It’s been a long time, shouldn’t of left you…(c) Timbaland. We’re back with another edition of the Blogger Q+A, this week we talk to The Downcast. We talk history of the blog, how to improve as a brand & methods for discovering new music…
When, How & Why did you start The Downcast?
I started the Downcast last year because I thought Pitchfork was trying too hard to piss off the NPR crowd; and NPR was trying too hard to make the Prius / farmer’s market crowd feel good about cranking up mediocre, rounded pop/rock/soul. I actually do like Pitchfork. I think MTV, Rolling Stone and NPR are good at making money, but they’re killing more daring, badass music by supporting lowest-common-denominator, rounded, warm/cool jazz sedative dribble. people don’t need help sleeping. they need to wake up. The Downcast is an alarm clock.
What are some things Bloggers/Artists can do to improve themselves as a brand in your opinion?
Start now. Go with your first instinct. Beg for criticism from people that are different from you. Don’t compromise to get something (like money or an interview); compromise to become something (for example, the Downcast don’t compromise to get more readers, but we do compromise to become a louder alarm clock). If you’re not trying to do something extraordinary, then you’re wasting our time. And finally, don’t ever quit; change, rest, start over, but don’t stop.
What does The Downcast do to separate itself from other music blogs?
Our mix and our edges. As far as mix? Right now our home page features material by Muta (Denver glitch-core electronica), Elder (epic, sweeping stoner rock), Charli XCX (dark-wave electro pop), Shabazz Palaces (avant hip-hop), Boomrunner (80s noise-pop rock like Mudhonney, Bleach-era Nirvana or Sonic Youth), and Laura Gibson (Oregon-bred country folk). I’m not sure many websites are mixing it up like that. As far as the edges? I don’t know any blogs covering the same combination of fringes we do (Low End Theory electronica, grainy sample-driven hip-hop, stoner rock, dark-wave pop, etc).
What are your methods for discovering new music?
Walking around Amoeba Records (Hollywood), going to shows around LA, talking to friends, email from bands / PR / record labels and other internet channels (blogs, FB, twitter). I’ll look anyplace. Almost anyplace. Spotify, Pandora and the like are pretty whack. They do the same thing NPR / MTV / Rolling Stone do… they apply formulas, mathematics to art. Yawn.
What albums/mixtapes/artists have impressed you most in 2011?
Blu’s NoYork! is the best hip-hop album of the year. Elks’ Destined for the Sun is best metal, Fleet Foxes’ new one is my favorite rock album of the year, Danny Brown’s XXX was my top mixtape, Cold Cave’s latest topped my alt list, and SebastiAn’s Total is best electronica. Other killer records: Balam Acab’s Wander/Wonder (minimal dream techno), Sic Alps’ Napa Asylum (60s garage rock), Muta’s Runner (glitch-core techno), Vast Aire’s Ox 2010 (hip-hop), Elder’s Dead Roots Stirring (stoner rock), Atlas Sound’s Parallax (spacey, spare rock), Metermaids’ Rooftop Shake (hip-hop).