Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blip Nation Interview: Meet SlipperyDistortion

Blipper since: November 30, 2008


 After posting nearly 40 interviews of blippers from around the world, I figured it wouldn't be too self-indulgent to agree to being interviewed. The twist with my interview is that I asked blippers to send me questions. I picked 20 questions of most interest to me. Beware, I'm a writer first, editor second by trade. I'm not a master of the pithy response.

One last note... Interviewing my fellow blippers has been such a treat. It's gratifying to learn about people from around the world with an avid interest in music. I'm thrilled to share your insights, stories, humor, and memories. If you want to be interviewed, then drop me a line via email or Facebook. Thanks for the support of the Blip Nation blog. If you're ever in Kansas City, Missouri, give me a shout. 

@SlipperyDistortion


LocoStavos: If you were an (nonhuman) animal blipping to another animal. What animal are you, what blip, to what other animal?

SlipperyDistortion: I love this question. Well, I’ve been called a snow monkey, better known as a Japanese macaque. Presumably for my wise demeanor and monkey antics. And tendency to get into hot water. :>o


As a snow monkey, I would blip “Peaceable Kingdom” by Adrian Belew to a goofy and lovable giraffe. Lyrics: http://www.adrianbelew.net/discogbelew/mrmusichead.html

SabriESC: If you could invite any band/musician over for dinner, who would you invite, what would you serve and what music would you play throughout the evening?


SlipperyDistortion
: Lucinda Williams. I could listen to her accent all night long. As a lyricist, her self-expression is hard-knuckled, soft-hearted, scabbed and scarred. I love her music even though I don't blip it endlessly. Neko Case would be an alternate.

I’d serve a spread of homemade Thai dishes with a small course of Kansas City barbecue, if she ate meat, to represent hometown flavor. For music, I’d either play old soul music or get an all-star band of Kansas City musician friends to throw a rock/roots show while Lucinda and I sat on the back porch, chatted, rubbed our full bellies, and counted fireflies.


MyCosmicRebellion: Do you think Blip.fm will find ways in the future to make money... like by charging users? What if blip started running preemptive ads before songs?

SlipperyDistortion
: Unfortunately, I’d leave Blip.fm if they ran ads before songs. That’s an instant killer. I’d rather pay a monthly or yearly subscription for their service than have advertising interfere with the primary draw of the site.

tammik: I recently read an interview in which Christopher Chu of the Morning Benders said "People are losing the attention span to listen to an album in its entirety, and that is a scary thing. Some music and art needs time to work, and if we aren't in a place to give it that time we are cheating ourselves." Do you prefer to listen to an album from start to finish, or do you favor the randomness of continuous shuffle?


SlipperyDistortion
: The short answer - I prefer to listen to an album from start to finish. I agree with Chu wholeheartedly.

Art in any form - music, visual art, film, etc. - takes time to absorb, understand, and appreciate whether we like it or not. I think people are too quick to latch on or dismiss before they really know why they like it or not. Now, we can like some thing, cause, identity online with a button click. I'm not saying we always need to do a deep analysis. Sometimes our gut instinct is immediate and profound. However, I think taking time to listen attentively - to music, to each other - is a skill in decline.

I grew up listening to albums and cassettes. 700 cassettes formed the bulk of my music collection in the 80s until I switched to CDs. Albums and cassettes are sequential, made for listening from start to finish. It’s like receiving a letter from your favorite friend, a lover, a hero. You read it from beginning to end and then re-read it, obsess over it, read between the lines, and study the handwriting, the envelope, the paper. You don’t just extract one line at first. The rest of the letter gives that sentence context. I like to believe that albums (no matter the form they take as media) still communicate in that way. As a result, it’s why I fall in love with certain albums for specific reasons.

That said, a good song stands on its own. Ideally, it has context within the over-arching vision of the artist’s expression on an album. That is, if the artist had a vision that connected the songs and unified the album. That doesn’t always happen.

