Thursday, October 22, 2009

\\\\\\ \\ \ \\\ \\\\\\\\ interview with a music journalist, a good one, one of the few good ones

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd...

FADER is one of the few magazines I actually subscribe to. (The other two being Complex and The Economist). (I lied about The Economist). (I just want you to think I'm smart). I check their blog daily and was recently talking to someone about how I find some of my favorite rap on FADER. While typically I feel odd about "indie" press outlets covering hip-hop (mainly Brooklyn Vegan and Pitchfork) I think they're one of the few that get it right and it's because I never feel like they're outside of the culture looking in and commenting, but that they're participants. (I distinctly recall feeling strange when Pitchfork reviewed a Peedi Peedi (fka Peedi Crack) song once. Like, ah fuck, now some motherfuckers are gonna listen to this shit ironically? BRRRRAT, DDRRRINGGGG.) Even more than just hip-hop or rap or whatever though, I find some of my favorite dubstep, indie rock, dance music, whatever it is at FADER's blog. It feels like one-stop shopping.

I remember when Jay's "Run This Town" joint dropped whoever tweeted for them said they didnt have to PAUSE 'cause they're a girl and I was just like Ha! Who wrote that?!?. IT WAS JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD. And thanks to the magic of the internets I found a new friend in a music writer I actually enjoy the work of. She got hella good taste.

So I got homegirl, who's official title is Executive Editor there, to answer some questions. What we have is both an interview and possibly the best music post on Gordon Gartrelle at the same time. (All the music posts here were ganked from FADER or GorillaVsBear anyway)!

Who's the most interesting person you've ever interviewed? (Interpret interesting in any way you please). Any crazy stories?

This is obvious, but any member of Wu-Tang—I’ve interviewed Ghost, RZA, Rae, Meth and Red—and they all have their own utterly unique crazy styles, the last of a dying breed. Most recently I talked to RZA about The Tao of Wu which was amazing. He’s is so focused and responds to every life experience like a lesson, from poor and hustling to being incredibly famous and well off. Most rappers, when they talk about spirituality, are corny as fuck, but anybody’d would be privileged to listen to RZA discuss wisdom, chess, Sun Tzu, five percenters, whatever.

My stories aren’t that crazy, mostly just anecdotal. I was having a really bad interview with Cam’ron and I asked him something totally random like “DO YOU TAKE YOUR GIRL OUT DANCING” and he was like “This interview is over, B.” He’s said those exact words to like three separate people I know. It felt like some sort of milestone, getting shut down by Cam’ron. Like a battle scar or a music journalist bat mitzvah.

What's Ghostface like in person? That Brett Ratner story about burying the bucket of fried chicken is crazy.

Actually I interviewed him over the phone, but the one time I met him was at a listening session in the green room at Nokia Theatre like 20 minutes before his show. He was super tall, wearing a hoodie and totally reserved, I think he was “in the zone,” trying to psych himself up. There was no chicken around but if there was I’m sure it would have been mayhem.

What do you think of the troop surge in Afghanistan?

I’m not sure I understand the situation completely. I do think that if we’re not going to withdraw completely and let Afghanistan stabilize itself (if that is even possible), the troops already stationed there need assistance, though it seems like a full-on surge is the wrong move away from withdrawal. However my opinion is based almost entirely on reading the Times, al-Jazeera (English version) and talking to a friend of mine who’s been an embedded photographer there for the past few years. His name is Peter van Agtmael and you can see his work at

Despot wants to know if he can have a pair of Levis. I don't know why. Can he? Can I? Why do you think he's asking?

Yeah what’s you guyzes sizes? He’s asking because he knows I’m the female version of a hustla.

I read what you write all the time. I think you have great taste in tunage. What are some blogs YOU read? Who besides yourself and obviously myself do you think has great taste in tunage. No, who do think has the BEST taste in tunage? Even if we'll have no idea who they are.

Aww thanks, I read what you write all the time too. Right now my favorite shit is every podcast ever from, a radio station in London. It’s all the hotness of what is happening now in grime, dubstep, funky, house, jungle, whatever. Next level dance music. Geeneus, Roska and Angie B & Dogtaniun, Newham Generals, Dub Police, sometimes Crazy Cousins or whoever will do a guest spot. Also good for working out.

I don’t know who has the BEST taste in tunage, there are always posts on some blogs that bum me out just like I’m sure I bum people out when I post techno videos about wolves on the FADER. Some other stuff I like: (Neon Gold, they have a record label w/exclusives but always post decent rock stuff) (Ghetto Bassquake, our dude Boima who produces with an emphasis on global bass musics) (Trini Posse. If you want to GET JACKED on caffeine and listen to soca 24 hours a day, and who doesn’t?, they will hook you up)

Tekserve is a block away from your headquarters and with a publication that embraces technology such as your own, do you think your location was a calculated decision? Or do you think it more had to do with the proximity to shake shack?

Yes. Like bank drive-thrus in the suburbs, we have a tube that goes through our building, underneath 6th avenue, and shoots back up into Tekserve. It is through this that we transmit all of the secrets of the internet in the land. We, along with the good Tekserve employees, are the Keepers of the Ether, tasked with safeguarding and evolving the future of all information online. It is our destiny, as the occupants of the 13th floor in the Masonic Temple headquarters.

