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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Why’d You Interview THAT Artist?
Monday, March 19, 2012

Last week I posted an interview I did with White Girl Mob rapper V-Nasty. The reaction was split down the middle, with some people telling me how much loved it, and how great it was to find out why she is the way she is, and others demanding to know why I’d “waste my time” talking to someone like that.

Well, first of all, it’s never a waste of time to tell an interesting story, and telling interesting stories is a large part of what music, and entertainment, journalism is about. In the case of V-Nasty, her story is interesting, and not just to me, but to others, as well. She may not be the most talented emcee in the world, but she’s someone a lot of people want to know more about. There’s a reason People Magazine does an annual “Most Intriguing People” issue, and Barbara Walters has an annual “Most Fascinating People” special - it’s because these are stories that are worth telling.

Beyond the simple reason of “it’s an interesting story,” I have three other reasons for why I would interview someone that might be of dubious quality as an artist.

1) The artist-fan connection really interests me. If ten thousand people love something, I want to know why. Not only do I feel getting to the bottom of why people feel a connection with an artist is interesting for the sheer fact of finding out why people like something, I think it can also be culturally relevant. Taking a deeper look at the entertainment people are consuming, and figuring out WHY they’re consuming it, may tell us something about specific groups people, or society as whole.

For example, when Ke$ha first debuted I thought she was nothing more than trite nonsense, as did a lot of people. I then remembered something Dru Ha told me about the current crop of popular hip-hop artists back in 2006 (calm down, I’m not calling Ke$ha hip-hop), “I don't think it's an accident anymore today when artists go gold and platinum.” As I continued to listen to Ke$ha, and her fan base exploded in size, I realized there had to be a reason she was becoming so popular. Then last summer a lyric from “Blow” hit me like a sledgehammer - “we’re pretty and sick, we’re young and we’re bored” - and I wrote an entire column about how Ke$ha is the voice of her generation.

After I wrote the column even people who weren’t fans of Ke$ha begrudgingly admitted my point, that she represents a lost generation that was given a blueprint for growing up and that blueprint fizzled out for most after college, leaving them nothing to do but party their days away, even if they want to achieve something more. That’s generation defining. We can pull a lot from it, and if I hadn’t said to myself “why is this girl so popular? Let’s turn up her music and find the connection,” I would have never found that nugget of gold.

2) On the flipside of wanting to know more about the artist-fan connection, I’m equally fascinated when an artist has a large, and extremely vocal, amount of detractors. This was definitely the case with V-Nasty, and with a band I interviewed in 2010 called Brokencyde.

People have argued that Brokencyde is one of the worst bands of all-time. The band Punchline even bought brokencydesucks.com and uses it to sell their own music. Now, I know, a bad band, who cares, right? Well, I cared because of the way their detractors were reacting to them. Brokencyde weren't being ignored, they were being called some truly horrific things that had nothing to do with their music. This included a fake story being written and distributed claiming the band had been arrested on drug, rape and child pornography charges. After interviewing a member of Brokencyde I was able to write about a side of them that nobody knew about. I found out why they do what they do, and, going back to point number one, why their fans feel a connection with them.

If people were ignoring V-Nasty it would be one thing. I wouldn't book the interview, but the intense vitriol surrounding this girl made me want to dig deeper and find the story that hadn’t been told about her. That was my goal with the V-Nasty piece, and I think I accomplished it. It was that visceral reaction so many people have to her, though, that first piqued my interest.

People don’t just hate the music, or the actions, of these artists, they hate the actual artists. This draws me in because I want to be able to show people that even if you don’t like an artist’s music, here is who they are as a person, here is how they deal with the hatred. Hopefully people can then take a step back from the ranting and raving and at least be apathetic rather than vitriolic.

3) Last, but not least, I am continually on a quest to expand my audience so people who might not normally hear my favorite artists will give them a listen because I’m covering their favorite artists. If I were to only write about who I have in rotation, not only would I be severely limiting myself, but I’d be doing nothing more than preaching to the choir. By telling other artists’ stories, and reaching out to their fan bases, there’s an off chance that they might read something else I’ve written.

So for all those who read my V-Nasty interview and asked “why’d you interview THAT artist?” I hope this post has answered your question.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:32 AM  
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