I still care about this stuff even though I largely consume music digitally now. As an editor of PresentMagazine.com and the primary music writer since 2005, I have focused mostly on listening to local music for work. When I review a record, I listen to it repeatedly in different settings (home, car, coffeeshop). Usually I listen to it over a span of weeks so my reviews are published notoriously slower than anyone might prefer. I take my time to better absorb what’s happening from the artist to the noise between my ears. I write a better review that way rather than cobble a 250-word impression (which I’ve done as a freelancer.)

My listening habits have changed over the past five years. I do hear currently released music more often now as a single or select tracks instead of an entire album. Blip.fm is my music indulgence where I explore, listen, and re-discover music for fun. By nature, it’s a single-based format. It’s a nice alternative to writing about and listening to music with a critical focus. I receive emails daily from PR reps, bands, labels, and newsletters about more music than I have time to explore. The songs I hear and really like wind up in my iTunes, my CD mixes, and sometimes my blips.


orangekittypie: If you could bring a band back from the dead (whether from the literal grave or not), who would it be?

SlipperyDistortion
: This question prompted hours of thought. While I think my rationale for coming to the answer is fascinating, I’ll take a cue from my girlfriend who said, “Just tell me!”

If I had the power to bring someone back to life, then I’d like to believe that I’m also omniscient and prescient. I would find unknown boys and girls scattered throughout the world that were incredibly talented singers, songwriters, and musicians. They would have found each other through chance, kismet, social media, business connections. Each of them died, either in the floods of Hurricane Katrina, the remote lands of Sudan, in a dusty tent in Tibet, the streets of Kansas City, London, Toronto or Detroit from drugs, guns, murder. Had they lived, had they found each other and consummated music and established a career, they would have thrilled the world with their voice, vision, and sound. They would stand on the shoulders of established artists who lived, got a shot, and died as world changers.


tammik: You have been hired to create a marketing campaign to drive new traffic to BLIP.fm...what is your tagline?

SlipperyDistortion
: Find @nastysurprise.

Davrocks: How do you find that Blip.fm enhances your social networking experience when compared with other more common forms? Is it one of the many ways in which you keep in touch with the same people or are those on Blip.fm different to your other social network compatriots?


SlipperyDistortion
: @Davrocks - social network compatriots? You make me sound like I tweet with the Soviet Sons of Cultural Entropy and post party line propaganda on their Facebook wall.

Seriously, first and foremost Blip.fm is a means for me to find, listen, and play music that isn’t necessarily loaded on my laptop. The fact that Blip.fm allows for socializing has grown to be a compelling and vital feature. I love that it's not cluttered with games, photo albums and other distractions like Facebook. I love that its purpose is relatively pure, simple, focused, and effective. It's worth my time.

I have always been interested as a writer in learning about other people. Blip.fm is a perfect means of doing so in a safe, practical, and fun fashion. Music + social engagement tend to enhance each other. Music is better when enjoyed with others. Vice versa, we connect with others better and more easily through music. There are exceptions, of course, i.e. your mom or dad hates your music as much as you hate theirs. I digress.

Blip.fm enables me to listen to and play music as part of an online global network of people with the same interest. Collectively, we share an affinity for music. Blip.fm creates a social networking experience where we can act on that affinity, play music for ourselves and each other, and allow for written and hyperlinked interaction. Rather than enhancing my social networking experience, I would say that Blip.fm is an enhanced social networking experience. It works extremely well within its own platform.

Twitter and Facebook are non-essential social media in my opinion. I can live without both, but have reluctantly adopted them because that's become yet another way people communicate with me personally and professionally. That said, Facebook has become a means of enhancing the social aspect of Blip.fm because FB is better suited to a rich, multimedia experience when communicating. I keep in touch with other blippers through the Blipsters FB group and a few that I have befriended. I keep in touch with many other people that I know in person via FB that I don't connect with via Blip.fm or Twitter. I hope this answers your question...


tammik: You have over 10,000 listeners on blip, yet only 270 favorite DJs. How do you primarily approach music sharing on BLIP.fm...as a means to suggest artists you enjoy to others, or as a tool to pick up new music for yourself?


SlipperyDistortion
: I used to keep my favorite DJ count to 50ish in the first few months of being on Blip. I gravitate to both DJs with similar tastes and those with completely different tastes so I could be exposed to different music. That still holds true even though my favorite DJ count bounces around 250, give or take 50-100. I expanded to be more social with limits. The social aspect matters to an extent. Being friends with 1000s prompts the question of what that connection means. While a number of blippers remain in my core rotation, I do trim blippers that I haven’t seen in weeks or months and add new ones for variety.

