Blipper since: July 11, 2008
Blipper since: July 11, 2008
"I usually have two levels of appreciation for a band: the raw sensual pleasure of the music and the quality of the lyrics."
Pete Dulin: What part of the world do you live in?
DareToEatAPeach: Oakland, California
Dulin: What does your Blip.FM name refer to?
DareToEatAPeach: One of my favorite poems, “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The character in the poem agonizes over doing sundry small gestures for fear of failure. The poem concludes,
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?That last line is one of my favorites in all of literature. It so beautifully summarizes the paradox of fear of death and fear of living (e.g. fear of failure). Thus, my blip name, DareToEatAPeach, is a sort of carpe diem.
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Dulin: Why do you blip music on Blip.FM?
DareToEatAPeach: For a while, it seemed like on a weekly basis I heard a variation on the phrase, “They just don't make good music any more.” This was (and is) shocking to me because there are so many amazing bands out there right now that I can't keep up with them all, despite obvious devotion to the cause. My blipstream is a way to share all that I discover, and go on discovering more.
But it's much more than that too. It's a way for me to keep track of what I've found and it is a music journal that I can look back on and say, this is what was happening in my life a year ago, and the soundtrack to that. And it is a fantastic community that I treasure.
Dulin: What other ways do you listen to music? (iPod, stereo, other online services?)
DareToEatAPeach: I'm all over the place. I follow music blogs across the web. I also use other sites like theSixtyOne and Last.fm in addition to downloading playlists and following various DJs on Twitter. I'm a fan of Tumblr and there's a lot of music blogs there. I don't like Apple but I have a Sansa Clip for music on the go.
"I used to give classic rock stations a pass for over-playing the same songs endlessly. But it occurred to me recently that even there they mostly play only the most famous songs, the big hits of those decades that were over-played back then too."
Dulin: Do you think the ease of previewing and sampling of music online with services such as Blip.FM enhances an appreciation of music? Contribute to short attention spans and a "disposable" mindset towards songs since you don't have to buy the music or invest much time in it?
DareToEatAPeach: I have noticed recently that I don't know nearly as many new song lyrics as I did 3-4 years ago. This suggests that I'm not listening to the songs as deeply as I did back then. It's because prior to getting really into radio streaming, I was getting exposed to less songs all together and taking the time to focus on each album for possibly months at a time. I made an effort this year to purchase and listen to whole albums so I can have a more in-depth listening experience. It can be difficult because by the time I've listened to one new album once or twice there's already two or three other bands I'm blipping on the heavy rotation that deserve a full album download.
It can be very easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding a new release: all of these bloggers heaping ambitious praise on the greatest-band-of-all-time of the week. And so many of them are tremendous, even if the rest of the album is filler, the singles themselves are usually worth getting excited about.
I usually have two levels of appreciation for a band: the raw sensual pleasure of the music and the quality of the lyrics. Usually the first is something you know right away and the second takes much longer (I wrote a post about this). There are probably a thousand bands I love on the first level but that's a lot less important. You take a band like The Black Kids: cute, catchy, but what the hell are they singing about? And I like the Black Kids, but they're lyrics can't compete with a band like Metric, who have important things to say, and say them beautifully while masterfully rocking out. That's where you have to get past the hype and ask yourself if this band can offer that full-album, poetic experience. When you're discovering 5-10 new albums every week that's very difficult to determine.
So what I'm saying is, yes the audio streaming revolution does lead to less commitment to some bands, but ultimately that's because through it we are exposed to so much more music and that's a fantastic thing. Moreover, when we do find an amazing band we're still going to obsess over their every song because our favorites will still have that enthralling power. And if it weren't for this revolution that is happening in music, then those bands likely would never have been discovered in the first place, circling back to “they just don't make good music these days” and re-listening to the same tired classics from your high school prom.
Dulin: What are some artists that you have discovered on Blip.FM that others should know about? Why?
DareToEatAPeach: It is sometimes hard for me to remember where I first discovered a band but I'm pretty sure I happened upon Natalie Portman's Shaved Head [now known as Brite Futures] in a blip search. They sound like Duran Duran's bratty little brother. Their songs are infectious and upbeat and the lyrics are completely off-the-wall adorable references to all things ’80s and teeny-bopperlicious. Anyone at all who loves pop rock should go get their album immediately.
I remember the first time I heard Sharon Jones pop up in my blipstream. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that her cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" is one of the greatest covers of all time. Talk about bringing something new to a song! She takes this country folk classic that has been ruined by Disney-fication and puts so much soul into it you start to understand why Guthrie was a working-class hero.
I have a pretty good grasp of 20th century rock music. Being a middle-class white girl raised by hippies, I have relied on Blip.FM for much of my hip-hop education. Aesop Rock is a masterful poet with incredibly slick, fast rhymes over soft beats. I can't get enough of him. Also getting to know Immortal Technique and Sweatshop Union and Just Jack.
A lot of times I'll know one song by a band and not be super-impressed but someone on Blip.FM will play a bunch of other songs and I'll realize the band is so much more. That happened to me with She & Him and Fight Like Apes and probably dozens of others. If we were using a traditional radio model, that would rarely happen because on the radio they play the same song a million times whereas on Blip.FM, there aren't so specifically targeted singles, just whatever favorite someone wants to share on that day.
Anyone who follows me for a while knows I love electro so a ton gets sent my way: Muscles, Das Pop, Neon Walrus, Datarock, Annie...that list goes on and on. New music discovery is what my stream is all about so I don't know where to stop!
