dozen, feeding off absurd, ego-driven notions of first discovery. Granted, this isn’t exclusive to blogs & the like, but I feel like the immediacy of the internet has greatly distorted the importance of being able to lay claim to “breaking” an undiscovered or relatively under-hyped artist. I tried my hand at writing for online music publications for a spell & I grew so disillusioned with it because the prevailing attitude of so many of those outlets seemed to be geared more toward beating any other music blog or website to covering a particular artist & less toward providing any sort of intelligent, critical assessments or sharing things out of genuine enthusiasm. It turns into this vicious cycle of trying to crank out some short paragraph essentially copy & pasted from a band’s website or press release or whatever, throwing in a link to a Youtube video or a Bandcamp page & waiting for all of the other blogs to catch up to what you’ve just discovered (and often, to recycle the same links & tag lines, ad infinitum). I think that’s why I tend to be drawn to music curation outlets that have a greater distance from that insidious clickbaiting mentality – print zines that are writing about things that came out months before the issue could be published, podcasts where you can actually hear someone talk passionately about music that they want to share with a wider audience, those rare blogs that have a clear focus on smartly & thoroughly highlighting music that would otherwise fall through the cracks without resorting to horrible Buzzfeed-esque list-making, etc.

DH: What parallels does online curation have with the days of flipping through stacks of records in crates, if any – and what sort of mindset does a modern digital curator need to bring to the search for the best obscurities?

Erika Elizabeth: I’m a firm believer that regardless of whether your crate digging is done in actual record bins or just by combing through online resources, you’re only going to get anywhere if you’re not the type of person to play it safe & stick to things that have already been demystified for you. One of my biggest frustrations in booking shows for relatively small potatoes bands over the past few years has been trying to get people in my local community excited about taking a chance on spending $5 to see some band that haven’t heard of yet play in a run-down bookstore or DIY art space (that doesn’t have the added pull of a bar with free-flowing alcohol that they can use to justify attending), only to hear one of my friends say three or four months down the line that they just got around to listening to this same great band & wish that they’d come through town at some point. If you’re trying to be an effective digital curator, don’t be that person. Don’t be afraid to go deep into that internet K-hole of having a half dozen tabs open in your browser while you stream something from a Bandcamp page while simultaneously scouring the band’s Tumblr or Facebook page or whatever for any scraps of information that you can find, just because you came across their name referenced in some other corner of the internet. Sure, you’re probably going to have to sort through a bunch of music that does absolutely nothing for you, but to me, it’s the modern equivalent of what I used to do back in the day when I’d take a chance on a bunch of cheap-as-hell used CDs from the cut-out bin based on which label put them out (and it’s less of a financial gamble than having to sell back those New Wet Kojak albums as a result of your Touch & Go binge).

If you discover something that interests you, dig deeper & do some creative research to find other things that might be affiliated – if you find one great new C86-worshipping band from some random city, there very well might be an entire geographic micro-scene there of other bands making some similar noise that you didn’t even know existed. Or maybe not, but you never know.

Uncategorized

Let’s continue with our new series of interviews with the digital age’s most interesting and eye-opening curators, shall we? A few weeks ago we talked to Matt Thornton/UrbanKill, which you can read here. Now we’re going to have a digital chat with Layla Gibbon, a one-woman, scene-expanding underground/DIY teller of truths, and someone who, in the brief time I’ve been following her in all her forums, has turned me onto all manner of “sick” tuneage. When Layla says something’s “sick”, you’d goddamn better sit up and pay attention in a hurry. 

She wrote this best-of-2013 column on her blog, WHAT WE WANT IS FREE, that had me scouring dark corners of the internet for these sounds, and immediately turned me onto Sauna Youth, the Irreperables, Pang and Division Four. I was floored. Who was this clued-in woman, totally wiping all my scene cred under the table? I found out. She’s Modraucous on Tumblr and Twitter; she’s not even a blogger per se – What We Want Is Free is a collection of her columns in MaximumRocknRoll, where she’s instantly the best reason to read that mag since the Reagan/Thatcher era; and she’s – as I found out – the former vocalist of several of Dynamite Hemorrhage’s favorite wild-ass UK/DIY/grrl bands of the 1990s. And so on.

We sent Layla some questions from Norway to San Francisco, where she resides. Those questions arrived back in my inbox  with answers, and here’s what she told us about what it’s like being a clued-in digital and vinyl curator for the sick, sick kids of 2014.

DH: What are your primary means of music discovery now – vinyl you buy or listen to; mp3s or streams you play online; recommendations from other curatorial types; all of the above…? 

Layla Gibbon: A combination of online scavenging (Bandcamps/links from various social medias/message boards etc) and the fact that I am on one of the people that assigns all the records for review at Maximum Rocknroll, which entails a once a month 4-5 hour listening session. It’s one of the things that keeps me excited about the endless possibility of DIY and music; every month there are many bands and records that blow me away. There are also endless examples of why “just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD” is something that should be subliminally messaged out to the more rote/boring minds.