After re-reading this question, I realized I dodged it. I do blip songs that I find with hopes that others will appreciate it too. Mostly, I'm seeking new sounds for myself.


MyCosmicRebellion: There is a nuclear holocaust - five people remain across the earth, and somehow the internet still works. What do you blip to them?


SlipperyDistortion
: I’m going to presume that because the internet still works, Blip.FM still has access to its current library. I’m also going to presume that the five of us (me included) can blip to each other and communicate. When I’m not fending off radioactive zombies and scrounging for food rations leftover by the Dharma Initiative (a “Lost” reference), then I’m going to blip songs that keep me keepin’ on first and foremost. Self-preservation, ya know? Don’t want to go insane. I won’t care about their props or getting new listeners. If one of them drops me as a favorite DJ, then I’ll be incredibly pissed. Not really. For once, I’ll be thankful for music videos on Blip.fm as a visual reminder of how life truly was. ;>) Any music blipped will always be a reminder of the past. Unless the other four form a long-distance band somehow, record music via the internet, and upload it to Blip.fm so they can play their new post-apocalyptic cover of Hanson’s “Mmmm-bop.” In their bedrooms, no less, on their out-of-tune guitar. As a video blip recorded on a cheap cell phone. Ugh.

To answer your question, I’ll re-blip the entire playlist of @anothercraze just to preserve her witty banter for the aliens that will discover my remains and learn how hilariously weird (or weirdly hilarious?) our species is/was.


sliddy: Desert Island. What album would you want to have, that you could play on repeat, and not wind up making you crazy??


SlipperyDistortion
: That’s tough. I could pick an album by Sade or Bebel Gilberto for a female voice to keep me company, but I think that'd be a pleasure and a torture over time.

My premeditated pick would be The Replacements’
“All For Nothing/Nothing For All - Best of the Replacements 1985-1990”, B-sides and studio outtakes. This release is a treasure trove of the band’s best music. Paul Westerberg wrote some amazing lyrics that bear examining over and over. The music hits highs and lows; it taps into angst, sadness, defiance, humor, pain, and plenty of other aspects of the human condition that would keep me company until my bones were sun-bleached.

Franimal: Did a specific event occur in your life that helped to encourage your love of music, or have you always had an appreciation for music? If an event, explain.


SlipperyDistortion
: I’ve always had an appreciation for music. I don’t play any instruments. As a kid, I was pretty average without many true, close friends. I immersed myself in books, comics, and music to entertain myself and feed my imagination. Music has always had a power to express in ways that I couldn’t as a non-musician, to move me, to inspire creativity, to salve wounds, to introduce rhythm and melody in fresh ways that informs my writing and life.

Franimal: Oh, and your road trip question. What songs would you bring on a road trip.


SlipperyDistortion
: I create CD mixes for road trips whenever I’m bound for someplace. Incidentally, my blip DJ name comes from a lost CD mix that I named at random as I usually do. Most of my existing mixes are in my girlfriend’s possession now. At this moment, I’d put together:

Girls - Lust for Life

James - Sometimes
Avi Buffalo - What’s It In For
Camera Obscura - Let’s Get Out of This Country (or French Navy)
Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man
M. Ward - Jailbird
Wilco - California Stars
Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You
The Watson Twins - U-N-Me
Bill Callahan - Sycamore
R.E.M. - Electrolite
Lissie - Little Lovin
Jens Lekman - Maple Leaves
The XX - Heart Skipped a Beat
The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Hysteric
Talking Heads - This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)


34thStreetVintage: What was the first album you ever bought?


SlipperyDistortion
: Eagles Live, a two-LP set released in 1980 by The Eagles. I listened to lots of album-oriented FM radio in my bedroom growing up.

juanita: Where do you learn about new music?