Dulin: Do you enjoy remixes of songs? What makes for a good remix?
DareToEatAPeach: Do I! A new remix should bring something new to the song, just like a good cover. It should have at least one crescendo and layers of new complexity, rather than a mere pasted-on beat. It should be seamless, so it isn't clear where the DJs have stuck their hands into it. It should respect and complement the vocalist, rather than chopping up their best lines to show off some digital effect. Of course, it should remix a great song to begin with, even better if it's a great song you've never heard before.
Dulin: Tune into a commercial radio station right now. What station is it? What's playing?
DareToEatAPeach: The Rolling Stones, "Start Me Up."
Dulin: If you were the station DJ, then what song would you play instead?
DareToEatAPeach: I used to give classic rock stations a pass for over-playing the same songs endlessly. But it occurred to me recently that even there they mostly play only the most famous songs, the big hits of those decades that were overplayed back then too. Take a band like Pink Floyd. How often do they play “Another Brick in the Wall III?” It's always “Part II” because that's the most familiar. I'd love to hear a classic rock station that played all the B-sides, all the great songs hiding in the vinyl bin. Instead of playing “Start Me Up” I'd be more likely to play “Mother's Little Helper” or “She's Like A Rainbow” or “Dandelion” because those are great Rolling Stones songs that don't typically land on commercial radio.
Dulin: How does music, whether playing/listening on Blip.FM or elsewhere, affect your behavior, reflect your mood, or express your personality from day to day?
DareToEatAPeach: Despite what all the reports on NPR say, I'm hooked on multi-tasking. Music is something I can be “doing” while doing something else. So if I'm waiting for a page to load or a light to change, I don't get impatient because there's that music I can focus on.
I can't really say otherwise that music has one effect on me. Regardless of the mood or emotion I'm feeling, there are varieties of genres to accentuate that.
Dulin: What is the last live show/concert you attended?
DareToEatAPeach: The CEO of Blip.FM (@Jeff) offered me VIP tickets to ZZ Top if I would help them work their booth at the show. Did you know Billy Gibbons can play the guitar one-handed? I hate the venue (the Shoreline Amphitheater) but we had VIP box seats and it was great hanging out with the Blip team and supporting them.
Dulin: How does a live music experience relate to your music listening habits or buying behavior, if at all?
DareToEatAPeach: I definitely make an effort to spend money at shows because that, rather than album sales, is where bands make their money. I'm way more likely to buy a band's album if I think I'm going to see them live because I want to listen to just that band to hype up for the show, and I don't want to play full albums on Blip.FM. Though there have been a few cases where I found a show disappointing and didn't ultimately buy their album because of their performance.
Dulin: Since you began blipping, have you had any experiences that surprised you? Please explain.
DareToEatAPeach: Well, I'm certainly surprised to have 37,000 followers! I have about a hundredth of that on Twitter.
I sometimes think back to the day I discovered Blip.FM. There's no way I could have predicted what an important part of my life it would become. I could not have predicted that I would log into the site every single day or that I would come to care for so many of the strangers that play me songs. I am surprised by how easily music overcomes matters of distance and culture. I follow tons of people who don't even speak English as their first language. There are blippers in faraway countries I'm positively smitten with, just based on their clever musings and fantastic song selections.
I know that in person a lot of that glamour would dissolve into petty rivalries, political differences, and character flaws. I understand that in 140 characters people are only going to present the best of themselves. You see online forums and blog communities fall to bickering all the time, once they get to know each other and feel a sense of entitlement. I'm surprised that hasn't happened (at least to me) on Blip.FM. It's like you only get enough of the other people to keep things perfectly civil, in that blissful stage at the beginning of a relationship. That's why even when it comes to the community I think it's important to put the music first.
Dulin: If you could blip one song that could reach everyone on the planet, what would you choose?
DareToEatAPeach: If I could reach everyone on the planet, the last thing I'd be broadcasting is a song! I'd probably choose something with more political significance, like a lecture by Derrick Jensen.
Dulin: Any other thoughts to share?
DareToEatAPeach: Thanks for taking the time to put this together!
I suppose if I could add one thing it's a hope that those who come to Blip.FM for the community can have patience with the listeners who use Blip.FM only as a music platform and don't engage in conversation (and vice-versa). There are a lot of different ways to use the site, all equally valid. If we become adamant about expecting all users to do things the way we do, it will only result in scaring off new listeners.
I would also like to give thanks to those who take time to offer advice in the feedback forum but ask that those people also have patience. Blip.FM is not a big corporation; it's just a couple of guys with a dream. They want to get to all your ideas but they also have to implement some ideas of their own, and keep the site clean and bug free. They want to be sure that an idea is really going to make the site better, because every new feature complicates things and takes a long time to develop and clean up. I think if you knew the guys running the show, then you'd understand that they have some really fantastic ideas about where to take Blip.FM.
Finally, I have a little blog at www.futureisfiction.com/blog and a music specific blog at www.likedancingaboutarchitecture.tumblr.com. I'd love to get your comments there, fellow blippers!
Pete Dulin is the co-publisher and editor of www.presentmagazine.com and writes freelance for magazines, websites, and newspapers. Always looking for the next great song, he can be found in the Blip Nation at http://blip.fm/slipperydistortion. He unleashes profound non sequiturs at Twitter.com/petedulin and publishes creative work at www.petedulin.com.
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