DH: What sorts of online resources do need to scour to find the quality music and weirdo punk rock you like to listen to and recommend?

Layla Gibbon: I browse various message boards for new releases, partially to make sure MRR is getting as much as possible mailed into us for the collection/review/radio play, but also for my own aural nourishment. Most of my friends and “friends” are also musical maniax so I utilize the various social media formats as well (twitter/facebook/tumblr); there are a few blogs I check out including a few DH correspondents!

DH: The things you write about in your MRR column and online tend to be obscure and unwaveringly self-supported. Is there an element of wanting to lift some of these bands out of anonymity and/or some grander purpose in championing them?

Layla Gibbon: I am a fervent fan of certain sounds, and when I hear something that hits me in the correct incendiary manner my first instinct is to broadcast that feeling to the universe. (eg PANG, knowing that an incredible all female band who sound like a post-Eno almost Magazine meets Wire transcendence existed in my own damn town and I only caught their final show PAINS ME CONSIDERABLY! As soon as I heard them, via Sam Lefevbre, I lost my mind and poured its drooping contents into all possible broadcast modes). I am not interested in hoarding new and exciting ideas/sounds/bands; I grew up in a desolate estate in a creepy suburb of London where most people don’t leave/girls get pregnant when they are 15 etc etc, and I firmly believe that music is a transportative force that got me out of that existence, and I want to transmit the possibility to other similar types. Also listening to lots of music every month it’s clear that many people are stuck in genre tropes, and every time I hear something that is transcendent / disgusting in a genius way, it gives me hope whilst trudging thru the tired stadium crust trenches, and maybe someone else will hear a sound that will prevent them from aping a boring idea and nudge them towards a sick band formation. I like all sorta of music though, and while I tend to err on the side of underground/self made sounds, I like some bands that are clearly not of that ilk, that are aiming for a crummy piece of the music biz pie. I think fame is a tired ideal, but that opinion doesn’t negate my love for sounds created by bands who want to be the Beatles etc. I think because MRR is very strict in terms of what it covers; people think that I am that way inclined as a human that listens to music, which isn’t true. But I prefer sounds made for underground minds as a general rule?  

DH: Are you, or were you, a physical “record collector” at any point? What insight can you offer into the state of music accumulation and curation in the digital age, how it’s evolved in the last 15 years of wide mp3 availability, and what it’s done to any taste for vinyl or other formats you may have had or still have?

Layla Gibbon: I still collect records like a maniac… I like that the digital age affords anyone the opportunity to listen to anything, so you don’t have to go to a creepy old man’s house to tape his records any more (an experience me and many girls I know endured in the 80s/90s). I definitely stopped collecting for a bit when I first moved here as all my physical records were in the UK, and I just downloaded things, which I regret now as I am missing physical copies of a few things that are now out of my price range that I loved/that define a certain era for me, eg the Broadcast LPs. But I am still in the vinyl trenches so to speak, I try and buy records from bands I love from now and the past, financing this somewhat expensive habit by flipping bargains found in the Amoeba dollar bin/unloading things that I loved but now no longer relate to. I think it’s sort of sad that kids will no longer buy the terrible Gang Green record and think all Boston HC sucks as a result, and it does feel like people have this insane knowledge of the most obscure music/genre, but then will be missing huge chunks of info / only know about one specific thing. We have experienced this a lot at MRR where a potential reviewer will seem like a vast encylopedia of punk, but will actually only know about Japan in the 1980s and absolutely NOTHING about something as obvious as like, SST records. The internet creates strange focused humans. I have friends who didn’t have to work for a few years in the 90s because of record sales, which is not something that punk bands will get to experience at this point in time because of the internet…but the internet also means that you don’t have to be a crazy bonzer hoarder to know about cool music, which I think is a good thing for the most part. Sorry for the rambling answer!

DH: What parallels do you see to the days of flipping through stacks of records in crates, if any – and what sort of mindset does a modern digital curator need to bring to the search for the best obscurities?

I think the internet means anyone with good taste can potentially make a cool podcast/blog etc, you don’t have to be a Graham Booth or Ryan Richardson to uncover strange sounds from various eras, which is a good thing especially since you can find out about music on your own terms now, without having to deal with as much in-person patronizing/sexist bro mentality, which I think any female record collector has endured…and I think in terms of what is needed for any music hunt is a curious mindset, and a curious take on music in general. Usually people in good bands are involved in a bunch of projects; i.e. good scenes generally are a few people doing everything and a bunch of people just watching it happen.

I guess the short answer would be: being a nerd/sleuth and having a mania for new sounds that excite is a good combination of qualities for such a task. 

DH: Does your love of obscure underground music and your need to share it say anything about Layla, the person – and if so, what might it be saying?

Layla Gibbon: That I am doomed to an underground obscure existence?!