Things I never want to hear white men say: “this is my job.” To all the men in music with the esteemed privilege of operating a small business or self-employment: you’re lucky this is your job, you’re one of like 300 people in the states who get paid enough to live to work in music.
From the female, queer, of colour and mentally unstable working artists: It’s our job too, we just don’t get paid, so out of respect to this reality, you could consider structuring your business properly, by getting better help or setting hours for submissions, instead of wrapping on disorganized about how hard it is to time-slot the mentally ill, to whom you clearly have a penchant for listening, around your wife’s dance rehearsals.
I am barfed-out by this p-o-v, especially regarding the fact that your work is media-oriented, and exists within the middlemandom between artists and audiences. You are making money by promoting other peoples’ work, yet can’t cop the responsibility to engage with the public in person. This is especially frightening given the context of Chicago, a city where street artists abound, shit is sprawled, and the commitment to pounding pavement and engaging in-person is a lifestyle, baby. Stunned.
This gives me a new depreciation of Pitchfork, but at least I have a better understanding of who the fuck was misleading me all those years of my youth. Jeeezzzus.
In 2008 I was working for Pitchfork and our office was on North Street in Chicago, in Wicker Park. We were about five doors down from Quimby’s, an amazing book store that I love, and I was very happy to pop in there at lunch or after work. Our office was above a yoga/massage/bodywork studio. One time later I saw our office building used as an establishing shot in an episode of “Mike & Molly” and I yelled at Julie “Hey!” but she didn’t find it very interesting.
Wicker Park is or was kind of the hipster neighborhood in Chicago, I guess, going back a ways. And for some reason, in this particular office, we had many people just dropping by, wanting to give us some music to listen to. My desk happened to be near the buzzer by the front door of our loft-like space, so I was often the person answering the intercom and buzzing people in.
It’s kind of hard to explain my reaction to people just swinging by to drop off music and also, often, wanting to talk about their band and what they were up to. I like helping people and I like people in general, and it’s deeply embedded in my psyche that I should be polite and try and do what I can to assist someone in need. But my days at the job were often very, very busy, me scrambling to get everything done so that I could get out of the office at a reasonable hour and live a little bit of life outside of work. So when people wanted to come upstairs to hand me a CD and chat about their band for a while, which happened fairly often, it started to feel like an imposition.
It wasn’t really fair, because what did they know or care about my life, but it was very hard to convey to them, look, I’m at work, this is what I do to make a living, and you are dropping by unannounced and asking for a chunk of my time that I don’t really have to give. I started to think of them as rude.
Once in a while someone would come by who was more than someone who wanted to drop off a CD, like, there were a few people who maybe seemed a little mentally unstable. They’d be talking about their music and Pitchfork and would start walking into the space and I’d be thinking, I’m here trying to edit some reviews and features and now I’m thinking maybe i’m supposed to forcibly remove this guy from the space and I don’t really know how to do that. More anxiety.
Once during this period I went to lunch, and when I came back, there was a 7” single on my chair, and someone in the office told me that a guy had come by and dropped it off. The name on this 7” was very common, in fact it was the name of a famous person, so it was kind of “UnGoogleble,” as they say. Any search for this name would be about this famous person and not the music.
Back then I had huge old desk with a turntable and a mixer on it. When people would ask me, “How is work going?”, if it was going not great and I was stressed out, I’d answer, “Well, I have a turntable on my desk.” There is no way to think you have a bad job when you have a working turntable on your desk. So that would snap me back to reality pretty quickly.
And on this day when this 7” was dropped off, I put it on this turntable and cued it up and listened and this is the sound that came out, the one you are hearing now. And I liked it immediately. Just a simple, pretty, nicely melodic thing, sounds both “folky” and “electronic.” There’s no way for me to tell you it’s significant or important but I enjoyed it immensely. And there was a link on a piece of paper in the 7” sleeve to an mp3 that you could download so I did that and what is what you are listening to now.
Also around this time, my wife Julie, who is a dance choreographer, was making a new piece and she used the Pitchfork office as a rehearsal space on weekend. I’d go in with her and it was her and three women and one man who were in this piece. We’d move some desks and they’d have this big wood floor to work. Free rehearsals for a choreographer is a big deal. A space can be $20 an hour. So Julie and her performers would rehearse, and I’d put on my headphones and write, either a review or column or else work on my Zaireeka book. And after a little while of Julie working on this piece, she asked me if I had any ideas about sound, and I suggested this piece from this 7” and she used it, and it worked perfectly in her dance in this one section, and I’m going to bet that the couple hundred people who saw this piece live are a significant number people on earth who have heard this song, and now you are reading this and listening and there are a few more.