SlipperyDistortion
: 1) Peruse what other people play on Blip.FM 2)  Receive daily emails from bands, artists, and publicists. As the co-publisher, editor, and primary music writer at PresentMagazine.com, I learn about plenty of music from many different genres. 3) Peek at the playlist of Indie Pop Rocks, a Soma FM online station, http://somafm.com/indiepop/played, when I seek inspiration or want to break out of my routine. 4) Check out Blalock's Indie Rock Playlist, http://www.blalocksirp.com/ and 5) pay attention to KC music podcasts Sonic Spectrum, hosted by Robert Moore (http://twitter.com/sonicspectrum), and The Mailbox, hosted by Michael Byars. (Sample: Show #73 - http://bit.ly/e6cwop). Sonic Spectrum used to appear on Present; The Mailbox is a current feature of PresentMagazine.com. 

AprilJ: How has your musical taste changed over time?


SlipperyDistortion
: Great question. My music taste has broadened and deepened over time like a river slicing through a canyon. As a teen, I grew up on 70s FM radio which wasn’t quite so formatted. I heard classic rock, disco, New Wave, and pop. In my late teens, I got into hip hop and soul to break away from music I heard on the radio 1000 times already. Run-DMC and other hip hop artists were a radical revelation for me. That music not only appealed to my innate love of rhyme and rhythm, but it also inspired an extremely short breakdancing career. In college, I immersed myself in New Wave and 80s music which morphed into "alternative", World music, and classic roots/revivalist roots which some refer to as Americana or the No Depression genre. Over the past twenty years, I still love all of those genres and more, but find myself listening mostly to indie rock/pop, Americana, and Kansas City/Lawrence bands/artists that span many genres. Since I found Blip.FM, it’s been a near daily process of exploration and appeasing my curiosity. The artists that I appreciate and respect the most are ones like Wilco where their sound evolves over time.

tammik: If you could create a new badge for BLIP.fm, what would it be?


SlipperyDistortion
: I think there could be a session badge to recognize the quality of a DJ’s set list, so to speak, of perhaps 20 blips in a session while online. A DJ could indicate they are in “session” mode and consciously play a series of blips where there is continuity, theme, flow, and an arc from start to finish. It’s one thing to blip good songs at random. We all do it. Putting together a solid set that others can tune into for an hour would be cool and interesting to see what people would do. Other blippers could prop, rate, or simply indicate that they are listening in on a specific set. If a DJ’s set garnered say 50, 100, 250, 500, etc. listeners, then they’d earn different badge levels.

The idea behind this badge is to encourage the DJ to focus on the music and consciously blip a set of songs in a quality session. They would only earn badge levels if others were attracted and rated the session accordingly. Of course, that could be gamed just like propping.


orangekittypie: Pick one song that encapsulates your personality, and explain why.


SlipperyDistortion
: Crikey. (Browses through iTunes...) Hmmm, “Lighten Up” by Morcheeba. I like the lyrics. The music opens with a contemplative sound that breaks into optimism with a reminder to not take things so seriously. That's me - contemplative, optimistic, serious. The song has powerful highs and lows. It’s full of energy, it’s joyous and redemptive. That's me too. And I’ve brewed up plenty of storms over nothing.
Franimal: What song would you like to have played at your funeral?

SlipperyDistortion
: Cowboy Junkies - To Live is To Fly. Great song written by Townes Van Zandt.

MyCosmicRebellion: If you were to create a soundtrack for your favorite book what songs would you use to capture the novel?


SlipperyDistortion
: Geez. This is tough. First, I have to decide on a book and then a soundtrack. (Thinking hard.)

Okay, this might seem like a cliché
, but I'm going to choose a children's book. Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman. While I have many favorite books that are varied and complex, I gravitated to this gem from my childhood. Browsing through its pages again, I'm reminded why it hooked me as a kid. The illustrations, colors, story pacing, and subject matter (dogs and cars, dogs in cars) are appealing to me.