What are 5 things you absolutely despise right now?

* Money

* People from the Ivy League/”Families” who whine because their rise-thru-the-ranks/Skull & Bones Conde Nast editorialships are no longer a birthright. Welcome to the proles dudes!

* Biters

* The instability of Mexico and by extension Bush I / NAFTA

* When people call me at work to ask banal shit like “what’s your web address” (it’s

What if Bjork did the hook on "Empire State of Mind"?

I could shake my uneasy feeling that Alicia Keys is constantly 1/8 off-key, and Jay-Z would have rapped about the Mole People in the subways instead of his Tribeca loft.

What are 5 things you absolutely love right now?

- Nicholas Kristof & Cheryl WuDunn

- Lil Kenny & the $hebangs’ “Straight to Your Head” (

- Spoek Mathambo’s blog / slang lexicon (

- Jean Charles de Castelbajac Spring/Summer 2010 (

- You (Editor's note: YESSSSSS)

What sort of things do you like to take pictures of on your phone? What's the most recent phone picture you sent to someone?

I take pictures of random shit around New York. Most recently, I saw some graffiti for this Pakistani bike gang called “PAKI RYDERZ,” so I took a pic and sent it to your friend and mine, Zeb Malik, cause I knew he’d be stoked. Shout out to the Popo bros. (Editor's Note: Shout out to the Popo Bros, and PAKI RYDERZ)

Be honest. Have you at any point ever worked at The Source? My friend Ilirjana from Apache Beat once told me she worked at The Source. I'll probably interview her and ask her all about working with Benzino. But yeah, have you ever worked at The Source? What was working at VIBE like? What was the overall vibe at VIBE? Positive? Negative?

I never worked at the Source. Never even freelanced! My ex-boyfriend worked at XXL, he probably would have dumped me on principal.

VIBE was super cool. My boss at the time, Danyel Smith, was kind of like my mentor—a real legend, too—and there was a terrifically smart energy, tough and grueling but fun and rewarding, with an emphasis on Actual Journalism and taking people and topics seriously that no one else would. I was there when we put Obama on the cover, real early in the primaries when most Dems still thought Clinton was a shoo-in, and it felt major.

There were weird aspects though. I had to spend a lot of time hanging out with people like Bow Wow and Pretty Ricky.

Here are some FADER themed questions:

Did you ever sport a high-top fade?

No, but I had a crush on Kid in junior high.

Do you ever get faded?

You know I live in New York, is this a serious question? Never not faded.

Have you mastered the fadeaway?

I suck at basketball but am really good at salsa dancing.

What do you think of burning out vs fading away?

Immortality is the apex but fading away can also be cool. Stacey Q dropped out the game after “Two of Hearts” and became a devoted Buddhist and is now permanent BFFs with the Dalai Lama.

Is Fade to Black a metallica or ac/dc album? or a Jay-Z movie? Which is the best?

Who are Metallica and AC/DC? “Fade to Black” is first and foremost a Jay-Z live movie, maybe the best concert film ever made, and definitely one of the most bombastic bits of Debordian chutzpah of our time. Like, who else gets a movie when they fake-retire? It’s like getting married to one of your friends just so you can collect a bunch of free shit from Crate & Barrel. The ruse is up, WE ARE COMING TO COLLECT.

Secondly, “Fade to Black” is an amazing electronic pop ANTHEM made by this cool girl MNDR, which you can listen to here:

What did you think about Sonic Youth on Gossip Girl and the DJ Rupture reference in 90210. The fuck is going on?

People like you and I are getting jobs in mainstream TV screenwriting and are GETTING OVER something fierce.

Dear screenwriters making these weird moments happen: please holler at me, I can hook you up with Brooklyn’s most arcane! Chuck Bass totally needs a plotline with Das Racist. Let’s get subversive.

My friend has a crush on Matthew Schnipper. Do you have a crush on Matthew Schnipper?

Of course. It is so painful to come to work every day because he is so close to me—just a few feet away, there, with his sandwich cookies and his air guitar—and yet he is so, so far. Actually no, that would be gross, like incest. But I just told him you asked this question and he wants to know if your friend is a cute girl.

Do your feminist beliefs ever create a conflict of interest with your unabashed appreciation of dancehall music?

Yes, but my feminist beliefs create a conflict of interest with basically every aspect of life in the patriarchy so hearing Vybz Kartel talk about his cocky on the radio is relief and respite from the bullshit of day-to-day. I’m a feminist, and I like to wine. People are complicated!

You can read Julianne's writing and listen to what she's listening to here: You'll notice second down from the top is a song by a band called Bear In Heaven. Gordon Gartrelle will be interviewing that band soon. Also, coming soon is an interview with Dean Bein who founded True Panther Sounds which is now a part of Matador and recently put out the stellar Girls album entitled "Album".


JamesDewey said...

this new direction is cool n all but i am trying to see some new birth videos or whatever. or more young kids humping each other.

wv: norkin

Despot said...

well I wear really small jeans. no homo, I'm just a small dude. help me out.

V said...

really like this!

KOOL A.D. said...

heyo can i get some free jeans too? i'm usually somewhere in the 31/31 area but might be smaller now that i can NO LONGER AFFORD TO EAT FOOD.

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