I’ve had some pretty good luck with interviewing bands I like.
Many music/entertainment journalists have to beg, borrow, steal and bribe their editors for that good “get” (don’t quote me on that – it’s just the perception I have of this industry).
But I haven’t.
First, it helps to work for an independent publication that is wholly dependent on unpaid* contributions from their writers to fill their mag. It’s hard for the higher-ups to say “No” to you. Not to say I take advantage of my editors-in-chief. I’m just saying that they’re more open minded about what you pitch.
Second, I go to a lot of shows.
Well, not a LOT – just, enough. I live in downtown Toronto, with the means to get around town, and I have a fairly flexible schedule. I have friends in the music industry and friends who enjoy going to shows with me (although I’m more than game to go to a show on my own), so I’m never lacking in reason or company.
How does this tie into my ability to get bands to talk to me?
I tend to go to shows of smaller bands, unsigned or signed, and I think there is some kind of mutual appreciation between the journalist and the artist in this case: the journalist knows the artist appreciates the chance to publicly talk about their music, and the artist knows that the journalist appreciates the chance to practise their craft and publish an article.
So usually, I’ll go to a show to see one band, and end up really liking a supporting act. I ask them if they have a publicist or manager present, and that’s where I get the ball rolling.
And although I’ve only done this a handful of times, I can genuinely say I’ve never had anyone turn me down.
My latest interview was with this charming band from Ireland, Nightbox. I saw them at Canadian Music Week and they blew me away. They’re a mix of Canadian, Irish and American boys who have had some pretty wild success for an unsigned band without a full-length album. They’ve toured with Lights several times, remixed a couple of her songs, performed at the Reading Music Fest, was a cast of Much Music’s “Discovered,” and had their EP produced by Seb Grainger from Death From Above 1979 and Al-P of MSTRKRFT, which was distributed by Last Gang Records.
For now, I’m grateful that I don’t have to bow to the wishes of a paying employer and still get to write about what I want to. But of course, I could just forego the whole steady-paycheck thing and live my life out as a freelancer. Who knows?
Til then, I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing.
*Press+1 recently started paying their writers for articles/reviews on Canadian cinema, thanks to a government grant!