What strikes me now as an adult is the story's structure. On a basic educational level, it introduces basic concepts by comparison - big/little, over/under, up/down. Now, this is a big stretch but the observational nature of the book from page to page reminds me of Charles Baudelaire's flâneur, or "one who walks the city in order to experience it." From start to finish, the book poses observations about dogs that are big, little, red, yellow, etc. that are traveling, playing, working, and driving. As early as page 8, a sub-plot begins where a male and female dog have a brief conversation about liking a hat. That sub-plot carries on throughout the book. A second, more subtle sub-plot begins on page 14 that introduces the idea of dogs in cars. Well, why not? In the final pages, an action sequence commences where dogs in cars race to a tree for a dog party. That's a lot to pack into 64 pages using simple sentences and illustrations. While it's not exactly a novel, it's sophisticated for what it accomplishes and conveys to the reader.

So, what would the soundtrack be? For openers, I'm hearing the French combo and lilting voice of Nouvelle Vague's cover of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" simmering in the opening. It's light, fun, peppy. Perfect for all ages. That song would segue to The Cure's "Friday I'm in Love." Next, "Nine Lives" from a Kansas City band, Expassionates, for some panache. I'd follow with another local artist, Sara Swenson, who sings beautifully on "Passing Cars, Passing Time." For the closer, I'd include Pomegranates' energetic "Everybody Come Outside" for the dog party scene and fadeout.

TheSteadyDrifter: What was the first song that "changed your life" in a meaningful, memorable way? Why? Does that song still resonate for you today?


SlipperyDistortion
: This is one of those questions I could think about endlessly to find a definitive answer. I'm going to go with "Hard Times" by Run-DMC. The song is from the hip-hop act's self-titled debut album released in 1984. The song didn't necessarily change my life, but it came out at a crucial time when my life was changing.

I was a junior in high school. Within a year, my parents would divorce. That itself has nothing to do with the song. That's too easy of a reading. Personally, I was undergoing the shifts that any teen experiences at that age preparing to finish school, thinking about the future, college, growing and more independent. Yet, I also faced a new role as the oldest child of four in a family that I didn't realize would split. I would graduate despite the inner turmoil in my household and heart. I would get a summer job where I earned enough to pay for the first year of college out of my pocket.

The song was important because it opened my ears, mind, and perspective to a style of music that was been one of the major evolving and enduring genres for more than thirty years. It was different from the classic rock, pop, metal and New Wave that dominated radio formats at the time. It spoke to me on a visceral level. I won't fall for the cliche of saying that I identified with the emcees rapping about their life of hard times. I connected with the beat, the sound, the delivery of lyrics in a spoken word form that was honest, forthright, creative, and rhythmic. It made my body want to move, my heart bump, my mind connect observation and expression. It wasn't the formulaic music I heard on the radio or anywhere.

Hip-hop's emergence on the fringe and into the mainstream expanded my interest in other genres of music that I explored in college and in life thereafter. I've never looked back.

_________________________________________________________________

Pete Dulin is the co-publisher and editor of www.presentmagazine.com and writes freelance for magazines, websites, and newspapers. He can be found in the Blip Nation at http://blip.fm/slipperydistortion. He can be reached at Twitter.com/petedulin, http://www.facebook.com/pete.dulin and www.petedulin.com.  

5 comments:

  1. very niceeeeeee interview pete ;O))

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  2. It's a shame most people aren't listening to whole albums these days. I always listen to complete cd's while driving in my car, and am trying to teach my teenagers about absorbing albums and discovering new favorites.

    Pete, do you ever listen to the radio?

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  3. Hi Juanita,

    I listen to NPR regularly on the way to work and about town. Sometimes, I listen to a local community station and a college station just outside of KC that has original programming. I rarely listen to commercial stations. Mostly, I'm listening to CDs if not radio.

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  4. Howdy Pete,

    That answered my question perfectly and I especially agree with the observation that Blip.fm is an enhanced social networking experience. I love 'Go Dog! Go!" as well and can't wait to get it for my kids although I'm more excited about introducing them to "Jacob Two-two meets the Hooded Fang", one of the great children's novellas of all time. Anyway I have been loving this series. Keep it up.

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  5. Okay Pete,

    I'm begging here...when you have Lucinda Williams over for Thai could I crash the party? ha!

    Great interview, sorry I missed the request for questions, I would have loved to send some your way!

    Gayle aka Literati

    PS. The session badge idea is brilliant. Blip's Thesurlytmm ALWAYS plays sessions. I on the other hand, just play what's on my mind :)

    ReplyDelete